The past 12 months have been tough on many people, and higher living costs have made it extremely difficult to build savings. So at this point, your best bet is to look ahead to 2023 and develop a plan that allows you to make great progress with your savings, no matter what that means for you.
How to save money
Saving money is a curious term with two meanings: 1) To spend less, as in “I buy things on sale to save money,” and 2) To physically place money where it is safe from being spent, as in “I save money in my secret savings place.”
Okay, that’s fine. But here’s the problem. It’s easy to trick ourselves into thinking that 1) and 2) are the same. They are not unless you stop by the bank to deposit the difference between what you would have spent had the stuff not been on sale, right into your savings account or wherever you stash cash. Actually, that IS one clever way to boost your savings this year. Here are eight more:
1. Tax yourself
This coming year, assess yourself a specific “tax” each time you make an ATM withdrawal. It might be $5 or $10, you decide. Whatever the amount, make sure you become a brutal tax collector AND carry through and put the tax you collected into your safe savings place. No slacking, no IOUs.
2. Impose a moratorium
Select a specific denomination of currency, like the $1 or $5 bill you will not spend this year, but save instead. Forbid yourself, and get very strict. On second thought, why not just go with the $5? Your stash will grow much faster if you refuse to spend any Abe Lincolns in 2023
3. Hoard the coupon savings
Here’s one way to do that if you are still working with paper coupons: When you grocery shop, ask the clerk to total your order and then pay for it—however you do it. Then hand her the coupons and watch your total plummet. Since you’ve already paid, the clerk should hand back the cash equal to your coupon savings. Quickly, stash it in your cash savings, so you are not overly tempted to spend it.
As digital coupons become more popular, the end result can be the same, but you will need to find a way to transfer cash from your digital accounts into your savings.
If available, open a savings account at the bank branch located in the supermarket. It’s easy to stop on your way out to make a savings deposit—even if it’s super small. Never forget this principle when it comes to money and lots of other things in life: It all adds up.
4. Rack up rebates
They’re coming back in a big way as retailers want to make their products appear cheaper without actually reducing the price. They offer a rebate, knowing that only a tiny percentage of consumers who buy the item will ever carry through.
No matter how small the rebate or complicated the process, promise you will not be among the lazy bunch in 2023. Apply for, follow up and then stash those rebates as they arrive!
HINT: Open your free Rakuten account. It is so easy. Then in the future, as you go to an online site that participates, you’ll get a little reminder to activate your Rakuten for that site with a single click. Should you make a purchase, you will begin to rack up lots of little amounts. I just got a Rakuten rebate for 24 cents. And I love every penny of it because … (did I already say this?) it all adds up!
5. Drink water
Pay yourself a bonus like a dollar or two each time you eat out and opt for water instead of a pricey beverage. And make that per person at the table. Don’t be a slacker in your obligation to pay up. And remember, no IOUs are allowed.
6. Make a switch
Opt to exercise outdoors for the next 12 months instead of paying a gym fee. Or, determine you’ll ride the subway instead of jumping into a cab. Identify a name brand you will leave on the shelf this year in favor of its store brand equivalent. Then stash what you do not spend.
7. Give it up
Pick one thing you will sacrifice this year—just cut it out. Stash the amount you would have spent on whatever it is—regular manicures, French fries, gourmet coffee, cigarettes—into your savings container or account. You could always do your own manicures, swear off junk food, or brew your own coffee for a year. As for that smoking habit, just imagine all the dough for your stash if you give that up.
8. Trick yourself
Whenever you write a check (checking accounts with their accompanying checkbooks have not completely disappeared; actually it’s still an excellent way to manage money), record the amount rounded up to the next dollar. Then deduct that rounded-up amount from the balance. At the end of the month, reconcile your account, then withdraw and stash the “oops!” overage.