Saving money is definitely not as fun as spending money. Before I successfully changed my spending habits, I learned a few tricks to save money even when I didn’t want to. If you are trying to pay off debt or saving for retirement or a vacation, all of these tips will help you get there faster!
1. Use cash for everyday expenses
You should have a monthly grocery budget. At the beginning of each month, take out that money in cash and leave your cards at home when you go to the store. Creating a list and shopping with cash will help you stick to your budget if you know you don’t have a credit card to fall back on.
I also recommend using Clicklist or any other online shopping method. I wrote an article about how my wife and I save a ton of money using Frys Pickup by shopping online and picking up our groceries from the store.
For the cash technique, you can use this strategy for any other budgeted item you have. You can use cash and leave the cards at home when you go to a restaurant, movie theater, etc. Force yourself to stay on your budget.
2. Pay your savings first each month
You should have a budget set up for the beginning of each month. In theory, you know how much money you are able to spend and how much you plan to save. Instead of spending money all month and saving whatever is left, reverse the process.
When you receive your first paycheck of the month, automatically move a certain amount of money from your checking account to your savings account. Many banks can do this for you automatically if you set it up for a certain amount. If you automatically move $25 dollars over initially, you know you have at least saved that much.
Force yourself to lower your spending rather than your saving. By reversing your money management order, you can more easily achieve your savings goals.
Digit is a mobile app that will assist you with this process as well. Digit is a service that looks at your spending and transfers money into a savings account automatically.
3. Invest your extra funds
Your emergency savings should always be available in cash. Do not invest this money because if you can’t access it, it can’t bail you out of an emergency. However, if you have saved money above and beyond your emergency fund, you can put this money in a Certificate of Deposit (CD) or Treasury Bonds to keep you from spending it.
Both CDs and Treasury Bonds are set for a specific amount of time which can be a few months to a few years. If you want to keep yourself from spending your extra savings, pick up a few CDs or Bonds to save you from yourself.
4. Fight the urge to splurge
If you come to the end of the month and you have a few days left until your next payday, see how much you have in your checking account. If you still have $100 or so, avoid spending it all as a way to reward yourself. You should already have a “fun money fund,” so stick to your budget. Move $50 or so out of your checking and into your savings to avoid spending it.
If we have extra money left over at the end of the month, it usually is difficult not to spend it. By moving it out of my checking, it takes it out of sight and out of mind. We are our own worst enemies. By recognizing this, we can set ourselves up for success!
5. Automate bill payments
You should never have a late fee due to human error. The majority of late fees I have incurred over my life happened when I paid my bills manually. Inevitably something would happen and I would forget my mortgage payment was due on the 15th rather than the 30th.
With the ease of automatic payments, all of your reoccurring expenses should be set to be paid automatically from your bank. This will keep you from relying on memory or the post office to get your payment in on time. If you have not set this up yet, make it a priority.
6. Pay with a cash rewards credit card
I really debated whether or not I should put this one in here. Credit cards are so risky if you do not have complete control over your spending. I rarely promote the use of a credit card but I decided to offer you this option – with extreme caution.
My wife and I are very good at staying on a budget because we have had years of practice. Occasionally we do overspend so we beat ourselves up and get back on the budget the next month. With that being said, we use a cash back credit card for most of our purchases.
Each year we get a check for about $600 from our cash back credit card. That money immediately gets put towards our mortgage since that is our #1 financial goal right now. If you are good at budgeting and feel you can genuinely control your credit card purchases, a good cash back option may be right for you.
7. Keep your spare change
If you regularly pay for things with cash, (great idea!) get in the habit of holding onto your change. Put it in a jar or other container when you get home on a regular basis. You would be amazed how much money you can save just by holding onto your spare change!
When your change jar is filled, take it to your local bank to have it deposited into your account. Avoid the coin machines that take a percentage of your money in order to count the change for you.
8. Round-up your purchases
Similar to the change aspect, most banks have programs that will automatically round electronic purchases up to the nearest dollar. After rounding, the extra change will be deposited into your account to make it easier to save. Check with your local bank to see if you have this option.
9. Got a raise at work? Save it
I can usually tell when someone gets a promotion at work. They end up buying a new vehicle and rewarding themselves with more debt. With the increase in income, many people believe they can now afford a higher car payment.
Fight the urge to reward your financial increase with more debt. My wife and I are in the habit of only slightly increasing our budget when I receive a raise. For the vast majority of my career, I have taken the difference in my raise and either put it towards retirement or toward a debt.
If you can keep your same standard of living and move the extra money towards things that add value to your life, you can quickly get out of debt and get in a much better financial position!
10. Stop bad habits
Ok, this might not exactly fit under the “easy” title, but I felt it was necessary to put this in the list. If you have a habit of smoking or drinking heavily, it may be time to significantly cut down or stop. The cost of cigarettes and alcohol is significantly higher than they used to be. Cigarettes, in particular, have a way of destroying your budget due to the ever-increasing taxes.
If you feel the time is right, quitting now may be the perfect opportunity to save a ton of money.
11. Use cash back apps
If you regularly make purchases online or are a fan of your smartphone, this cash back app may be perfect for you.
Ebates makes it easy to save money in three steps:
- When you need to make a purchase, open the app and search for the store you are going to buy from.
- Click the link to the store through Ebates and shop as you normally would.
- After the purchase is made, you automatically get cash back to your account to be refunded via check or Paypal.
12. Buy gift cards
If you have a certain amount each month for entertainment or “fun money,” purchase gift cards ahead of time. If you purchase gift cards for your activities, it will keep you from spending that money on other things.
In addition to keeping you from spending money on other things, you can purchase discounted gift cards at places like Raise.com.
I like Raise.com because it is a marketplace for buying and selling gift cards online. It’s free to join, and you can either buy discounted gift cards or sell your unused gift cards in exchange for cash.
13. Increase your tax refund
Wait, what?! I expect to get quite a bit of pushback from the personal finance community for this one. If you get a tax refund at the end of the year, technically that means you gave the government an interest-free loan all year.
Technically it is true that you let the government use your money all year, but if you spent that money on junk instead, does it really matter? If you have an issue with overspending, you can claim fewer exemptions to increase your taxes in each paycheck. By doing this you will pay more in taxes but at the end of the year, you will get a bigger refund.
With your refund, you can put that money towards whatever is most important to you whether it be bills, vacations, or other financial obligations. While you did give the government a free loan, you were able to save money all year. This may be a great option for you!
Original source: Mediafeed.org