"I want to start saving some money each month, but don't know where to start. What do you suggest?" Here are answers from the ThriftyFun community.
What my family did was track every single expense we had in a month. We listed by category. At the end of the month my husband and I sat down and totaled up the many purchases. We learned that we were spending the same amount on take-out that we did on groceries! I also learned that my eBay addiction was on its way out of control. We made goals accordingly. I still track all of our expenses, because it holds us both accountable.
I have just started with this particular problem as well and everywhere I read they suggest keeping track of EVERY THING you spend money on for a month and then eliminate what you can after. For example for me, it's the extra trips to the grocery store that have added up to a lot of money. Most of the stuff I may have needed but if I was more organized on my bi-weekly shopping trips, I wouldn't have to make the EXTRA trips I am forced to pay the higher prices so organization and coupons are a big help for me. Planning my menus around what's on sale helps a lot. God Bless.
I empty all the loose change from my car and purse every few days and put it into a bank that is not transparent. If I have any singles in my pockets when I get ready for bed, they go in, too. This is my play money that I use for spending money when I vacation. I usually wind up with $300-$400 a year that I roll and convert into travelers checks (at AAA where there is no fee) to take on vacation.
One painless way is to round out your check book. Say you have to write a check for $5.54 - just enter $6.00. Do this for each check written and by the end of the month you will have saved some $ after reconciling your checkbook.
By Toni K.
I know Toni K means well, but if I recorded a different amount in my checkbook than was on the written check, my poor (meticulous) husband would take me out back and have me shot
In response to Toni K's. post, I've started trying to remember when I'm writing the checks out at local businesses, instead of writing the check for the amount they say, such as $46.49. I write it for $50.00 and get back the difference. It does make it easier for balancing the checkbook! Hubby suggested it, works for me!
How about doing the same thing that the credit card companies are doing? Round up your purchases and place the change into a separate savings account.
We have direct deposit and our credit union will automatically transfer a set amount of money each pay period to our savings account. At first it hurt a little but now we don't even think about it. It's like another bill we pay except it's to ourselves!
By Cheryl from Missouri
The best way to start is to have your paycheck go into direct deposit and split off some of it to automatically go in your savings account. Preferably 10% but if you can't swing that, go for 5% or even 3% and increase accordingly as you get used to it. Make sure that you do not have debit card access to this account, or any other way to access it - like over the internet transfers. You will be amazingly surprised how you will adjust your spending to make up the difference and you will never miss it. This is the only way to ensure that you will always pay yourself first. Next, pick up a copy of a book called "The Automatic Millionaire" by David Bach and follow his principles. He has several books but this is one of the first ones. You need to maximize your earnings, make your money work for you and make it automatic. Trust me, this really works ... I speak from experience!
Be careful about Debt Consolidation programs, some are good but others are charging you extra for paying your bills or a set up fee. Watch the fine print! I joined Ameridebt in 2000 and it wound up costing me in money and my credit scores for years. Most credit cards have a program for people with debt problems. I know that Bank of America would have lowered my interest rate and my monthly payments just for asking. If you set up direct payments out of your paycheck every month, it can have the same effect. You could even set up a separate "bill" bank account for that and deposit money directly in there for those bills. Just be sure to STOP using credit so they stay paid off.
If you can put even $10. a month away, in a savings account you will be surprised how fast it grows. Sit down and figure out what all you spend on in a month, stop doing things that are such a waste of money, Don't buy kids a toy every time u shop, or junk food, that will save u a lot of money, Cook meals at home, watch for bargin for things u really need, shop at yard sales , good buy there, good luck
A pal told me to unplug any appliance that I'm not using at the time. When I need to use it, then plug it in. I've just started this, I've unplugged my blender, toaster, electric calculators, electric can opener (we tend to use the manual can opener more), etc. I'm hoping this will help on next month's power bill, we'll see.
I have a water jug (from the cooler type system) that has a lid on it, there is a tiny little hole (with a cap on it) on that lid and if it is removed dimes fit nicely into it. I super glued the lid on and poked that hole out... every dime I come across goes into that hole and can't come out. You'd be surprised how fast those little things add up! I also take all of my dollar bills and roll them up to shove in there too.
We also put ourselves on a tight budget. Any cash left over from the previous payday goes into my jug! You wouldn't believe how fast you can save.
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I also round up to the next dollar when subtracting in my checkbook. I'm meticulous also, so I make sure to record the exact amount of the check in the memo, but the rounded up amount in the add/subtrac column. That way at the end of the month, I can add up the change, and transfer it to savings. We have also gotten a cash rewards card to replace our debit/visa. We use it for everything we would normally use our checking account for. We subtract these "charged" amounts from the checkbook balance to insure that the money will be available to pay off the entire balance when it is due. At the end of the year, we really enjoy getting that 5% back for doing what we do anyway!!
My husband and I are also Dave Ramsey fans! In the past couple of months we have had a total money makeover! (check out Dave's website: http://www.daveramsey.com/ ) There are some great free tools about half way down the page, like the "Quickie Budget."
The biggest and most beneficial changes for us have been:
1. Getting on a WRITTEN budget - spend your money on paper at the beggining of the month.
You can budget money to go to savings - you can set up a monthly or weekly automatic transfer from your checking to your savings
2. Using the CASH envelope system - Using cash to pay for Food/dining out/entertainment/gas, those are some categories - then when the money is gone, it's gone! We also have an envelope for X-mas - so we can save all year and not have to eat beans & rice in December!
We are now in control of our money instead of our money controlling us!!!!
@Toni K and Doggy: Re rounding up on the checking account: I've done this for years, first to whole dollars, then later, as we had a bit more money, by fives or tens. The secret is to enter the real total of the check you write, for example, $27.57, but to *subtract* the rounded-up amount (ie: either $28.00 or $30.00, depending on how you round). If you do your finances in Quicken or Money, or even an old-fashioned ledger book, you'll have the accurate total there when you balance your checkbook each month, and you can always go back and find the "real" total. When I balance the account, I draw a line under the place where it's balanced and write the "real" total in ink, but when I subtract as each check is written, I round it and do the running balance in pencil. Hubby almost never writes checks and was totally clueless about this until we evacuated for Hurricane Katrina and he was worried about how much was in the checking account. Imagine his face when I told him there was an extra $1300 in there that didn't show! I've since transferred most of that to savings, of course, and started again. It's a nice cushion in case I forget to note an automatic payment that comes out of the account, like my truck note. No worries about bouncing a check. I also recently started adding in less when the direct deposit hits; I add in about $100 less than what's actually been deposited. Same principle. It's there in an emergency, but if I don't see it as a balance, it's like it doesn't exist.
This is another easy savings method. We have used it for 20 years. Give yourself a household allowance. It should cover gas and groceries, plus maybe $10-20 or so. I get my allowance (which I give to myself) every two weeks. I try to save as much of it as I can. If an unexpectedly good deal comes up, the part that I have saved back comes in very handy. Yesterday I spent $25.00 on a year's supply of ScottTissue and Kleenex. Using coupons and sale prices, I actually trimmed that cost down from $75.00. Our budget is pretty snug, so this is a significant savings for us. Since my income is erratic, I keep everything over my allowance for unexpected bills or special opportunities. Last week I was able to buy two skylights for our new roof. I still have savings left. Best of luck with your savings plan!
I don't know Dave Ramsey, but when I Googled the name there were both good and bad reviews.
There are lots of good ideas posted, some of which I may try out. Yet, there is no "One Size Fits All" when it comes to saving money. In case you want to do some research, I suggest "Money" magazine. It gives lots of simple ideas for every day folks like me (I tried others but they seem to gear their ideas towards wealthy people) You can get it on line at money.cnn.com or get copies from your local library. It is always best to read/get opinions from more than one source, anyway
p.s. we are comfortable enough financially that my husband retired at 55, and I'll follow as soon as I reach 55, made possible by educating ourselves to make good financial decisions and investments.
One thing we do is never pay with change when we make a purchase. We always give dollar bills for it instead. Then you end up with change for each and every purchase that you make. Have a jar or bank to keep putting the coins into and occasionally take that in to be deposited into a savings account. It adds up fast.
We also have a small amount come out of my husband's pay check each week and it goes directly into the savings account before we get the rest of the money. You tend to forget about it and live on the rest. It also adds up fast.
If you have anything at all that you are paying on that involves interest, look into refinancing if at all possible. Not debt consolidation, but refinancing. We have a house and I was driving a 15 year old car that was falling apart around me. We ended up refinancing our house so that the house payment would be lowered. And we are now paying just $5 a month more in payments, but it includes a new car and the car insurance. So the same amount we were paying in just the house payment alone, is now covering the new car and full coverage insurance.
We discovered that we were eating out more than we realized. Due to some health problems, had to start eating at home more. We are now eating healthier, have lost a few pounds, and spending less money. The amount you spend just one time going out can often times be meals for a couple of nights at home.
If you do want to go out to eat sometimes, just to get out of the house, check some of your area churches. They many times have very inexpensive meals like a spaghetti supper, pancake feed, or different events like that where the entire family can eat for very little money. We go once a week. Sometimes Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, VFW type of organizations will also have inexpensive meals or fund raisers. If you keep your eyes open, you will be surprised and it is an adventure to try these different things, without costing you an arm and a leg. Also watch restaurants for specials. If you have young kids, many have a kids eat FREE night. We have a place here that has all you can eat tacos for really cheap. We go there on that night.
Look for cheaper entertainment. If you are going to movies as they first come out in the theatre, try waiting to see them and renting them instead. One small rental fee lets the entire family see a movie for cheaper than one admission ticket. Popcorn and drinks at home is much cheaper than at the concession stand. You may also check your area's public library. Here the library has an entire section of movies you can check out for FREE with a library card. They also have DVDs and music CDs for FREE.
Try some old fashioned board games, card games, etc for a fun night at home for the family. Brings you closer together, lets you interact with each other, and best of all, is FREE!
Have a garage sale or yard sale before the cold weather sets in. Have each family member help go through things to sell. You can get rid of unwanted or unused items, free up space, and turn the items that are just laying around the house collecting dust into some extra cash. It will also help you keep things neater and more organized to be rid of the stuff that is outgrown or not being used. When you finish having your sale, take whatever does not sell to the Good Will. You can get a receipt for the donations for tax purposes that will help some when you file your income taxes.
If you are paying for anyone to do any services for you, see if there are any that are not really necessary? Any that you could live without? Any that you or the family could do for free instead? Do you have any magazine or newspaper subscriptions you could live without?
Just throwing out all different ideas that we have used and have worked for us in the past. Hope this helps!
One thing I hardly ever see is this...stop wasting food. Really. Start making plans around the food you've got, rather than what you feel like eating at that moment. This alone will save a lot.
If you start only buying meat that is on sale, you will eat every kind of meat as often as you like. Just about every week some chicken, some beef and some pork are on sale. Use those cuts! Put extra sirloin pork chops and flank steaks (two great cheap-on-sale cuts) in the freezer.
Plan at least 2 nights as no-meat nights. Eggs, cheese tortillas, tuna melts, salmon patties are very cheap and filling.
Have cereal on hand and call it 'child chow' and if the kids don't like what you're serving, they will be perfectly healthy eating cereal for dinner once or twice a week.
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