Oct 12, 2022

Every day should be National Savings Day, founded to celebrate and encourage people to make saving money a part of their lives. It’s a good financial habit to start early and never stop! We save for so many things, like life goals: college, marriage, babies, dream travel, and retirement. We also need a nest egg or rainy day fund for unexpected illnesses (people, pets), to get out of debt, to handle a job loss. Since saving money is not always easy, here are 12 things you can do to hang on to more of your cash.

1. Take Advantage of Free Entertainment: Being frugal is not a bad thing. It means you think about what you're spending money on and make choices that align with your money saving goals. That doesn't mean you still can't go out and have fun. Follow social media to see all the free things happening in your area.

  • Any given week, your community is hosting free festivals, concerts, art shows, parades, and sporting events you can attend.
  • Make a weekly trip to the library to check out books, CDs, DVDs, magazines, even passes for museums, zoos, and cultural centers at some locations.
    • Plus, free Wi-fi!
  • Some museums, historical sites and national parks offer free days or reduced admission prices.
  • Visit local colleges for concerts, plays, lectures, book signings, student exhibits, and more.

2. Volunteer - Give Back and Get Back: Turn what you love into a way of helping others or local businesses, and, as an added bonus-yourself. If you can’t pass up a play or concert, become an usher or ticket taker and get to see the show for free. Sign up to be a docent at a museum and take in the latest exhibits at no charge. Love animals? Donate your time to a zoo or at an animal shelter or adoption center. Great with kids? Your local parks and recreational department might need volunteer coaches for youth teams. Be around what you love for no cost, and enjoy the rewards of doing good.

3. Partner with Your Employer: There are many financial perks that you should take advantage of at your place of work. Your employer is always looking out for your best interest and has many savings options in place to help you.

  • AutoSave - If you’re not doing this, start now. Your employer can automatically put a portion of post-tax wages, via payroll deduction, right into your savings account.
  • Participate in your company’s 401(K) retirement plan, especially if they offer matched savings.
    • This is bonus money, don’t pass it up!
  • Look into pet insurance, fitness center discounts, tuition reimbursement, and stock options for further cost savings

 

4. Make the Call to Lower your Bills: While this will require some manpower on your part, your efforts can really pay off. We often get so used to paying bills “as is” or checking “auto renew”  that we forget we still have the power to negotiate lower rates, get better terms, and reduce costs:

  • Stay on top of interest rates and refinance your auto loan when the time is right to save on the life of your loan.
  • Shop and compare a few car insurance quotes every year.
    • An older car needs less than a new one
  • Change your cell phone plan by checking offers with a few providers
  • Bundle cable, internet and phone for reduced savings.
    • Or cut cable and sign up for streaming services (still need Wi-Fi)

Savings Tip: Many carriers and providers will cut your bill by $5 or $10 when you sign up for auto-pay and/or paperless statements.

5. Join a “Buy Nothing” Group on Facebook - Here’s the place to give away and get things, for free. Items you’re tired of or no longer use may be exactly what someone else needs. Same goes for you. Need a bookcase, twin beds or 20 glass jars for canning? Post a request and see what happens. Either way, this give and take with no money exchanged benefits both parties. Clear out clutter, save on spending, and feel good helping each other out.

6. Hire Yourself: There are plenty of things you can do to help save on hiring others. Learn how to fix things around the house (plumbing, leaky faucet, painting a bathtub) by watching helpful DIY YouTube videos. Handy with a needle and thread? Repair or make your own garments, sew a new set of curtains, or make some pillow covers. If you’re a wiz in the kitchen, save on restaurant bills and meal deliveries by eating more at home. Buy bulk, double recipes, and freeze portions. Fire up the lawnmower and cut down on weekly lawn care expenses. If you’re really good at something, hire yourself out for added income.

7. Just Say "Cancel": Get out of the habit of saying “Yes'' to things. Or if you do, stay on top of your commitments. Free trials are so tempting and often a good deal, but usually require a credit card on file to charge when your time is up. Set up a calendar alert so you can cancel before then. Often when you begin a newspaper, magazine or streaming subscription, you agree to the auto-renew option. It’s easy to forget about and the monthly or yearly bill just keeps rolling along, even if you’ve stopped using the service. Check your banking and credit card statements monthly to keep an eagle eye on what you’re actively paying for, and if you need to, CANCEL. 

8. Put Your Money to Work for You: When you’ve done the first step of saving money, start earning more for your cash by opening a Certificate of Deposit (CD).There are many types to choose from, with terms ranging from one month to 5 years, to fit your savings plan. While the money is “locked up,” you’ll enjoy a higher rate of return for your deposits and won’t be tempted to spend it. 

Savings Tip: Don’t withdraw your money before the CD maturation date, as there can be high penalties and you’ll lose the interest earned.

9. Adopt the 30-day Savings Rule: Delay spending until you’re sure about an item or purchase. Keep a picture on your smartphone or place a reminder where you can see it, and give yourself 30 days to think about it. Put the item on hold or add it to your online shopping cart, but don’t check out. If you’re lucky, a retailer will give you an extra discount code to incentivize you. And here’s the (good) catch: Deposit the total money required into your savings account and sit on it. After 30 days, you can either treat yourself to the purchase or pass on it, knowing your savings account is that much better off.

10. Go Cash-Only: Here’s how you can truly track your spending. By paying with cash, you can see exactly where your money is going. Don’t even use your debit card, because it doesn’t require the math that happens when you actually have to dish out the dollar bills. Give yourself a cash budget each day or every week, and do what you can to stick to it by reviewing receipts as you go. Having “less” will make you pay more attention to the “little” expenses that add up: high-priced coffees, drinks and meals out, lotto tickets, bottled water, impulse purchases, and more. 

11. Shop the Swap: It is one of life’s luxuries to splurge on a new outfit for a job interview, wedding, big trip, or other special event. Before you do, consider thriftier ways to get the look you want without overspending or depleting your savings. 

  • Borrow from a friend or family member who is the same size as you.
  • Host a clothing/shoes/jewelry swap party with friends where everyone brings a certain number of items.
    • Everyone walks away happier with “new” stuff
  • Visit a secondhand shop or Goodwill store, as many people donate high-end pieces.
  • Look into Rent the Runway where you can rent/subscribe/buy designer fashions.
  • Don't forget yard sales and online marketplaces like Craigslist and Freecycle.org.

12. Control Credit Cards: They’re easy to use and often feel like “free” money. But you will feel it when you see your statement. What’s hard is credit card debt that just continues to accrue and high interest rates that make it even harder to pay them off. Why bump up your balance with late fees and higher interest rates if you don’t need to

  • Always pay your bill on time every month and pay at least the minimum.
  • Set up payment to be automatically deducted from your checking or savings account.
    • Late or missed payments can cost you in fees, increased interest rates (higher minimum payments), and a ding on your credit report
  • Call your credit card issuer and ask for a lower interest rate, potentially saving you $$.
  • Stop using your card. Cut it up or hide it, but don’t cancel it - doing so could affect your credit history.

Meg Schutte is a Bank of Hope Blog contributor.    

The views and opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of Bank of Hope. 

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