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7 Saving Tricks You Haven’t Tried Yet

7 Saving Tricks You Haven’t Tried Yet

The vast inter webs, your parents, and that guy smiling smugly from the latest hit finance book are chocked full of advice to help you save your hard-earned dollars. With information flowing in from every corner, it can quickly start to feel like you’ve tried everything.

Still not seeing your savings add up the way you want them to? Keep up the good fight and try these.

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1. Play keep away, with yourself.

Divert part of your paycheck directly into your savings account.  Some employers allow pay checks to be deposited into multiple accounts. If yours does, designate a sustainable percentage to go to savings. Not sure what you can reasonably put aside? Start with a set amount, such as $50 (the minimum to open an account at many banks) or even $100. At the end of your pay period, evaluate how much, if at all, you miss that amount. Can you increase it? Dedicate raises and bonuses directly to savings.

2. Adjust your withholding.

“Withholding” is just that—money automatically deducted from your paycheck to pay taxes owed the federal government. If the amount withheld each paycheck is correct, you should not have to pay taxes at the end of the year. Adjust your withholdings every time a major life event occurs, such as a birth or death, marriage or divorce, or starting a new job.

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3. Make a public declaration.

Who is the most lovingly critical person in your life? Who is the person who both cares for and nags you? Tell that person that you are dedicated to saving money; tell them why, and tell them how much. This person will likely voice their disapproval when you shop or spend unnecessarily; let them, and appreciate their function.

4. Get competitive with your crew.

It takes a village to do a lot of things, and a strong community can help you keep your savings initiative on track. Recruit your closest friends to form a savings club. Develop a reading list, create a list of discount warehouses to watch for sales, team up to buy in bulk, and anything else that will help each member. Feeling shy about publicly acknowledging financial woes? Don’t be—everyone struggles, for different reasons. You are among friends, and you can help each other. Need even more motivation? Start teaching your kids about spending. Nothing passes a child’s eye, and the pressure you feel to set a good example will motivate you to save and spark instructive dialogue, to boot.

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5. Pay your car loan, forever.

Finally paid off that vehicle, student loan, or personal debt? Congratulations! Wondering what you’ll do with that chunk of change that used to go to your bill? Keep paying it—to yourself. You were getting by just fine when that money went to someone else. You’ll do just fine now, putting the money directly into savings. Added benefit—hefty savings mean you may not have to take a loan like the one(s) you paid off, ever. Now that feels good!

6. Stay focused.

Saving for something specific? Keep your eye on the prize, literally, by placing photos of the items or notes with a key word on your wallet and near your computer. Tempted to peruse the world wide web for some spontaneous, pajama-clad retail therapy? Halt! Take a look at the picture—what you’re saving for is much more satisfying than any spontaneous purchase.

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7. Work more.

There are two sides to the savings coin. One is to save more; the other is to earn more. The basics are tried and true ways to succeed. Pick up a part time job, freelance gig, or duties, like a neighborhood dog walker/babysitter/handyman, and put all that you earn directly into savings.

Ready to start saving? Check out these 5 Quick and Dirty Hacks to Save Money in 2014.

Featured photo credit: Ken Wilcox via flickr.com

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Last Updated on March 4, 2019

How to Use Credit Cards While Staying Out of Debt

How to Use Credit Cards While Staying Out of Debt

Many people will suggest that the best thing to do with your credit cards during these tough economic times is to cut them up with a pair of scissors. Indeed, if you are already in huge debt, you probably should stop using them and begin a payback strategy immediately. However, if you are not currently in trouble with your credit cards, there are wise ways to use them.

I happen to really love my credit cards so I will share with you my approach to how I use mine without getting into deep financial trouble.

Ever since about 1983 when I got my first Visa card, I continue to charge as many of my purchases as possible on credit. Everything from gas, groceries and monthly payments for services like my cable and home security monitoring are charged on credit. Despite my heavy usage, I have maintained the joy of never paying any interest fees at all on any of my credit cards.

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Here are some tips on how best to use your credit cards without falling into the trap of paying those nasty double-digit interest fees.

Do Not Treat Credit Cards as Your Funding Sources

Too many people treat their credit cards as funding sources for major purchases. Do not do this if you want to stay out of trouble. I use my credit cards as convenient financial instruments so I do not have to carry around much cash. In fact, I hate carrying cash, especially coins. When you buy things on credit, the purchases are clean and you will not get annoying coins back as change.

I do not rely on my Visa, MasterCard or American Express to fund any of my purchases, large or small. This brings me to my golden rule when it comes to whether I will pull out any of my credit cards either at a retail or online store.

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I never purchase anything with my credit cards if I do not have the actual cash on hand in my bank account.

If I really cannot pay for the item or service with cash that I already have at the bank, then I simply will not make the purchase. Remember, my credit cards are not used as funding sources. They are just convenient alternatives to actual cash in my pocket.

Make Sure to Always Pay Off Balances in Full Each Month

The next very important part of my overall strategy is to make absolutely sure that I pay the balances in full each and every month no matter how large they are. This should never be a problem if the cash has been budgeted for my purchases and secured in the bank. I have always paid my full balances each month ever since my very first credit card and this is why I never pay interest charges.

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Using Credit Cards with Rewards

Most of my credit cards are of the “no annual fees” type, including one MasterCard on a separate account I keep at home as a spare in case I lose my wallet or incur any fraudulent charges. However, I do use a main Visa card which does have an annual fee because all purchases on that card reward me with airline frequent flyer points. For me, the annual fee is worth it since I do travel and I get enough points to redeem many free flights.

You have to decide for yourself if you will charge enough purchases on credit each year without paying interest charges to warrant a credit card that rewards you with airline points (or other rewards). In my case, the answer is “yes” but that might not be the case for you.

I occasionally use a MasterCard or American Express card on small purchases just to keep those accounts active. Also, I have been to the odd retailer that accepted only a certain type of credit card, so I find that having one from each major company is quite handy. Aside from my main Visa card which earns the airline points, the rest of my cards are of the “no annual fees” variety.

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So this is how I use my credit cards without getting into any financial trouble with them. This strategy is recommended only if you are not in debt, of course. In fact, it is worth keeping in mind once you’re out of debt so that you can keep your credit cards active and treat them responsibly.

What are your credit card usage strategies? Let me know in the comments — I’d love to hear what methods you use.

Featured photo credit: Artem Bali via unsplash.com

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