Saving Without Sacrifice
Amanda Carrozza is a freelance writer and editor in New Jersey.
Building your savings account doesn’t have to be painful. Take a few small yet significant steps and you will save more each year.
It’s probably safe to assume that saving money is a universal goal shared by most people, including veterinarians. But how do you take that abstract goal and put it into motion? Yes, forgoing your daily trip to the local coffee house can save you upwards of $500 per year, but there’s no need to part with your morning jolt. Saving doesn’t have to mean sacrifice.
Here are four simple ways to set yourself on the path toward a larger bank account.
Contribute to Retirement
Increase the percentage of your paycheck that you put into your 401(k), IRA or whatever type of retirement savings account you have established. (If you don’t have any retirement account, get started!)
Many factors go into determining how much you should be contributing regularly to your retirement account, but there are free online tools that provide a benchmark for where you are now, where you need to be and the steps you need to take in order to fill in gaps. For example, by answering a few simple questions — like your age and current salary — nerdwallet.com quickly calculates how much you can expect to save by retirement through a 401(k). The website also allows you to increase or decrease certain factors you input to see how even adding 2 percent more from your paycheck will play out in the long run.
Make sure you have the investments withdrawn automatically from your paycheck so that you don’t have to think about (or talk yourself out of) contributing each month.
- What's App With Your Finances?
- 5 Habits of Savvy Credit Card Users​​​​​​​
Freeze Your Spending
Choose one day each month where you vow not to spend any money for a full 24 hours. Don’t fill up your gas tank, make a detour to the mall or even meet a friend for coffee. Make do with what you have.
This may seem extreme, but remember that it’s just one day. And there are many advantages to keeping your wallet closed:
- You’ll have more money in your account the next day.
- The savings will add up throughout the year.
- You will start to make note of frivolous transactions you make on a regular basis.
- You’ll learn alternate ways to entertain yourself. For example, instead of coffee, meet your friend at the park and go for walk — walks are free!
Sell Unwanted Items
That shirt you bought but never even removed the tags, the bicycle you stopped riding two years ago, the coffee table that no longer fits the rest of your décor — these are all untapped sources of income. Set up an online account on eBay, Craigslist, a Facebook yard sale group or targeted companies like Poshmark for clothes and accessories, and start selling your unwanted items. Add the money you earn to your savings or use it to cover the cost of an expense you had planned to deduct from your bank account.
And you don’t have to tackle your entire house at once. Dedicate the winter to cleaning out your attic and then move to the garage in the spring. Even if you choose to donate your unwanted belongings rather than sell them, you can still include the donation amount in your tax deductions for the year.
Rethink Credit Card Habits
Maximize the benefits you receive every time you use a credit card. Credit card companies often offer extra bonuses if you spend in certain categories, such as movies, gas or groceries. Others reward you for meeting certain thresholds or offer discounts at particular venues and hotels. By signing up to receive emails from your credit card company you can stay abreast of these incentives as they become available.
Additionally, make sure you’re using a credit card that offers rewards. The bonuses typically include cash back, airline miles that can be redeemed for your next trip or a combination of the two. If you’re going to use credit cards, you might as well benefit from them. And each reward point and discount amounts to another avenue of savings.