You work hard, day in and day out, yet you never seem to have any money. It can be a struggle just making ends meet, much less putting anything away for retirement. Everyone wishes they made more money. But in lieu of that, you can at least find ways to save what you have more effectively, to help you get out of the red and into the black. Here are a few easy tricks for saving money fast.
- Automatic Bill Pay. You hate paying bills. That’s understandable. So you put them off for as long as you can, not wanting to send that check in just yet, and maybe worried that you won’t have enough to cover it. Or maybe you just stuck it at the bottom of your “To Do” pile and forgot about it. Then, because you left it for so long, you incurred a late penalty, making the next one even more expensive. Even if it’s just a few dollars, that money adds up over time. However, if you enroll in automatic bill pay through your bank, you can set it up so that the money is sent to each utility or other organization that you need to pay, on the day that it’s due, every month, or quarter, or year. Everything gets paid on time, and you no longer have to deal with late penalties.
- Use Cash. Everyone knows the problems that credit cards cause. The interest that builds up over time is one of the biggest obstacles to saving money. But getting out of debt is more of a long term strategy. In the meantime, though, using cash instead of a card can help you start saving money right now. When you carry cash with you, you have an upper limit of how much you can spend. Anything more than that, you literally can’t afford. But with a card—even a debit card, which doesn’t charge interest—you can easily go over your self-imposed limit. If you promise yourself that you’ll only spend $50, but the total is $55.17, your reaction with a card will probably be, “Close enough.” Even if you’re overdrawn, the bank will often spot you a few dollars to cover the next purchase. But carrying cash will help you enforce that upper limit and save you money by keeping you honest.
- Do Things Yourself. It’s almost always cheaper to do something yourself than to pay someone else to do it. Cooking at home is much cheaper than going to a restaurant. Coffee grounds and filters cost just pennies a day, as opposed to spending several dollars on Starbucks. Changing your car’s oil yourself will cost you a lot less than taking it to a mechanic every few months. Look around for things you could be doing yourself to save money. If you don’t know how to do them, think about learning. The more self-sufficient you are, the more money you’ll be able to save.
- Look for Loyalty Programs. You probably have a rewards card with your local grocery store. Swipe your card or enter in your phone number, and you get certain lower prices. Now, how many other stores or companies you patronize regularly also have loyalty programs to save money? Do some research online and see if there are savings you could be taking advantage of. Just be careful not to fall into the trap of “buying just to save.” Look for things that are on sale, but only buy things that you actually need. Otherwise you’ll end up spending more, rather than less.
These are just a few ways that you can save money quickly and easily. They may seem small, but over time, they can really add up. Try these for a month and see how much extra you have at the end of that time. Chances are, you’ll be amazed.