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Money Saving Hacks

Posted on Friday, July 21, 2023
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by AMAC, Jeff Szymanski
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2 Comments
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money saving hacks

Everyone’s trying to make a buck go farther these days given the inflation of the past two years.  Books on saving abound in the financial section of any bookstore, and articles online are so numerous they can be overwhelming.  But to keep things simple, manageable, and actually doable, try these six money saving hacks to get well on your way to not just saving a buck, but building wealth.

 

Pay Yourself First

I used to write this on the whiteboard when I taught the saving money section in my high school economics classes.  It’s a simple concept, or hack.  The idea is to have money taken directly out of your pay and sent either to a retirement savings account like an IRA or at least a regular interest-bearing savings account.  Experts suggest 10% is about right.  The idea is you can’t spend what you can’t touch and don’t actually receive.  Further, I’d raise the issue differently with my colleagues by asking, “Who here couldn’t live on 90% of what they now currently take home?”  All always agreed they could do it.  Thus the save 10% hack is easier than many think.  Save more for the future by paying yourself more now.  

 

No Spend Weekend

Spending money gives off a high.  It’s fun.  Saving, on the other hand, can be a bore, even depressing.  But one hack is to try the occasional no-spend weekend, a time when people hit the movies, bars, restaurants, and more.  Cook in, watch an old movie on television, and make your favorite cocktail or enjoy a nice glass of wine while at home.  That can easily yield an extra $100 each time it’s done.  That’s $400 a year if done quarterly or a whopping $1,200 for someone willing to do this money saving hack monthly.

 

Get Money Back

Cash-back rebates have been around for a while, but too few people take advantage of them.  It requires little effort.  Among the best known (and that I use) is Rakuten, once known as E-bates.  Sign up on the app or online.  Then you just shop at your normal retailer like Walmart or Best Buy, Ticketmaster, or even travel sites like Marriott or Hertz.  Cash back at over 3,500 stores ranges from 1% to 15%, but 4% is pretty typical.  A check or automatic deposit comes four times a year.  The trick here is not to spend more but to get paid for spending you would do anyway.  Other sites include Swagbucks, Pogo, and MyPoints.

 

Drink Water—From the Faucet

The thought of paying for water just 25 years ago would have been so antithetical as to be absurd, the exception being a visit to a less developed country without a reliable, clean supply.  At some point, Americans just started buying bottled water, when faucet water is clean and required to meet rigorous EPA standards.  True, some localities (like most of Florida where I reside) have heavily chlorinated water that, while safe to drink, tastes lousy.  The solution, if you don’t have a refrigerator that filters, is to install a water filter or buy an inexpensive Brita Pitcher.  Go further and purchase a reusable water bottle.  You’ll be doing the environment a favor too, as most single-use bottles of water end up in landfills despite our best recycling efforts.

 

Create Your Own Lottery

Powerball fever gripped America yet again in July with another $1 billion jackpot.  There’s nothing wrong with buying a ticket and dreaming about what could but never will be.  My grandmother used to quip, “I won two bucks” when asked about a drawing.  She never played.  My grandfather spent perhaps $15 a week—chump change.  But imagine all the chump change directed into a high-interest online savings account.  Over time, the wealth generated would be your own lottery winning!  Read more on this lottery money saving hack here.

 

Brown Bag It

It’s an easy but boring money saving hack.  It’s called making your own lunch.  “But it’s just $8.”  That’s what my colleagues would say when we chided each other over going to the delicious local deli mere blocks from the school or my eating peanut butter and jelly.  I’d note it’s $8 multiplied by 3 days a week (most brought lunch 2 days) multiplied by 38 weeks of school.  That’s nearly $1000 a year spent on lunch.  Of course, you’d have to subtract that a sandwich and perhaps an apple or yogurt from home still has a cost, but it’s less than a dollar.  The point is a simple one—saving a little bit over time really does add up.

 

These are six money saving hacks to generate significant savings and wealth.  Buying generic brands and only purchasing fruits and vegetables currently in season are two more.  The list is endless, but the best way to start is to actually start, perhaps by easing into one or more of these hacks gradually.  

 

 

Jeff Szymanski works in political communications for AMAC Action and previously taught high school economics, history, psychology, and sociology.  He writes frequently on money issues and Social Security’s ill financial health.

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jeanette
jeanette
11 months ago

great tips. Our personal solution was to take 10% of every paycheck and put it in the savings account. Most weeks this was quite workable. Then stay on the remaining budget to cover bills, food, and expenses. But we were mainly very consistent in doing this with rare exceptions. (and in an emergency, that’s a nice slush fund to draw from IF vital). As we now must retire and just sit or visit kids and grandkids, we can do the travel or extra expenses or gifts because that 10% off everything earned adds up to a nice little bundle over the many years of doing so consistently, even with the few emergencies we also had to draw from.

Jason
Jason
11 months ago

Great article.

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