16 Sneaky Ways to Save Money

Some people just hate saving money. It’s either too hard, too painful, or too much like a chore. Some people just can’t seem to find any extra in their budget to save. Whatever the reason you’re avoiding saving, maybe you’d do better if you could trick yourself into saving. The ideas below trick you into saving money. Some take you out of the equation altogether, some make saving into a game, and some are designed to sneak small amounts of money out of your pocket and into savings without you feeling much pain.

Carry only big bills: When you carry only twenties (or bigger bills) in your wallet, it’s usually harder to spend money. Why? Because there’s something psychologically painful about breaking that big bill, particularly for little purchases like gum and coffee. You’re more likely to decide that you don’t need whatever it is than if you had a bunch of fives and ones in your wallet. They don’t carry the same level of spending pain as the bigger bills do.

Put all change, dollar bills, or even $5 bills into savings: Switch to paying for almost everything with cash instead of debit or credit cards. This will generate a lot of change that you can put in a jar at the end of the day. You can start with just coins, but your savings will mount up faster if you also put in ones and the occasional five. If you’re sticking to using bigger bills (Number 1, above), then all the small bills should go into your savings.

Play games with your checkbook: When you enter a purchase into your check register, round it up to the nearest dollar. At the end of the month, transfer the overage into savings. Some banks offer debit cards that do this automatically (some even offer to match up to a certain amount), but you can do it yourself just as easily. The benefit to doing it yourself: You can direct your savings into any savings vehicle you choose rather than using the banks’ account, which may not be the highest earning account out there.

Put away coupon or sales savings: When you use coupons or buy something on a great sale, put the amount you saved into your savings account. Don’t spend the savings on more stuff, actually save it.

Automatic savings: When you get paid, have a set amount deducted from your check and deposited into a separate savings account. If you don’t see it in your checking account, you’ll be far less likely to spend it.

Save any “found money” Tax refunds, money that comes from the laundry or out of the sofa, rebates, and other unexpected money finds should go into savings. You don’t include them in your budget so don’t spend them.

Put away any money you save by talking yourself out of an impulse
: If you stand in a store for thirty minutes talking yourself into and out of some impulse buy that you don’t need, reward yourself when you finally say no and walk away. When you get home, take the amount you didn’t spend and put it directly into your savings account. You still “bought” something, only you did something constructive with the money.

Save your raise: If you get a raise and you don’t need it to cover your basic expenses, pretend you didn’t get it. Have the extra money transferred to your savings account.

Bank extra paychecks: If you’re paid weekly or bi-weekly, there will be a couple of months during the year when you’ll get an extra check. Since your budget is figured on two checks per month, you don’t need the extra one to take care of necessities so bank it.

Use online bill pay and bank the postage: For every bill you pay online, take the forty-four cents you would have paid in postage and drop it into your savings jar. It may not sound like much, but ten bills a month is $4.40 and $52.80 per year.

Switch providers, bank the savings: Anytime you switch providers (phone, cable, Internet, etc.) and get a lower priced package, bank the difference. Don’t adjust your budget downward. Just pretend you’re still paying the higher amount and put the difference in savings.

Bank your credit card rewards: If you use a credit card that gives cash back, put the reward money in savings. (This only works well if you pay the bill off in full every month and don’t accrue interest while chasing cash back.)

Brown bag your lunch, save your lunch money: Every day that you bring your lunch to work rather than eating out, put the amount you would have spent on lunch in your savings account.

Bank bill savings: Any time a bill is less than you’ve budgeted for (think about that month when the weather’s nice and your utility
bill is very low or you’re out of town and use little water), bank the savings. Because your budget for that bill is higher per month, banking the difference will not hurt you.

Pay yourself for your entertainment: Each time you watch a rented DVD, take the cost of the rental, subtract it from the cost of a movie ticket and bank the difference. If you make your own popcorn and snacks, throw the amount you’d have spent on movie theater food into your piggy bank.

Tip yourself: When you decide to eat at home rather than going out, pay yourself the amount you’d have tipped a waiter for a similar meal. You can keep a tip jar on your kitchen counter for this. For bonus money you can put the entire cost of your meal (what a similar meal would cost in a restaurant) plus the tip into the jar.

It is possible to find little bits of money in your budget, particularly if you’re willing to bank anything you save by using frugal tips and tricks. You would have spent the higher amounts of money anyway, but by being a little sneaky you’re putting the money to better use. Those little bits of money that you trick yourself into saving will add up to a tidy sum after a year.

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12 Responses to 16 Sneaky Ways to Save Money

  1. Stephan says:

    I live by your first two tips, and they really do work. I save all my 1 and 5 dollar bills, and i tend to not break 20 dollar bills for small purchases like a daily coffee. At the end of the month i take my savings and place them in my bank. Its worked so far, so definitely keep on spreading this useful tip.

  2. snshijuptr says:

    By far the best one is automatic savings. I take the difference between my pay and my budget at the end of the month and “zero out” my checking balance sending the money into a savings account. I would add count business expenses as spent money and save the reimbursements. Also these tips work for paying down debt!

  3. younglady50 says:

    Love the idea of putting the difference you could save when
    reducing an utility bill. I usually just keep the money in my
    checking account. But, this way if I deposit it into a savings, I
    won’t feel it.

  4. Gail says:

    The problem with some of these ‘tips’ is that when you are really hurting, you need all this money to actually live on so even if you budgeted for a larger utility bill than what you got, having that extra amount ‘leftover’ means it can go towards something else. I do most of my bill paying by mail knowing I would be saving money, but I don’t bank the savings as that is money I budgeted into regular expenses. Just like when we cut out cable–we did it to save money so that we could pay the mortgage and eat. Just because I get some dollar bills in my purse, doesn’t mean I can afford to bank them, they go towards whatever else needs paid off.

    That being said, one of the best ways I have found to saving money is cram as much money as possible into the savings account or even better into the ING account. I hate taking money out of savings, so I work at trying to figure out how to pay off the bill that I had set aside the money for into savings, without touching the savings. Even if I have to pull out some of what I had set aside, I always feel better if I get to leave some in the savings account. I have found that having too much money in the checking account is murder on a budget so I transfer money into savings that I might not need for another week or two. I might end up keeping the bank tellers busy, but if the money isn’t in the checking account, I can’t use it spontaneously. There is that quirk in my head that if I have money in the checking account that I can spend it. Much easier on the budget to have it tucked away earining a bit of interest if possible.

  5. Teresa says:

    Some grocery stores, such as Fred Meyer, have reloadable gift cards. If this is the primary store you shop for groceries, try budgeting your weekly or monthly grocery money on a gift card. When you shop, you only use the card. This will help you to keep within your budget. I know for me, groceries can be the biggest budget breaker. This helps me to stay on track.

  6. Dan Mattson says:

    Thanks for the great tips. In addition to banking the difference between what you budget and what you spend for certain items, consider “rewarding” yourself occasionally. If you beat the budget by $200 for instance, buy yourself a latte or pizza for a few bucks to keep it positive. Otherwise sticking to a tight budgeting month after month can put you in the doldrums. Doctor Dollar

  7. Joanna says:

    My fiance and I save all of our 5 dollar bills. We’ve been using them to pay for expenses related to friends weddings. In 1 month, we’ve saved up to $200! I definitely recommend this tip!

  8. that one girl says:

    this is random but it works.. cut all of your dryer sheets in half when you buy new ones if not you might get to lazy to do it everytime ..using half of a dryer sheet will work the same they just last twice as long :)

  9. that one girl says:

    take a notepad everywhere you go record what you made and what you spent on what for 30-60 days. look at it after 30 days and you will realize how much junk you bought that wasn’t needed it really makes a difference realizing what that candy bar or “on sale product” really could of made that difference that you neeeded.. i know when you are budgeting and in a rut you have to splurge a little every now and then to stay positive but was that dollar candy bar that was gone in a minute really worth it?
    trust me i learned this tip searching for tips around the internet and it works well

  10. Richard says:

    I’ve been an attorney working in private bank trust departments for almost 20 years. I’ve seen how people with money acquired it and how they retained it. They are smart enough to know that you can never acquire money by spending it. They would sooner die than go into debt to buy consumer goods. They’ll go into debt but only to purchase property likely to appreciate.

    These are the people who, instead of buying iphone after iphone and ipad after ipad, bought the stock of Apple when it was selling for about $7 early in 2003. Today, July 1, 2010, it sells around $260.

    People with money don’t care about consumer goods, cars, big-screen TV’s or anything else that the masses “must have”. They know all this stuff is junk and that to buy it simply wastes money better deployed otherwise. In short, people with money got and kept it not by buying things but by buying the stocks of companies that sell things to other people…you for example.

    I’ll leave you with this unsettling thought. Suppose you’d had $15,000 in October 1980 and that you’d been of a mind to “invest it”. You might have been lured to purchase jewelry, say a diamond ring, on the utterly untrue but long spread lie that diamonds are rare. Any jewelry store would have been happy to lure you in with a lot of special lighting over plush counters served by shills who are trained in how to try to induce you to put reason on hold and think romantically about how happy you would be if only you had a $15,000 diamond ring. They’d tell you it would be “AN INVESTMENT”. God help you if you fell for the scam. The ring you’d have bought on Friday, October 10th, 1980 for $15,000 would have been worth about $3,000 on Saturday, October 11th if you’d tried to sell it. It might not be worth even that today.

    On Friday, October 10th, 1980, stock of Johnson & Johnson traded around $83 per share; you could have bought 180 shares for $15,000. That investment, a REAL INVSTMENT, would today, July 1, 2010, be worth over $500,000. After 48:1 stock splits, you would have over 8,600 shares of Johnson & Johnson paying annual cash dividends of almost $19,000.

    You can be young in this country and be without money but this is no country in which to be old and without money. If you have no money you have no power. If you want to end up parking cars for a high school kid who owns a parking lot, keep doing what you’ve been doing. Keep buying “diamond rings”. If you want to have some say about where and how you live and on what terms, leave the consumer good on the shelves and buy the stocks of companies that sell things to other people. Just make sure you’re not the “other person”..

    Good luck.

  11. midman says:

    Great ideas, I enjoyed reading your article and will try to put some of these ideas into use in my life. Thanks for your contribution!

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