1. Change in a jar. The old standby of saving all your change in a jar? It works. Sure, it might be only $10 a month, but that’s $120 a year that might otherwise have ended up in vending machines or those “take a penny, leave a penny” dishes.
2. Save your coupons. Many stores print “You saved X dollars” on the receipts. But it’s not savings unless you save it, so transfer that amount—immediately!—into your bank account.
3. Save your raise. If you’re still working and were lucky enough to get a pay increase, pretend you didn’t. Bank it instead.
· Challenge yourself
Once you've started taking little steps, you'll be ready for more advanced strategies, like these challenges:
4. Dollar bill challenge. When you get home from work or running errands, put all the $1 bills from your wallet in a jar. (Some people do this with $5 bills, but that’s too rich for my blood.)
· Use your bank
Use your bank's services to turn hard-earned cash into even more money:
5. Automate your savings. The easiest thing ever: Set up an automatic transfer from checking to savings each month. Better yet, transfer from checking into an online savings account, since you can’t dip into on a whim.
6. Designate your dollars. Some banks let you set up sub-accounts and give them specific names. It might be “Slush Fund” but it could also be more specific, such as “New Car” or “Reunion Trip.”
7. Keep the Change. This Bank of America program rounds debit-card purchases up to the next dollar and then transfers that amount from checking into savings. For example, if you pay $37.03 for groceries, 97 cents would go into savings. Easy, huh?
· Access apps and websites
The internet is full of programs designed to help you save:
8.. Get a cash rewards credit card. Use it to pay for everything you can – groceries, utilities, gym membership – and bank the cash rebates. Look for the best cards at sites like NerdWallet or CardRatings.com.
9. Save impulsively. Tempted by an unnecessary purchase? Talk yourself down, then enter the amount of money you might have spent into a free app called ImpulseSave. That money will be transferred into savings.
10. Discount your purchases. Buy discounted gift cards on the secondary market for items you need most often. Suppose you buy a $50 Walgreens card for $44 and a $100 PetSmart card for $87. Immediately transfer $19 into savings and use the cards like cash. Discounted gift cards are available for just about anything you need; check GiftCardGranny for the best deals. They are also available at Costco and other discount stores.
11. Get a savings buddy. Suggest that a friend or relative join you in the slush-fund goal, then chat or e-mail each week about your progress. You might even make it a challenge, i.e., whoever saves the most has to buy lunch.
12. Hide your dollars. Set up your slush fund as an online account; the few days it takes to transfer money is a built-in cooling-off period. (Do you really need that whatever-it-is?) Or, open it at a bank way across town and don’t get a debit card. Having to drive and fill out a withdrawal slip should help you re-think purchases.
Transform Your Routines
Take a look at those little, repeated behaviors that could actually be costing you a ton:
13. Change an unhealthy habit. Do you smoke? Quit! Then set aside the money that once went for tobacco. In the habit of driving three blocks to pick up a prescription or a quart of milk? Walk instead—you’ll save money (gas, wear-and-tear) and get a little exercise to boot.
14. Change a fun (but pricey) habit. Do you meet friends at Starbucks a few times a week? Replace those meetings with a pleasant stroll or an at-home coffee club. (Take turns hosting) Eat at home. Look for new recipes and prepare them together with your family. You don’t have to give up good times—you just have to re-imagine them.
Designate Your Change
15.. Found money = fund money. Any unexpected cash (rebate checks, the quarter you found in a parking lot, etc.) goes into savings.