Written by Megan Cunningham
Saturday, March 10th, 2018
I hate to admit it, but saving isn't always fun. The idea of having a cushion of savings is great, but getting there is a little harder. I'm used to seeing instant results, whether it's by paying off my bills through a mobile app, or ordering something online with one mouse click.
Although saving will take some dedication, reaching a savings goal can feel as satisfying as the instant results we're used to seeing.
To spice up my own savings strategies, here are 5 things I did.
Something that's always helped my own planning is seeing a budget in front of me. To make my budget come to life, I started using glass jars to divvy up my expenses. I had jars designated for groceries, for eating out, for entertainment and for miscellaneous uses, each with a colorful label on it.
Every month, I would take out cash to put in each of these jars to represent my entire budget in that category for the month. For example, I allocated $300 for groceries per month, so I would put $300 in cash in that jar. This allowed me to actually see how much money I have left and not lose track, preventing me from overspending.
Use my credit card rewards effectively
This is one of my favorite effortless savings tricks. Whether your credit card gives you money-back, travel points, or other rewards, use them effectively.
I have a money-back credit card that gives me cash with each monthly statement. I set up my accounts so the money goes directly into my travel savings account. You could set this up to go into any particular account you want, such as your retirement fund or house fund.
Personalize your savings accounts
With online banking, it's possible to creatively name my bank accounts. Whenever I'm saving up for something, I name that savings account something that will entice me to keep putting money into it. For example, I named my travel account “See the World." So now every time I have money left over from my expenses, instead of spending that money elsewhere, I'm more motivated to put it into my savings account.
Curb your “want" spending
I read about this idea on the Making Sense of Cents blog, and was instantly impressed by how effective it is. Every time you buy something you don't need (otherwise known as a “want" item), you stash away the equivalent amount of money into your savings account. This can help make you rethink your spending and it forces you to consider whether you have enough money to pay for the purchase, all while saving at the same time.
Use your own bank's ABM
This is a quick and easy way to save you some money. If it's not your own bank's ABM, don't use it. Fees can add up quickly from using a machine from another bank. Whenever you know you'll need cash on hand, make sure you can swing by your bank beforehand. Another alternative may be to request "cash back" at retailers who offer this with debit purchases, since there normally isn't a fee to do that.
With the help of simple strategies like these, you'll be saving money in no time. You might even start to think of saving as something fun!