Four Easy Ways to Save Money (Really!)

Easy ways to save money can be yours! Read my post and then add your ideas in the comments section. Let’s brainstorm together!

Oh, I hate this time of year. Not really, fall is actually my favorite of the seasons, but when it comes to spending money, September is the worst. Because not only are we coming off a period of time — summer vacation — when we tend to spend more and our bank account balance is looking a bit more anemic than usual — September brings a host of extra expenses that blow my monthly budget to bits. You know what I mean — back-to-school clothes and supplies, school fundraisers, fees for after-school programs that are starting up, lunch tickets and other assorted kid-related expenses. Plus I have to start thinking about cold weather and end-of-the-year related expenses — our oil bill and holiday shopping to name to major ones.

Basically I spend the fall giving money to everyone else but myself.

And then add in the fact that in the past two weeks two forms of my income have either been completely depleted or substantially decreased and I’m a bit of a basket case lately.

Still, despite my desperation, when I think logically about the situation, I realize that the easy ways to save money that I deploy on a semi-regular basis are things I can still do to help keep our finances in the black. (That and take lots of deep breaths.)

Amanda’s Four Easy Ways to Save Money

Mismanage Your Checkbook —  Doesn’t that sound simple? Just write in the cash as you need it! It’s the easiest (and only) of my easy ways to save money tips! Kidding of course, but I have found a way to put my poor math skills to good use. When I enter in a debit card transaction or bill that I have paid into my checkbook register, I round up the figure. So if I spent $15.78 at the Cadbury Chocolate Store, I enter that I actually spent $16. $29.02 at the M&M shirt depot becomes $30. At the end of the week, when I balance our family checkbook, those remainders are returned to me in a dollar amount.
I find that I average an “extra” $10 or $15 that I can transfer into our savings account (I do all the banking online). I like this method too because instead of adding and subtracting four-digit numbers, I just have to do it with two-digit numbers, giving me less opportunities to make a mistake.

Shop Online   I do a lot of shopping online for a few reasons. Partly because I’m lazy and it offers me a chance to not get off the couch (and chase a toddler around the store), but mostly because it gives me a chance to do some serious comparison shopping. I always shop through sites that give me money back and whenever I frequent a store, I always google the name of it along with the phrase “coupon codes.”

Choose a Credit Card Wisely — If you choose to carry credit cards, make sure they are ones that offer you some sort of benefit. The main card that I use deposits a percentage of my purchases into my children’s 529 (college savings) account. The other store cards that I carry in my wallet either offer me a discount right off the top of my purchases or give me a percentage back. Also, T. and I (for the most part), treat our credit cards as cash, paying off the balance in full every month.

Pay Yourself First — This is a hard one to do mentally, especially if you’ve got bills piling up, but it’s one that you need to do if you want to save. Every first of the month, the bank automatically takes $75 out of our checking account and puts it into the 529 accounts we have set up for the kids. It’s only $25 per kid per month ($300 per year), but it’s more than I was saving before. And it’s (mostly) painless because it’s not something I’m writing a check for (just remember to enter it into your checkbook!).

What are your tips for easy ways to save money? Please share them below in the comments section — I really need them!

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