It never fails, at the beginning of the month, I have every intention of watching my spending and having at least $50 left over by the time I pay the bills. By the end of the month, I’m wondering whether I should pay the electric bill or the gas bill. Where in the heck is my money going?
Where Did My Money Go? Starting Saving With Savvy!
Last month, I buckled down and wrote down every penny I spent. Wait, that’s not entirely true. I used an app on my Droid, but you get my point. I quickly found that my money wasn’t disappearing into thin air, the washing machine wasn’t eating it and little elves weren’t taking it in the middle of the night. I was wasting it.
Between lunches out with my co-workers to my morning Starbuck’s fix, I was easily wasting at least $10 a day. It doesn’t seem like much when you’re spending it but that $10 a day is $280 a month. Once my eyes were opened to my ridiculous habits, it was easier to change what I was doing and come up with a plan to start saving. Here’s what I did:
1. Pack Meals
While it can be difficult watching co-workers head out to lunch, or even order in, when I’m pulling out a brown bagged lunch, it’s made sweeter knowing that I saved while they spent. In addition to packing my lunch, I bought a cute travel mug and have begun making my own coffee in the morning. That triple mocha latte half-caf with skim milk was costing me almost $3 a day; not anymore! Not only do I not have to juggle utility bills but I have money left over to stow away in a savings account.
2. Transfer Debt
I had several low limit credit cards that I was making minimum monthly payments on. It would have taken me several years to pay off those cards if I had continued making minimum payments. Once I realized this, I applied for and received a credit card with a higher limit and low introductory interest rate. I transferred my balances to this credit card and cut up my low limit cards. Not only will I pay off my balances quicker but I’ll improve my credit score since late payments will be a thing of the past.
3. Direct Deposit
If I have money in my pocket, I’ll spend it; it’s a simple fact. I know this about myself; I don’t like it, but I know it. I spoke with my employer, who already participates in direct deposit, and asked them to put $20 a pay into a separate savings account. My boss was more than happy to do this for me and I’ll be able to save money easier. If I don’t see it, it’s almost like it isn’t there. I should mention, though, that I refused the debit card that came with the account. Since I’m too lazy to get up and drive to the bank, the chances of me withdrawing from the account are slim.
4. Turn Your Coin Jar Into a Dollar Jar
I read about this method of savings when I started trying to figure out creative ways I could trick myself into saving money. Instead of tossing coins into a mason jar, I started putting every dollar bill in my pocket into the jar. Rather than use singles to pay for items, I use five, ten or even twenty dollar bills. Whenever I get dollar bills back as change, they go into one pocket and the rest of my money stays in another. At the end of the day, all of my singles go into the jar. I wrote the date that I started saving on the front of the jar and plan on continuing for a year before I count it.
While the way that I started saving might not work for you, it’s only important that you actually start saving. Get to know yourself and your spending habits. Look for ways you can cut back and for ways that you can begin to keep more of your money in the bank at the end of the month. The sooner you start, the more you’ll save.
Author Andy Trace is a money consultant and content contributor for www.FinanceChoices.co.uk a site offering detailed comparisons for the top providers, and side by side features for credit cards with balance transfer offers.