For many of us, saving money is a work in progress. No matter how new or experienced you are at saving money, it is helpful to hear new ideas. What works for someone else may work for you — it's all about finding strategies that mesh with your style. To get those juices flowing, we asked some money bloggers and experts for tips that have helped them succeed at saving money.
1. Consider using cash instead of cards. Spending on cards is so frictionless, it's easy to swipe without thinking about the effect each purchase will have on your bottom line.
Chase Peckham from the San Diego Financial Literacy Center agrees: "What works for me is using cash. Studies have shown that our brain reacts differently when we pay with cash versus credit cards. People actually experience something that can be interpreted as pain when paying with cash. It is imperceptible most of the time, but it is there. Ever cringe when you see the price tag for something? Paying with plastic doesn't trigger that same physical response. That makes it easier to charge away."
2. Pick an area or two where you don't care to spend any money, and hold yourself to it. This way, you'll have more money to save or spend on the things that you truly enjoy.
Ashley from Kiwi and the Keweenaw uses this technique: "I save money by refusing to pay for parking. I'll park an extra few blocks away from downtown areas at home and when I travel. I get a short walk in and a chance to listen to a podcast or [do some] walking meditation."
3. Advertisers spend billions of dollars each year to entice you into wanting what you don't have. Familiarize yourself with the techniques they use so that you can avoid buying unnecessarily.
Cody from Fly to FI discusses one such technique: "Don't get tricked into 'saving by spending'! If something is 90 percent off but you weren't planning on buying it in the first place, that is not saving at all. This is one of the most misunderstood concepts when it comes to saving money. Even I have fallen victim to this marketing treachery! Saving by spending is an advertising tactic where a company entices you to buy a product or service at a steep discount that you wouldn't have considered otherwise. Examples of this are devices like product coupons, entertainment deals, cheap flights and accommodation[s], and many more."
4. Moving money out of a checking account and into your savings as soon as there is a surplus is a great way to protect money from unnecessary spending. It takes a bit more effort, but it could work for you.
Revanche at A Gai Shan Life utilizes this technique: "I keep approximately one month['s worth] of expenses in cash in our checking account throughout the month so I can pay bills. Whenever I do something that saves us some money on a normal expense, whether it's recurring or a one-off, I grab that cash and send it to savings out of the checking account as if it was spent—only it's our savings account that benefits."
5. While it's impossible to insulate ourselves from advertisements completely, there are steps we can take to feel less temptation—especially when we're bored and sitting at the computer.
Sarah from Smile and Conquer has a great idea: "Unsubscribe from promo emails! I'm a sucker for a deal and too often get tempted by sales emails, so I unsubscribed from all but a select few. Removing the temptation from my inbox has helped me control my spending and reduced impulse purchases."
6. If it's big money-saving wins you're after, one way to potentially bank thousands of extra dollars is by saving on your interest payments for student loans or other debt.
Krystel from All She Saves did just that by refinancing her student loans with CommonBond: "Refinancing my student loans is one of the best financial decisions I have made to date. When I graduated college, I had over $77,000 of student loans with interest rates of 8% or more. I was paying hundreds of dollars each month to interest alone, which in turn hurt the speed I could pay down my balance. By refinancing, I was able to bring my interest rate down to 5% and save myself thousands of dollars over my debt payoff journey. Do yourself a financial favor and look into it. If you aren't eligible today, maybe you will be one day. By simply refinancing my loans I saved YEARS off paying my debt and can sleep better at night knowing that I am paying off my loan principal instead of simply putting that money into the pocket of a student loan servicer."
Pick one or two of these ideas and see whether they work for you. You might have to try a few strategies before you get into a savings groove, so remember to be patient as you figure out what works best. Good luck and happy saving!