Saving money is no easy feat; it requires serious commitment, major motivation, and more than a few lifestyle changes along the way. It’s hard work; there’s no doubt about that. That said, not everything about saving money has to be difficult. There are plenty of changes that you can make that, although small, will result in major savings over time. We’ve put together a list of savings shortcuts that will require only a minor effort on your end but that will have a considerable effect on your bank account, helping you reach your savings goals faster.
We get it: It’s not always easy to transfer extra funds into your savings account. There always seems to be some other expense that’s demanding priority. To keep your savings on track, you simply need to eliminate the middleman: you.
Talk to your bank about setting up an automatic payment that makes regular withdrawals from your main account, transferring that money into your savings. Don’t be afraid to start small: You may not notice the additional $20 a week that’s disappearing from your account, but that adds up to more than a grand over the course of a year. You can also align the withdrawals with your payday; you won’t miss money that was never there to spend to begin with.
Cull your monthly bills
Monthly bills can be frustrating; even when you’re working hard at not buying extra stuff, these bills are still draining your bank account.
Set aside a day this month to go over your regular bills. You may find that you can cut out some bills altogether (hello, Netflix; goodbye, cable), but you can find plenty of additional savings by taking a closer look.
For instance, internet can be a costly expense, but you may be able to switch to a less expensive package. Check to see how much you’re using versus how much you’re paying for (if this isn’t available online, call your service provider). The same goes with your cellphone. Check your insurance, too; maybe you insured your car back when you commuted an hour to work each day, but now you’re opting for transit and no longer need the same coverage. You owe it to yourself to pay only what you actually use and not a cent more.
Give yourself the gift of saving
Saving money doesn’t always have to mean deprivation. Yes, you can have your cake and eat it, too…literally.
The key is to making treating yourself, well, a treat rather than a habit. Easier said than done, we know. That’s why it’s a good idea to buy yourself gift certificates instead of whipping out your credit card.
First, figure out your budget for your favorite indulgences: maybe $25 a month at your favorite bakery. On the first of each month, head to the store and treat yourself to a gift card for the amount allocated in your budget. This gift card has to last you all month: no ifs, ands, or buts. You can choose to eat cake four times in that first week, or you can space it out and have one slice per week over the course of the month.
This works for all kinds of indulgences: coffee shops, movies, clothing stores, restaurants, etc. If your shop of choice doesn’t offer gift cards or you’re afraid of losing them, no worries. Setting up a Simple Goal for each spending habit has the same effect (see our next tip).
Keep it easy
When you’re serious about saving, it can feel like you’re constantly saying no to fun things. Saving doesn’t have to mean that you can’t have fun, but it does mean that you have to plan for it, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Make a promise to yourself that for any expense over a figure of your choice (say, $50), you absolutely cannot spend it unless it is accounted for as a Simple Goal. Creating a Goal allows you to visualize this cost against other expenses. Not only will this help you prioritize your various expenses, it will also keep you from spending money that you don’t have. When you reach your goal, it will feel amazing, and you’ll know you’ve earned every penny of the reward you’ve worked so hard for.
Here’s a shortcut that will result in not just a heftier savings account, but also a less daunting email inbox—go on an unsubscribing rampage! Take an hour or so to sort through your emails and manually unsubscribe from those tantalizing automatic newsletters that are sent your way when your favorite products go on sale. These emails are tempting, but spending wisely means spending when you actually need something, not just because it’s there and it seems like a good deal. You can either do this manually, or try a service like Unroll.me, which aggregates all subscriptions into an easy-to-cull list, and will unsubscribe on your behalf.
Disclaimer: Hey! Welcome to our disclaimer. Here’s what you need to know to safely consume this blog post: Any outbound links in this post will take you away from Simple.com, to external sites in the wilds of the internet; neither Simple nor our partner banks, The Bancorp Bank and BBVA Compass, endorse any linked-to websites; and we didn’t pay/barter with/bribe anyone to appear in this post. And as much as we wish we could control the cost of things, any prices in this article are just estimates. Actual prices are up to retailers, manufacturers, and other people who’ve been granted magical powers over digits and dollar signs.