Not all the points given herein may apply to you. There are a number of ideas that you could put to work and perhaps a few may come as a life saver. These are tried and found useful so you may benefit in these cash strapped times.
1. A community garden of 20×30 foot where a few families could pitch in to grow fresh organic produce all year around. It bonds your community and more important still, teaches your children some life skills. Of course it keeps you active as well.
2. Savings bonds. Make a habit of putting away a 10% deduction on your pay packet and after a few years you will have a tidy sum to buy savings bonds.
3. Learn to put away all raises /bonuses towards 401(k) and if you reached the maximum put the surplus to HAS and then to a savings account. This way you can create an emergency fund.
4. If you cannot afford to put the entire raise try splitting it by half. Half you keep and half is put into a monthly retirement vehicle. It is a foolproof way to retire early.
5. Tracking spending (even for 30 days) allows you to know exactly what you spend. Track of our spending on a month-to-month basis, we spend less. Put away loose change in the change jar and you don’t know how it can come handy whenever you have an urge to make an unexpected trip to attend a funeral or a get-together.
6. Do not carry any significant amounts of cash. This applies to your partner as well. Have approximately $20 to $40 maximum in each wallet. Let your motto be,’ if we pay any interest charges, they must be tax-deductible!’ All purchases — food, gasoline and nominal retail purchases — are on the card. All credit purchases are paid up completely every billing. Savings are twofold: 30-day float and no credit card interest ever. Use reward points into cash, restaurant certificates, gift cards at various stores and so on. You could make $40 to $70 a month by doing this as some couples who have tried this.
7. Save With Coupons. Keep that money in a change jar or a piggy bank. Years ago the stores gave you cash back for coupons you used, but now it’s just deducted from the balance you owe at the store and your receipt shows how much you saved. But you haven’t really saved if you aren’t actively saving that money — you are just spending less. Start saving by taking the amount of cash out of your wallet and putting it away.
8. Use Direct Deposit The best savings secret is using direct deposit from your paycheck into a savings account.
9. Leverage Automatic Savings. Here is an example ‘The key in our household is automatic deposits. Here are some examples:
A. Every month we have a set amount taken out of our checking account and put into our two children’s college savings plans — $50 each. In this way we are setting aside $600 per year for each child for their college education. At $600 each year for 18 years we will have a lot more than I, or my parents, had saved for my college education. They will be expected to work, apply for scholarships and take out loans if necessary to help fund their education.
B. Part of our paychecks goes to various savings accounts automatically: * Savings accounts for each of our children (both are under age 8) to buy them clothes or other necessary items. We save $10 per month for each, so that is $120 per year for each child, plus birthday and Christmas money they receive from relatives helps toward clothing expenses. * A money market fund for future vacations to the tune of $50 every two weeks, which turns out to be $1,300 per year. We usually take a big vacation every two years, so we have at least $2,600. Any money not spent on a previous vacation is left in the account. * A money market fund for the down payment on our next vehicle. Whenever we pay off a vehicle, that money gets set aside instead of spent, currently $150 every two weeks, which turns out to be $3,900 per year. We try to go at least two to four years after paying off a vehicle before replacing it. * A savings account for Christmas spending; we save $80 per month, or $960 total, to put toward Christmas presents for family and friends. C. We fund our 401(k)s directly through our employer, taken out of our paychecks pretax. Paying for our retirement comes first. By having our money moving automatically around to various savings accounts or into the college funds or 401(k) plans, there is no way not to have that money available for those reasons’. — Jen Richardson
10. Pay Attention to Progress I keep a chart of my debts and assets, including school loans, car loan, mortgage, my savings account and 401(k). Then I watch them closely, actually daily right now, to see my savings grow and my debts come down. At the top of the chart I put how much I originally owed, and it has been very motivating. My savings account shows me daily how much I’m earning — by doing nothing! I’ve always been a saver, but don’t have much. For many years, I was a single mom with two children, no education and no child support — earning $5 an hour in Southern California. The kids are now on their own, and I’ve been at the same job for almost 10 years making a decent income. I just can’t figure out why I didn’t make the chart before. It has significantly helped me save while paying off my debts. — Cindy Troyer
11. Save a Little Each Week I needed to save money for several long-term goals and ongoing bills, such as a new car, vacation fund, emergency vet fund for my pets and my personal emergency fund, and so on. So I created an ING account for each fund. I started out the first week by putting $1 in each account. The second week I put $1 into each account plus an extra $1 into the personal emergency fund, third week went $1 into each account plus $2 into the personal account, and so on. The second month I put $2 a week into each account plus the extra $1 into the savings. Third month was $3 into each account each week plus the extra. Doesn’t sound like much, but you slowly learn to live without the money — paying yourself first! At this point I am putting away almost $100 a week spread out over several accounts. Some accounts are just gathering funds for long-term goals, for instance a new car, while others get tapped into on a regular basis. Alexis Heydt
12. Check Grocery Store Ads I have found that one of the best ways to save a few bucks is to watch out for grocery store ads. I retired about 10 years ago and love to grocery shop. At my local grocery market there is never a week that goes by that they don’t have a great discount on something. I save on average $40 to $45 per week, or $1,300 to date this year. Every item I buy is something to eat or use for the household. It beats the heck out of coupons. David Swanger
After compiling this it gives me an idea. A buck saved grows. I ought to be practicing what I preach here. But where do I go for my first buck?