5 Tricks to Save Money

Always use cash.

We now live in the days of Apple Pay, Google Pay, and other digital wallets. Holding your phone up to a machine really doesn’t feel like you’re spending money – but if you check your account online, you’ll see that you definitely are. Even if you don’t want to take out an exact amount of cash each week, just spending cash will feel a little more personal each time you complete a transaction. This may be enough to keep you from buying things you don’t really need.

Write down every penny.

Instead of checking your mobile banking and making sure “it looks right,” try keeping a spreadsheet of every receipt you’re spending. This is highly annoying and it just might make you want to accumulate fewer receipts, which means less spending. Just make sure you have fewer receipts because you are not spending as much, and not because you stopped keeping up with them.

Be kept accountable.

Want to spend less? Tell your friends and family. Tell them you want to cut back and you need their help. You might be surprised about how your habits change when others are constantly asking you how you’re doing financially.

Get a blanket and a fan.

If you want to save money the easy way, turn down that thermostat in the winter and turn it up in the summer. You may be hotter/colder than you’d like, but it’s an easy fix and it will definitely save you some money.

Don’t buy name brands.

Sometimes the store brand is just as good (and probably manufactured in the same facility) as that name brand you may be paying double for. Giving up a few of your name brand purchases each month could pay for your Netflix account, gas for the week, and so on.

Article source: John Pettit for CUInsight.com

Buying Lunch Too Much? 3 Money Saving Tips

We all know in theory that brown bagging is a great way to save money and eat a bit healthier. However, for a lot of us, it’s hard to find the motivation and energy to pack a lunch, especially if it’s going to be the same old ham and cheese on wheat every day. Before long, we lose momentum and it’s back to eating burgers, pizza, and subs five days a week. If that sounds like you, here are some tips to help you pack an inexpensive lunch that will make you forget all about takeout and draining your bank account.

1. Get your kitchen organized.

The easier it is for you to pack your lunch, the fewer excuses you’ll have for skipping it.

Designate a cabinet or shelf for containers, bags and wraps, etc. Weed out any mismatched or damaged containers and lids. Make a point of keeping this area tidy and organized so that finding what you need is a breeze.

Clean out your fridge to make it easy to find condiments and salad dressings and to have room for leftovers, yogurt, prepared fruits and vegetables, and other easy to grab snacks. You’ll also want to keep a space available to store your lunch overnight if packing it the night before saves you time and forces you to bring your lunch.

Keep a basket on a shelf to store lunchbox snacks like granola bars, chips and crackers. You can portion out a week’s worth at a time in plastic bags – which is cheaper than buying individual servings.

2. Go beyond lunch meat.

Some people are happy eating the same deli meat and cheese sandwich every day, while others need variety. Foods marketed especially for lunch can also be more expensive than starting from whole foods and preparing them yourself.

Instead of deli meat – try slicing up chicken, turkey, beef and pork that you’ve cooked yourself at home and make sandwiches, lettuce wraps, and more. Not only can you save money this way, but you’ll also have more control over the ingredients.

If you like frozen meals for lunch, try making your own by freezing portions of lasagna, enchiladas, stews and other home-cooked foods that freeze well. The food will be tastier, and freezing to eat later is great for those who don’t like eating the same meals two or more days in a row.

Hummus with vegetables and pita bread for dipping can also be a very healthy lunch. Making your own hummus is incredibly cheap and you can even go beyond the normal chickpea version and experiment with black beans, edamame and other variations.

3. Make brown bagging it a fun, social affair.

You can encourage your colleagues to pack a lunch by talking to them about the benefits and encouraging them to give it a shot. Not only can they save money, but it can also help them lose weight and eat healthier.

Suggest fun ways to encourage each other to pack a lunch. Some workplaces have had great luck with a salad bar club (everyone brings different ingredients to keep in the fridge to make salads that week), or bringing dishes to share. For companies where people are interested in getting healthier, a quick brown bag lunch followed by a brisk walk during lunch hour can also be a great motivator.

As you can see – it’s easy to pack a lunch each day, and great for your health and budget!

Article Source: Tracy for Moneyning.com

How to Build Your Savings

Many Americans have little to nothing at all saved up. In the event of any emergency, most people just don’t have any resources to weather the blow. It can be difficult to understand how to build up your savings, but the key is to start little by little. Nothing is impossible once you get started. Here are five tips to help you:

1. Evaluate Your Priorities

To be successful at saving, you have to understand why you need to do it. We all have goals in life. What are yours? When you have a better understanding of what you want to achieve in the short and long term, you can then make plans to save for them. It’s very important to understand what your priorities are, because the reality is that you can’t spend on everything you want to. Be strategic with your budget and only spend where it can help push you further in life.

2. Make Small Changes

Your savings isn’t going to multiply overnight. Results will take time. Many people make the mistake of trying to save too much too soon. When you make too many drastic changes to your life at once, it’s difficult to sustain the effort. You’re likely just to go back to your old, bad spending habits. It’s best to start small and do little things that you barely notice, like making your own coffee in the morning or bringing lunch to work a few days a week. These small efforts sound minuscule, but the savings will start adding up.

3. Make It Automatic

Set it and forget it. That’s the name of the game. The easiest way to save is to make it automatic so that you don’t have the possibility of forgetting to make the deposit. Set automatic payment transfers from your checking to your savings account. You can do this for days you get paid. Start with small transfers and then increase them over time. Eventually, you probably won’t even notice anymore.

4. Get a Side Gig

If you’re just making ends meet and your budget is bare-bones already, it’s probably going to be difficult to start saving no matter how hard you try. In that case, it’s wise to find additional streams of revenue. Many people these days can make extra income right from the comfort of their own home, doing things like freelance writing or graphic design. If you prefer something more hands on, you can moonlight as a handyman, dog walker, or sell crafts on Etsy. There are plenty of options out there for people of any skill set. You just have to find it.

5. Plan Ahead

Lastly, the most important thing to do is to plan ahead. Most of the time, people can’t save because they are caught off guard by their own spending. Be proactive and plan out your weeks and even months ahead. Try your best to stick to a budget and if you find yourself having trouble, adjust the numbers as soon as possible. The more you plan ahead, the easier it will be for you to save any amount of money.

Start small, and work your way towards financial freedom. The effort will be worth it in the end.

Article Source: Connie Mei for Moneyning.com

3 Habits of Highly Effective Savers

When life changes, adjust.
Whether it is having babies, job changes, or the purchase of a new home, life is constantly changing. Every life changing event leads to an increase or decrease of your available funds. People who save effectively will look at these situations as opportunities to adjust the way they save. This may mean a temporary hold on saving, but always make sure you plan for a time when you can begin saving money again.

Play for keeps.
People who are great at saving don’t look at their paychecks as something to spend. They look at their paychecks as something to keep. Center your financial decisions around the question: How do I spend less, save more, and still obtain the things I need?

Set aside part of any extra earnings.
While your yearly income is (hopefully) predictable, we sometimes receive money we did not expect or budget for. This can be a tax return, bonus at work, birthday money, credit card rewards, etc. A great saver will put at least a percentage of each windfall they receive into their savings account.

If you’re looking to save, check out your local credit union like First Financial! We offer a great variety of options in savings accounts and savings certificates, which are Federally Insured by the NCUA.*

*A $5 deposit in a base savings account is required for credit union membership prior to opening any other account. All personal memberships are part of the Rewards First program and a $5 per month non-participation fee is charged to the base savings account for memberships not meeting the minimum requirements of the program. Click here to view full Rewards First program details. Accounts for children age 13 and under are excluded from this program.

Article Source: Robbie Young for CUInsight.com

12 Tips to Stay in the Money Saving Mindset

If saving money isn’t your strong suit, don’t worry. Changing your money habits will have its challenges, but with a little effort, you can stop making so many unnecessary purchases and start building a sizable savings.

The first step is to think about your goals and priorities. Why do you want to save money? You might be looking for the security of an emergency fund, hoping to spend less time working, or preparing to buy a new car.

Whether your savings journey is just starting out or you’re already a saver and want to keep it that way, these 12 tips will help keep you from backsliding into poor money habits.

1. Remember why saving is important to you.

Think about why you want to save money, and take every opportunity to remind yourself. Talk about it out loud, or write it down.

2. Hold yourself accountable.

Budgets, spreadsheets, and shopping lists are enough to put the average consumer to sleep, but don’t be afraid to give this strategy a try. People who are already in the habit of jotting down notes or lists will likely be successful making strict shopping lists and sticking to them.

Once you make a reasonable budget, don’t stray from it. Check it over every once in a while and try to eliminate or reduce any expenses.

3. When you get a raise, don’t increase your spending.

After you get a raise it might seem natural to spend a little more. The problem is that a more expensive lifestyle could jeopardize your saving behavior. Think of a pay raise as an effortless way to speed up your savings.

4. Create a vision board.

It’s easier to reach a financial goal if you can see yourself accomplishing it. One way is to create a financial vision board. Cut out pictures of the financial goals you desire to reach and put them in a photo collage together.

5. Separate needs from wants.

You may fall out of the money saving mindset when you spend money on wants instead of needs. The two can be easily confused, especially if you really want something – you might become so invested in it that you convince yourself that it is a need and not a want. Prevent this by taking your time with purchasing decisions.

6. Learn why you spend.

It will be easier to save when you get to the bottom of why you spend. Do you buy a lot of clothes because you want to impress someone? Are you always spending money on eating out because you don’t set aside time to cook? If you’re more focused on impressing others or you haven’t established financial discipline, it is time to start figuring out these bad habits.

7. Address lingering money problems.

If you want to stay in the money saving mindset, you need to take care of any destructive money issues. Maybe you’re not used to having a lot of money, so you tend to save your money and then find an excuse to spend it. Consider consulting with a financial therapist or joining a financial support group.

8. Ask for Help.

No matter how hard it gets to save money, stay committed. If you find it hard to continue saving money, ask a friend or family member to help you stick to your goal. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

9. Make a game out of saving money.

Saving money doesn’t have to be a chore. Make a game out of it, so you can stay motivated. Invite your friends to join and try the 52-Week Money Challenge, which requires you to save a certain amount of money each week during the year.

10. Track your progress.

Don’t get too comfortable after reaching a big savings milestone. Once you’ve saved a certain amount of money, it’s easy to fall back into your old habits. Continue to keep an eye on how you are doing with your goals.

11. Keep educating yourself.

Continue to learn as much as you can about how to manage your finances. If you want to be a money success, it’s important for you to keep feeding on new financial information every day. The more you learn about money and how it works, the more you will commit to making savings a priority.

12. Celebrate successes.

Keep moving forward by giving yourself a pat on the back when you reach a goal. Every time you reach a savings milestone, celebrate – but don’t celebrate so much that you get yourself back into debt.

Article Source: Sheiresa Ngo for cheatsheet.com

 

5 Time Consuming Things That Don’t Really Save You Money

Everybody loves to find new ways to save. After all, it’s quite thrilling to know you did something productive to save some money. And plus, every little bit counts when you’re trying to build your savings. But could your money saving habits actually be hurting you? Despite the best intentions, many people are actually doing things all wrong. Yes, certain habits might save you some money, but it can cost you quite a bit of time too. Spending your time to save a few dollars isn’t always worth it. Here are five instances when spending extra time doesn’t actually save you money:

Always Buying Used

There are many times when buying used might actually be a good idea. For instance, buying a used car can save you a lot of money. You can find plenty of used cars in like-new condition at a heavily discounted price. On the other hand, many other items should not be bought second hand. For example, you shouldn’t buy used car seats or tires for safety reasons. So how do you know which items to buy used? You need to research, and that can take a ton of time. It’s a balancing act, but sometimes waiting for a sale and buying new makes more sense.

Stalking the Sale Section

Who doesn’t love a good sale? Sometimes, you walk by and find the best things just sitting in a sale section waiting to be bought. But other times, it’s not so easy. Do you always gravitate to the sale aisle once you walk into a store, only to spend a considerable amount of time rummaging through a pile of things and not find anything useful? And worse, you end up leaving with one or more items you never really needed? Break the habit. Just because something is on sale doesn’t mean you need to buy it.

DIY Projects

It’s awesome if you have the gift of being handy and crafty, but not everyone is a DIYer. If you’re not comfortable making something on your own, you don’t have to make an attempt unless you find it enjoyable to give the job a try. It’s perfectly okay to buy something at the store already made. This is especially true for items you plan on using for a long time like furniture. In the long run, it might be worth it to spend a little more now. Not only will you save yourself some frustration and time, but your furniture will likely last longer and look better from the beginning.

Not Using a Credit Card

Having an “all cash” system is definitely beneficial for those who can’t control their credit card spending. However, using credit cards to pay can definitely be beneficial too. First, you don’t have to spend extra time counting change. Second, you can get reward points and cash back when using your card, which is like getting a discount on every purchase. Third, it’s actually easier to track your spending with a card, helping those who are disciplined and willing – improve long term spending habits.

Waiting in Line for a Deal

If you waited in line for Black Friday deals this year, you weren’t the only one. But is it really worth it? It’s up to you to weigh the pros and cons for yourself, but spending hours waiting in line is definitely not time well spent. Plus, most online retailers offer huge discounts and promotions this time of year too. If you shop online you can avoid the long lines and still earn great seasonal discounts without ever having to leave the house. You just have to do a little research and price comparison shopping first.

Article Source: Connie Mei for Moneyning.com