Most of us have dreams of that fabulous vacation we are planning on taking or a new car we are planning to buy, but feel stuck in our financial situations and aren’t getting any closer to these dreams. Here are 9 ways to start getting financially ahead and on track.

1.Automatic Saving

This may not seem like something that will help, but it has been shown to really be a
winner. Instead of calculating every week or month the amount that you put into your savings account try setting up an automatic transfer either once a week, once a month or on the day that your paycheck comes in. If you don’t have to think about it you can’t think “no”, it just happens. This can usually be set up through your online banking and is quick and painless, you can’t spend money if you can’t see it.

2. Make a Grocery List

Take a note from your mother and make a grocery list, and stick to your grocery list. Grocery stores are usually set up to catch your eye with impulse items, items that catch the eye, look irresistible at first glance and are easy to grab. If you prepare a list ahead of time you can focus on finding the items on your list instead of going up and down all the aisles and just grabbing things on-the-fly. Sticking to a list makes meal planning easier during the week and cuts down on food that is bought with good intentions but wasted in the end.

3. Cut Down On Extras

Cutting down on the things that you don’t really need is a simple way to save money. It doesn’t mean to go without, it means finding a way to make those extras either last longer or finding a way to make them cheaper. For example, if you love that hot cup of coffee every morning try making it at home instead of picking one up at a cafe. Another example is being in bulk instead of buying overly packaged products such as buying bulk almonds where you can get twice as much for the cost of a branded small packaged amount. It’s startling to see how much we spend on luxury extras, there is usually a way to still get these items but in a cheaper more efficient way.

4. Make Your Meet-Ups Free

Socializing is good for the soul, but not always good for the wallet. Finding ways to get together with friends and family that are free can sometimes be a challenge but can be more rewarding than you think. Instead of meeting at a cafe or spending an afternoon at the shops try going for a walk in the park or having them come over for a coffee instead. Avoid the temptation of crowded shopping centers and head outdoors instead, it’s usually quieter and better for your overall well-being.

5. Take Better Care of What You Have

Instead of rushing out to buy new things try and take better care of the items you already own and try to learn to repair them. The best way to practise this is to take good care of your things right from the start but if you haven’t done that in the past try to implement this going forwards. A pair of boots that are polished and protected go a lot further then ones that have been mistreated and thrown in a corner. Clothes that are washed correctly and repaired when needed can last twice as long. This tip is about giving value back to your everyday items and truly enjoying the things that you already own.

6. Learn to Cook

This sounds very basic but in this world of fast food and new restaurants popping up every 10 minutes it’s hard to hone this skill. How many times have you looked into your empty fridge and decided to dash out for fish and chips instead? Learning to cook is a life skill but can also save you money in the long term. Buying meals out can include tipping and serious mark-ups for food items that cost a lot less to cook at home and cooking at home doesn’t mean you can’t be social. Having friends over for a home cooked meal can be just as rewarding and your wallet will thank-you.

Having ways to save money is important but using these tips will also help set you up for a lifetime of smart spending and help you achieve those financial goals that lead to a fuller life.