Was ‘saving money’ or ‘making more money’ on your list of New Year’s resolutions?
Are you one of the millions of Americans who reach each payday with less than a few hundred dollars in your checking account, or even a completely empty checking account?
If you’re looking for some simple ways to save more money this year and start building real wealth without cramping your lifestyle, here are a few simple and unique ideas (no coupon clipping involved!) to get you on your way to a fat bank account by the end of the year.
Know where your money goes
There is a really easy way to track your spending and create a budget that does not involve writing everything down in a spreadsheet! Create a free account at Mint.com where you can safely and securely attach your bank account(s), credit cards, investments, and loans to monitor spending and saving habits. Each week or month, you can see where your money went, and you’ll be able to easily pinpoint the wasteful areas where you can make simple changes to reduce waste and save money. In addition to monitoring your spending habits, Mint’s system will monitor your savings and investments so you can see how well you’re increasing your net income over time as well.
Separate your money
When your cash is all lumped together in your checking account, it’s nearly impossible to save for the long-term, because you always have access to 100% of your money. There is one simple hack you can use to make sure your priorities are taken care of without feeling like you’re giving up any money: create separate accounts for each of your priorities. Long-term investments belong in an IRA or 401k account, automatically deducted from your paycheck if possible. If your employer offers direct deposit, you then also have the option of having some of your paycheck automatically deposited in a separate account. We suggest having 10% of each paycheck (after retirement funds are deducted) transferred into a separate savings account that is not attached to your checking account (no easy transfers to spend this money) and that you don’t carry an ATM card for. You’ll be amazed at how quickly your savings grows when you’re not looking at it every day and don’t have easy access to it.
Refinance your credit cards and loans
Did you know you may be able to refinance your car loan to save money? Most people know there are similar opportunities for their mortgage, but don’t realize that one of their biggest monthly expenses, their high interest auto loan, can also be renegotiated. Contact us today to apply for car loan refinancing! Once you establish a new, lower monthly payment, immediately transfer the savings each month into a separate savings account or long-term investment. A $100 savings on your car payment each month can add up to $1,200 in your bank account at the end of the year! The best part is, you’ll never miss it because you never had it in your hands to spend!
This one involves some creative thinking. What skills do you have that would be valuable to others? What can they provide for you in exchange? A simple trade is a skills-for-skills swap such as: a massage therapist giving free massages to her hairstylist in exchange for haircuts, or a photographer taking engagement photos for a graphic designer in exchange for the designer crafting brochures for the photographer. Can you offer to prepare a weeks’ worth of dinners for a family that can watch your kids after school? In American culture, we typically look to exchange money for services in all situations, but some creative bartering between friends and associates is often much more beneficial for everyone involved, and allows you to pocket the cash you would have spent on these services.
Rethink Dining Out
The average American spends more than $2,600 each year on dining out. Imagine what you could do with an extra $2,600 in your pocket! You don’t have to completely cut dining out from your lifestyle, but consider a few simple swaps to cut your spending down while padding your savings account:
- Pack a lunch for the office
- Limit your dining out to a drink and appetizer, but have a full dinner at home.
- Check out restaurants.com and groupon.com for great offers at thousands of restaurants.
- Invite friends for dinner at your place, then ask them to host the next one.