By Katie Bryan, America Saves Communications Manager
How have you been putting into practice what you learned during America Saves Week? Here's a review followed by some tips to help you save $100 this week.
The theme for America Saves Week 2013 is more than just a theme; it’s is the essence of a sound approach to savings, designed to help individuals take financial action. Set a Goal. Make a Plan. Save Automatically. Knowing what you want to save for, how to achieve it, and then making the savings process automatic will allow you to reach your savings goal.
Set a Goal
You can save more by having a goal in mind. Visualizing what you want to save for gives your savings a purpose. You may be tempted to withdraw from your savings if it has no purpose. But once you have a goal in place, you know that taking money out of your savings is taking away from that ultimate goal. So what are you saving for? An emergency fund, a home, retirement, a car?
Make a Plan
Once you have your goal in place, make a plan for how you are going to save. To start, cut down on your spending and reduce high-cost debt. Next, keep track of what you spend and make a budget. Once you know where your money is going each month, you can cut down on unneeded spending and save the difference.
Don’t forget to keep your savings safe, secure, and growing. Banks, credit unions, and even the government offer a variety of financial products that can help you save.
It can be hard to put aside money for savings. But there is an easy way to save money without ever missing it. Once you know how much you can save, make saving automatic. Many employers allow you to divide your paycheck into different accounts through direct deposit. Take advantage by putting part of your pay into a savings account. If you get paid in cash, take a small amount to the bank to deposit into a savings account each week.
Take the America Saves Pledge (or re-pledge) today to set your savings goal and make a plan to save. You can also follow America Saves on Facebook and Twitter.
America Saves Week is coordinated by America Saves and the American Savings Education Council. Started in 2007, the Week is an annual opportunity for organizations to promote good savings behavior and a chance for individuals to assess their own saving status.
10 Ways to Save $100 During America Saves Week
By Meg Favreau, Senior Editor of personal finance blog Wise Bread
Money is like a cake. When you get that delicious dessert, it can be tempting to eat it all at once. But if you do, you’ll end up with a stomachache, that sugarcoated feeling on your teeth, and perhaps most importantly – no cake for later.
Similarly, if you spend all of your money, you’ll probably end up regretting your splurges – and wishing you had some funds sitting in the bank.
Often, savings strategies are obvious – you set a big piece of cake aside, and it’s there waiting for you. But sometimes, it’s the little things that make that cake disappear. I’m reminded of the time my childhood friend Mike held a cake on his lap while we were driving home. He took fingerful after fingerful of frosting – and when we got home, Mike discovered that he had completely defrosted the cake without realizing it.
The following list features both kinds of savings strategies – big ones that work all at once, and little ones that add up over time. All of them can be put into action during America Saves Week, and every single one ensures that you can have your cake and eat it too.
1. Track Your Spending, and Make a Budget
Understanding where your money is going is the best way to start saving, which is why your first step is to make a budget. It might be that, once you make your budget and realize how much you’re spending in certain categories, you can immediately save $100 by making little trims here and there.
2. Pack Your Lunch
One of the keys to saving is developing long-term habits – such as bringing your own lunch to work instead of eating out. If you’re worried you don’t have time, cook something on Sunday and put it in individual Tupperware containers. Start this week, and over the course of a month, you can easily save $100.
3. Check If You’re Being Over-Serviced
It’s easy to “set it and forget it,” paying the same bills every month. This week, take a look at your regular services – are you using all of your cell phone minutes? Do you have more coverage than you need on your car insurance? Are you utilizing any extra cable channels you pay for? If your answer is no to any of these, call your provider, and change your plan.
4. Negotiate Your Bills
Checking for over-servicing isn’t the only way to lower your regular bills. If you’re not paying a promotional rate for services like cable and Internet, you’re paying too much. Call your service provider, and ask if there is any way you can lower your bill. If they don’t automatically say yes, suggest that you’re going to find another provider. Be patient, nice, and firm, and you can get a better rate.
5. Vow to Reuse, Repair, and Repurpose Instead of Buying New
Every time you think about buying something new, ask yourself – do you really need it, or can you make do with something you already have or that you can borrow from a friend?
6. Get to Know Your Credit Card
Visit your credit card company’s website and read the fine print. Many credit cards offer free benefits that are not well publicized. These benefits may include extended warranties, free tickets, price drop protection, extra discounts, concierge services, and cash giveaways. Of course, you should not use a credit card at all if you carry a balance every month. If you can’t control your spending, consider switching over to a cash-only system.
7. Change Your Living Situation
Yes, this is a big change – but it also has big financial rewards. If you have extra space in your house, try renting out a room, either permanently or to travelers using a service like Airbnb. Or, if you live alone, it might be time to get a roommate.
8. Clean Out Your Pantry
Empty your cupboards, see what you have, and plan meals around the ingredients you want to use up. You’ll slash your next grocery bill, and you’ll help ensure that food doesn’t go stale.
9. Create a “Cheap Fun Club” With Friends
If you’re trying to save money, it can be disheartening when friends invite you to things that you don’t want to spend money on. Instead, be proactive, and invite your friends to share in frugal activities with you, such as potlucks, watching movies at home, and board game nights.
10. Sell Your Stuff
Taking the time to declutter your house and sell your extra stuff has multiple benefits. Not only can you make money getting rid of your old items, but you might also discover other useful things you had forgotten about.
How are you planning to save money for America Saves Week and beyond?