I already have some money automatically transferred into savings every month, but I know I can do more.
My problem usually is that what is most commonly suggested in order to cut unnecessary spending, I already do. I make my own lunches 99% of the time, I don’t get fancy coffee on the way to work, but brew it myself at the office, I don’t go to happy hour or spend a lot of money on eating/drinking out in general.
I realize that I do tend to be a bit of an impulse buyer, usually just little things here and there that provide instant gratification. A new stamp at Michaels, a marked-down shirt at Target, some random product from the beauty isle. I know that is an area I can work on.
A penny saved is a penny earned, right? Money that is not “available” in cash or your checking account, is not as easily spent.
So, the trick is to trick yourself into putting away money without even really knowing it.
Here are a few ideas I already implement:
1. Put your spare change in a
piggy owl bank (like the one above). J is really good at that and he often goes through my wallet to empty it of all the change that I carry around. I frequently get mad at him for taking away all my change (as I do like to have a couple of quarters and nickles, because you never know when you might need them for a parking meter or what have you), but fact is: our piggy bank will fill up and that’s a good thing. It might not be that much total, but it could add up to as much as $100 a year or more.
2. Use a cash-back credit card. A lot of banks and institutions offer the option of earning cash-back on every purchase that you make with your credit card. I only recommend this if you know how to handle a credit card and if you pay off the balance every month (otherwise it won’t make any sense), but if you play it smart, you can make actual money off using your credit card. I personally have an AMEX account through hour Costco membership and I average about $200 in cash-back every year. Not bad, if you ask me!
3. Automatically transfer money from your paycheck into savings. Like I mentioned above, we do this already, but I know that we could save a little more. I’ve seen recommendations for like 10% of your income and then built it up to a higher percentage if you can.
Here are a few more ideas that I’d like to consider:
4. Save money that you earned by using coupons and store card discounts. I am not BIG into couponing. Most coupons are for stuff I usually don’t buy anyway and it’s too much of a hassle to search for coupons every week. However, I do use coupons (when I come across them) and store discounts where I can. I am thinking about putting the coupon savings (that are conveniently printed on to your store receipt as a percentage and $ amount of your purchase) to savings after every shopping trip. I mean, you technically could have paid full price, so why not put away that extra money?
5. Save interest earned on your savings. Do you earn interest on the savings you already have? For me, they show up in my checking account and even though it’s a really small amount, I want to get into the habit of transferring the interest back into the savings account, where it belongs.
6. Save your raise. If you were lucky enough to get even the smallest raise (ha! Hasn’t happened for me in… ever!… due to my stupid contractor position), consider automatically having the amount transferred into savings. You won’t even miss it since you already have a budget set to the salary that you earned previously.
7. Save all your $5 bills. My Dad taught me this when I was a little girl. He would put away every 5 Deutsche Mark coins (now 5€ bills) into a piggy hour glass bank and use this to finance part of our annual skiing vacations. Genius.
8. Transfer left-over money into savings at the end of the month. If you happen to have budgeted quite successfully during the month, consider transferring left-over money (or part of it) into savings, before you start a new month. I really like this idea, although I wish I wasn’t paid on a bi-weekly basis, but instead got my salary at the beginning of each month in full. Maybe it’s just me, but I have a hard time keeping track of expenses (and which part of the month they belong to), when I get paid twice a month on odd days. I am sorry, I just like it a bit more organized than that.
9. Reward yourself for chores you don’t like to do. This really is a bit of a mind game because by paying yourself, you’re not actually earning any more money, BUT see it as a treat for yourself that every time you do an unpleasant chore, you put a couple of dollars away to reward yourself with later.
10. Round-up online purchases. If you happen to do a lot of online shopping, you could consider rounding up to the nearest dollar amount ($14.49 to $15) of even to the nearest ten ($14.49 to $20) and put the difference into savings.
Do you have other suggestions?
What do you do to trick yourself into saving a few bucks?