Knowing how to save money isn’t always easy, so why not pick up a few money-saving tricks?! Temptation lurks around every corner; there are ads online to buy this and that, billboards, commercials…the list goes on. Fortunately, there are legit money-saving tricks that can help you overcome the temptation to spend money on things you don’t need or really want and meet your financial goals.
Not only can our environment trip us up but our minds can sometimes be our own worst enemy too! If a goal seems too big or a task too daunting, the brain has a tendency to shut down. The best way to get your mind out of its rut and on to something productive is to trick yourself into thinking that whatever you’re doing isn’t working at all.
We’ve put together a short list of our favorite money-saving tricks. Whether you’re here because you want to learn how to start saving, how to budget, or how to get out of debt, one or all of these tips will help you achieve the goal.
8 Money Saving Tricks for When Money is Tight
1. Use Cash Instead of a Card
We’re debt-free, yet we’re not necessarily in the “cut up your credit cards” group! If you’ve got a handle on your spending, then credit cards can be a great way to earn extra money through points. But if you’re starting out and credit cards are a pitfall for you, using cash is a great way to easily save money.
Using cash for everyday purchases like food and gas will make you more aware of your spending habits. And when you’re aware of how much money you’re spending, then you’ll have more control over that behavior.
Spending money with credit can feel like spending “play money.” But spending cold hard cash can make each purchase more tangible! And if you only bring a set amount of cash with you to the grocery store, then you can’t overspend.
If you think this money-saving trick will work for you, you might want to consider a popular method called The Envelope System. In short, it’s a cash-based budgeting system that has worked wonders for tons of people.
2. Automate Your Savings
Chances are you have bills that automatically draft out of your bank account on a regular basis. But unless it’s something big like your mortgage or rent, you probably don’t pay much attention to what bill is coming out and when. That’s the nature of automation. You set it and forget it!
The good news is that you can use automation to your advantage for increasing your savings. You can set up auto payments from a bank account to a savings account for any amount you want. I recommend starting small, maybe $50 a month until you get used to it.
The idea is to set your savings up so as to not notice that the money is gone. Before you know it, you’ll be saving hundreds and even thousands of dollars a year and living on less, all without much effort at all!
3. Skip a Meal
Fasting has a lot of benefits. There are obvious positive effects on your bodily health. But, on top of that, you can save money too! One of the easiest ways to save money through fasting is to simply drop a meal. Rather than 3 squares a day, make it 2. For most people, breakfast is the easiest meal to eliminate.
If you’re used to ordering a coffee drink in the morning or a breakfast sandwich, cutting that out could really add up. Let’s just consider someone who spends $5/day on breakfast. Eliminating that meal would save $35/week or $1,820/year!
To ensure that those savings weren’t spent elsewhere, this trick could be combined with the previous one. Set up your bank account to automatically debit $35/week and put it into a savings account. Doing so will ensure that the money saved on skipping breakfast won’t be spent elsewhere and will go towards your money goals.
Keep in mind, we’re not healthcare professionals. Fasting, especially skipping one meal a day, is safe for most adults. However, if you have underlying health conditions or concerns about fasting, please consult your doctor before attempting.
4. Do a No Spend Challenge
Many people are making No Spend Challenges part of their regular routine, and we LOVE it! What is a No Spend Challenge? Well, it’s just what it sounds like: a challenge to not spend any money for a set timeframe (a weekend, a week, a month, etc) That means not filling up the gas tank, buying takeout, or placing another Amazon order. Nothing!
One of the best things about No Spend Challenges is that they give you a chance to use up the resources you have on hand like all that canned food in the pantry. The stats regarding food waste are alarming! The average person wastes 21% of the food they buy . That comes out to something like $1800 per person of wasted food each year! For some people, that’s an entire month or two of housing expenses.
No Spend Challenges can, as the name implies, be challenging…especially if you have children. For inspiration on how to keep the kids entertained, check out our post 50 Fun Activities for a No Spend Weekend with Kids!
5. Make Yourself Wait
Impulse purchases are real budget killers! If you struggle with saying “no” to that new dress or trendy piece of home décor, then implement a waiting period before you pull the trigger on a new non-essential purchase.
This money-saving hack is different from the previous No Spend Challenge because instead of flat-out saying “no” to all purchases for a set period of time, you’re going to pause first. When you pause and give the impulse to buy a moment to breathe, you’re allowing that emotional aspect to simmer down.
Most times, once we walk away and give ourselves time to think about if we truly want/need an item, we find reasons as to why it probably isn’t the best purchase. And in turn, we save money!
6. Annualize Monthly Expenses
This is one of our favorite money-saving tricks! Too often when it comes to frivolous spending, we tell ourselves that “it’s only $4.99” or “it’s only $19.99/Month.” Those little purchases pass through the filter of our minds without us ever stopping and questioning them.
Have you ever noticed that some large ticket items are stated in terms of a monthly charge? Or maybe you’ve heard the phrase, “It’s only the cost of a cup of coffee a day.” Those marketing statements are designed to disarm you and make the barrier to purchasing a product or service much easier. You’re not thinking about how much it really costs long-term because all you’re thinking is, “It only costs $4.99 a month!”
You can actually flip this on its head and make it work for you. Instead of saying, “It’s only $19.99/Month” try annualizing the expense and saying, “It’s almost $240 per year!”
If you need help making that number seem even bigger and more daunting, you may consider thinking of any potentially new expenses in terms of your rent or grocery bill. Getting a new phone sounds great until you think, “Wow, that’s food for an entire month!” It really puts things into perspective.
7. Hide Money from Yourself
My grandfather was known for squirreling away money here and there. At any given time, he probably has $1000’s hidden in mason jars, coffee cans, and mattresses.
We’re not suggesting that you go as old school as that, but the idea we’re proposing is the same. By hiding his money in different places, he wasn’t able to get to all of it quickly. He also probably forgot how much he had too which kept it from “burning a hole in his pocket.”
We suggest a more modern twist on this money-saving trick. “Hide” your money across different bank and savings accounts. This will make it more difficult to see how much liquid cash you have on hand at any given moment and, in turn, may cause you to be less tempted to blow through it.
And if you use a money market or savings account, you sometimes have to wait a few days to transfer money to your general bank account so you can get access to it. Knowing that you can’t get it right now but have to wait, might give you the time you need to prevent a big impulse buy.
8. Stick to a Strict Budget for 90 Days
Of all the tips on the list, this one is the toughest. You’ll trick your brain into thinking that saving money isn’t work, but it’ll take time. The good news is that it won’t take much time. Once you muscle through, you’ll have a lasting and productive habit.
When we first started actively getting out of debt, we tracked our expenses and worked out a very aggressive budget. We cut out anything we thought we could live without. It was a pretty big adjustment at first. We had to consciously stick to it.
After a while though, we stopped following the formal, written budget but found that we stuck to it anyway. It had become ingrained. It was a habit!
Research suggests that people actually need a little over 2 months to create a new habit ! We suggest using a 90-Day time frame as a great starting point to get used to following a strict budget.
Even after 90 days, you may still choose to track everything in a spreadsheet for accuracy and accountability, but you may also find that once you develop the habit of living well below your means, it becomes a filter by which you see everything. It becomes second nature!
We know that living frugally and learning how to save money can be a bit daunting especially if you’re trying to save money on a low income. If you’ve never developed a habit of living on less than you make, you could find it a difficult thing to master.
But we hope that we’ve inspired you with money-saving tricks that will help get your brain on board and involved in what you want to accomplish without much resistance and build some lasting habits.
If you want to really kick your financial goals into high gear, you definitely need to check out our 5 Day Money Boot Camp! It’s a simple, step-by-step approach to getting out of debt. And it’s totally FREE!
FREE Money Bootcamp
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Follow the same steps our family took to get out of DEBT!
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