Buying the things you need when they are on sale is a great way to avoid overspending. But unless you are diligent to take the difference between the regular price and the sale price and actually deposit that into a savings account, are you really saving money? Nope. You're just spending less. And you can "spend less" right through your entire paycheck.
Though being careful to keep spending under control is admirable, it's easy to fool yourself that you're a money-saving genius when in truth you're still spending through your paycheck, wishing you made enough money to save some of it.
Getting started with actual savings can be difficult if you have a spending habit, a small budget or some of each. The way to remove the pain is to trick yourself into thinking you're not really saving that much. Check out these tricks, and get started today.
--Call it a bill. This may sound silly, but just go with me here. Create a new monthly bill you are obligated to pay, and call it "Paying Myself First." Put it at the top -- ahead of the rent, food and the phone bill. Your smallest bill will soon become your favorite.
--Save all $1 and $5 bills. Whenever you get a $1 or $5 bill, save it. Make this your new personal rule. You do not spend $1 or $5 bills. Ever. Just find a cool place to stash them, and don't look back. You are going to be amazed by how quickly your savings will add up -- especially if you receive tips in your job. Can't do both? Start by saving $1 bills.
--Save all coins. This could be an alternative or addition to saving paper currency. Think this couldn't possibly turn into anything useful? Think again! In just one year, my hubs and I saved more than $1,100 in coins. We were shocked because it was so painless. Try it, but make sure you are diligent. Just do not spend coins, period.
--Make payments to yourself. Once you make that last car, credit card or other payment, celebrate lightly, and then just keep making the same payments. But make them to yourself -- straight into your savings account. After all, you're used to not having that money to spend, so just keep living without it. Tricky, no?
--Coupon savings. As you leave the supermarket so proud of yourself for all of your coupon savings, make a note of the exact amount you "saved." Now really save it by depositing that exact amount into your savings envelope, drawer or account.
--Fifty-two-week challenge. This is cool. You'll need a yearly calendar to pull off this trick. Look at each week as its place in a year. Now save the amount in dollars that week that corresponds to its place in the year. For example, the first week in January, you save $1, and the second week in January, you save $2, and so on. By the end of January, you will have saved $10 ($1 plus $2 plus $3 plus $4 equals $10). Then, the first week in February, you must save $5 because it is the fifth week of the year. Continue without fail throughout the year and you will have saved more than $1,000. You don't have to wait until January to get started. Just figure out where you are right now in the year, and save that corresponding amount. So much fun.
Mary Hunt's column, "Everyday Cheapskate," can be found at creators.com.