I reference my dad's quotes quite a bit even though when I was younger I told him a fair share of times, "dad, you just don't get it!" To which he replied, "which part don't I get, Sydney? The part that I'm 30 years older than you?" You can imagine how that conversation went... But a wonderful Mark original is the notion of "the money you save is your own." A dollar is too difficult to earn to frivolously throw away on things you don't need.
Today, October 12th, CapitalOne has coined as National Savings Day. These "holidays" for everything are getting a little old, but nonetheless, it brings to the forefront a very important topic that many of us don't think about until we are faced with a large expense.
A study by Bankrate showed that 6 in 10 Americans don't have $500 in savings. For a $500 surprise doctor bill, 20% said they would put on a credit card in which they would carry the debt to the next month or whenever they could pay. Those pennies you put away in a jar on your kitchen counter are only going to get you so far. So what are some ways to save? USAToday wrote a piece in which I laughed at one of their suggestions to join class actions lawsuits. Now, not that you want to leave money you are entitled to on the table, but let's look at some different, more intentional options to help you be better covered down the road.
Automatic Transfers. A simple way to save is to set up a weekly, bi-weekly or monthly automatic withdrawal system tied to your bank account. This takes the issue of remembering to save out of the equation. If you have $250 withdrawn from your checking account and put into your savings, over time this will add up. Should you have an emergency arise, you're not only relying on your readily accessible checking account.
Bonuses. There are a few way to think about bonuses or if you're eligible for overtime. A lot of times when people get a bonus, their automatic instinct is to go out and blow the money to reward themselves for their hard work. Now, all for a good celebration, but this is also the perfect time to save that dough. Realistically, your monthly expenses have been covered by your salary. An extra bonus or working overtime is simply extra cash in your pocket you probably have been just fine without. So instead of blowing (ALL) of it, maybe spend a little, and then use the rest to pay down debts such as student loans or place that money in a savings account.
Food. Being a savvy shopper at the grocery store can help you curb your monthly expenses so you'll have more leftover that you can ultimately put into savings. Have a plan before you go to the grocery. Think about the week ahead, how often will you be eating at home, what food will you ACTUALLY eat and how much of it. The worst thing is getting to the end of a week and having food that has gone bad and you have to throw away. It is wasteful and the equivalent of throwing money down the drain. Also, buy the generic brand. 9 times out of 10, there is no difference besides the price.
Dining Out. Along the same lines and not to ruin every fun thing in life in the name of saving money, but it is no secret eating out is hard on your waistline and your wallet. Hanging out with friends? Make that your night to dine out because sometimes making full meals at home can end up costing more once you add up all the ingredients.
Travel. Flights, hotels, car rentals...trips are expensive. If you have a big trip coming up, plan ahead of time in order to try and save some money. Sites like Priceline guarantee the best rate for flights because of their ability to mix and match carriers. With Priceline you may have one leg on Delta and another on American. Booking direct on United, the price may be more. Weigh your options and see what makes sense. Same with hotels. Priceline has a Name Your Own Price tool. Do some research on how to use it and see how much you can save. Sites like GiltCity have sales on destinations all over the world (usually ritzier vacation spots but still fun to check them out!)
Shopping. Arguably the largest part of "things you don't need." Retailers generally mark up items about 50% to give them their margin. Try to buy things on sale. It makes you feel better to walk out of a store knowing you saved a little bit of money. Check out the sale rack for something you saw a few months back but curbed the desire to buy...I bet it might still be there. Also, when shopping remember LeighAnne Tuohy's quote from the Blindeside "if you don't love it in the store, you won't wear it. That's where you love it most." It also makes a closet clean-out less painful when you can throw worn items rather than ones hanging with the tags.
Find a Side Gig! Even SpiderMan has one! Instead of spending your weekends blowing money, if you have the time, try and find a way to make some money. It can be anything from freelance writing to babysitting to dog walking. Check out websites, ask around at work, gyms and around your community if there is anything you can get involved with. Not finding anything? Start something on your own!
The main thing to saving money is simple...stop SPENDING so much money! Bills and debts are inevitable but curbing your shopping and late night Amazon orders can put loads back in your pocket to provide for something better down the road. Not only will this declutter your home, it will declutter your life and provide you a more stable financial future.