If you have lost your job or have suddenly mounted some unexpected bills, you need to figure out where to cut expenses immediately to redirect money towards essential costs (housing, food) or towards debt. With some evaluation of your budget and some quick action, you should be able save money to bridge your immediate situation but will also learn some valuable lessons in how to save money long-term.
Understand the difference between essential and non-essential spending. Your mortgage or rental payment is an essential expense; your cable bill is nonessential. Make a list of all your monthly expenditures and label each expense as essential and nonessential.
Prioritize your nonessential expenditures based how important they are to you and then begin cutting the least important ones out. If you have a gym membership that you use infrequently, cancel it. If you rarely watch TV, cancel your cable bill. Get rid of as many expenditures as you can that are unnecessary.
After you have trimmed away the easy nonessential bills, look further at what is left. Can you cut costs on the expenditures you would like to keep? If you have chosen to keep cable, is there a cheaper package available? Do you pay for both a land line and a cell phone -- could you get rid of the land line? Could you cut back on your cell phone plan and pay less per month for less minutes? These are the types of things to look for in your budget when you are learning how to save money fast.
Start looking for areas of negotiation. Phone, cable, and internet plans are a good place to start, especially if you have a bundled package. Search online or call competitors of your current provider to see if you could get the same packages for cheaper. Check with your own provider to see if they offer cheaper rates for new customers. With this information in hand, call your current provider and negotiate a lower price based on competitive prices.
Look at your grocery budget. If you eat out, stop. If you buy all name brand food items, begin to try generic brands. Start cutting coupons and checking the weekly grocery flier to try and buy mostly food items that are on sale and for which you have a coupon. Start keeping a price book in which you list the lowest prices of common items in your pantry to understand what is the lowest cost you can pay for a particular item and pay no higher.
Besides groceries, learn to shop smarter all around. Try to only buy clothing or other necessities when there is a sale. Check thrift stores and yard sales. If you are not used to spending within a budget, learn how to save money fast by learning to dislike spending.
Finally, if you need to learn how to save money fast because of a very desperate time, start cutting out every extraneous expense you have. You may not think you can live without cable TV, but you can. If you cannot afford your car payment, consider selling your car and buying a cheap used car with cash. Desperate times call for desperate measures, and you will be better off making difficult adjustments to your lifestyle now than spending years trying to dig yourself out of debt.
Eliminate all unnecessary expenses. Learn to negotiate prices.
Avoid debt at all costs.