10 Great Ways to Save Money Each Month

how to save more money

“I have to find a second job or a freelance or something, because I need to start saving for a trip to Italy and I just don’t have any room in my budget for that,” is the conversation the woman in line in front of me at Starbucks is engaged in with her friend/coworker. Insert all-knowing eye roll from her friend in non-savings solidarity, “I feel that. I want that new Givenchy Antigona, and I need to do the same,” she offers. Together, as they wait for their venti lattes with added shots of espresso – because who doesn’t like to shake all day long – they discussed various ideas for saving so they can go to Italy and purchase $2500 handbags. Believe me when I say that I was not at all surprised to hear the “rich boyfriend” suggestion come up not once, but twice, in their conversation in addition to playing (and winning, of course) the lottery.

Now, I’m no mathematical genius, but when I see two women ordering the biggest cup for the more expensive latte (coffee is always cheaper) adding shots of espresso to it and then discussing – at length – their new buys from the Tory Burch sale, I come up with plenty of additional room in the budget. As a lover of travel (and the Givenchy bag currently being discussed) as well as someone on a first name basis with the sales associates at Tory, I know these ladies have some room in their budget to save a bit more, and the extremes of locating a rich boyfriend are not necessary.

I really did resist the urge to tap them on the shoulder and tell them that the best way to save is to pay themselves first, then pay their monthly expenses and then do their shopping and have their fun. I mean, common sense, right? Wrong; not everyone engages in that method of savings. Many people don’t save at all. Many people don’t know how to save because they never learned the proper way to save. More frequently, however, people do not learn to save because they are not willing to invest in themselves so much as they are a pair of shoes or a handbag. As a shoe and handbag snob, I get that. I also am a ‘self’ and ‘family’ snob with four kids and a husband, and I feel as if my most important investment is them…then the shoes.

My point is that even when you feel as if you are not living with much room in your budget to save, you probably have more room than you think. Whether you’re earning $20,000 per year or $150,000 per year, I bet you I can find you at least 10 ways to save in your already self-described unwilling budget.

Pay Yourself First

You are the most important investment in your own life. Sure, that sounds cliché and a bit more than just a little cheesy, but it’s the truth. You are the most important investment in your own life. It’s pretty hard to enjoy life and make it in life when you are not investing in yourself, so we have a few solutions for you, beginning with the investment in your life that is you. Go ahead; do it. You know how your employer removes your retirement contributions and your health insurance payments from your paycheck prior to you ever knowing that you had that money? You just get a check that’s a lot less than what you actually earned, but you don’t miss that money because it was never there in the first place. That’s what we’re talking about here; pay yourself from that check.

Speak to someone at work and find out if there is a way you can have a portion of your paycheck deposited directly into your savings account so that you never see the money. It’s difficult to miss what you never had. We recommend you do this, or allow your bank to take a portion of whatever you are paid and put it into your savings account from the start. It works, and it’s going to make you feel a lot more accomplished since savings no longer requires any effort on your part.

Save Your New Raise

I don’t know about other industries, but my husband is offered his yearly evaluation and his pay raise the first week of every New Year. What this means for him is that his first check of the New Year is larger than this others because it includes his newly minted raise. Since we never used that money in the past to live, and we don’t rely on his raises to help with monthly expenses, we just save whatever he is making in addition to what he made before. I’d recommend it to everyone. For one, why raise your level of expenses each month just because you’re making more money? I particularly enjoy having as few expenses each month as possible – it makes that Tory Burch sale that much more fun.

Save Your Savings

Here’s a thought; save what you save. When you go into the supermarket and you get that long receipt with that circle at the bottom where the cashier marked the dollar amount you saved shopping here today, actually save it. I know it’s grocery savings in the moment, but it could be actual savings. Do this every time you make a purchase and it might really add up. Christmas shopping would have been the best time to start, too, because I love seeing things like “You saved $287 on your purchase today,” on my receipts this time of year.

Cut Out the Little Things

I once did this by accident, and it turned out to be one of those pretty indispensable life lessons we all encounter from time to time. Every morning, my husband leaves for the office just before 7. I’ve been up since 5 to shower, work, and get myself ready so that at 7:30 when the kids get up I can start the breakfast, lunch, get dressed routine so that we can be out of the house by 8:25. If we can get out of the house by 8:25, I take my kids through the drive-thru at Dunkin Donuts so they can lick the sprinkles and chocolate off the top of a donut since they think donuts are gross. It’s their reward (so go ahead and judge, I don’t care) for making my morning easier getting them, myself and the twins dressed and out the door while the house is still clean and mommy still has a fraction of her sanity left.

While there, I would order myself a medium iced pumpkin swirl coffee and a whole wheat bagel. It occurred to me after a few months of this that I was spending $6.57 per morning on a stale bagel I’d take two bites out of because it wasn’t any good and a cup of iced coffee so consistently bad that I couldn’t even drink it. I also realized that the calories and the ‘sweetness’ of it made me feel lethargic and gross (I’m telling you, it’s a byproduct of being someone who does not eat much in the way of sweets and prefers healthy food instead). I decided that they could still have their sprinkles and chocolate to lick off their donuts, but that I’d pass. Now I spend less than $2 per day. I didn’t realize how much I was spending and saving on that little stop every morning until I realized that instead of having no cash of my $50 weekly cash for breakfast and coffee when I’m taking the kids to school or running errands, I still had $40 every week.

You see, I don’t usually stop in the afternoons, and I work from home and have two 1-year-old twins running around, so the only time we are out during the day is to take the kids to school and pick them up. We don’t stop in the afternoons since we just want to get home, so I have this huge pile of cash in my wallet that I’ve been saving on my morning stop since a few weeks into the year. Now I just grab a $10 bill for cash for the week and use that, and the additional $40 I just transfer into savings since it’s part of my weekly cash and I don’t use it. That’s $160 per month saved.

how to save more money

Save Your Change

When I hear of people doing this, I think it’s a genius idea. We all toss our change from cash purchases into a jar or container or the bottom of whatever bag we happen to be carrying that day so that eventually we have a dozen handbags that weight a hundred pounds thanks to the loose change in the bottom of all of them, right? The point is that we usually save our change when we use cash. So why not save our change when we use our debit cards, too? A great idea is to go ahead and track your spending for the day, round every purchase up to the next dollar and transfer the change from those purchases to the next dollar into savings. It’s not something that seems at all like much, but depending on how often you spend money throughout the day, it can really add up and equate to ample savings.

Weeks of the Year Challenge

Pinterest always has the most amazing ideas and concepts, and this is no different. I love this idea because it has so much to offer. It is an amazing way to save almost $1,500. I saw this idea a while back on Pinterest and thought it was a great one that people should really try to use since it really doesn’t require much effort and it quite literally feels as if you are not doing much of anything in terms of savings. To be quite honest, it’s nothing. All you do is save the dollar amount of the week and since it’s the first week of January, now is the best time to start this challenge. We’re challenging you to save $1 this week. Next week, save $2. On the third week of the year, save $3. All you do all year is save as much as the week it is throughout the year. By the time the last week of the year rolls around, you’re saving $52 for the week. It is not much at all because it’s simple. You’d spend $52 on gas or take out one night for the family. It just seems like another small expense for the week, so you never even notice that all you’re doing is transferring that money to savings and watching as it grows every week. It doesn’t seem like much at first, and it never seems like much.

Why? Because you’re adding one dollar to your expenses every week throughout the year; basically a cup of McDonald’s coffee is being added to your expenses each week, and that doesn’t seem like much because it is not much. However, the savings really add up.

Call Your Providers

I need to do this; my husband keeps telling me he will, yet he has not. We use Direct TV but we are no longer committed to them because our contract expired years ago. However, we are lazy, we have too many things on TiVo we want to watch and we never called to ask them to lower our rate or our plan. We are currently spending $180 per month so that our kids can watch Bubble Guppies and we can catch up on Ellen DeGeneres’ show. Everything else we can watch on NetFlix or by hooking up the iPad to the television a week after it’s been aired so we can watch live. And by everything else, I mean Thursdays. Anything Shonda and the ever-amazing Blacklist.

Knowing we watch nothing and pay that much money every month is a bit of a bummer, but we hold the power. We can call and tell them we want to cancel and they might offer us a lower rate. We can call and cancel and pay for a lot less with another provider. We can cancel it all together and watch television on Netflix and all those other streaming services – and will…as soon as they broadcast live sports. Go Gators!

how to save more money

Personalize Your Savings

When it’s personal, it’s easier to feel more connected to it. It goes with personal relationships, personal items, personal anything. It’s just easier to do something and be on target when something is more personal. Let’s take that Givenchy Antigona as an example, and let’s go with the medium. The price for this bag is $2,435. Scoff, do what you will; it’s an investment piece that a woman will carry for the rest of her life, making it far more affordable than a cheap bag such as Coach that will fall apart inside of a year and end up costing far more over the course of her life since she will replace it regularly.

Now, that is a bag that’s not exactly cheap. It’s not an Hermes, but it’s a gorgeous bag and it’s just perfect for everything you need to carry. You want it; you do. But let’s say that you cannot justify spending that kind of money from your family’s savings account or your next check since it cuts into your kids, your husband, your household; so you save for it. When you personalize it, it helps to save more and it helps to save faster. Let’s say that your goal is to carry that bag with you on your fabulous anniversary trip in October. You have 10 months to save for that bag. Now let’s personalize it. It is the 10th month of the year and the year is 2016. Let’s go ahead and add the number of the month to the number of the year. If your trip is the middle of the month, you have 42 weeks to save for it. If you add $10 for the month and $20.16 for the year and you save that amount every single week for those 42 weeks, you will have $1,266 saved toward that bag.

It’s not the entire purchase price, but it’s half of it and that makes it a lot more justifiable if you are also saving additionally for that bag. It’s a way of personalizing your savings so that every time you go to put money into your savings account, you are able to make it seem more personal, and you are more likely to actually do it. By doing this, using this method, you’re enabling yourself to want to save more money.

Use Cash

What better way to save money than to limit the amount you are able to spend in the first place? It is far easier to save money when you haven’t got it on you. I’m guilty of this all the time. Let’s take yesterday, for instance. I had to run into Publix for a moment to grab some lemons and a bottle of white wine for dinner (to drink and to add to the chicken we made) and I ended up spending $60. I also bought cookies for my kids to make, M&Ms for them to put into the cookies, some things we didn’t need and some more things I’m pretty certain we didn’t need.

Either way, my $20 trip turned into a $60 trip all because I use my debit card and not cash. If I brought in a $20 bill for the trip, I would not have been able to add anything else to my cart and I would have saved $40. See how easy that is? It’s a novel concept we spend entirely too much time ignoring. If we do this at dinner, we might not order the escargot as an appetizer, the salad, the a la carte vegetables and potatoes to go along with our filet, and we might limit ourselves to a glass of wine rather than a bottle. While you’ll probably not eliminate all these things from your meal (who wants just a filet and a glass of wine?) you’ll very likely eliminate much of it, saving money every time.

Save Your Leftovers

This is something my husband and I are good at doing. We have several different checking accounts within our bank for several reasons. We have one that is for household expenditures such as gas and groceries and things the kids need, we have one that’s for our expenses every month – this is the account from which our mortgage is deducted, our insurance, our cell phone bill, etc. – and we have an account that’s just for fun. Each time one of us is paid, we designate our savings to our savings account, we put away the cash for our monthly expenses, we put away the cash for our monthly household items and we put the rest into the “I want to send my wife flowers because I love her,” or “I’m going to order my husband some more shirts and ties for work because I’m tired of going to the dry cleaner every other week and I’d like to see if we can just get him enough white shirts to last two or three months at a time,” account.

At the end of the month before we designate everything out again at the beginning of the month to all the accounts, we like to take whatever happens to be left over in each account and stick it into our savings account. This works on several levels. One, our monthly expenses vary a bit thanks to the utilities. Our utility bill might be $400 in the summer and only $250 during the Florida “winter” so we might have a lot left over, or we might have a few dollars left over. Either way, even if we only have $50 left in that bill account each month after everything clears, that’s another $600 a year that goes into our savings account.

The same goes for our expenses account. Sometimes we have nothing left in there if we are traveling and spend more in gas or groceries than usual. Other times we travel a lot and don’t use any gas since we’re flying and we aren’t home to need to purchase groceries. The same goes for our fun account. We can do what we please with that one, and sometimes we have a month we are far too busy with our kids’ activities and work obligations to find time to shop or go out and do anything else, so we have a lot left over. Other months, we have more date nights than usual, we find a free weekend to take the kids to Disney or we shop a lot and there’s not much left over. Either way, what’s in there goes into savings before the account is replenished.

Photo by Getty Images


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