The holidays are over, and your wallet is the only thing that has lost weight. Those gifts you bought for everyone else never left you – they just transformed themselves into credit card debt. If that’s the case, get rid of those high interest accounts and pay down your debt.
How do you start saving money again? Your budget is squeaky tight. You’ve cancelled cable, stopped the coffee shop visits, and you’ve rediscovered ramen noodles.
Here are a few painless tricks to help you start saving again.
Take It From the Top
If you are receiving a paycheck, talk to your employer about sending part of your paycheck to a savings plan, before you even take that check to the bank. Even a small amount will grow. Could you spare $5 or $10? You can, if you don’t see it. If you put away $5 per week, you will $260 (not including any interest you earn) at the end of the year. Sure, it doesn’t seem like much. But you will as if you accomplished something, and you can invest that savings into stocks, a mutual find account, or other savings plan.
You Have One Job.
Well, in truth you have more than one job. But you can take on a side job – or another one – and allocate the earnings to savings only. If you are afraid it will disappear once you add that savings plan to the budget, then don’t add it. Take that paycheck and deposit it directly into your savings plan. Here are some side hustle ideas to help you get started.
Round It Up
When you pay those bills, or pay for something with cash, don’t toss the change back into the budget. Toss those coins into a jar for later deposits into the savings account. If you are paying by check, enter a rounded-up balance in your check register. You are basically fooling yourself into saving a few pennies every time you write a check. When you balance your statement – and your register will show a smaller balance – put the difference into a savings account.
Cash Back Rewards
Oh, tell me you are getting some benefit from every credit card that is in your wallet! Credit cards can be your friend, if you use them wisely and earn rewards or cash back. Make sure you apply for credit cards that offer a percentage of your purchase amounts in cash back, travel points for airfare or car rentals. You can use a cash back amount to pay on your account, or request a check that will be sent to you directly. Then plunk that baby into an interest-earning account!
If you use coupons or buy something on sale, calculate the savings. Then put that amount into your savings account. It’s money you saved on groceries – so instead of adding it back to the budget, why not send it off to work for you? I’m nowhere near a coupon expert, but I do watch the sales flyers. If I buy a four-pound chicken on sale at $2.99 per pound, and the regular price is $3.99 per pound, I can add $4 to the savings account. Again, it doesn’t seem like much, but it adds up.
Pretend You’re In College
I know – you love those steaks and fancy desserts that are delivered right to your door. But if you pick one week per month and pretend you are working with a college student’s budget, you could take the difference in spending and save a bundle. You can handle ramen noodles and bread from the day-old bakery outlet for seven days, if it means you can put $20 or $30 into the savings account.
Pick up cans and bottles
Nope. It is not fun or glamorous. But years ago, my two sons and I bought our groceries from the money we made by picking up aluminum cans and bottles. If you just can’t handle the thought of peeking into garbage cans, then ask your friends and family to save their returnables for you.
Bill to Save
Pick a bill – say, a one-dollar or five-dollar bill – and designate that currency to go to savings. If you buy something with a $20 bill and receive change back, put any designated ills into an envelope marked “savings.” And it goes without saying that all change goes to savings!
Go ahead – start saving!