In theory, saving money sounds simple: spend less than you earn each month and save the difference in a savings account. However, this can be difficult to achieve in practice. With so many things vying for your money, it can be challenging to stick to your savings plan.
In some cases, traditional savings methods like using a piggy bank may not be enough to keep you on track. If you've already created a budget, you may be searching for unconventional ways to save money. Here are a few ideas that are not commonly used but might be useful in helping you save more money.
Setting time limits when you shop
A familiar situation for many people is going into a store with the intention of buying a few items but ending up at the checkout with a cart full of things they didn't plan to buy. Whether you're shopping in-person or online, casually browsing can often lead to impulse buying of unnecessary items.
To reduce the likelihood of such scenarios, consider setting a time limit when shopping. This added sense of urgency can help you stay focused on getting what you need and leaving quickly, reducing the chances of being tempted by unnecessary purchases.
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Treating savings like a non-negotiable bill
A lot of individuals are efficient at paying their bills, such as rent or insurance. However, they often struggle to prioritize saving and keep putting it off until "later." But what if you gave the same importance to contributing to your savings account as you do to paying your monthly bills?
The advantage is that once you've made this mindset shift, you can automate your savings to avoid constantly thinking about it. If you've already automated your bill payments, consider setting up automatic transfers to your savings account as the same process - but instead of paying a bill, you're paying yourself! This can make saving money much easier and more manageable.
Saving specific denominations of change
One way to make saving money more enjoyable is to "gamify" the process. Rather than focusing on cutting costs in specific areas, this approach involves selecting any denomination of change, such as pennies, singles, fives, or tens, and saving it every time you receive it.
For instance, let's say you choose to save $5 bills. Anytime you receive a $5 bill, whether from change or tips, you can put it directly into your savings. Even if you find a $5 bill in your couch cushions, it goes straight into your savings. You can spend and keep other bills you receive, but by just saving a certain denomination, you may be surprised at how quickly your savings can add up.
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If you don't carry much cash and prefer to use a card for transactions, there are apps that round up your debit and credit transactions to the nearest dollar and deposit the "spare change" into your savings account. For example, if you spend $9.95 on a debit card purchase, the app would round up the charge to an even $10 and deposit the five-cent difference into your savings.
Auditing subscription services regularly
Nowadays, subscription services are abundant. While each individual subscription may not seem costly, the cumulative expense can add up quickly if you have multiple services stacked up. Additionally, "free trials" can begin charging you if you forget to cancel them on time.
Because these payments are automated and happen in the background, it can be easy to lose track of which services you no longer use but are still paying for. To avoid this issue, it's helpful to regularly review your subscriptions. Conducting a quarterly audit, for instance, can assist you in ensuring that you only pay for subscriptions that you still use.
Planning meals to save on food costs
It's a common problem for many people to finish their workday and find themselves too exhausted to think about making dinner. The quickest solution is often to eat out or order in, both of which can quickly deplete your savings. Additionally, your fresh groceries may go to waste as you continue to reach for the takeout menu.
One proven way to avoid this money trap is to start meal planning. By creating a plan for the week or month, you'll have a better understanding of what you need and how to utilize it to reduce waste. After a long day, you won't have to use mental energy deciding what to eat because you've already planned ahead. Having a meal plan can help you resist the urge to order takeout.
Taking advantage of midweek grocery sales
When it comes to saving on groceries, taking advantage of midweek sales at some stores can be a smart move. Many retailers roll out new sales midweek, offering early access to limited promotions and sometimes storewide discounts during specific hours. Keep in mind, these discounts are often meant to attract customers during less busy times, so they might not be the most convenient for your schedule. However, if you're able to make it to the store during those times, you could potentially lower your food expenses without sacrificing your preferences.
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Creating “no-spend” holidays
To put it simply, the concept is to take a break from spending money. You can choose a day or two where your sole financial objective is to refrain from spending any money, except for essential bills or unforeseeable emergencies. As you become more skilled at managing your spending, you can set a goal to take longer "no-spend" breaks, lasting a week or even longer.
Volunteering at events you want to see
To enjoy events and activities you love without spending too much, you can try volunteering at them. By offering to help with tasks such as guiding people to their seats or answering questions, you can gain free access to the event. In fact, you may even have the opportunity to go behind the scenes, which others may have to pay a lot for. This is a great way to be part of an event while saving money.
Not treating savings like a cash reserve
If you find yourself low on funds, the urge to transfer money from your savings to your checking account can be strong. While this may be necessary in emergency situations, relying on this habit can quickly deplete your savings.
If you struggle with the temptation to use your savings like a checking account, consider opening a savings or deposit account that doesn't offer instant access to your funds. By creating this buffer, you'll be more likely to stick to your budget and resist the urge to dip into your savings.
Fixing small problems before they get bigger
Procrastinating on addressing a problem rarely leads to a solution. In fact, it often exacerbates the issue. For instance, if you ignore a wobbly tire on your car and don't have it checked and re-inflated promptly, it could result in a full blowout later. Tackling problems before they escalate may require a small investment of time or money today, but it can save you from having to spend much more in the future.
Saving money doesn't have to be tedious. There are several ways to save without feeling like you're sacrificing, and some techniques can even make it fun. Simple tweaks to your savings approach, such as reconsidering your shopping habits, can yield significant positive results.
FAQs related to 10 unconventional money savings ideas:
Q. What are some unconventional ways to save money?
Some unconventional ways to save money include cutting out subscriptions, meal planning, volunteering to attend events, and taking no-spend days.
Q. Is it better to save money or pay off debt first?
It depends on your personal situation, but generally, it's recommended to have some savings in case of emergencies, while also paying off high-interest debt.
Q. How do I avoid overspending while still enjoying life?
One way to avoid overspending is to set a budget for yourself and stick to it, while also finding creative ways to enjoy life that don't involve spending a lot of money.
Q. What are some ways to save money on groceries?
Ways to save money on groceries include meal planning, shopping midweek sales, and buying generic brands instead of name brands.
Q. How can I build up my savings without feeling restricted?
You can build up your savings without feeling restricted by finding ways to make saving money fun and turning it into a game, like setting challenges for yourself or creating a savings jar.
Q. Should I dip into my savings when I'm low on cash?
It's generally not recommended to dip into your savings unless it's an emergency, as doing so regularly can drain your savings and put you at risk of financial instability.
Q. How often should I audit my subscriptions to save money?
It's recommended to audit your subscriptions at least quarterly to make sure you're only paying for ones you're still using.
Q. Can volunteering really help me save money?
Volunteering can help you save money by allowing you to attend events for free and even giving you backstage access that others might have to pay for.
Q. How can I make saving money a habit?
You can make saving money a habit by setting up automatic transfers to a savings account, creating a budget, and finding ways to make saving money fun.
Q. Why is it important to address financial problems early on?
It's important to address financial problems early on because ignoring them can lead to bigger problems down the line that could cost you more money in the long run.