Lynnae McCoy is a freelance writer, homeschooling mom and frugal living enthusiast. She writes about frugal living at Being Frugal.net and about balancing work and homeschooling at Freelance Homeschool Mom. When she has a rare spare moment, you can find her on Twitter.
“I’d love to save money, but I have no extra money to save.”
How often have you heard those words? Perhaps you’ve even said them yourself. I know at times I’ve uttered that phrase. But rarely is it true. Oh, it seems true. After you get paid, you pay your bills and do the grocery shopping, and there’s nothing left in your checkbook. But does it have to be that way? Before you throw in the towel on your savings, try to fool yourself into saving money.
Save Before You See It
The easiest way to save money is to automatically transfer money into savings each month. If you schedule the transfer for the day after you get paid, you’ll never miss the money. You’ll adjust to your lower grocery budget, because there won’t be any more money in your checking account. If you’re skeptical, start with a small transfer, maybe $10 each month. Every couple of months up the savings amount by $10. You’ll be on the road to a reliable emergency fund in no time!
Another painless way to save money is to round up when you enter items in your checkbook. This requires that you keep records in your checkbook, but I hope you do this already.
If you make a $3.50 purchase at the store, enter the transaction as $4.00 in your checkbook. Your balance will reflect a balance of 50 cents less than is actually in your account. You now have 50 cents hidden savings in your checking account. If you round up all your transactions, the savings will add up quickly. Most people won’t miss a few cents here and a few cents there, but you’ll be glad to have the savings when you realize how much a few cents here and there adds up over time!
Save Your Change
Similar to rounding up, but not quite as effective, this method of spending money is great for the person who prefers to use cash. Make it a rule to never spend change. Ever. If your purchase comes to $30.14, hand the cashier $31.00. Take the 96 cents in change and add it to your change jar at night.
Once a month take your change jar to the bank and deposit it into your savings account. For extra fun, have your kids estimate how much change is in the jar. Soon your family will be competing for bragging rites for guessing the amount of savings each month!
Even if you only save $5 a month, getting into the habit of savings is an important step toward financial independence.