If you saw a $50 bill on the sidewalk, you’d definitely pick it up. By following a few simple life hacks, you can save at least that without much more effort. This week is America Saves Week; a week coordinated by the America Saves Organization and the American Savings Education Council that helps promote good savings behavior and serves as a reminder for individuals to assess their own saving status. So in honor of America Saves Week, here are a few unique hacks that can help you reach your savings goals.
1. Ask for new $50 and $100 bills.
Research suggests that people are more likely to spend bills that look worn or old over new and crisp bills and are also more willing to spend lower denomination bills. You’ll be less inclined to make impulse purchases with newer bills, which in turn saves you money.
2. Shrink your data to get more out of your cell phone plan.
The free app, Onavo runs in the background of your phone to compress and reduce the amount of data each task takes up. This will allow you do more with the data you have and help avoid data overage charges. It is available for Apple® and Android® products.
3. Get gift cards for a discount, and use them yourself.
There are a number of gift card exchange sites that allow people to sell unwanted gift cards. These can often be purchased at a discount.
4. Air dry some of your clothes.
Hanging your clothes on a clothesline or drying rack can save about $200 a year over drying them in an electric dryer. Bonus: your clothes will last longer.
5. Buy Prescription Drugs at a Membership Warehouse Store, No Membership Required!
Membership warehouse stores like Sam’s Club and Costco have good prices on prescription drugs — and you don’t have to be a member to buy them. Because access to drugs is regulated by the federal government, warehouse stores are not legally allowed to require membership in order for customers to use the pharmacy.
6. Skip the Shopping Cart.
When you run into the grocery store to “pick up a few items,” literally “pick them up” rather than use a cart or shopping basket. By forcing yourself to carry your purchases, you’ll be less likely to buy things you didn’t intend to buy and don’t need.
7. Air up your car tires each month.
Cars are designed to run with the tires inflated to the recommended pressure in the car’s manual. However, over time, a bit of air slips out of the tires, gradually deflating them. As the tires deflate, they create more contact with the road, which means that it requires more force to move the car forward. That force is generated by burning more gas, causing you to fill up more.
8. Sell your clutter for cash using online marketplaces.
If you have old items just collecting dust, why not turn them into some extra cash? By getting rid of all the excess stuff in your home, you not only make your life much simpler and more peaceful, but you make it harder to buy stuff that will just clutter things up again.
Create an annual month-by-month budget projecting out your monthly expenses and then enter in the actual figures for the year to compare. It is hard to do if you create too many small line items to track so start by simply listing out all fixed expenses (loan payments, rent/housing, insurance) and then use two or more payment sources for other items. For example, use one card for all grocery purchases, another credit card for all gas/auto related purchases and then your debit card for all other expenses such as going out to eat. You can then just track the activity on the three cards and it will automatically show you on a monthly basis about how much you spend on food and gas versus leisure activities.
10. Always look for coupons and discount codes before making a purchase.
Get the best prices and cash back offers for your favorite shops and retailers – both in store and online. With printable coupons, discount gift cards and online codes for everything from food (including popular pizza joints), clothing, beauty products and car rentals. It pays (literally) to spend just a few minutes coupon code searching. There might just be one out there waiting for you to copy and paste for your next purchase!
11. Automate your savings.
Auto transfer money from your checking or paycheck to your savings every month. Start with a small amount like $20 and increase as you feel more comfortable with it. It is not a lot of money but it adds up quick and after a few pay periods you don’t notice it. To learn more on how easy it is to set up your sweep to your savings with Flagship, talk to a banker today or check out our great account options!
12. Spend more!
You read it correct but there is a caveat; spend more on individual items that are high quality and what you want. It may seem counter intuitive but it is better to avoid getting sucked into buying items just because they are perceived to be a good deal. You end up with things you don’t really need or that are poorly made. It is better to purchase less items and get what you really want and will use (versus junk to sit in your closet taking up space). In addition, a quality item such as a nice pair of shoes can last 10 years instead of having to purchase several pairs of cheap shoes which will break, wear out quickly or be to uncomfortable to wear and need to be replaced often (costing your more over time).
13. Don’t be afraid of hand me down or used items.
You would be surprised at what people will give away or sell for well below retail value. People have all sorts of things sitting around their house that they no longer use and would like to get out of their closet/basement/garage. Try utilizing the Next Door app, craigslist.org , or mention to friends and family when you are looking for something before making large purchases and you may be surprised how often you can get the item for less.
14. Avoid impulse purchases and research large ticket items.
Focus on overall value when buying things and while researching it will also give you time to pause and think, “Do I really need this?”
15. Start a $5 savings plan.
Over the course of 12 months save every $5 bill that you come across. They rack up more quickly than you may think! One study showed a person that did this over the course of a year saved over $3,000 in $5 bills!
16. Check your credit card benefits.
Some credit cards, including ones Flagship Bank offers, cover rental car insurance so check your card before you rent. You can also learn more information about Flagship Bank’s credit card options here.
17. Save your raise.
When you get a raise or promotion at work, increase the amount you are contributing to your 401K or retirement account. You will still see an increase in your take home pay over what you are earning now, giving you the instant reward of your hard work, while also seeing the long-term benefit of investing for retirement. If you continue to do this through your career you will be surprised at how fast your retirement account grows.