Consciously putting in the effort to save your money is often a challenge when facing the rising cost of living. It can be mentally draining even if you are certain you need to do it.
Luckily, you aren’t alone, and there are countless tricks and tools to make it easier to save without effort. Employ some of these strategies to meet your saving goals just by focusing your energy in more appealing places.
1. Round-Up Saving
One easy method to help you save money is “round-up” saving on every purchase you make. Some debit cards offer round-up savings features.
When you spend using your card, it automatically rounds up to the nearest dollar and transfers the difference into savings. Let’s say you spend $87.52 on groceries; your card then rounds up to $88, transferring $0.48 to savings.
The amount of extra money seems small, but it builds up over time. And the best part is, you don’t have to think about it. Once you set it up, the service does the work for you and lets you focus on other things.
2. Automated Transfers
If you have a consistent income and a budget, consider making automatic transfers to help you save money. This allows you to automatically transfer money from your checking account into your savings account on an established schedule.
Discern how much money you can save each month according to your budget. Then, set it up to automatically transfer this amount into your savings every month. This allows you to build your savings without much thought after you’ve put things in motion.
Of course, the amount of your budget that can be saved monthly may vary depending on the month. In this case, find the minimum consistent amount — however much you know for a fact will be available. For example, if it fluctuates between $100-$150, automate the transfer for $100 and reconsider as your income changes.
3. Shopping Assistant Browser Extensions
For online shopping, you can find plenty of browser extensions to guide you toward saving the most money possible. Just install them on your browser and they will give you useful information as you peruse your favorite store websites. Depending on the extension, this information can include the following: coupon codes, price history/comparison, rewards points, etc.
These actions usually happen automatically — you might click an item and see a pop-up telling you that it’s cheaper elsewhere. At checkout, the extension will try a bunch of coupon codes to see whether any are valid. This method allows you to save money on your purchases while the extension does all of the work.
4. Rebate/Rewards Programs
Sometimes included in these extensions is a rebate or rewards program — any purchase you make will net you points/funds. When you accumulate enough points, you can redeem them for benefits or cashback. The more you shop online, the more of these returns you’ll see.
These programs aren’t exclusive to shopping assistants. You can also find them via spending cards, independent websites, or store loyalty programs. Your savings won’t be as high here as with other solutions, but sticking to it will prove more than fruitful. Loyalty programs in particular are perfect if you tend to favor specific brands.
5. Outlets, Sales, and Clearance Sections
Most stores with lots of stock have a clearance section alongside their regular sales. The items within will be those that either didn’t sell well due to price or to a surplus of stock. Outlet stores are essentially full-sized versions of this, so they naturally have more options.
Make a habit of frequenting these sections or stores to get products for much less than if you purchased them elsewhere. You don’t have to worry as much about saving because everything around you is discounted — you have free rein! And if there’s a specific item you crave, be patient: It will almost certainly go on sale at some point.
6. Secondhand Shopping
Sometimes outlet, sale, or clearance prices still aren’t reduced enough to justify spending. Other times, you may simply not have any interest in the styles or types of products available. Secondhand shopping is perfect for these situations; the products can be from anywhere and look like anything.
Because of the nature of secondhand shopping, you’re unlikely to find something 100% new. But this may fit your style even more and/or provide the same quality of use as a new version. Instead of a $10 can opener from the grocery store, you might find a like-new vintage one for $2.
7. Lunchtime Meal Planning
Meal planning can be a slog to start but will make your work lunch break so much more convenient. It’s a great method for preparing quick, healthy, homemade meals and avoiding spending money on anything at work. All it takes is one or two cooking sessions per week, and you’re good to go!
For example, instead of buying one burrito bowl for $15, you can make five, spending the same amount on ingredients. You may also customize food to your health needs and tastes and switch things up however you want. With your premade lunches at the ready, you won’t even need to consider spending more money than you plan to.
Saving does not have to be as difficult as it sounds if you consider ways to do it automatically or indirectly. Setting up automatic saving features and using strategies to save on purchases will help you build up savings over time. Plus, it’ll do wonders for your mental health to no longer have to stress over money.