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15 Fun Ways To Save Money (Instead Of Using Piggy Banks)

15 Fun Ways To Save Money (Instead Of Using Piggy Banks)

Saving money is just one of those necessary evils, but it doesn’t have to be a mundane task. Put the change counter and the piggy bank in the back of the closet, and use these 15 fun ways to help save money:

1. Take Out Cash

Rather than relying on your debit card for transactions, take out cash at the beginning of the week. Decide on a specific amount you are willing to spend per week, take it out in cash and leave your account alone. This will keep you from spending too much, which is easy to do with a debit card. It will also help you make sound decisions on what to spend your money on. With limited weekly funds, eating out four times won’t seem so appealing anymore.

2. Save Your 5’s

Once you’ve taken out cash, decide on a denomination to save. Let’s work with 5’s. Here’s an example: You go to the movies and pay with a twenty. The cashier hands you back a 5 and 5 ones. Take the 5-dollar-bill and stash it away. If you do this every time you spend money, you’ll have a nice little stash in no time.

3. Nix the Cable

With services like Hulu, Netflix, and Apple TV, cable isn’t a necessity anymore. With Apple TV, you pay for the device and have access to most major networks. Hulu and Netflix require a monthly fee, but even if you paid for both, the cost won’t add up to a monthly charge for cable.

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4. Grow Some Veggies

Even city-dwellers can start a vegetable garden. Make a list of the staple vegetables you keep around the kitchen, and then do some research on growing your own. This will save a little change at the grocery store, and it might even become a therapeutic activity for you.

5. Swap Clothes

Do you have a friend or family member that wears the same size as you? Consider doing a clothing swap rather than buying a new outfit for a party or event. Chances are, you’ll only wear that outfit once or twice, so borrowing will save you money and room in your closet. Need a fancy outfit for a dinner or convention? Consider renting it.

6. Make Your Own Household Cleaning Supplies

Not only is making cleaning supplies cost-effective, but it’s also eco-friendly. With some vinegar and a little borax you’ve got yourself an all-purpose cleaner in no time. Use this recipe for a homemade laundry detergent, and each load will only cost about $0.04.

7. Set Up Auto-Draft

Some companies and financial institutions are willing to offer a discount if you set up auto draft payments. Before sign up for service or take out a new loan, ask the company if they offer a discount for auto draft.

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8. Use Layaway Instead of Credit Cards

Layaway is an interest-free way to pay for a large purchase. Many box stores as well as some smaller retail locations offer a layaway option. If it isn’t something you need right now, consider using layaway rather than a credit card.

9. Look for Free Activities

Skip the movies at the theater and head to movies in the park. Many cities offer a host of free activities, especially in the summer months. Use social media tools and the web to find listings for community activities and make your date night a little cheaper. This will also push you to do something new or different, which will broaden your horizons and help you meet new people.

10. Pay for Your Bad Habits

Choose a bad habit of yours that you’d like to get rid of. Take a jar and label it with that bad habit. Select a denomination to put in the jar every time you find yourself partaking in said bad habit. Let’s take slouching for instance. If you want to correct this habit and sit up with a straight spine, label your jar “Slouch Habit”, and place $1 in the jar every time you catch yourself slumping down in your seat. You’ll save a little money and hopefully get rid of that little habit.

11. Cook More

It depends on who you ask, but generally you can save money if you cook more rather than eat out. It’s also healthier (most of the time).

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12. Use Your Rewards

If you plan to use your credit cards, make sure to take advantage of the rewards. Most cards have a points or percentage system that you can use for goods, gift cards and even cash back. Use your credit cards for what you’d normally spend cash on- groceries, gas, etc. Put the money aside to pay off the credit cards immediately, and you save yourself from interest charges while still getting the points.

13. Shop Garage Sales

Need a new dining room table or bookshelf? Instead of buying new, look around at local garage sales to see if you can find something that works. You might find something that just needs a little refinishing. This can turn into a fun project and save you money as well.

14. Start Couponing

Extreme couponing has become quite the trend, but it can really save you quite a bit of money if you know how to do it. Since the coupon craze is in full swing, finding info online or even a class in your area shouldn’t be hard.

15. Stop Paying for Delivery

Having your food delivered means tipping the driver. Instead of ordering delivery, pick up your food to avoid the extra cost of a tip. Some businesses actually charge a delivery fee as well, so you can avoid this by making the trip to the restaurant.

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Do you have any other ideas for fun ways to save? 

Do you overspend? Check out 15 Ways to Eat Free That You Probably Didn’t Know.

Featured photo credit: Vintage Grow Your Money/www.stockmonkeys.com via flickr.com

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Last Updated on September 2, 2020

How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

Personal finances can push anyone to the point of extreme anxiety and worry. Easier said than done, planning finances is not an egg meant for everyone’s basket. That’s why most of us are often living pay check to pay check. But did anyone tell you that it is actually not a tough task to meet your financial goals?

In this article, we will explore ways to set financial goals and actually meet them with ease.

4 Steps to Setting Financial Goals

Though setting financial goals might seem to be a daunting task, if one has the will and clarity of thought, it is rather easy. Try using these steps to get you started.

1. Be Clear About the Objectives

Any goal without a clear objective is nothing more than a pipe dream, and this couldn’t be more true for financial matters.

It is often said that savings is nothing but deferred consumption. Therefore, if you are saving today, then you should be crystal clear about what it’s for. It could be anything, including your child’s education, retirement, marriage, that dream vacation, fancy car, etc.

Once the objective is clear, put a monetary value to that objective and the time frame. The important point at this step of goal setting is to list all the objectives that you foresee in the future and put a value to each.

2. Keep Goals Realistic

It’s good to be an optimistic person but being a Pollyanna is not desirable. Similarly, while it might be a good thing to keep your financial goals a bit aggressive, going beyond what you can realistically achieve will definitely hurt your chances of making meaningful progress.

It’s important that you keep your goals realistic, as it will help you stay the course and keep you motivated throughout the journey.

3. Account for Inflation

Ronald Reagan once said: “Inflation is as violent as a mugger, as frightening as an armed robber and as deadly as a hitman.” This quote sums up what inflation could do your financial goals.

Therefore, account for inflation[1] whenever you are putting a monetary value to a financial objective that is far into the future.

For example, if one of your financial goal is your son’s college education, which is 15 years from now, then inflation would increase the monetary burden by more than 50% if inflation is a mere 3%. Always account for this to avoid falling short of your goals.

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4. Short Term Vs Long Term

Just like every calorie is not the same, the approach to achieving every financial goal will not be the same. It’s important to bifurcate goals into short-term and long-term.

As a rule of thumb, any financial goal that is due in next 3 years should be termed as a short-term goal. Any longer duration goals are to be classified as long-term goals. This bifurcation of goals into short-term vs long-term will help in choosing the right investment instrument to achieve them.

By now, you should be ready with your list of financial goals. Now, it’s time to go all out and achieve them.

How to Achieve Your Financial Goals

Whenever we talk about chasing any financial goal, it is usually a two-step process:

  • Ensuring healthy savings
  • Making smart investments

You will need to save enough and invest those savings wisely so that they grow over a period of time to help you achieve goals.

Ensuring Healthy Savings

Self-realization is the best form of realization, and unless you decide what your current financial position is, you aren’t heading anywhere.

This is the focal point from where you start your journey of achieving financial goals.

1. Track Expenses

The first and the foremost thing to be done is to track your spending. Use any of the expense tracking mobile apps to record your expenses. Once you start doing it diligently, you will be surprised by how small expenses add up to a sizable amount.

Also categorize those expenses into different buckets so that you know which bucket is eating most of your pay check. This record keeping will pave the way for cutting down on un-wanted expenses and pumping up your savings rate.

If you’re not sure where to start when tracking expenses, this article may be able to help.

2. Pay Yourself First

Generally, savings come after all the expenses have been taken care of. This is a classic mistake when setting financial goals. We pay ourselves last!

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Ideally, this should be planned upside down. We should be paying ourselves first and then to the world, i.e. we should be taking out the planned saving amount first and manage all the expenses from the rest.

The best way to actually implement this is to put the savings on automatic mode, i.e. money flowing automatically into different financial instruments (mutual funds, retirement accounts, etc) every month.

Taking the automatic route will help release some control and compel us to manage what’s left, increasing the savings rate.

3. Make a Plan and Vow to Stick With It

Learning to create a budget is the best way to get around the uncertainty that financial plans always pose. Decide in advance how spending has to be organized

Nowadays, several money management apps can help you do this automatically.

At first, you may not be able to stick to your plans completely, but don’t let that become a reason why you stop budgeting entirely.

Make use of technology solutions you like. Explore options and alternatives that let you make use of the available wallet options, and choose the one that suits you the most. In time, you will get accustomed to making use of these solutions.

You will find that they make it simpler for you to follow your plan, which would have been difficult otherwise.

4. Make Savings a Habit and Not a Goal

In the book Nudge, authors Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein advocate that, in order to achieve any goal, it should be broken down into habits since habits are more intuitive for people to adapt to.

Make savings a habit rather than a goal. While it might seem to be counterintuitive to many, there are some deft ways of doing it. For example:

  • Always eat out (if at all) during weekdays rather than weekends. Weekends are more expensive.
  • If you are a travel buff, try to travel during off-season. You’ll spend significantly less.
  • If you go shopping, always look out for coupons and see where can you get the best deal.

The key point is to imbibe the action that results in savings rather than on the savings itself, which is the outcome. Focusing on the outcome will bring out the feeling of sacrifice, which will be harder to sustain over a period of time.

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5. Talk About It

Sticking to the saving schedule (to achieve financial goals) is not an easy journey. There will be many distractions from those who are not aligned with your mission.

Therefore, in order to stay the course, surround yourself with people who are also on the same bandwagon. Daily discussions with them will keep you motivated to move forward.

6. Maintain a Journal

For some people, writing helps a great deal in making sure that they achieve what they plan.

If you are one of them, maintain a proper journal, where you write down your goals and also jot down the extent to which you managed to meet them. This will help you in reviewing how far you have come and which goals you have met.

When you have a written commitment on paper, you are going to feel more energized to follow the plan and stick to it. Moreover, it is going to be a lot easier for you to track your progress.

Making Smart Investments

Savings by themselves don’t take anyone too far. However, savings, when invested wisely, can do wonders.

1. Consult a Financial Advisor

Investment doesn’t come naturally to most of us, so it’s wise to consult a financial advisor.

Talk to him/her about your financial goals and savings, and then seek advice for the best investment instruments to achieve your goals.

2. Choose Your Investment Instrument Wisely

Though your financial advisor will suggest the best investment instruments, it doesn’t hurt to know a bit about the common ones, like a savings account, Roth IRA, and others.

Just like “no one is born a criminal,” no investment instrument is bad or good. It is the application of that instrument that makes all the difference[2].

As a general rule, for all your short-term financial goals, choose an investment instrument that has debt nature, for example fixed deposits, debt mutual funds, etc. The reason for going for debt instruments is that chances of capital loss is less compared to equity instruments.

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3. Compounding Is the Eighth Wonder

Einstein once remarked about compounding:

“Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it… He who doesn’t… Pays it.”

Use compound interest when setting financial goals

    Make friends with this wonder kid. The sooner you become friends with it, the quicker you will reach closer to your financial goals.

    Start saving early so that time is on your side to help you bear the fruits of compounding.

    4. Measure, Measure, Measure

    All of us do good when it comes to earning more per month but fail miserably when it comes to measuring the investments and taking stock of how our investments are doing.

    If we don’t measure progress at the right times, we are shooting in the dark. We won’t know if our saving rate is appropriate or not, whether the financial advisor is doing a decent job, or whether we are moving closer to our target.

    Measure everything. If you can’t measure it all yourself, ask your financial advisor to do it for you. But do it!

    The Bottom Line

    Managing your extra money to achieve your short and long-term financial goals

    and live a debt-free life is doable for anyone who is willing to put in the time and effort. Use the tips above to get you started on your path to setting financial goals.

    More Tips on Financial Goals

    Featured photo credit: Micheile Henderson via unsplash.com

    Reference

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