At one time in my life, I had no problem making money, but I had a hard time keeping money, let alone ideas for creative ways to save more.
I had mastered the art of earning money and spending money, but I didn’t have a clue on how to save money.
When friends talked about their savings accounts, I went along with it and pretended I understood why it was necessary.
But I didn’t.
After a “come to Jesus” moment analyzing my finances, I knew I had to make some serious changes – especially when it came to my lack of savings.
I realized that while I was deemed a success by society’s standards, I couldn’t survive independently if something happened to me.
I knew I had to find creative ways to save more money. And do it fast.
Save Like You Mean It: Know Your Why
It’s easier to save–and you can save much faster–when you know your why.
This is something that took me years to understand.
I was saving because it made me look good or because that’s what grownups are supposed to do.
These aren’t the worst reasons in the world to start saving money, but they didn’t actually work, and I was always dipping into my savings account.
It wasn’t until I got clear on why I was saving that I stopped blowing through my savings every chance I got.
At one point, I started saving money because my girlfriends were all saving money.
It made me feel good, but I was just doing it because my friends were doing it.
There was no real substantial “why” for saving.
So, you shouldn’t be surprised to learn that when I moved away from these super-saving girlfriends, I blew through $3,000. My savings dwindled to zero.
When I say, “Know your why,” I mean you need to know why you are saving your money instead of spending it on that new pair of Manolos.
My first “why” was to protect myself financially in case anything ever happened.
I wanted an emergency fund so I could be financially independent in the event of an emergency and not have to rely on anyone else.
This “why” was so important to me, and I was able to attach myself to it emotionally.
When you know your why, it helps you stay focused and protects you from making choices you’ll regret.
And when you know why you are saving (e.g., a vacation, a new summer wardrobe), it is easier to say no to temptations.
So when your friends call and invite you to a spontaneous spa day that will require dipping into your savings, it will be much easier to say, “I can’t today, but I’ll catch up with you later.”
This mindset change made all the difference when it came to saving money and protecting myself financially.
When I became purposeful (aka I started saving money on purpose for a purpose), I started saving money much faster.
And I stopped tapping into it.
If you’re ready to up your savings game, first get clear on your why. Then, keep reading for 11 creative ways to save more each month.
#1 Gift Card Savings Swap
One of the easiest creative ways to save more money each year is to take advantage of the boatload of gift cards you have sitting in your junk drawer or the bottom of your purse.
Gather them all, and treat them as a savings bonus rather than an excuse to spend more. Here’s how…
- If you know you aren’t going to use the gift card, see if a friend will give you cash in exchange for it. Then, put that money in your savings account.
- If you plan to use the gift card, then take the money you would have spent on that purchase and save it. Do this every time you use or spend a gift card.
Of course, you are bound to have some gift card duds – those gift cards to restaurants not in your city or stores no one likes.
In this case, you can exchange your gift cards for cash or retailers you frequent on sites like Card Pool.
Just remember to treat whatever cash or gift card you receive in return as a savings bonus!
Speaking of gift cards for savings bonuses, did you know you can take all the coins you find in your car’s console or purse to Coinstar in exchange for a gift card?
When you use the Coinstar machines for cash, they charge a fee.
But, if you use the Coinstar machine and request a gift card instead, the fee is waived. This means you can turn all that pocket change into a savings bonus!
#2 Open Different Savings Accounts Separate from Your Checking Account Bank
Keep your savings out of sight and open a savings account at a different bank than where you keep your checking account.
The goal here is to make it difficult to get money out of your savings.
Make sure you go for a high-yield savings account.
Sadly, high-yield savings accounts aren’t what they once were.
According to Bloomberg, with the Fed lowering interest rates close to zero, many of these accounts have dropped their APYs (Annual Percentage Yields) close to zero.
But don’t let this deter you from saving. Many of these high-yield accounts still provide better interest rates than the national savings average, which is 0.06% APY.
Personally, I love SmartyPig–an online piggy bank with one of the best interest rates around. (And who doesn’t love a cute, little pig helping you save?)
SmartyPig lets you set savings goals and create multiple goals within the system (for example, emergency savings goals, vacation goals, education goals).
Plus, it lets you set up your piggy bank to get monthly, bimonthly, or one-time deposits.
Don’t just set up the savings account and forget it.
Autopay makes it easy to forget about it, but you want to be mindful of your money.
Make sure you are checking your transactions to ensure they are accurate and you are on track to reach your goals.
#3 Open a Roundup Savings Account
Another creative way to save more each month is to find a bank that offers a roundup savings feature.
Some banks offer roundup savings accounts, giving you the option to “round up” your purchases to the nearest dollar with the difference being deposited directly into your savings account.
Basically, it works as a virtual change jar.
Plus, there are several apps that also do the roundup work for you.
Digit analyzes your bank account balances and spending habits to sneak a little money from your checking account to savings every day.
After analyzing your accounts and habits, Digit makes savings transfers a couple of times a week.
Another popular roundup app is Acorns.
In addition to rounding up purchases to the nearest dollar, Acorns invests your money based on your income and financial goals–allowing you to both save and make money.
One more personal favorite is USAA Text Savings.
USAA Text Savings uses a dog named Tracker to analyze your checking account to see if $1 to $9 can be transferred to your USAA savings account.
Then, Tracker (the dog) steals money from your checking and puts it into your savings.
But don’t worry – Tracker sends you comical texts to remind you how you’re doing.
#4 Use the Envelope Method
Another creative way to save more is something I call the envelope method.
Back before bill pay and debit cards, my family lived completely cash-based.
My mom would go to the bank, deposit the check, and get cash.
Then, she would put set amounts of cash into different labeled envelopes (groceries, fun money, lawn care, etc.).
She only used the money in the designated envelope for those types of purchases.
For example, groceries were always bought using money from the grocery envelope.
It was a great budgeting system, but it was also a great savings system.
Every bit of cash left at the end of the month went into a savings fund for family vacations.
The envelope method may sound crazy in today’s world, but you may need to do it just to get a better appreciation for your actual money.
I did this a few years ago when I was trying to get my finances back on track.
It made me more aware of my money and what I was spending.
I had envelopes for everything, such as groceries, fun money, dinners out and entertainment, and gas.
I get that it may not always work, like if you use a credit card to get points for getting gas.
But it was a really eye-opening experience for me, and it helped me not to overspend.Plus, studies have shown that we spend less money when we use cash. Not only do we spend less, but we also accrue less debt.
#5 Pay Yourself What You Used to Pay Creditors
I can’t tell you the number of women I know that pay off loans (car, personal loans, credit cards) and then immediately start spending the money they freed up.
I get it. You’re free from all that debt, and you want to splurge a little.
After paying off that last car payment, credit card payment, or student loan payment, take the money you would have used to pay down the loan each money and divert it into your savings.
This same principle applies anytime you pay something off or downgrade.
Just because you cut your cable bill doesn’t mean you should spend the cable bill money elsewhere.
Take that money you would have spent and put it in savings – every single month.
#6 Audit Your Monthly Expenses
When you have a good amount of money rolling in each month, it is easy to lose sight of where your money is going.
At least it was for me.
I made plenty of money. But I was not keeping track of my expenses, which explains why I ended up overspending and having no savings.
I cannot state this enough – if you want financial freedom, you must pay attention to your money!
If you catch yourself wondering where all your money is going (especially because you know you are earning enough), then it is time to do a personal audit.
These apps make it super easy for you to audit your expenses and analyze your spending habits.
#7 Put Unexpected Income Straight to Savings
When it comes to creative ways to save more, you need to rethink how you approach unexpected income.
For example, when you get a bonus, do you blow it on a huge trip, or do you put it in your savings account?
Anytime you receive unexpected income, put this money into savings.
This includes bonuses and gifts, as well as unexpected income from jobs outside of your 9-5.
#8 Consider the Latte Factor
Those little expenses, like your daily latte fix, quickly add up if you don’t pay attention.
Enter the Latte Factor.
The Latte Factor is a financial concept that encourages you to save the money you spend on little things, such as coffee, fast food, and magazines.
When you consider how much you could save, as well as how much you could earn by investing the money if you didn’t make the purchase, it makes it easier to say no to the lattes.
For example, let’s say you spend $4 on a latte 5 times a week.
That’s $20 per week, or $80 per month.
Multiply it by 12 months, and you’re spending roughly $960 per year on caffeine.
Now, think of all the other little things you purchase on a daily or weekly basis. See how it all adds up?
Let that sink in, and then consider how much you could earn if you saved that money rather than spending it.
The Latte Calculator allows consumers to enter an expense, an amount (daily, monthly, or yearly), and an annual interest rate.
Then, the calculator shows you how much you would earn over the years if this money were saved and invested.
Seeing how those little purchases can add up will make it much easier to say no and save.
#9 Avoid Impulse Buys – Learn to Say No
Many women have a hard time saying no.
Many of us are impulse shoppers. It feels amazing leaving the store with our bags, but once we get home, shame sets in.
We know we don’t need it, but we say yes anyway.
It’s time to learn to say no to impulse buys.
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t shop, it means you just say no to shopping impulsively.
Instead, when the desire hits to shop, pause and wait.
The best way I know to combat impulse buys is to give yourself a “shopping waiting period.”
Leave items in your cart online or leave it on the rack in the store.
If you still want it the next day and you have money to purchase it (meaning, you aren’t going to go into debt buying it), then it isn’t just an impulse buy.
For larger purchases, you should expand the 24-hour rule a bit more.
You’ll be surprised by how much money you save each month by avoiding impulse buys.
Another way to combat impulse buys is to only spend money on things you love.
You’ve worked hard for your money, so you should get joy from spending it and saving it.
But, here’s the thing.
You should only spend money on what you love – not on things you don’t. Think about your wardrobe.
Do you have clothes in there that you really don’t love, but you bought anyway?
You’ve got to stop buying for the sake of buying.
Instead, make this your motto when it comes to spending money…If it’s not a hell yes, then it’s a no.
If you need help changing your mindset, download the Joy app. Joy acts like a financial coach where users rate their purchases based on the amount of satisfaction they bring.
The app analyzes the positive and negative value of your purchases. This makes it easier to save money by seeing which items you should spend your money on and which you should avoid.
#10 Leave the Car at Home
Transportation is one of the big three expenses when it comes to finances (housing, transportation, and food take most of our money).
We love our vehicles, but we spend a lot of money on gas and vehicle maintenance.
One of the most environmentally friendly and creative ways to save more money each month is to leave the car at home.
Carpool to and from work when possible. And choose to split Ubers or do Lyft shares rather than going it alone.
Take the extra money saved on gas and stash it in your savings account.
#11 Cancel Those Subscriptions You Aren’t Using
Many women who do well for themselves financially rack up subscriptions or memberships.
That’s fine – if you actually use them.
But, I bet if you look at your last checking account statement, you’ll be surprised by the number of monthly subscriptions that you could do without.
All of that membership money could be placed in your savings account instead.
If you don’t want to spend hours pouring over bank statements, download the Truebill app.
Truebill connects to your checking account, and then lists all your subscriptions and recurring payments, which makes it easy for you to see which ones you should cancel.
Cutting just one or two monthly subscriptions can make a big difference in how quickly you’re able to reach your savings goals.
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Disclaimer: I am not a financial planner or expert. All information in the post is my opinion and should not be used as financial advice. This is based solely on my experiences. Any action you take based on the recommendations from this blog is at your discretion. This post contains some affiliate links. If you click on an affiliate link and purchase a product/service, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. However, I only recommend products, services, and/or businesses that I love and believe will add value to you.