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You know when you get paid and all of a sudden you feel like Bill Gates, but then the bills come swooping in like a hawk to steal your joy? You’re left with lint balls and a quarter with society telling you to save but you’re just like HOW?!
Been there…still am sometimes.
When your money is a little funny you have to get creative. Below I’ll show you 10 easy ways to save when it seems like you have no money left over to spare!
Creating a budget allows you to see exactly how much spendable income you have to work with. Without one, it’s easy to feel as though you have nothing left but pennies after all of your bills are paid, but you may be pleasantly surprised to find out that you’re not as broke as you had originally thought.
You may be unknowingly spending extra money you could have been saving.
Related: Budgeting for Beginners
Automate your savings
Automating your savings is what I like to call easy-saving. Your desired amount is withdrawn for you versus you having to remember to put it back yourself.
If your employer offers direct deposit, simply set a specific dollar amount or percentage to be taken out and placed into a savings account of your choice. I opt to do this because it helps me to cut back on unnecessary expenses. You cannot spend what wasn’t there in the first place right?
Most banks also offer reoccurring transfers between bank accounts that are free of charge.
Recently, I’ve been allowing Digit to save more money for me in what I like to think of as an online bank account. It’s designed for those with bad spending habits and finds money that it can set aside for you after analyzing your income and spending. I love the fact that you can set savings goals and watch them come to life.
You’ll receive daily alerts of your account balance, and you can access your money at any time. With a no overdraft policy, Digit will never take out more than you can afford. If you want to check your balances or look up your current bank transactions then just shoot them a text!
When you sign up through this link you can try Digit free for 100 days before it switches back to the regular price of just $2.99 a month.
A side hustle is a great way to make extra money that can be used to fluff up your savings account.
When someone thinks of a side hustle they may think of getting a part-time job, but there are so many other ways to earn extra money. If you have a hobby, think of ways that you can monetize it. For example, if knitting or DIY projects are your thing then consider selling your work to those in the area or online through sites like Etsy, eBay, etc.
I used to take surveys to earn a couple of dollars here and there and would get paid to proofread/edit someone’s academic papers. Starting a blog is also a great way to make an extra income, and you can do it from the convenience of your own home on your own time.
Cut unnecessary expenses
There’s no easier way to free up extra cash than to cut out unnecessary expenses. To find money leaks, look through all of your transactions from the previous month or two, and add up how much you are spending on food, clothing, etc. This may take some time, but in the end, you’ll have a better idea of where your money is going.
If you find that most of your money is spent on something like combo meals (guilty) then you can implement a plan, such as cooking more meals at home, to lower the costs.
*Track your spending with Personal Capital. It’s free to use and allows you to connect all of your accounts under one log-in. You can categorize all your transactions which is extremely helpful to see what your spending habits are.
Once you’ve created your budget, you can determine where you can make additional cuts/adjustments. Even if you feel as though there’s no way you can squeeze out any extra money from your budget, I promise you it’s possible. I thought the same thing, but after negotiating lower rates, making some lifestyle changes, and switching to cheaper plans I was able to find an extra $350 per month!
Related: How to Stop Senseless Spending
Put back all $1 bills
Whenever you get change, take all of your $1 bills and store them away. I recommend starting with $1 bills if you’re already low on income or new to saving in order to build momentum. Storing away anything larger may cause you to dip into the pot of gold, AKA your savings, which kind of defeats its purpose.
Use cash envelopes
You are less likely to spend money when you carry around cash versus credit/debit cards. When you’re swiping a plastic card you are not actually seeing the transaction amount being pulled from your account balance. This may trick you into thinking that you have more money to spend than you actually do.
I don’t know about you, but when I have cash I suddenly become more frugal (or maybe stingy?) because it’s hard watching something like a $20 bill turn into nothing but a few ones.
What are cash envelopes?!
Basically, they’re just envelopes you create for each expense, like food and gas, that are designed to ensure that you stay within your budget. Take any leftover cash and put it back in your savings.. You can get crafty and deck out your envelopes, or just simply put the name of the expense on the front.
Place the amount you’ve budgeted for each expense inside. Once the month is over, take any leftover cash and put it into your savings.
Sell unwanted items
Instead of letting old or unused items sit around and collect dust, turn them into a profit. I love selling things I don’t need anymore because it’s easy money. You can find local consignment sales, have a yard/garage sale, or sell items online through sites like eBay.
If you’re needing to clean out your closet, I suggest using thredUp to sell your unwanted clothing. They’re the largest online consignment and thrift store. Simply order a free clean-out kit, fill it with unwanted clothing, and send it back.
Use that tax refund!
There’s no better time to get ahead financially than tax season. If you get a tax refund, put back a portion into your savings and consider paying up your bills to free up extra cash.
Act like your bonuses don’t exist
If you receive an incentive, or bonus, at work then use them wisely. At my job, I get an incentive every quarter and a large bonus at the end of the year (*praise break) so I put half of each one towards my savings and half towards bills.
There’s no greater feeling than knowing you’re ahead of the game by a payment or two. When something hits you unexpectedly you have extra money put back to help cover the expenses.
Get cashback on purchases
Retailers give these companies an incentive for referring you to their site, thus allowing them to give you some of that cash.
Credit cards also offer a percentage of cashback on your purchases that can be used in the form of a statement credit, gift card, or just for shopping. In my opinion, they have the BEST cashback offers!
Now this doesn’t mean get a credit card and use the credit line as a loan! Only spend what you have available to pay back to avoid falling into the credit card debt death-trap (tongue twister?). When I make a purchase, I like to make a card payment to pay off the transaction that day so I don’t forget.
I’m currently using American Express’s 0% Intro APR to pay off the rest of my credit card debt. So far I’ve accumulated $90 worth of reward dollars, in which I used $75 as a statement credit. This allowed me to put back $75 in my savings when it would have originally been used as part of my bi-weekly credit card payment.
*Apply here and get $200 back in the form of an account statement after you spend $1,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of membership! That’s $200 you can be saving!
I normally alternate between American Express or Discover because they both have the best cashback rewards. Discover offers 5% cashback on rotating categories, such as gas, so during that time, I try to use just that card to get the best benefit.
(My cashback last statement period. Cha-ching!)
*Use my link and get a $50 Cashback Bonus when you make your first purchase within three months!