Saving large sums of money can often be a really difficult and time consuming task. It’s a lot easier to talk about saving $1,000, $5,000 or $10,000 dollars than it is to actually do it. It may be easier to save money if you set small practical goals that you can easily accomplish. Socking away a little bit of money at a time can help you to build a nice nest egg. We all want to save money, and no one would argue with you that saving money is a bad thing to do, but actually doing it is the part that people get hung up on. Here are five easy ways to save money without thinking about it.
1. Save Your Singles.
When you were little, you were taught to save your change. Pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters were stored in piggy banks. Now that you are older, you can save your singles. What are singles? Singles are single $1 bills. At the end of each day, take your single dollar bills and save them. If you have $12 dollars left after you get home from work, take the 2 single dollar bills and place them in a jar. The $10 dollar bill goes back in your wallet or purse. You only save the singles. Do this everyday and once a month go to the bank and deposit the funds. It’s an easy way to build a savings account without taking a big financial hit.
2. Pocket your gas savings.
Gas has been rising lately, but it is still cheaper than it was 2 summers ago. Remember when gas was above $4.00? The average price for gas in the U.S. is below $2.80 a gallon. Pick a fixed amount based on the average gas price in your area and when the price drops in your area, save the difference. Let’s say fuel prices are normally $3.00 per gallon in your area and you spend $45.00 to fill your tank up. Suppose gas prices drop to $2.50 and it only costs you $37.50 to fill your tank up. You should save the $7.50 difference. Use the extra money that you are saving on gas and place those savings in a high-yield savings account. This is a quick way to save some cash. Try it out. It works!
3. Pay yourself.
Did you pay someone in the past for your lawn and landscaping services? Did you get rid of your barber or stylist and decide to start cutting your own hair? Did you eliminate services from your cable company or cell phone provider? You should pay yourself every time that you eliminate a service that you used to pay for. If you were previously paying $50 for lawn care; than put $50 in your bank account whenever you cut your grass. If you can’t afford to pay yourself the whole amount, then pay yourself at least half of the amount. This gets you in the habit of rewarding yourself when you make smart financial decisions. Would you rather have the money in your bank account or a company’s bank account?
4. Use Bank Savings Plans
Take advantage of your banking institution’s savings plans. Banks and credit unions often offer matching plans that will transfer money from your checking account to your savings. While I am not a fan of commercial banks, there are some good savings plans out there. For example, Bank of America’s “Keep The Change” program rounds purchases to the nearest dollar amount and transfers the difference to your check account. Bank of America matches 100% of the amount of the transfers for the first three months, then up to 5% every month thereafter. The maximum funds match is $250 per year. Wachovia has a similar program with its “Way2Save” plan.
5. Make Saving Automatic.
You can make saving easy by automating the process. Schedule small automatic transfers directly into your savings account. You can sign up at your local financial institution for part of your paycheck to be automatically deposited into your savings account. Some employers will even let you take money directly from your paycheck and deposit it in your savings for you.
When it comes to personal finance and being successful in life, setting up methods and processes that you can repeat over and over again is what works. Star athletes don’t become that way overnight. They might have the talent, but they still have to practice all the time. Malcolm Gladwell says that to be called an “expert”, you must put in over 10,000 hours of practice. Do you want to be an expert at saving? Set up processes that help you save while you’re not thinking about it. You’ll never miss the money when it leaves, but you’ll really enjoy it when it’s there to spend in an emergency situation or when you need to pay cash for a large purchase.
(Photo credit: Kevin)