Ahhh.. the art of saving money. Sure, it sounds like something that’s pretty easy to do, yet it‘s one of those things that often eludes many people. I’m guessing that’s because many of us may not know how to really save money, and another reason is that it can be hard to do because it often means going without something in order to save the money you would have spent otherwise. In some ways, I compare saving money to losing weight… we want to see the results, but don’t want to put in the work.
And that’s often where I would have trouble, in the whole “I don’t want to go without this, in order to save the money.” I always want it all. I want to have the home renos, the new furniture piece and/or this or that, AND I also want to have the money in the bank. But you can’t have both. You can’t have money and save it too.
Truth is, with a little discipline and some retraining of your thought process, you can find some easy tactics that you can do to get you saving money that aren’t so “painful”.
Here’s some things that my husband and I have tried and/or currently do. Not all of them will work for you, but it will get you in the right frame of mind to start saving a little extra money each month.
1. Always pay yourself first
I learned about this about several years ago when watching Suze Orman talk about it on her show one night. She talked about the importance of paying yourself first. This means putting aside a portion of your paycheque into a savings account (or other account) before you pay any other bills. Maybe it’s $50, $100, or whatever amount you can personally afford to do. Once you do this, the amount you have left is what you use to pay bills, and buy your necessities.
2. Set a personal budget
When my husband and I got into a ritual of just spending whatever we wanted whenever we wanted, it was total insanity. We were wasting hundreds of dollars every month and had nothing at all to show for it. That was when we set up a personal budget for ourselves that gave us a certain amount of money to buy things we felt we needed or wanted to have. This way we were held accountable for our spending and had a set budget to stick to. It not only made us more mindful, but also made us question whether we really want to spend our “allowance” on this or on that. And really, that was a good habit to get into.
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3. Stick to cash only
Debit and credit cards can be dangerous. Credit for the fact we can charge things instantly and worry about them later, and debit for the fact that we can “tap” or “swipe” for instant purchases without giving much thought to it.
My husband finds it easier to take out a set amount of cash for the week and that’s his spending money. He prefers the cash because it’s tangible and once it’s gone, it’s gone. He won’t go and withdraw any additional money or use his debit or credit cards. I find the cash method a little harder, simply because if I have it, I spend it. I tend to have the “out of sight, out of mind” mindset in which I may not spend it if I don’t see the physical cash in my purse. But like I mentioned earlier, the drawback of debit is that I can quickly lose track of just how much money I spend since I don’t actually “see” the money during the transaction. It definitely requires a little more restraint on my part.
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4. Keep your spare change
What do you do with your change from a purchase? Mine (when I do use cash) goes in my change purse and I often forget about it, not on purpose, I just tend to be drawn to bills over change. I feel like I’m holding up people in a lineup if I start counting out random change “5, 10, 15, 20… 50… 65, 80, and 95 cents.. here you go.” (I like to be speedy in the checkout. Weird hangup, I know. hahah) My husband throws all his spare change in the little flipdown compartment in his car. It gathers there forever and eventually he’ll take it out and move it to a container in the house. You’d be amazed to see how much he’s saved in a year of doing that. I think last year it was close to $180!
5. “Auto-pilot” saving
Our bank (and maybe every bank has this, I’m not sure) allows us to round up our debit purchases to either the nearest dollar or a certain amount that we decided on and put that amount into a savings account. So for instance, if a purchase is $3.45, the bank will round up to the next dollar and put the difference ($0.55 in this case) directly in our savings account. It may not sound like much, but it certainly does add up over time and is a way to be sort of “auto-saving” without even thinking about it or missing it. Remember, that’s happening with every purchase, so even if it was adding just $1/day to our savings account, it’s $30/month and a sweet $360/year!!
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6. Hold off on purchases
Really want that handbag? Or pair of shoes? Hold off on buying it right away. Most times, if I leave a store and think about the purchase overnight or even over a few days, and know what – I rarely ever go back and buy it. I usually realize it was an impulse buy and don’t feel I need it any longer. This can be hard especially if you are an impulse buyer like I am, and find it hard to walk away. Know where I find this the hardest to do? At stores like Winners/TJ Maxx and any other stores with high merchandise turnover. These are stores where if you leave something, it won’t be there next time. These are times when I reeeeeally mull it over in my mind as to how much I actually need the item I want to buy. But again, I will often leave the store and tell myself that if I want to come back and buy it and it’s gone, well, it just wasn’t meant to be.
7. Earn extra money
There are countless ways to earn extra money whether it be getting a part time job, selling items you make, opening an online business or even starting a blog. Two years ago, I moonlighted and worked a few evenings a week at a local physio clinic (in addition to my day job) so we could pay off a debt looming over my head. I don’t do that job any longer but it was a great way to make extra money. Luckily, my husband has a career in which there is plenty of opportunity for overtime if he so chooses to take it. So he will often take up an extra shift here or there to give us a little boost.
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8. Save extra income
If you’ve got a method by which extra money is coming in, be sure you set it aside. Whether it’s a bonus, overtime, or additional job, often times we can get excited by the extra money and want to go splurge on something. Fight the temptation to do this and remember why you wanted the extra income in the first place. On payday, either put it on a debt right away, or place it in an account/safe place where you know you won’t be tempted to spend it and it will go towards your goal.
All this being said, all fun and no play makes anyone a dull girl/guy. Allow yourself to be rewarded with all your hard efforts. Decide on a small reward for doing well. Maybe a movie night with the girls, a dessert date out one evening, or whatever feels like a reward/treat. Sometimes I get so excited to see the savings account growing that I will reward myself by putting a little extra in the account. For me, doing this still feels like a reward even though there’s no tangible item or experience and I’m okay with that. Do what feels like a reward to you.
I created my printable Financial Planner for my husband and I to use to get our finances in order. We learned that the key to having financial freedom is knowing where your money goes and how you are spending it. You too, can finally take control of your finances with this complete financial and budget planner by keeping detailed records of all your finances all in one place.
This planner has 32 awesome sheets to cover even the smallest aspect of your budget and comes in 4 paper sizes.
What’s one way that you find to be an easy way to save money? I’d love to hear it!