Saving money is easier said than done. But it’s not impossible if you develop a system, set rules, and stick to them. As always, paying yourself first is key, and if you’re able to you should automate a portion of your paycheck to go directly into savings.
It’s also important to remember that no savings is too small. Whatever you can save is better than nothing. In certain ways, the key to saving more is to alter the way you think about your money each month. Sounds weird, right? But these eight easy ways to save money can actually trick you into saving $700 — or even more! — each month.
Here are my favorite ways to tuck those pennies away every chance I get.
Trick #1: Sneak cash back into savings
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Once a week, I choose the cash back option at the grocery store and take $5 out. When I get home I put that five dollars directly into savings. While $5 doesn’t seem like much, at the end of the year I’ll have $260 stashed away — all without noticing because it will just feel like grocery money.
Total savings: $20/month
Trick #2: Upgrade your spare change jar
Source: Megan on Flickr (Creative Commons)
Yeah, yeah, we’ve all heard of the spare change jar. We know those pennies can add up, but dollars add up to even more. Why not start a singles jar instead and dump all your leftover dollar bills into it at the end of each day? By the time December 31 rolls around your singles jar may be overflowing with hundreds of dollars!
Estimated total savings: $15/month
Trick #3: Treat coupons like cash
Using a $1 off coupon means one less $1 that’s coming out of your wallet. Why not put that $1 into your savings?
What I like to do at the end of every grocery trip is look at the bottom of my receipt and see how much I saved in coupons, then immediately transfer that amount into savings.
Estimated total savings: $200/month
Trick #4: Pay the Laundromat
If there’s one chore we can count on every week, it’s laundry. But this tiresome task can become a savings goldmine. That’s right, I said goldmine! Here’s how:
For every load you wash, put $1 into a “Laundromat” jar and watch the savings add up. Any loose change or bills found in pockets is a bonus!
Estimated total savings: $15/month
Trick #5: Round up your bills
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If my rent is $1,485, I usually round up and think of it as $1,500 a month instead. So, I might as well round up my bill and put that extra $15 into savings every 30 days, right? You can do this with just your rent bill, or start rounding up all your bills and watch the savings add up.
Estimated total savings: $25/month
Trick #6: Continue payments
Once I pay off a long-standing payment like my car loan I like to congratulate myself. I deserve a pat on the back, right?
But guess what? Now I’m already used to making that car payment every month, and it fits with my current budget. So why not keep “paying” my bill — to my savings account instead of the bank every month. At the very least I can keep it going until the end of the year when I typically reassess my budget.
Estimated total savings: $400/month
Trick #7: Pocket that postage
Source: Allan Foster on Flickr (Creative Commons)
Let’s face it, in today’s electronic age we can easily skip the extra 49 cents we pay for a stamp when we mail in our bills. (Did you know that if you mailed 10 bills a month, you’d be spending about $5 on postage plus about $3 for a box of envelopes? Ridiculous!)
That money would be better off in our savings accounts — and it can stay there by switching to online billing.
Estimated total savings: $8/month
Editor’s note: Whoops! Our math was a little off in our original calculations. Do you have a way to save $20 or more each month? Let us know in the comments below!
Trick #8: Cash in low gift cards
Source: Mike Mozart on Flickr (Creative Commons)
Some states have gift card laws that give you the option to trade in low balance gift cards for cash at the issuing store. Say what? Not only is this an easy way to save your money, but it eliminates those $3 gift cards that clog your wallet.
Californians, listen up! You stand to save the most, since any gift card with a value less than $10 is redeemable in cash. Under $5 is the norm in most other states with this law:
- Colorado, Maine, & New Jersey: You can get a refund on your gift card balance if it’s under $5.
- Rhode Island & Vermont: Better use up that gift card until the balance is under one dollar. You won’t be able to get a refund otherwise.
- Massachusetts: Talk about a complex law! This state allows you to get a refund for your gift card with a balance under $5, but you must have used 90 percent or more of the card’s original value. Time to get out the calculator…
- Montana: You’re allowed a refund for any gift card with a balance under $5, but it’s original value must have been more than $5.
- Washington: Time to refund all those gift cards with balances under $5 — just make sure you’ve purchased something that brings the balance below $5 first.
- Oregon: You’re allowed a refund on your gift cards with balances under $5, as long as you’ve made a purchase with them. There are a few other rules to go along with this one, as well.
If you’d like to explore the full list of state rules regarding gift card refunds, you can visit the National Conference of State Legislatures.
So how much could you potentially add to your savings account each month if you use these easy ways to save money? About $685. That’s definitely not pocket change!
Do you know any other ways to trick yourself into saving more money each month? Share them with us in the comments below!