I used to say to myself, “My income is growing, but my bank account is still shrinking!” I hear this time after time from my friends, and after observing their habits, it is so obvious! I bet you’re thinking to yourself, “Oh no, another one of these guys—telling me to stop drinking my $5 Starbucks coffee every day.”
Don’t you worry, I’ve heard that advice countless times and we all know it will never happen. Instead, I’m going to focus on the big wins to help each one of you automate your financial lives and start saving more money without you even realizing it!
Money and spending all stems directly from our psychology, so be sure to know why you have money and why you spend it. I will be sending out a financial psychology post in the future, but for now I’m going to focus on giving you some simple tips of how to save more money.
1. AUTOMATE YOUR BANK ACCOUNTS
So, I’m sure that you have no idea what this means. Basically, instead of having just one checking account and one savings account, you will have multiple savings and multiple checking accounts. Here is the layout of my accounts, along with what I use each for.
Checking: backup money connected to my debit card for emergency or cash use
Bills: automated bill pay to send checks / ACH transfers to my landlord, utility company, phone bill, internet bill, credit card bill, etc.
Paycheck: direct deposit from work that gets transferred into my account every week
Savings: excess funds
Car: unexpected car issues (my car is 13 years old!) / savings for a new car
Investments: $750 automated transfer into my individual investment and ROTH IRA accounts
Spending: account that gives me access to free spending on big ticket items
Vacation: savings for annual vacation
House Down Payment: you can never start too early!
Emergency Funds: experts recommend 6-12 months of your salary in an emergency fund, fill this account as soon as you can
This is the breakdown of the accounts I use, and I ensure I get interest on both my checking and savings by using Ally Bank. Ally is an online bank, which most people still seem to be scared of, but they have excellent customer service and have many other perks. I would definitely take a look into them if you want a hassle-free online bank.
So you might ask why I decide to have so many accounts, and it make seem like a hassle initially to get it set up, but it ends up being so simple. Since the whole process is automated, I have my bank account transfer a certain amount of money each money to these accounts, based on whatever percentage I set up. Each recurring transfer is set up consecutively on the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and so on. This allows me to check up on my funds and ensure I have enough to be transferred into the account each money and makes sure I don’t get dinged on bank fees.
The reason why a lot of bank accounts is good, is because it has a certain place for each fund and you can see it grow to a certain amount. With a traditional single checking and savings account, your money is not organized at all! It is like throwing all of your clothing into a pile instead of having drawers and hangers into your closet.
Another reason why this works to actually SAVE money, is because you are under the impression of having less money than you actually do. You may see an account with $1000, another with $250, and another with $3000; instead of seeing one large account with $4250. And, when you name each of your accounts, like I do—you have a reason to not touch that account. It does wonders, and trust me… it really works.
Before I move on to the next savings tip, I give you one intermediate tip, which is why it will be in BOLD.
MAKE YOUR SAVINGS ACCOUNT UNTOUCHABLE. This may be a simple concept, but it goes a long way. Way too many of my friend’s dip into their savings account, and once this becomes a habit, there is no way to reverse it.
2. USE A FINANCIAL SPENDING APPLICATION
Okay, I want this system to be as hands-off as possible. I know humans are naturally lazy, and the more hands-off a system is, the better it works.
You may have heard to make a budget EVERY SINGLE MONTH. That is definitely not sustainable. I’ve tried it, I’m sure you have too. It just does not work. And it is way too much effort.
To remedy this, I use an application called Mint, which I’m sure many of you have heard of. Intuit now owns them, and I must say that it is extremely impressive. You can create a budget, add your accounts, and so much more.
Mint pulls data right from my credit cards (I use my credit card for everything) and my bank accounts. That way, it notifies me based on my spending and if there were is any weird spending on my account. I have them send me weekly updates of how I am doing.
I helped my friend set up a Mint account, because he got in a weird habit of spending all of his money on shoes, and within a few months he ran up to me and and gave me a huge hug, “ERIK! It worked. I have so much more money in my bank account now!” He showed me his data, and it really had been working, it was a hands-off system and he had slowly been increasing his money in his savings account.
3. THINK TWICE BEFORE YOU SWIPE
Okay, okay… I know this is extremely obvious, but so many people overlook this. Especially in a society where we can return anything and you have access to seemingly “unlimited funds” on a credit card.
My parents always asked me before they bought me something if I would actually use it. Obviously, as a child I always said yes, but it became deep ingrained into my mind. When I received my first paycheck, I really wanted to buy a brand new action figure toy. I had my mom drive me to Toys ‘R Us, and immediately ran over to isle 5. I jumped as high as I could and grabbed the latest G.I. Joe action figure, but as I thought deeper, I already had 3 G.I. Joe’s at home and knew I would be wasting my money. Instead, I asked my mom to go to the bank with me so I could open my first savings account. From that point, I consistently added to my bank account whenever I got a new check and whenever I really wanted a new toy, I would write it on a list and put it in my pocket. If I didn’t throw away that list months later, I would buy the toy.
With the growth of technology, humans are impulse buyers. We have any product you can imagine at our fingertips.
One of my professors always told us that you should spend AT LEAST 1 hour on research for every $1000 you plan on spending. This has always stuck with me, and I make sure I do vast amount of research and become an expert, rather than go uninformed about the product I am about to purchase.
4. ADJUST YOUR PAYCHECK WITHHOLDING
This is one of my favorite money saving tips, but it also is a double edged sword. The reason I say that, is because some people may think that they have more money than they do, and decide to spend it, instead of investing or paying off debt with it and therefore leads to more debt. I would only recommend to adjust your withholding if you are in control of your spending, otherwise, move on to number 6.
I am assuming most of you are giving too much money to the government and getting a huge tax refund. You are essentially giving the government and interest-free loan, and if you had that money you would be able to pay off any debts you may have or putting it into your investment or retirement accounts!
By adjusting your withholding, you will be getting more money each month and you could utilize it in many ways. Just make sure you use the IRS Withholding calculator, so you don’t underpay by too much, otherwise you may be incurred a penalty.
To change your withholding, crank out the IRS Withholding calculator, fill out a new W-4, and stop giving the government that interest-free loan!
5. INVEST IN QUALITY
This is a problem for me. I am extremely frugal and I have had big wins on unbranded items that end up being better than branded items. But… I’ve also had losses, probably more losses than wins.
When purchasing an item, do the proper research as I said earlier. Choose the best item, the one that will actually last and give you the least grief. Sure, you may be spending a lot more money now, but that item will end up lasting a lot long if you care for it properly. And items that cost a lot are typically taken better care of, compared to items that were cheap.
The example that I am dealing with right now if my carry on luggage. It isn’t big enough and the zipper just broke! I bought this luggage piece since it looked awesome, and it was on sale. Although, it didn’t maximize the carry on dimensions for the flights. I ended up trying to stuff so much luggage in it, but the zipper broke. A week later, the week started jamming. Next, the handle became loose. I had so many problems, I was forced to throw it away and get a completely new luggage case. That way, I ended up buying a crap suitcase, and then a better one. Plus, it caused my mental strain which is awful for your health.
Just know what you need to spend money on. Invest in quality.
6. INVEST IN YOURSELF!
My final tip, is to invest in yourself. There is no better way to save money, than to invest in yourself. Educate yourself consistently every single day, and find the best money saving strategies specifically for you.
I really hope this quick, little list got you thinking of all the different ways you can save more money. Please comment below if there are any saving tips that you would like to add. I would love to hear back from each of you and improve the way I save for myself.
Finally, I’d like to add a couple common ways you can save money here and there in a quick list below.
- Vacation in the off season
- Be your own financial advisor
- Turn off your lights (save the world, one light bulb at a time!) P.S. Did you know that we lose 2/3 of electricity through transmission by getting it to you?
- Cut your cable (I am not a fan of TV)
- Put a waiting period on purchases (I would advise 48 hours)
- Create a ROTH IRA (especially when you’re young)
- Create your own investment account and avoid the fees (Try RobinHood)
- Cancel subscriptions that you don’t use
- Pay off your credit card IN FULL
Thank you so much for reading. Don’t hesitate to ask me any questions you may have or give me any tips that you may have!