By: Chuck Bentley, Crown Financial Ministries
Saving is biblical; God wants us to be savers! He wants us to have the resources we need to take care of our families and others. He also wants us to be in a position to serve Him so that He will be made known and honored. Saving does not represent a lack of faith, but it does reflect the heart of a faithful steward.
But finding extra margin in our finances to save can be challenging! Especially if you are trying to pay off debt, are living paycheck to paycheck, or have recently gone through a major life change. These 13 money-saving hacks will help you save money you may not have known was there before.
1. Act Like You Receive 24 Paychecks a Year Instead of 26
If you are paid biweekly, you actually receive 26 paychecks a year instead of 24. Instead of budgeting based on those 26 paychecks, budget based off getting paid twice a month – 24 times – instead. Then you’ll be able to save your extra two paychecks!
2. Compete With Yourself
Sometimes you can be your best source of motivation! Challenge yourself (or your spouse or a friend) to spend $3 less per meal every time you go out to eat. Try instituting a leftover night once a week, having “no spend” days, or competing to see who can spend the least amount of money per week.
3. Set Up Automatic Transfer
This is one of the best savings hacks out there. Automating a certain amount to go straight from your paycheck to your savings account will help you reach your goals quickly. The old adage, “out of sight, out of mind” is the driving principle behind this. If you can’t see the money to spend in the first place, then you won’t be tempted to spend it!
4. Adjust Your Tax Withholdings
Did you get a refund check this year? While it may feel like you get a bonus from the government every spring, they’re actually just returning your own money to you. They borrowed it interest-free for the last year and then you have to ask for it back! Instead, adjust your withholdings so you have that extra money in your account every month. However, you will need to plan in case you owe the government money come Tax Day!
5. Always Check For Coupons and Rebates
Apps and browser extensions make it easy to shop with coupons and earn money back from rebates. Download apps like RetailMeNot, and Ibotta. Install extensions like Honey so you never miss a deal when online shopping.
Take an extra five minutes in the store to scan all your items and check for coupons or rebates. Even better, check for coupons and apps before shopping so you can buy based on what the best deal is. It may be small savings, but they accumulate over time!
6. Plan Ahead and Never Go Shopping Without a List
A lack of planning is a major spending trap. Before you go shopping anywhere – the grocery store, Walmart, the mall – make a list. Then stick to it! This is where that competitive spirit can come in handy – see how quickly you can get everything on the list and try to come in under budget. You should know about how much you’ll spend before you walk in the store. New technology and services like grocery pick up services have made this savings strategy convenient for a small fee. Look into your local options and consider if they could help you save!
7. Ask For Discounts
It may be uncomfortable if you’re not a natural bargainer, but it’s always worth it to ask for a discount. Try this especially with your cable and internet provider once a year. Ask about loyalty discounts, sales, or other offers they have going on.
8. Find a Buddy
There is strength in numbers, especially when it comes to saving! A group of my friends always shares when they find good sales, and will sometimes pick up items for one another to take advantage of the sale. Look online, in circulars, and ask around for the best prices.
9. Do Your Research
Before you purchase a big item, spend time researching to see if you can find a better deal. If you find a better price non-locally, ask for a price match. A few minutes online can save you lots!
10. Start Christmas Shopping Early
One of the Crown staff members has most of her Christmas shopping done by September. She finds and purchases gifts for members of her family throughout the year when she finds a good sale. By doing so, she avoids the stress and markups of the Christmas season and can actually relax and enjoy the holidays!
11. Set Goals
Goals will motivate you to keep saving. Proverbs 29:18 says, Where there is no vision, the people perish. If you don’t have a vision for your savings, you won’t make any progress. Decide on a realistic amount of money to have saved by a certain date and then align your budget to reach that goal. Every time you reach a goal, celebrate, make another, and keep going. You should always have short-term and long-term goals!
12. Save Every $5
We are big advocates of an all- (or mostly-) cash budget. If you use cash for all of or some of your budgeting categories, commit to saving every $5 bill you touch. Proverbs 21:5 says, Steady plodding brings prosperity. Start plodding!
13. Drink Only Water
This may sound impossible to some, but switching to only water can save you hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars a year. A latte out costs around $5. A soft drink or tea at a restaurant costs around $2. If you have one coffee and one tea or soda out every day, by switching to water, you’ll save around $2,550 a year. And it’s significantly better for your health!
Hopefully, these 13 things give you some ideas to get started on your savings goals! We recommend you start by saving $1,000 in an emergency fund. You can find 13 more tips on how to do that here. Once you have $1,000 in an emergency savings account, work your way up to 12 months’ of living expenses.