Saving money is not easy. Finding ways to save more and spend less is a challenge. You may think you have to force yourself to save money. But there are easier ways. Sometimes, all it takes is a simple, but creative idea to change your habits. Here are 7 creative ideas to save money.
Think of yourself as one of your creditors
Once a month, that task that you probably dread is, paying bills. Your bills are all piled up, and ready to be paid. All you have to do is go through the pile, one by one, and pay them. Suppose you add another bill to this pile, that you must pay, in addition to the other bills there.
This is what you should do. Open a savings account, and designate it as your bill paying account. But don’t get alarmed. You’re not going to pay any bills with the money in this account.
Each month, before you begin paying your bills, present a bill to yourself and add it to the pile. Treat this like just another bill, that you are obligated by law to pay. As you’re paying your bills, your bill to yourself pops up. Pay the bill by sending a check to your new savings account. Don’t go the branch to make the deposit. It’s important that you mail it, as you will discover shortly.
Pay for normal expenses with cash
Each month, determine what you need to spend at various times, on the spur of the moment. You and your spouse may want to go out to eat one night. You may want to take in a movie, or see a show at the local comedy club. You may want a six pack to enjoy during the football game. Perhaps there are other expenses you can think of for normal and recurring items. Once the amount is determined, take this much from your paycheck, in cash. Place the cash in an envelope. When the cash is gone, so is your spending money for the month.
Put your credit cards in the freezer, literally
Don’t cut your credit cards in half, or run them through a shredder. This is old school. Besides, people who do this always regret it.
Put your credit cards in the freezer instead. Just put your credit card in a water-tight plastic freezer bag, or vacuum seal it with the FoodSaver System. Place the bag in a small food storage container and fill it with water. Stick it in your freezer. Pick a future date that you believe your weak sales resistance will be mastered, one hundred percent. Use this date as the expiration date for the stored item in the deep freeze. Finally, thaw out the container after this date.
By then, you will have developed new spending habits, and will not be as anxious to take out the plastic as often.
A word of caution: This will prevent you from using your credit card for purchases in the store, but will not protect you from purchasing from the internet.
Put your money on a desert island
When you open your new savings account, designated the bill paying account, use a bank in a location that is inconvenient for you. You could use a bank in another city and state if your sales resistance is really weak. This may be taking it to the extreme. But if you feel the need to do this, by all means, do it. Make your deposit by mailing your check and deposit slip to the bank, just like you mail your checks to your other creditors.
Don’t set up online banking for this account, or any other connection over the internet. And by no means should you obtain a debit or check card with this account.
Open an account that requires you to visit the branch to make withdrawals. These inconveniences will either slow down or end your desire to use the money in this account.
Pretend you’re a contestant on a game show
Before you make a major purchase, such as, a car, surround sound system or new furniture, it’s normal to feel like the money is burning in your pocket. Don’t be in such a big hurry to buy. That item will still be there. If not, there will be something better in its place.
Take your time. Do your homework. Run web searches. Browses through Consumer Reports. Conduct research to identify what you believe is the best brand and model for your money. Then pretend you’re a contestant on Let’s Make a Deal or The Price is Right. Think of the salesman as the counterpart for Monty Hall or Bob Barker. Negotiate with them to get the best possible price. Also, shop around and talk to other salesmen who are selling the same products. If you purchase, you definitely want to purchase at the lowest possible price and from someone who offers the best possible customer service.
This will slow down your spending. On the other hand, if you feel this is a necessary expense, you will get the best possible value for your dollar.
Exchange ideas and opinions
For the next five or six months, don’t spend money when you’re alone. Always have your spouse or best friend with you when you pay bills and shop. This added spending awareness and extra voice and opinion will remind you of some old spending habits.
Don’t spend your loose change
If you are out and about, and need to buy something, don’t use any loose change in your pocket to pay for the item. If you have to break a dollar bill, break it.
At the end of the day, take all of your loose change from your pocket, and dump it into a container that you can’t remove it from without a little effort. I do this, using an empty five gallon plastic water jug from a company that supplies bottled water for businesses.
If you really want to save money, here’s another suggestion that you can take, if you’re bold and daring. Continue to save your loose change, but add to this, your loose one dollar bills. When you pay for something, don’t use any one dollar bills you have. If you have to break a five dollar bill, break it. At the end of the day, dump all of your one dollar bills into the container.
If you do this, you will accumulate over two hundred dollars in a year with just your loose change. There’s no telling how much you will accumulate if you save your loose dollar bills.
These creative ideas all have two things in common. First, they make you aware of your current spending habits. Second, they help you to set a goal of changing your spending habits. If none of these ideas work for you, you might as well have some fun while you’re at it. In the meantime, try to come up with some ideas of your own.