So, you’ve decided to start saving. The accounts are ready and the goals are set — you just need a few more ideas on where the extra money is going to come from. To get those saving wheels turning, we’ve put together a list of 10 simple tips to boost your savings:
Round it up: Every time you make a purchase (say, $24.20), round up to the next dollar and transfer the difference into your savings account (in this case, $0.80). There are actually bank accounts set up to help you do this. While the savings seem so small, and therefore painless, they really add up over time.
Start a change jar: You probably don’t use a lot of cash anymore, but when you do chances are you’re accumulating a lot of change that will just weigh down your back pocket. Make a habit of tossing your leftover change into a jar at the end of the day. When it’s nearly full (that’s right!) roll it and take it to the bank.
Make it fun: Set a game for yourself like, “I have to save any 2010 loonies I get” and change the denomination and year every so often to keep yourself on your toes. This is something you can even get your spouse or kids to do. Have a family challenge to see who can find the most in a three-month period.
Ditch fees: Tacking on a late charge or user fee to something you’ve already paid for is beyond frustrating. Carefully read contracts to avoid paying more than you need to and make sure you understand any potential service fees before signing up.
Embrace community resources: If you’re an avid reader, get a library card. Love to socialize? Find a volunteer program. Nearly every community will have resources, programs or events that are not only cost-effective but nearby, making them convenient and cheap to travel to.
Cut out the coffee run: If caffeine is your friend we don’t mean you should cut it out altogether — just those quick trips that add up during the week. If you’re tempted by the coffee shop down the street bring a thermos of self-made fuel from home, and maybe even your own homemade treats if you’re really planning.
Lower your utility costs: Call your service providers (cell phone, cable, etc.) and make sure that you’re actually getting the best deal for your dollar. If you think you can cut back on something, reduce the cost, or cancel it altogether, then do it. Small things like curbing unnecessary electricity use can also make a difference.
Don’t be afraid to ask: Whether you’re booking a trip or negotiating with a service provider, it doesn’t hurt to ask for a discounted rate or if there is a way to reduce the price. If you don’t ask, you won’t know and speaking up can definitely save you money!
Meal plan: If you find that you’re regularly throwing money at the “What’s for dinner?” question then try to get into the habit of planning your meals for the week. When hitting the grocery store, get only what’s on your list for the week’s meals. If you’re feeling really ambitious then make double or triple batches of dinners to use for lunch or to store in the freezer for the next time you’re in a dinner bind.
Master the timed decision: Before tossing something into your shopping cart, hang onto it for 10 seconds and decide if you actually need it. Need, not want. If you’re looking at big-ticket items (a new mobile device, for example), change it from 10 seconds to 30 days. This will also allow you extra time to compare prices.
Whether your savings goals are big or small, it doesn’t have to be an agonizing process. Simple, small adjustments can yield amazing results; your creativity is the limit. Once you’ve met a few of your savings goals, chances are you’ll have even more motivation to keep with it. Save on, friends, save on!