For a lot of people, finding ways to contribute to your savings account makes you feel like you are depriving yourself. I know that I have felt that way in the past, especially if I had to save a large amount in a short period of time. For instance, I only had about 4 months to plan and fund my trip to Ireland last year. It’s true that I had already saved some money for my next big trip, but it wasn’t enough and I needed to save aggressively if I wanted to take this vacation debt-free. What that meant in reality is that I cut WAY back on everything in order to meet my goal – and yes, at times, I felt deprived.
Thankfully, all saving is not like that. There are ways to save that I consider mindless – so easy that I don’t even have to think about doing it, and it still works. These three savings hacks are ways that I have found to squeeze money from my budget mindlessly (they are also good tips if you are very strapped for cash, but would like to begin the process of saving).
1. Round up in your check registry.
This is simple to do, but requires you to be somewhat organized. It also requires you to have a physical check registry, which is becoming increasingly less common.
In my check registry, any time that I have a withdrawal or debit, I round up to the nearest dollar number, while noting the true amount off to the side. About once every two months, I go through and add up the difference between the true total and what I wrote down, add the total up, and transfer this amount to savings.
For instance: Say that I use my debit card at the grocery store for a purchase that totals $14.57. In my check registry, I would note a debit of $15.00. However, off to the side, in parentheses so I don’t get confused, I have the actual total, $14.57. When I sit down and total up my registry, I subtract the $14.57 from the $15.00 to get $0.43. If you use your debit card with any regularity, this method builds up change quickly. Every two months, I usually have between $20 and $30 to add to my savings, sometimes more if I have been swiping a lot that month. The price difference is so small that it doesn’t impact my cash flow too much, and I can easily save that cash. I know of one person who rounds up to the next $5 mark (so a $2.68 purchase would get rounded to $5.00), but that method is a little more confusing and takes a larger toll on your cashflow. That might be too much for someone who is on a strict budget.
Another added benefit of the rounding is it makes it easier for me to quickly balance my check book and know exactly where I stand financially in my checking account. The small cushion that the change provides me is there in case I have budgeted too hard and have very little cash left, thus helping to prevent overdraft fees. Not everyone likes to be burdened with a check registry, but a small note book or note-taking phone app works just as well. You can always check yourself against online statements if you have forgotten to enter a transaction (just be aware that it can take several days for a transaction to process – so if you swipe your card a lot, your online statement is not going to be entirely accurate).
2. Save all your coins.
I don’t pay with cash regularly. Something about having physical cash in my hands makes me want to spend it on frivolous things. However, when I do have cash, I never pay in exact change. Instead, I save it all. Sure, it’s only a few cents at a time, but it adds up. One year I was able to pay for a plane ticket to Russia with my change! I have also tried different methods in the past. Sometimes, I would save all of my fives. Other times, I would save ones that had certain serial numbers. Make it into a game, and you will enjoy saving it more!
3. Set up a small, automated savings withdrawal.
Online banking is rampant, and transferring money between accounts has never been easier. Start with something small and manageable. $5 a week is a good start, but even a $1 a week is better than nothing. You may also want to pick the age of your child as a number, or perhaps the year you are going to graduate college ($20.14?). By automating your savings, you don’t have to think about it as much, and it becomes easier and easier to let it build in a savings account. One tip, however, is don’t forget to account for it in your budgeting. Otherwise, you may incur an overdraft fee, which will more than likely wipe out any savings you may have had!
These are a few of my favorite mindless ways to save, do you have any?