How Can I...Save More $$$?

“I’m trying to put away money, but I keep buying stuff I don’t really need. How can I stay focused on saving?” 

“Budgeting now will get you what you really want later.”

That’s key advice from money expert Stefanie O’Connell, who doesn’t believe that budgets are about cutting back. “When you set some cool goals ahead of time,” she says, “you won’t even want to spend money on unnecessary stuff.”

Here’s her no-fail strategy:

1. SET YOUR GOALS.

On a sheet of paper, write down this week’s income (from allowance, gifts, odd jobs, etc.). Next to that, draw three columns (see below) and write in your goals.

  • Save: Stash money away for bigger items, like a cool outfit for prom.
  • Spend: Budget for stuff you always have to pay for or might want, like a Friday-night movie ticket.
  • Share: Consider donating a little money to a great cause.

2. TRACK YOUR CASH.

Now record how you actually use your money—including every little purchase—in those columns. At the end of the week, total up each one.

3. ELIMINATE THE EXTRAS.

Ask yourself, How did I do? If you went over in the spend column, circle what you didn’t really need, like that slushie at the mall—then do it all again next week. Research shows people who track their cash end up saving more!

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