According to a recent study by Bankrate.com, over half (58%) of Americans don’t have enough emergency savings to cover three months of expenses. The reason for this is probably two-fold – the economy is struggling and spending is more appealing than saving. Nobody wants to sock away money in a bank or retirement account when they can easily buy that new iPad or book some fabulous tropical vacation.
The truth is, you don’t have to go to extremes to create a safety net. Here are five simple ways to save with minimal effort.
- Start Using E-Coupons– The vast majority of grocery stores have customer loyalty cards that offer shoppers a “club” price on their groceries. Many grocery chains also allow shoppers to load e-coupons directly to their loyalty cards online with just a few clicks of a button. You simply swipe your card at the check-out as usual and watch all the extra savings come off your bill. You can also save money when online shopping with the use of coupon codes. Many sites like Currentcodes.com offer a listing of current promo codes for a large array of online retailers. Coupons can offer anything from free shipping, 10-75% off, or even offer a free item with purchase. Enter a valid coupon code at checkout and the savings come off automatically.
- Utilize Automatic Savings Programs– This is the perfect savings no-brainer. Check to see if your bank offers a program to automatically transfer funds from a checking account to a savings account each month. Sign up and you probably won’t even notice a difference until you have built up a sizable savings.
- Empty Your Pockets – If you are one of the rare people who still use cash on a daily basis, empty your pockets at the end of the day straight into a piggy bank or coin jar. All that spare change adds up over time and it’s easy to convert it in to bills at your local bank.
- Cut the Excess – Take a look at your bank or credit card statement and evaluate the items you are spending money on that you simply don’t need. Still paying for a landline telephone when everyone calls your cell? How about that magazine subscription with articles which are mostly available online for free? Have you paid any “convenience” or delivery fees on things like concert or sporting event tickets when you could have picked them up at the door for no additional cost? These little expenditures add up, so cut ties with these useless expenses and watch the savings accumulate.
- Amp Up Your 401(k) Contributions – For most people, increasing their 401(k) or other voluntary retirement account contributions is as simple as filling out a form and handing it to their human resources department. Or you may be able to increase contributions online in less than five minutes. Boosting your contributions a percent or two won’t have much effect on your paycheck, but it will work wonders over time to build up your retirement nest egg.
If you are able to apply these simple tips to your everyday life, your savings could build substantially and you’d have plenty of time and energy left over for that fabulous tropical vacation. Next week, I’ll show you how I utilized these methods and the actual amount I saved in the process.