I’m pretty proud of the fact that I have a talent for saving money. I managed to save a hefty down payment for my house and, last year, saved an emergency fund so I could quit my job. I don’t make a million dollars a year and I’m not on the other end of the spectrum eating cereal for every meal, I’m right in the middle of doing my best to not spend more than I make and allowing myself a few extravagances every once in a while.
Here are the things I do in order to watch my savings account grow instead of my debt.
+ Eat all of the food in the fridge before going grocery shopping. How many times have to had a craving and went to the grocery store when you have a whole fridge full of food at home? And you know if you go to the store you’re coming home with more than what you need. Get creative and make a meal out of what’s already in the house.
+ Hoard gift cards. When I receive gift cards for Christmas or my birthday I hold on to them. Then when I need a new dress for a special occasion or to kill that nagging need to shop every couple months I don’t have to dig into my bank account.
+ Automatically transfer money to a savings account each month. Whether it’s $10 or $100 it will add up and you won’t have to remember to save.
+ Do you really need something new? When I was a kid, my mom was queen of asking “Do you really need that?” before I spent my money on anything. And the majority of the time I put whatever I wanted back on the shelf. If it’s something you’ll only use once in a blue moon, then why not borrow from a friend instead?
+ Stop watching TV and reading magazines. Yep, you read that right! I only watch Netflix and therefore I don’t have to sit through hours of commercials every day and I haven’t read a magazine in years. This keeps me from hearing/seeing all the things I should have, should want, should be.
+ Unsubscribe from daily deal websites. Groupon, Living Social, Gilt Group, etc. How many times have you bought something just because it showed up in your inbox and was a great deal?
+ Money from tax returns, birthdays and bonuses goes into savings. Now I generally bend this rule slightly and buy myself a little something (maybe $50 or less) and then I don’t feel so bad about putting all the rest of my money away for the future.
+ Use cash. Figure out how much money you have in your budget for dining out, shoe shopping, drinks with friends, concert tickets, etc. Then, instead of pulling out your debit card for every purchase, once a week make a trip to the bank and withdraw that amount. Then you know when you’ve hit your limit and will be less likely to over spend.
Do you have any tricks for saving money?