This six-part series looks at personal and professional spending for planners. If you need to catch up, please follow these links.
- Week 1: A planner’s friend: Tracking spend
- Week 2: Where does all the money go?
- Week 3: Mindfulness is the key to smart money
- This week: Show me the money!
When I was in my 20s, I walked into my parents’ house with an armful of shopping bags. My dad looked at my bounty and said, “Chris, has it ever occurred to you to save some of your money?”
Actually, it hadn’t.
It seemed like an obvious question once he threw it out there, but before that moment, I viewed money in a way that echoed the old Dorito’s commercial: “Crunch all you want, we’ll make more.” I just substituted “spend” for “crunch.” It was a system that worked for me.
In that moment, my dad opened a door I had never noticed. I opened a savings account the next day. Having a savings account felt very “established.” I had a checking account, of course. How else could I pay my credit card bills? But somehow a savings account was a milestone into adulthood.
The peace of mind that comes from knowing you can withstand a major financial hit is huge. My motto? Save for a hurricane, not just a rainy day. Put some money aside. See how you feel when you see the total go from two figures to three. Then four. Imagine it being six or seven figures. It’s attainable. You can start today.
Let’s focus first on free money. If your employer offers a 401k plan, use it. If it offers a contribution of any kind, take full advantage, so if you save for your retirement, they kick in extra money. When you’re in your 20s, it seems as if you can’t possibly live without that small percentage you’re putting away. The tips and tricks I’m going to give you will make up for that money and then some. Keep reading. There’s money hidden in these paragraphs.
- Enroll in a “keep the change” or equivalent program at your bank. It takes any money you spend on your debit card and automatically puts the change in your savings account. If your purchase is $9.50, $10 will be deducted and 50 cents goes to your savings account. It’s painless and it adds up.
- eBates. For reasons I don’t fully understand, if you create an account at ebates.com you get a percentage of your total spend back at qualifying stores. Every quarter you get a check. Tons of stores are included and on holidays the return percentage often increases. I’ve gotten as much as 15 percent back, and that’s before using any sales or promo codes for the store itself. There’s no limit to how much you can get back. If you refer friends, you get more money. Crazy easy. I just got a check for about $100. Cha-ching.
- Store receipt savings. Many store receipts now tally how much you saved after making a purchase. Transfer that amount, or even half of it, to your savings account. If you do it right, the more you spend the more you save. Literally!
- Credit card savings. Look at the cards you use. If you don’t get cash back or miles, switch cards. Google “best credit card programs,” and find a card that works for you. Most are either free for the first year or for the life of the card. If it’s only free for a year, cancel at 11 months and get a new one. This also lets you take advantage of the copious new customer promotions that are offered.
There are endless ways to save money. Many apps, articles, books and webinars are free. Make it a game. Find what works for you, and do it. Share your favorite money saving tricks, and I’ll share them. Email me at Christy.email@example.com
NEXT WEEK: Corporate event budgets