Do you want to buy a house, pay for an upcoming wedding, or pay off a credit card or two? To do so, you need ample savings. If you’re struggling to save enough to meet your goals, try these tips to get you on track and save your first $1,000.

Figure out where you’re spending your money

The first step towards being a smarter saver is figuring out where your cash is going each month. Use an app like Mint for an automated way to keep track of your purchases or go with a good old-fashioned Excel sheet that tracks your cash flow. Be sure to calculate how much of your money goes towards fixed expenses (like your rent payment, car insurance, etc.) and then see about how much you spend each month on other items (i.e. groceries, your gym membership, clothes, or eating out).

Also remember to take into account large bills that only pop up quarterly or yearly, like car registration costs or membership dues for an organization you are part of.

Create a budget

Once you’ve figured out where your money is going, use those numbers to create a budget for yourself. The trick here is to acknowledge the places that you like to spend money at, and to continue to do so in moderation. If you go out to eat 5 times a week, it’s unrealistic to expect yourself to cut the habit cold turkey. Instead, challenge yourself to only go 3 times a week and give yourself a set amount of cash that you’re allowed to spend on that particular expense.

See where you can eliminate spending

Once you’re tracking where your money goes each month, you’ll probably be surprised by some of the trends you identify. Maybe you’ll notice that your “whenever you feel like it” coffee habit is actually costing you an arm and a leg! By recognizing the areas where you’re spending too much, and making a conscious effort to avoid it, you can save more money than you think.

Reduce your bills

Do you really need Netflix and Hulu? Do you have an expensive gym membership that you only go to once a month? Figure out how much you’re using the services you are paying for, and eliminate them if you can. There are even some bills that you may be able to lower through a phone call. Call your Internet service provider or cable company to see if you can talk your bill down—it might be a nuisance to go through at the time, but the satisfaction of shaving a few dollars off your bill will be well worth it.

Curb your impulse purchases

Here comes the less fun part: If you want to save more, you’re going to have to start spending less. Identify places where you tend to splurge and make a conscious effort to ignore the urge to spend in these situations. That means putting those full-priced boots back on the shelf and waiting to see if they go on sale at the end of the season. Or actually eating all those leftovers in your fridge rather than swinging by your favorite pizza place when hunger strikes. It might be difficult at first, but eventually it will become a habit that you’ll thank yourself for in the future.

By eliminating unnecessary spending and sticking to a budget, you’ll end the month with more money than you might have expected. Start funneling that cash into a savings account and you’re well on your way to meeting your savings goals.

Feature photo credit: Sole Treadmill

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