Stealth savings: Sneaky ways to fatten your account

Have trouble saving money? Time for some mind games.

Hide cash via direct withdrawals. Get free money from banks. Name an account for a goal. Make your savings “one-way,” i.e., really hard to tap.

The unemployed and underemployed may feel — with good reason! — that they can't afford to save. Even those with decent salaries might feel squeezed by the rising cost of basic needs like food and utilities, especially if they're repaying student loans.

Here's a cold, hard fact: You need to save anyway — and not just for an emergency fund, but also to augment your eventual retirement. (And when you're my age, “eventual” is closer than it may appear in the rear-view mirror.)

Maybe you really do need need every dime to keep creditors at bay. Or maybe a little budget-tweaking could free up some extra bucks for your Someday Fund. Even if it's just a tiny amount at a time, it's something.

Easy Does It

The simplest way to save is to automate it. Have a small amount siphoned off each payday by your financial institution (I use an online bank for this) and learn to live on what's left. Increase the amount slowly — an hour's pay at a time, perhaps? — to give yourself time to adjust your spending.

See if you can get to the 20% mark suggested in the 50-30-20 budget. Since that 20% refers both to savings and debt repayment, get those cards paid off so you can salt away more at a time.

Incidentally, that does not mean exile to the Island of No Fun At All. The “30” in that plan allows for 30% of earnings to go to “wants.”

Some ways to inch closer to the 20% savings mark:

  • Save flexible-spending and/or work-related reimbursements. Set up direct deposit if possible. If not, make it a point to deposit the checks rather than cash them. And if you need that money to balance the books? Pledge to keep at least a dollar (preferably $5) of it in the account.
  • Save your raises. That is, assuming you're lucky enough to get them. If you were already managing on what you earned, pretend you didn't get a raise. (Curse you, short-sighted bean-counters!) Then raise the biweekly (or whatever) automated savings.
  • Save your bonus. That is, if you're super-double-lucky enough to get one. But give yourself permission to spend 10% of it on something you really want. Come on, you know you want to buy Stuff from time to time. Just about everybody does.
  • Get symbolic. Want to retire at 50? Start depositing $50 a month, or per week if you can swing it. Make a weekly or monthly deposit equal to your current age; that's easy to sustain since it goes up just a buck a year.
  • Drop a habit. It's tough to quit smoking or, for that matter, to stop buying so many comic books. But as you taper off, put what you would have spent on coffin nails or anime into long-term savings.
  • Round'em up! Not cattle — coins. When you use your debit card or write a check, record it for the next dollar up (e.g., $7.29 becomes $8). At the end of the month, add up the differences and transfer it to savings.
  • Challenge yourself. Take the dollar-bill challenge by removing the Washingtons from your wallet every night. Super-flush version: Take the $5 challenge. Super-tight-budget version: Save your coins and wrap them every so often.
  • Bank your coupons. You saved $6 on the groceries? It's not savings unless you save it. Tuck away the amount you saved using manufacturers coupons and your supermarket customer loyalty card.

Every Dollar — and Every Dream — Has a Name

One financial planner I interviewed sends his clients monthly “invoices” for their long-term goals, e.g., “pay cash for next car” or “comfortable retirement.” Think of your savings account as a line item on your budget, and pay it along with the rest of your bills.

Another planner told me her mom always said, “Every dollar has a name.” Those bucks had some pretty prosaic names: Rent, Utilities, Groceries. But the lesson stuck, and the little girl grew up to include a name in her own monthly budget: “Savings.”

My own experience with naming was not a line item but a targeted account called “Home.” (As in, “a home of my own some day.”) I started it with one of those “free money from banks” deals and beefed up the account with any extra cash I got: manufacturer rebates, a little holiday bonus, wrapped coins, babysitting jobs, pet-sitting gigs, mystery shopping.

Whether you do long-term savings as a budget line item or as a targeted account, you're giving your dollars a name. You're sending them to a specific area to do a specific job. You're being proactive about your financial future rather than just heaving greenbacks toward that amorphous entity called The Bills.

A Glimpse of the Future

Maybe you need a more tangible reminder of your goal. Some people slip photos of their kids between the cellophane and the cigarette pack to bolster their efforts to stop smoking. I've also heard of folks who rubber-band pictures of their dreams (new house, Mini Cooper, whatever) to their credit cards to discourage in-the-moment spending.

I once interviewed a woman who created a computer-drawn design of her dream kitchen. Then she pinned up the picture by her desk as a reminder of why she needed to save. It worked: She paid cash for the remodel.

Another woman I spoke with changed an online shopping account password to the year her kid would start college and the preferred university's acronym. Retail therapy wasn't nearly as important when the sign-on became something like “2014UCLA.” It was a sobering reminder that baby needed textbooks much more than mama needed a new pair of shoes.

These same tactics could work when the goal is beefing up savings vs. getting yourself some gorgeous granite countertops. Personally, I recommend solid-surface counters. Some of that counterfeit stone is so good you could take it for granite. (Sorry. I couldn't resist.)

Hands Off!

Make it tough to touch your funds and they'll remain safe from moments of temporary insanity. (Back away from the comic book store! Hands where we can see 'em!) I've got a few suggestions for isolating your dough:

  • Opt for inconvenience. Don't pick the bank or credit union with a branch in your neighborhood. You don't want it to be easy to get at this money. There's no need to go there in person because you're using direct deposit. (Aren't you?) Again, this is not for liquid funds but rather for the long-term scratch.
  • Choose an online bank. That way it takes a couple of days to get the money. You might come to your senses by then and realize that investing in Action Comics futures might not be the best use of your funds. Bonus frugal points for putting the buckage into laddered CDs; there are penalties for early withdrawal but since the CDs mature on a regular schedule you could access some money in a true pinch.
  • Don't get an ATM card. Ever have one of those days when you think, “I don't care! I've been good for too long! I'm gonna get all the Green Lantern books — and maybe a Slurpee, too!” If you had to drive to the financial institution and fill out a withdrawal slip, you might have time to realize that the expense is not strictly necessary.

But don't save every dime. You need categories like “discretionary spending” or “riotous living” in your budget, too. (Or just cut to the chase and create a line item called “bail bondsman.”) Spend it any way you like — but once it's gone, that's it until the next pay period.

If you don't spend it all, you have the choice of depositing it into savings. While it can be really satisfying to watch that balance increase, I'd caution against banking the surplus every month. Live too close to the bone for too long and you might eventually knock yourself off the wagon. Allow for some wants along with the needs and you'll find it easier to stay within the budget the rest of the time.

We All Need Goals

In a perfect world you wouldn't need a bag of pecuniary tricks. You'd just pay yourself first as a matter of course. Life isn't perfect, though. Some days it's not even above-average.

Don't feel you have to do it all. You won't get kicked out of the movement if you don't embrace every frugal hack extant. Sometimes it's still hard for me to spend money, but I recognize that I need to loosen up lest I reflect the worst attributes of Hetty Green (miserliness) without any of the advantages (shrewd business sense, huge net worth).

Thus I don't lose any sleep if I neglect to bank my coupon savings or to save every dollar bill that comes my way. In fact, my “Home” account is no more — at least as a private entity. When I got mugged a few months ago I had to redo my bank accounts since my personal information had been compromised. I realized it didn't really make sense to have a separate account, so I merged it with my regular savings.

Yet it still exists in my mind as the seed money for a smallish house with a decent southern exposure for gardening (mostly things I can eat) and a front porch swing. We all need goals. The possibility of homegrown tomatoes keeps me tucking away the savings. But I make sure to shake loose a few bucks for the bail bondsman fund, too.

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Brian @ Progressive Transformation
Brian @ Progressive Transformation
8 years ago

Great post! We do all need goals and lifting our own delusions about money help us lift the curtain on unrealistic goals. I think sometimes we try to be a part of a misconceived peer group of social status that only seems interesting on the front page. The hard part is finding the insight to nip and tuck away the excess. It’s not dieting, its living responsibly but if we don’t understand how we see the world around us, we can never find a way to save. What if we actually started taking away our mis-guided perceptions and offered our… Read more »

jack foley
jack foley
8 years ago

A lot of commentators say that you need to live below your means but i believe you must try to increase your means.

Always being frugal kills your spirit.. – learn the strategies on how to make more..

Donna Freedman
Donna Freedman
8 years ago
Reply to  jack foley

That’s a great idea, in theory. But if you can’t just now, or until you do, frugality keeps the lights on.

Ash
Ash
8 years ago
Reply to  Donna Freedman

I need to read the frugality tips. It’s difficult enough for me in this economy to find extra work and the part time work I have been offered had a poor rate of pay. Besides I work hard enough(teaching) at my day job. For me maximizing my resources is my best option. I also, like you, get a kick out of living frugally.

Sonja
Sonja
8 years ago

Perhaps a stupid question, but as a foreigner I can’t help thinking.. How would you get money without an ATM card? Is an ATM card a special card that only works for ATMs? (So seperate from your debit card?)

My ATM card/debit card is the only way to pay anything anywhere. It’s the ticket into online banking, it’s how you pay in a shop, and it’s what gets you money from an ATM.

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
8 years ago
Reply to  Sonja

Funny you should ask — I hardly ever hear the term “ATM card” much where I live. It’s a “debit card” or “bank card”. Come to think of it, I don’t use the term ATM either — it’s either a “cash machine” or a “bank machine.” Weird.

Unless it’s different in the U.S., it’s all the same thing.

Donna Freedman
Donna Freedman
8 years ago
Reply to  Elizabeth

It’s all the same. I’m just too old to remember the 21st century nomenclature. And for extra credit: “Hey, you kids, get off my lawn!”
— Old Lady Freedman

Bella
Bella
8 years ago
Reply to  Donna Freedman

The first atm cards were a brand called mac (money access machine) I’ve always called them mac cards. Until I moved halfway across the country and NO ONE knew what I was talking about.

Jenna
Jenna
8 years ago
Reply to  Donna Freedman

Bella, I can relate! Perhaps you are from the east coast? I grew up going to the MAC machine and when I moved to CO from PA, no one knew what it was here either. So funny…

Lynn
Lynn
8 years ago
Reply to  Sonja

For example I do not have a debit/ATM card associated with my online savings account at Ally Bank. However I can link it to my checking account at another bank and can transfer for free money to the checking to get access to the money when I need it. It takes approx. 2-3 day for the funds to show up in my checking account.

Sonja
Sonja
8 years ago
Reply to  Lynn

Aha!

Here you cannot get a card for your savings account. You just have a debitcard for your regular account, which you use for your internetbanking as well. Through that you access your savings account, or go to the office of the bank. (I actually don’t think I’ve been there in the last few years, why would you go to a bank besides opening or closing an account?)

Since we also don’t use creditcards (except on holiday, woulnd’t know a store that accepts them) nor checks (never even seen one) the debit card really is the only way to pay.

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
8 years ago
Reply to  Sonja

None of my savings accounts are linked to my card either. I have to make the transfer online, and there’s at least a day wait time.

What’s weird is that you have a “checking” and “savings” option on debit machines, but savings in my case is a second account tied to the same card. (Or my formerly student line of credit, which is long gone.)

Donna Freedman
Donna Freedman
8 years ago
Reply to  Lynn

Me, too, also — except that I use ING, and that I prefer to send money *into* savings whenever possible. And as noted, that three-day lag time is a built-in cooling-off period: “Do I really need that (whatever) that I thought I couldn’t live without? I’ve lived without it for three days now….”

Jennifer Gwennifer
Jennifer Gwennifer
8 years ago
Reply to  Sonja

It’s kind of like the square vs. rectangle rule: A debit card is also an ATM card, but an ATM card is not necessarily a debit card.

For example, I had an ATM card in highschool to get cash, but couldn’t use it in stores.

Holly
Holly
8 years ago

I suspect I may be the last person in the US to have an actual ATM card. It won’t work for debits, it only works with the ATM. I pay for everything with either cash or a credit card (earning points and paid off monthly.)

Credit cards offer better consumer protection faster than debit cards. Withouth a debit card I don’t have to worry about someone draining my checking & short-term savigns accounts then have to wait 30+ days for the bank to resolve it and return my money.

Roz
Roz
8 years ago
Reply to  Holly

This is exactly what I do, for the same reasons. Convenient, I get points from the credit card use (and I too pay it off each month) and protection for my account.
I’m not sure why folks think the debit card is such a great thing. I can see why the banks do 🙂

Monica
Monica
8 years ago
Reply to  Holly

You’re not the last person because I do the exact same thing! I earn a nice little bonus each year with credit card rewards — wouldn’t earn anything with a debit card.

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
8 years ago

I didn’t know separate cards existed 🙂 I’m not sure if such a thing exists in Canada — I’ve never needed to know.

Donna Freedman
Donna Freedman
8 years ago
Reply to  Sonja

Sonja, I was referring to the savings account; if you don’t have a debit card, you can’t raid it. You could get one for checking and get cash in that way. And most people say “debit” card. It’s just that I remember when ATMs were first invented and “ATM card” was what we called them at the time. The notion of being able to get money anywhere, any time, was startling. Until then, you’d have to go to the bank and withdraw cash (and before close of business Friday, since banks weren’t open on weekends) or have check-cashing privileges at… Read more »

bareheadedwoman
bareheadedwoman
8 years ago
Reply to  Donna Freedman

no honey, you’re just experienced…I don’t know about you, but I’ve been waiting all my life to be this experienced!

Yahoo!

😉

Donna Freedman
Donna Freedman
8 years ago

I’m finding that my 50s are the best decade so far. Of course, experience may prove me wrong… 😉

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
8 years ago

I’ve been using most of these strategies for quite some time, and they really do work! This is a good overview for beginners.

Banking my savings is one area where I could improve though. Some items I only buy when they’re on sale, so I usually don’t transfer the difference to a savings account. If a food item is on sale, I tend to stock up so I don’t have to buy it for a while rather than still buying the same number and saving the difference.

I’ll have to think on it.

Liz
Liz
8 years ago
Reply to  Elizabeth

A trick I have used for banking my savings when I buy extra on sale is putting a jar in the basement pantry, and when I “buy” something from my stash, I throw a quarter or 50 cents from that week’s grocery budget into the jar. Sure, it’s a token amount that isn’t really representative of the actual savings, but it does make the savings more real to me. When the jar is full I deposit the coins into my regular savings account. I also do that for the fruits and relishes that I can, since I purchase some of… Read more »

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
8 years ago
Reply to  Liz

That’s a great idea! Most of my coins end up in the laundry machine (coin laundry, grrrr) but I think a tally on my fridge might work too. Then I can transfer the equivalent into my savings account.

Thank you!

Donna Freedman
Donna Freedman
8 years ago
Reply to  Liz

Nice!
I’ve also heard of people who throw a buck or two into a jar each time they do laundry at home, and then bank the results every so often. By the time they need a new washer or dryer, they can pay cash.

bareheadedwoman
bareheadedwoman
8 years ago
Reply to  Liz

i love this idea… since i do the coupon/stockpile (modestly, city apartment) thing keeping the savings there instead of a grocery column sure beats mulling over receipts. okay here’s a silly silly “save in a jar” for some families for short term extra cash. Very silly and some may frown but it worked for us: I have west coast step kids; I live with a born and bred brooklynite whose favorite word begins with F. I have old fashioned southern ideas about words and children so when the kids were small, during the summer long visits, there was a “25… Read more »

Donna Freedman
Donna Freedman
8 years ago

That’s a smart effin’ hack.

Tania
Tania
8 years ago

This works for me as well – except one of my boys asked if he could put in a prepayment for when he wanted to swear…

STRONGside
STRONGside
8 years ago

The ’round up” trick works very well. I bank with Bank of America, and they actually do this automatically for you. They deposit the extra change into your savings account every month and it really adds up. I racked up over $200 in one year just off of normal spending. Never missed the pennies.

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
8 years ago
Reply to  STRONGside

I wish my main bank did this 🙂 The bank I hardly use for day-to-day stuff has an automatic transfer though. I set it up so that every time I use my debit card, it puts $5 in my savings account.

I don’t like weird numbers in my savings account, so I go in at the end of the month and top things up to the nearest $50. I’m not allowed to do this with my TFSA, and it drives me crazy!

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
8 years ago
Reply to  STRONGside

I love Bank of America’s Keep the Change program! For the first three months that I started the program, they would match the change that was rounded at 100% up to $200 (or maybe it was $250). I would make sure all my charges ended in $0.01 so they would move the $0.99 into the savings account and then match that $0.99. It was a fast and easy way to double my savings. Of course this only worked if you had the $0.99 cushion to play with.

EEC
EEC
8 years ago
Reply to  Elizabeth

I also have BOA and at the gas pump I always fill up to $0.01. Nice to see the $0.99 go to savings.

Dogs or Dollars
Dogs or Dollars
8 years ago

I agree, a good overview of some of the sneakier ways we can trick ourselves into saving small amounts.

I play similar games with singles and change, but also do an involved rounding up and down dance in order to delude myself into putting away money regularly..

http://dogsordollars.com/2011/11/29/nickel-and-diming-myself/

This is all in addition to the ‘savings’ line item in my budget.

I think I’ll go stick $5 in my savings account right now. Just because I read this.

Donna Freedman
Donna Freedman
8 years ago

Will you put $5 in my account, too? 🙂

Cybrgeezer
Cybrgeezer
8 years ago

I really like the idea of having a fund specifically for “bail bondsman.” Very practical.

Donna Freedman
Donna Freedman
8 years ago
Reply to  Cybrgeezer

“Be prepared” — that’s the Boy Scouts’ marching song:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fSwjuz_-yao

Steven | The Emotion Machine
Steven | The Emotion Machine
8 years ago

I read a cool psychological trick to help increase our savings by imagining our future selves and our future financial situations. Often we make short-term spending decisions because we only focus on a narrow view of the moment. However, if we zoom back and see the bigger picture of our lives (and our families), we are much more motivated to plan our spending and savings accordingly for the future.

It’s all about saving for your “future self.”

Donna Freedman
Donna Freedman
8 years ago

“Would this candy bar make my future butt look big?”
“Would one more beer require my near-future self to need to call a cab home?”

Steven | The Emotion Machine
Steven | The Emotion Machine
8 years ago

It’s all about not getting trapped in “instant gratification” but instead focusing on the long-term.

Donna Freedman
Donna Freedman
8 years ago

That can mean a period of adjustment for those who feel, as they say, that instant gratification takes too long.
But learning to master your money isn’t about deprivation — it’s about eventual peace of mind. There’s real satisfaction in knowing not just that you have the retirement plan, the EF, zero credit-card debt et al., but also in knowing that you control your spending rather than the other way around.

cc
cc
8 years ago

i love you donna! 😀 the bail bondsman line…. excellent. for myself it would be goodies, for some of my friends maybe they could literally use a bail bondsman savings account, har har. all very good points… the only exception being ugh when you don’t have work, how are you supposed to save? so many saving plans hinge on a paycheck, which is sorely lacking. i suppose my first step would be to get some checks first, then save them- but that’s the tricky part. sigh… totally unrelated: i noticed on a linkedin post by an international professional colleague, they… Read more »

Donna Freedman
Donna Freedman
8 years ago
Reply to  cc

When you don’t have work, you might have to shine on your savings dreams for a while. Or maybe not, if you have nothing against picking up found coins, doing surveys for money, offering to walk a neighbor’s dog, etc. etc. The amounts are small, but seeing them add up does give you some sense of hope. And yeah, it shouldn’t come to that: fishing pennies out of the gutter or making a dollar here and a dollar there answering questions about your buying habits. But sometimes it DOES come down to that. If you’re jobless, you have the choice… Read more »

Leah
Leah
8 years ago
Reply to  Donna Freedman

I have a habit of picking up change from the ground when I’m walking. I credit this habit for the $100 worth of cumulative cash I’ve found in the past year. A big chunk of this came from $57 and $20 — the $57 from a wadded up chunk of bills at my college campus and the $20 from a shopping area. In both instances, I looked around and even tried to ask obvious people if it was their money. No takers. Of course, I spent the money on Christmas presents and wedding items. But that was money I’d already… Read more »

Donna Freedman
Donna Freedman
8 years ago
Reply to  Leah
cc
cc
8 years ago
Reply to  Donna Freedman

really! i thought they were all a scam, or like secret shopping where it sounds really fun but no one knows how to do it except for the website that wants $20 to tell you (yea rite). i will definitely check this out- i’m trying to get work, but it’s slow going and in my industry, even when you get a job you don’t get a check for 6 wks-3 mos after the job is finished. an extra couple bucks here and there would be wonderful. thanks for the tip, and coming from you i’m glad i know it’s not… Read more »

Donna Freedman
Donna Freedman
8 years ago
Reply to  cc

You shouldn’t pay for secret/mystery shopping leads, ever. They are available for free from at least two sources. See my previous GRS column for more information:
https://www.getrichslowly.org/getting-paid-to-tell-lies-mystery-shopping-as-a-frugal-hack/

John | Married (with Debt)
John | Married (with Debt)
8 years ago

I like the part about “banking” your coupons. Goes to show, if you spend the money you save in one place, elsewhere, you might not really be saving.

Anne Burner
Anne Burner
8 years ago

I sort-of bank my coupons. When I go to my “big” grocery store to shop for the week, I use my coupons and pay by debit card. Since I’m pulling the money directly from my account, I’m getting to “leave” the difference of the coupons in the account. I also pull money out for the next week ($40) at the same time – I can spend it however I like, but it has to last for one week. When it’s gone, that’s it. If I have left over money at the end of the week, it goes into an enevelope… Read more »

Donna Freedman
Donna Freedman
8 years ago
Reply to  Anne Burner

That works. And I gave you a thumb’s-up on your comment to prove my adoration.

Donna Freedman
Donna Freedman
8 years ago

Yep. The money will just be absorbed elsewhere — say, on some craft beer or good chocolate, because you spent less than you had budgeted for groceries.
I mean, that’s what I’ve been told. Ahem.

bareheadedwoman
bareheadedwoman
8 years ago
Reply to  Donna Freedman

er, yes, ahem…i heard something about used books too. Especially when one thinks in terms of $.50 off here means paperback there. Need to pay attention to that line of thinking myself.

Josh @ Live Well Simply
Josh @ Live Well Simply
8 years ago

I currently use one of your ideas… that of automatically pulling money out of my main ‘spending’ account for a specific goal. Smarty pig makes this easy and Mint helps me get a ‘dashboard’ view of it all. 🙂 Great post BTW.

Laura+in+Cancun
Laura+in+Cancun
8 years ago

Love this post! “granite” hahaha

That’s it, I need to stop putting off automated savings and just bite the bullet.

Donna Freedman
Donna Freedman
8 years ago

Go for it, Laura — and six months from now, e-mail me at SurvivingAndThriving (at) live (dot) com to let me know how it feels to look at a growing savings account.

Katie Schulz
Katie Schulz
8 years ago
Reply to  Donna Freedman

I bit the automatic savings bullet 2 years ago. Every payday, $50 gets added to my emergency savings account – I refer to it as my “F* You” account. It’s now over $8,000 and I haven’t felt the pinch at all.

Donna Freedman
Donna Freedman
8 years ago
Reply to  Katie Schulz

But you DO feel warm fuzzies when you look at the balance, I bet.

Laura+in+Cancun
Laura+in+Cancun
8 years ago
Reply to  Donna Freedman

Will do 🙂 Thanks Donna

Maria
Maria
8 years ago

Great tips – thanks for sharing! I wanted to add one more for people on a biweekly pay period (as I am). Twice a year there are 3 paychecks in a month….so I treat that extra payment as a “bonus” and live off the two paychecks for the month (as I would normally). This trick has helped me stash away large chunks of money in my savings/retirement (while still making double pymts on my $35K student loan). One note: If you’re worried that the extra paycheck will be too tempting NOT to touch, you may want to consider setting up… Read more »

Monica
Monica
8 years ago
Reply to  Maria

Great point about the 3 check months. I don’t factor those 2 extra checks each year into my budget and instead they are earmarked as an addition to savings and/or emergency fund. Some years I put the money in savings, other times I get to do fun things like replace my transmission or have dental surgery.

Teinegurl
Teinegurl
8 years ago
Reply to  Monica

haha this is a great idea! but i find it funny that your idea of fun is dental surgery lol you wild thing!! 🙂

Saskia
Saskia
8 years ago

I’ve never really understood the rationale of making a certain denomination or coin (or all coins) taboo – i.e. not spending dollar bills or fives, sorting them out, saving them somewhere and putting them in a savings account. If I did that, I’d make withdrawals all the more often. The trick only works if you withdraw a certain amount for a certain period of time. I withdraw what I need when I need it and I buy what I need when I need it (seldom more than I need). I once tried saving one kind of coin in a can,… Read more »

Sam
Sam
8 years ago

Great post with lots of savings ideas that we use and love. We automate our savings based on our yearly savings goals, which are not set up yet for 2012 but I left the 2011 transfers in place. We send our savings to ING which means its somewhat hard to get to, although we do have a small savings account at Wells Fargo just in case. We also label out accounts with titles like Travel/Vacation, Fun, Holiday/Gifts and our emergency fund is named for our dream vacation house which I find does make it harder to tap when an emergency… Read more »

chacha1
chacha1
8 years ago

“Riotous living” is definitely a category I have to fund. Of course our idea of “riotous” is pretty tame, but there really does have to be something in there to make working 6-7 days a week worthwhile.

Donna Freedman
Donna Freedman
8 years ago
Reply to  chacha1

Even $20 can buy a lot of riot. Especially if you use a BOGO.

Deb
Deb
8 years ago

I’ve been doing some of these already, and it works great! A year ago, I stopped using my mileage reimbursement checks in the main budget and instead deposit them into a “Replacement Car Fund” in a credit union. I have no checking account or debit card there, so I have to physically go to the CU during banking hours to get money out of it for gas/maintenance. I have about $1500 in the fund now. Works soooo much better than cashing the reimbursement checks! I also like cutting out pictures of my savings goals (like vacation or a new gadget)… Read more »

Donna Freedman
Donna Freedman
8 years ago
Reply to  Deb

Make the depreciation pay for the new vehicle — I like it.

bareheadedwoman
bareheadedwoman
8 years ago
Reply to  Deb

I love this idea; heading for scissors and the recycling right now.

There are just some ways I haven’t evolved so I use the good ol’ envelope system as opposed to digital tracking…and i’m actually displacing setting up the 2012 box by reading this blog right now.

Pasting corresponding pictures–even on the mundane monthlies–gives the whole task a new verve…thanks much!

Torey
Torey
8 years ago
Reply to  Deb

I also route my expense checks (direct deposits now, woohoo!) to my savings account. It’s a great forced spending tool!

frugalportland
frugalportland
8 years ago

Another good trick is to hide money in clothes pockets that you rotate in and out! It’s paying future-you a little extra.

bareheadedwoman
bareheadedwoman
8 years ago
Reply to  frugalportland

My mother squirrels away money in books and apparently has since she was a kid. She grew up to be a librarian (and raised a bibliophile) so there’s lots of books that have a permanent home with her. You never know what you’ll find when you borrow a book-any denomination. If she runs into something, she uses it as a bookmark and leaves it there.

Unfortunately, I inherited the trait of doing it–but not of forgetting that I did it. (Nor do I have as many books…yet.)

partgypsy
partgypsy
8 years ago

Talking to family about trying to get a family trip to Greece next year, which will most likely cost 2K per person if not more. So now I know what picture I will be using this year to motivate me to save!!!

Donna Freedman
Donna Freedman
8 years ago
Reply to  partgypsy

The Parthenon? The Agora? Telly Savalas?

partgypsy
partgypsy
8 years ago
Reply to  Donna Freedman

LOL Who loves ya baby? I don’t have a specific image but been browsing through a photo book of the Peloponnese my cousin sent me. Particularly enjoy the pictures of Corinthos, Mycenae (sp), ancient olympus, ruins of monastaries and castles, and amazing sunset scenes of islands. If we do it, the problem will be narrowing it down where we will go.

CS
CS
8 years ago

You started off great, but then after your first list of ways to stash money. I lost interest maybe next time you can break the post up into two separate articles. Just to damn long.

Donna Freedman
Donna Freedman
8 years ago
Reply to  CS

Or maybe you could just take two days to read it?

Sean at Economically Humble
Sean at Economically Humble
8 years ago

Yeah, this was a great post! Im a student and my partner is paying off loans (I’ll be here soon). We are both trying to make it to the point where we can save 20% of our income… its tough on our income streams but when we earn more we will be set.

Automating makes everything sooooo much easier!

Threadbndr
Threadbndr
8 years ago

I currently have targeted savings for vacation and for a new oven. I find that if I save for that type of short term goal in a general “savings” account, I feel guilty about spending it when the time comes. The targeted account seems to quiet down that little voice that grouses about spending savings.

Donna Freedman
Donna Freedman
8 years ago
Reply to  Threadbndr

We loves our sub-accounts, yes we do. Even though it’s a little sad to see it emptied, you know that’s why you put it there in the first place. Whereas, as you note, it would hurt like mad to withdraw $600 from general savings.

Donna Freedman
Donna Freedman
8 years ago

@ #55 Bella: Me too! Another woman I know refers to “hitting the MAC machine.” Are you from the Delaware Valley area, by any chance?

Bella
Bella
8 years ago
Reply to  Donna Freedman

Jersey baby! So yea, that means I say water weird too. As for ‘hitting the MAC machine’ – I think that’s the exact phrase I used which caused some much confusion out here in the west…

Donna Freedman
Donna Freedman
8 years ago
Reply to  Bella

South Jersey, here. Cumberland County, to be exact. And mentally, I still “hit the MAC machine.”
Sometimes I wish I had a Frank’s Black Cherry Wishniak, too. (“Is it Frank’s? Thanks!”)

Tyler Karaszewski
Tyler Karaszewski
8 years ago

I feel like I have enough money, and as such, am not really that motivated to save more. For instance, I have a pair of pants, brand new, sitting around somewhere. I bought them on Zappos, but they’re one size too small. I got the authorization to return them, but can’t be bothered to put them in a box and take them to the post office. They’re worth about $40. What am I going to to with an extra $40? Save it? For what? I don’t know. I guess with savings “more is better”, but I guess I’m at the… Read more »

Donna Freedman
Donna Freedman
8 years ago

Not every post applies to every person, so perhaps this one wasn’t for you. Let me add, though, that even people who think they’ve got the world by the ass might be unpleasantly surprised by what happens next year — or next week. In other words: I’m glad your life is going well. But life can change in an instant due to being blindsided by illness or job loss. My 19-year-old daughter was healthy as a horse and a happy college student. She got a virus that she couldn’t shake. Then one day she was in the ICU hooked up… Read more »

Tyler Karaszewski
Tyler Karaszewski
8 years ago
Reply to  Donna Freedman

My comment wasn’t really a critique of the post. There’s nothing wrong with it. It was just a sort of anecdotal relation of it to my life, illustrating how I feel a bit disconnected from the whole idea. This could easily be a fault of mine. It’s not a fault of “saving” in general. It’s just sort of how I feel right now.

bareheadedwoman
bareheadedwoman
8 years ago

so start practicing giving for a while…start with the $40 pants.

Donna Freedman
Donna Freedman
8 years ago

I didn’t take it as a critique. I was just suggesting that it wouldn’t hurt to save more than you think you need. As you note, it will eventually be spent. But if the ordure DOES encounter the ventilator, you’ll be glad it’s available to spend on things like groceries and the mortgage payment.

Tyler Karaszewski
Tyler Karaszewski
8 years ago

I actually did start giving just the other day. Inspired by 1% for the planet, I decided to give 1% of my gross income to charity (not necessarily for environmental causes). I gave away January’s donation just yesterday. I know 1% is fairly small, but it’s small enough that it doesn’t make me anxious. So far I haven’t missed that money. I can’t promise I’ll stick with it, but I at least wanted to try.

Mom of five
Mom of five
8 years ago

Tyler, your feelings in your current situation are pretty much how we lived for a few years. We had enough savings, we could pay cash for something when we needed it, including new cars, so we just went through life not returning $40 pairs of pants. Of course, we’d donate the pants so in our heads we weren’t really wasting. Then it hit us – my husband was diagnosed with very early stage cancer. Completely treatable, thank God. Because we went out of network for treatment, medical bills that year cost us 20 grand, which we were able to pay… Read more »

Krantcents
Krantcents
8 years ago

I have used the payroll deduction for savings for close to 40 years. Out of sight out of mind. I am more reluctant to withdraw for other than the stated purpose (property taxes, car, or retirement). It works well for me.

Katie Schulz
Katie Schulz
8 years ago

Me again.
My Honey took the change jar into the credit union today because it was full. We are now $144.88 closer to paying off our new dryer (bought with 18 months free financing even though we could have paid cash.)
Woohoo!

Donna Freedman
Donna Freedman
8 years ago
Reply to  Katie Schulz

Hey, Katie: See my #40 comment above and keep the jar ON the dryer if you weren’t already doing so. You’ll be able to pay cash for the next one, too.
Hint: In addition to the buck or so per wash, dump in all the change found in pockets.

TinaPete
TinaPete
8 years ago
Reply to  Katie Schulz

I was wondering what people did with their accumulated coins….do you have to roll them? Where do you get the papers? What about those coin machines? Please help, what is the best way to deal with this jar of coins? 😉

threadbndr
threadbndr
8 years ago
Reply to  TinaPete

I belong to a credit union that has a coin counting machine right in the lobby. Members can use it for free. It just spits out a receipt that you take up to the tellers to deposit or get the cash for. There are similar coin machines in grocery stores around here (CoinStar), but they charge a fee for cash. If you take your money in a gift card, there’s no fee (or maybe a reduced fee). I haven’t used one of them since the credit union set up their machine, so I don’t remember all the details. That reminds… Read more »

Donna Freedman
Donna Freedman
8 years ago
Reply to  TinaPete
TinaPete
TinaPete
8 years ago
Reply to  Donna Freedman

Thank you!

Sassy
Sassy
8 years ago

I feel like this post was written just for me! I have my salary split into five different accounts. Payroll hate me, but I love it. My 40th birthday is coming up and I am having a combined party with my best friend, so I started putting $15- a week into a ‘Party’ fund. My friend told me she would rather take the money out of her mortgage….crazy!! But then I have gradually talked her round and she is now putting away $15- a week! By the time the party comes we will have two thousand dollars saved. Enough for… Read more »

Donna Freedman
Donna Freedman
8 years ago
Reply to  Sassy

Clearly, my invitation to this party got lost in the mail…?

Sassy
Sassy
8 years ago
Reply to  Donna Freedman

Well Donna you are certainly welcome to come…however I am in Australia so it may be a bit of a journey.

Oh and everyone who is coming has to sing karaoke. Are you up for that???

Donna Freedman
Donna Freedman
8 years ago
Reply to  Sassy

Not up for a trip to Australia just yet due to impending commitments.
Here’s the problem I have with karaoke: There are very few people who can (or should) sing “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” — and too many people at karaoke night thinks they’re the right ones.

LennStar
LennStar
8 years ago

Just to be on the sure side:

Something like “2014UCLA” is NOT a good choice for your password. Something like “littlefisheatsbigbear” is way better because it should be in no hash-list.

—–
For your own interpretation (use at own risk), xkcd has a comic strip on everything:
http://xkcd.com/936/ (after the blackout is over)
xkcd-like password generator: http://preshing.com/20110811/xkcd-password-generator

And never use the passswords someone writes as expamle 😉

Slackerjo
Slackerjo
8 years ago

My savings account is called “Happy Savings.”

Donna Freedman
Donna Freedman
8 years ago
Reply to  Slackerjo

I’ve heard it called the “Oh, shit!” fund. “Happy savings” sounds less traumatic.

Rosa
Rosa
8 years ago

A very wise woman I know took her coupon-clipping money every week and put it in her “play money” fund, which she invested in the stock market whenever it got big enough.

Anita
Anita
8 years ago

I agree with these comments and having targeted savings accounts as they did help me with save up before. My issue now is that I moved to HK and don’t see any Online-only bank accounts. I feel like I will have to open multiple bank accts at my bank and just remember the intended goal for each acct. 🙁

Torey
Torey
8 years ago

Love so many of these tips! I have been using the “George Washington” method with my dollar bills and coins. I make my jar grow faster by bringing cans and bottles from our house to the recycling center to get the CA deposit back (about $10 a month — we drink a lot of seltzer water. OK, and beer…). Wachovia (now Wells Fargo) had a great program called “Way to Save” where they transfer $1 from your checking to a linked savings account for every purchase you make with your debit card. I roll that money into a higher interest… Read more »

ali
ali
8 years ago

My “trick” is to transfer the amount saved listed at the bottom of the grocery store or drug store receipt into my Ally savings account.

For example, if I go to the grocery store and at the bottom it says “You saved $16.58!” Then as soon as I finish putting things away I transfer that amount to my ally account.

Lane
Lane
8 years ago

Great post Donna! I don’t “need” to, but I love to save $ and you have some good tricks to play on yourself. All in the mind.

I don’t know if others have “bump-up” no penalty CD’s. These tend to be offered at credit unions and some have a big minimum, but it’s great to see the interest surpass the online options over a few months’ time. So, the emergency fund can be available but earning better interest than I’ve seen anywhere,

Trinket
Trinket
8 years ago

It is a good post! Really good tips on saving, if someone hasn’t really thought about it before or if they just need some extra advice. I definitely agree on the fact that every little counts. Even if you’re able to save 10 dollars every month, it matters. I myself try to have daily and weekly budgetary goals, e.g. 7 dollars every day or 50 every week (after all obligatory payments like communal expenses, loan repayments and so on). And the leftover – it all goes to my savings account. Keeping a savings account separately – it really helps. Then… Read more »

APB News
APB News
8 years ago

Love this post – gave it a hat tip here: http://www.apbnews.com/finance/how-to-feng-shui-your-savings-account/

Daisy

Rose
Rose
8 years ago

All my purchases are made via one of four credit cards, which are all paid in full by the due date. Every one of those cards pays us handsomely and, at the same time, keeps financial records for us, analyzing our spending

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