Does this sound familiar? Every month you set a goal to save a small portion of your income, only to end up failing miserably.
It would be nice if we could all save money in the blink of an eye. Unfortunately, it’s a task that requires effort, discipline and — most importantly — some sort of income.
If you’re in a bind or just want to stash a little extra cash, here are 18 ideas about how to make your savings grow;
- Keep the change. Retain the change from each of your transactions for an entire week and store it in a Mason jar, Ziploc bag or piggy bank. At the end of the week, count the coins to see how you did. Depending on how much you spend, you may have reached your goal by following this one simple tactic.
- Reduce transportation costs. Download the GasBuddy or GasPriceWatch.com application onto your smartphone to locate the best deals in the local area on gasoline. You can also try carpooling with others from your job, or using public transportation for a week.
- Eliminate dining out for one week. This suggestion is made over and over again, but it works. Brew your own coffee to start the day and use the leftovers from the prior night’s meal for lunch. And if you’re tempted to pick up an item from the snack shop, come prepared with your own treats and drinks in tow. Also, kindly inform co-workers that you will not be accepting invitations to dine out for lunch during the week.
- Skip entertainment. Don’t plan on going to a play or the movies. An alternative is to find free entertainment at local community events. There’s also the library, which is jam-packed with books and DVDs that you can borrow free.
- Find free workouts. Do you pay weekly for fitness classes? Try finding fitness programs on television or the Internet, or at the library. I prefer SparkPeople when I need to change things up because it’s a fitness hub with a variety of workout plans, many of which are customizable. It also offers meal plans for those looking to get fit. If you’re a member of a gym, consider canceling the membership and embracing the great outdoors or group workouts. Check the local recreation or community center for free exercise classes that you may be able to attend.
- Only carry cash. Can you spare $100 each week without turning your finances upside down? Force yourself to save the funds by setting aside a cash-only expenditure budget for the week. Once the cash is gone, your spending is done. Can’t wrap your head around that? Break the task into small increments of $20 a day. Once five days have passed, you will have met your goal. High five!
- Sell some stuff. Head to a local consignment shop or a retailer, such as a Plato’s Closet, that will pay you on the spot for gently used goods. Can’t find one in your area? Try hosting a garage sale, or set up shop at the local flea market.
- Get to work. Pick up a temporary side gig to quickly accumulate funds. Or, let your creative juices flow and sell your products and services to others.
- Clip coupons. No newspapers lying around? No problem. Head on over to a website like The Krazy Coupon Lady or Coupon Mom, where you will find printable coupons and corresponding instructions for putting the coupons to use. In some cases, a coupon can actually qualify you for cash back from the store.
- Call your car insurance company. Inquire about any discounts that may be available. Also, raising the deductibles on your auto and homeowners insurance will drop your premiums. Just be sure you have money in savings to cover your increased out-of-pocket expense in case you have to file a claim.
- Decrease your energy consumption. Reach out to your utility company to schedule a free energy audit of your home. Also, unplug any chargers or appliances that are not in use. Set the thermostat a little higher to cut your air conditioning bill. Lower the temperature in winter and layer up. Also, consider hanging your clothes out on the clothesline to give the dryer a break.
- Don’t use your credit card. A high interest rate can greatly increase the cost of things you buy with your credit card if you don’t pay off the balance in full each month. Hide the magic plastic and don’t increase the amount you owe on the card.
- Disconnect the cable. Freaked out by this suggestion? At least shave off the extras and try online television instead. Also, inquire about any discounts on bundles for which you may be eligible.
- Skip the spa. It’s always great to pamper yourself, but it can also add up quickly. My last spa visit, which consisted of a manicure, pedicure and massage, was well over $100.
- Iron your own clothes. You can iron shirts and blouses, can’t you? No need to pay a professional unless an article of clothing truly requires professional handling by a dry cleaner.
- Call your cellphone provider. If the provider isn’t willing to reduce your monthly bill, switch providers or get a prepaid plan. Also, check out the free or steeply reduced price options, such as Republic Wireless. They do the job just as well as the big boys. I know from experience.
- Track your expenses. The simple act of paying attention to all of your daily expenses may be motivation enough to spend less. Join a free expense-tracking service like PowerWallet, then check in daily to see where your money’s going. PowerWallet will automatically send you money-saving coupons based on what you’re buying.
- Pick up some free cash. Does your employer match retirement contributions? Add another $100 to your 401(k) and get a free $100 from the boss.
By Allison Martin of Money Talks News