I am not, by nature, good at saving money but over the past few years I’ve learned that I really do need to buckle down and sock some money away for a rainy day. It’s not easy to save if you’re living paycheck to paycheck, dying to take a new vacation, or tempted to spend everything you save. But with a few tricks, you can save money and build your personal savings account into something substantial without suffering for it. Here are the best ways to save more money:
Try Using PayPal
Everyone knows that PayPal is an online pseudo-bank that people use to purchase things online, but PayPal can also be used to help you save money. Transferring money from your PayPal account to your bank account usually takes about three days. This prevents transferring money for impulse buys! Consider using PayPal’s Money Market Savings Account and transferring a small amount of your paycheck into it each month. The money will add up over time, and the fact that transfers to your bank account can take so long may help you avoid impulse purchases you’ll regret.
If you have a regular daily purchase- coffee, cigarettes, or donuts- try cutting that purchase out one day a week and putting the money directly into savings. Better yet, every time you avoid a normal purchase, trim the amount you’re paying on a bill, or eliminate an expense, deposit that money into savings. You won’t miss it because it was already earmarked for bills, and if you can cut even just ten dollars a week out of your expenses the money will add up dramatically over time!
Save to Create a Habit
If you feel like you can’t afford to save a percentage of your paycheck, this doesn’t mean you can’t at least get into the habit of saving. Try transferring one dollar or five dollars- whatever you can afford- of every paycheck into your savings account. This will get you accustomed to regular savings, and even a dollar a week can add up substantially over the course of several years. When you can afford more, save more.
Avoid Late Fees
Most utility and credit card companies charge late fees when you don’t pay your bill by the due date. Pay your bills on time and transfer the amount the late fee would have been into your savings account. This is like paying yourself twice, for the small price of only five or ten dollars.
Put Returns Into Savings
If you make a discretionary purchase (a new movie, CD, or piece of clothing, for example) that you ultimately have to return, consider depositing the refund into your savings account. You were already living without the money because of the purchase, so transferring the money directly to savings shouldn’t cause you any financial pain.
Don’t Make Transfers Easy
In the age of online banking, most of us have all of our accounts linked together, which makes it easy to transfer money from your savings account into your checking account and spend it all. Some banks allow you to customize the way your accounts are linked, so consider this option. If your bank will allow you to make transfers online from your checking to savings account, but prevent you from transferring from savings to checking online, then having to call or go into the bank to transfer that money may be enough to inspire you to just keep the money into savings.
Enrolling in a good savings program can put you on the fast track to saving more money. Wachovia’s Way2Save program moves one dollar to your savings account every time you make a purchase with your debit card. This is a small amount of money that can build up over time (and can also show you if you’re overusing your debit card). Better yet, this savings account offers a very high interest rate- about 5% for most people, which provides strong incentive to keep the money you’re saving in your savings account.
Bank of America’s Keep the Change
Similar to Way2Save, Bank of America’s Keep the Change program puts the change from each purchase you make into your savings account. This modern version of the change jar can yield quite a bit of money over the course of a year, and you’ll hardly notice the money is missing.
No matter how much money you make, you can find a way to save a small portion. A dollar won’t make a huge difference in your budget, but getting into the habit of socking a dollar away here and there can make a massive difference over time. Seeing the money add up and getting interest on it helps inspire people to save more, so put as much into your savings account as you can afford, even if that’s only pennies for now.