With inflation at its highest level in decades, you might feel like it’s impossible to save any money for your long-term financial needs. But don’t give up just yet. There are a few ways those who need cash now and want to save some for the future can strike a balance between both goals.

Why it’s never too late to start saving

Many people think that they need to earn more money to be able to save. Or that perhaps their situation is too hopeless, and they have too many financial obligations. However, this is not a healthy way of thinking.

No matter how much money you earn or what your financial situation is, there’s always room for improvement. Believe it or not, your expenses are within your control, and how you choose to prioritize them will determine how much extra money you have available to save.

4 easy ways to save money

The best way to save more money is to change your approach to financial management. Here are a few tips to help get you started:

1. Create a budget

Budgets sometimes get a bad rap because people think of them as being restrictive. But the purpose of a budget is to have a plan for how you will spend your money and buy the things you actually want. This helps you by prioritizing purchases you’ll care about the most and making it less likely to spend money trivially.

As part of your budget, you can also work in savings goals for how much you’d like to set aside each month. Treat these savings contributions just like any other bill or expense, and you’ll be more likely to continue making them.

2. Switch to cash

Want to start spending less money on your day-to-day purchases? An old but effective way to do this is to switch to cash. Using cash instead of your credit or debit or credit card has many psychological benefits. Studies have shown that the mental pain of having to part with physical money is far greater than making a digital transaction. So, by using cash, you may be far more restrictive about what you actually buy. This will help you to trim the financial fat from your budget and ultimately save more money each month.

3. Bump up your retirement contributions

Do you have a workplace retirement plan such as a 401k? If so, then try increasing your contributions by 1 to 2% each year. Although it will result in a smaller paycheck, the difference will be so minor that you may barely even notice it. Before long, your budget and spending habits will adapt to this new paycheck amount, and then you can start the entire cycle all over again.

If your employer makes 401k matching contributions, then that’s all the more reason to save. Matching contributions occur when the company you work for puts an extra dollar or 50 cents in with every dollar you contribute. Essentially it will be like doubling your savings rate by doing nothing more than increasing your contributions.

4. Pay off debt early

A long-term way to save more money is to focus on your future financial obligations. This can be done by paying off your debts as quickly as possible. By paying down the principal, you’ll shorten the life of the loan. This can eliminate hundreds or thousands of dollars in interest over the life of the loan.

The bottom line

It’s never too late to do a better job saving more money. By taking steps like budgeting, switching to cash, bumping up your retirement savings, or paying down your debt, you’ll slowly build up your finances to where you want them to be.