Saving money can seem overwhelming. But if you’re determined to do it, there are some things you can do to smooth the way.
It helps to have a goal. Maybe you want to save to buy a house or you know you need to sock away money for retirement. Maybe you still need to meet what should be your first savings priority — creating an emergency fund for life’s unexpected events.
Below, I’ll show you a dozen savings techniques that can help you get there. Even if you’re on a tight budget, I’d encourage you to do something to build up your savings account. Every penny adds up.
How to Build Up Your Savings Account
Don’t dismiss your small savings attempts. Instead, focus on the fact that you’re saving more than you did previously. Give yourself a pat on the back for having a bigger, healthier savings account.
Here are some savings ideas to help you get started.
1. Start a Change Jar
People often forget that those dimes, nickels, quarters and pennies add up quickly when they’re thrown into a jar each day and left untouched.
I routinely read stories about people who reach big goals by tossing loose change into a jar. They create an emergency fund, pay off debt or save for a vacation.
And it all happens simply by collecting that loose change into a jar instead of spending it. I’d encourage you to try it yourself for 60 days. See how much extra money you can find by saving your change.
2. Play the Grocery Bill Game
When you go to the grocery store and buy sale items that fit into your food menu, bank the money you saved by buying on sale.
For instance, if milk is regularly priced at $2.89 a gallon and it goes on sale for $2.50, buy the milk and note the 38 cents you saved on a list. Tally the list each week and put the total into your savings account.
Don’t pay too much attention to individual amounts. Just make the grocery bill game a habit, and watch that small change add up.
A bonus benefit? Playing this game will encourage you to cut your grocery bill by buying items on sale.
3. Pay Cash
Another way people grow their savings account is by paying cash for everything. Then, at the end of the day, they put change and $1 bills into a jar or savings fund.
These small bills and the change that comes with them are often spent on little, unnecessary items. Having a purpose for the change will ensure that you are wasting less money and working to build up your savings account at the same time.
Yeah, I know: you’ve heard it before. But I’m saying it again: AUTOMATE!
Work through your employer or your bank to have a specific dollar amount from your paycheck put into a savings account every single month.
You likely won’t miss the cash during the month. And at the end of the year, you’ll have a nice, cushy savings account to show for it.
To boost your savings even further, switch to a high-yield savings account. These accounts have better interest rates — often significantly higher — than other banks.
5. Save Unexpected Cash
When you get a cash birthday gift, a raise, a tax refund, or any other windfall that’s outside of your regular paycheck, commit to putting it all into savings.
Don’t view that unexpected cash with spending eyes, looking for a fun something-or-other that you can buy. Instead, use it to build yourself a more firm financial foundation.
6. Do the 52-Week Challenge
The 52-week challenge says that you put money each week into savings. The amount you stash matches the week of the year.
For instance, in Week 1, you put $1 into savings, Week 2 gets $2 in savings, and so on.
Alternatively, you could do the challenge in reverse. You’d put $52 into your account during Week 1, then deposit smaller amounts as the year goes on. That might make it easier when you get to the holidays and need a little relief.
7. Save What You Don’t Spend
This is another savings technique that works well for many people. Here’s how to do it.
If you’re out and have a hankering for, say, a Big Mac, skip the drive-through and instead have a cheap meal at home. Then the sock away the $4 you would have spent.
The same goes for if you’re out to eat and order water instead of a soda. The $2 you would’ve spent on the soda goes directly into savings. Your savings will be even higher if you’ve got multiple mouths to feed. Again, keep a list and transfer the money weekly.
This game is also a great way to see how much money you would have spent had you not chosen to be disciplined about your budget and your spending. And it could help your waistline, too.
8. Use a Challenge Everything Budget
I hope you’re using a budget. Using a budget is a great way to see where your money goes every month. It can help you plug up black holes of spending that make your money disappear.
You can take your budget one step further by using a Challenge Everything budget. The Challenge Everything budget works like this.
You start by making your regular budget. Next, you go through each budget line item and find a way to reduce or eliminate it.
For example, you might cancel unnecessary services such as cable or a gym membership that you never use. Another option is to shop around for car insurance and try and get a lower rate.
Finally, take any money you save from challenging your expenses and make it into a regular monthly deposit into your savings account.
9. Declutter Your House
Yes, you can build up your savings account by decluttering your house. Start by going through each drawer, closet and cupboard in your house.
Set aside anything you no longer need, use or want. Sell the items that are worth selling. You can advertise large or specialty items on sites like Craigslist.
If you have CDs, DVDs or electronic items, you can sell them immediately using a site like Decluttr. Got an overstuffed closet? Sell your clothes online.
Put the money from the items you sell straight into your savings account.
10. Get Rid of Cable or Satellite TV
Cable and satellite TV packages can cost you over $100 per month. Why not cancel that service and put the extra money into your savings account?
There are many alternatives to cable TV that can cost a lot less than a cable package. Check them out and see if you can use them and save yourself some extra cash each month.
11. Get Refunds When You Shop
You can more money by not buying things you don’t need. However, you do need to buy some things.
There are several websites that will pay you in cash when you shop online. Use them for purchases you need to make — but don’t buy more just to get the cash-back. Put the cash rebates into your savings account.
12. Get a Side Hustle
A side hustle is a money-earning venture over and above your regular job. There are dozens of side hustles you can choose from to make money.
In fact, my “side hustle” of freelance writer has turned into a bona fide business that supports my children and me.
Maybe you can drive people around with Lyft or Uber. Or maybe you have a skill you can sell to others, such as resumé writing.
If you like caring for kids or pets, you can set up a profile on Care.com. There are lots of side hustle jobs or businesses you can choose from.
Find one or more of these tips that work for you, and use the money you earn to build up your savings account.