I'll be the first to admit, I'm no Suze Orman. I definitely aim to save money but its more of a pin the tail on the donkey approach than an actual strategic gameplan. With girls like me in mind, Kelly Hernandez, founder and CEO of Financechic.com, contributed some painless pointers on Refinery 29 for the simplest-ever ways to save money. The best part? No packing lunches, no clipping coupons, and no going out less!
Kelly writes: Call us crazy, but we're not sacrificing our morning latte to save two bucks. Nope, these are the seriously sneaky, why-didn't-I-think-of-that ways to build your wealth — and you'll save like crazy without changing your lifestyle or habits. . .
Enroll In Payroll AutosaveBy far, this is the best way to save. Most payroll departments allow you to direct deposit your paychecks into a specified bank account. Usually, when this is an option, you can also have them direct deposit into multiple accounts. Have your payroll department put a portion of your paycheck (either a percentage you want to save, or a set dollar amount) into a separate savings account, and the rest into your checking account. If you don't see the money in your checking account, chances are you won't remember you have it in savings, and it will add up over time!
Consider it the next generation of the piggy bank: Programs such as Bank of America’s Keep the Change and Wells Fargo’s Save As You Go transfer a small amount from your checking to your savings account with every debit card purchase. (Bank of America rounds up to the nearest dollar, and Wells Fargo transfers exactly $1). Since it's no more than $1 for every transaction, you won’t really feel the impact each time, but over time this adds up. Even if you don’t use Bank of America or Wells Fargo, it's worth asking your bank what similar programs they may offer.
A lower interest rate on your outstanding credit card debt can help you save money every month — and, with any luck, eliminate your debt more quickly. Call your credit card company, starting with the one where you have the highest balance, or highest interest rate. Explain that you're unhappy with your current interest rate, and would like a lower rate to help you get out of debt sooner. This conversation goes much further if you have better offers from other credit card companies, or if you are willing to close your account and move your balance to another card. So, don't be afraid to ask — you have nothing to lose but a high interest rate.
Making only a puny .5% on your savings? Go to bankrate.com to get a list of savings and checking account interest rates from banks that service your area. Many times, it is very easy to find a bank that offers a higher interest rate than what you are currently getting. You can usually be up and running with a new account in 10 minutes, and begin earning more money from your money within a couple of days. Just be sure to either close your current accounts, or leave enough in there to meet minimum balance requirements to avoid any fees.
E-books: Borrow, Don't Buy
iPads, Kindles, and Nooks make it very easy to read new books and magazines. And, sure, you can buy this new content with just a click, but why not see if the digital versions are available from your library for free? Most urban library systems have e-books available for checkout online — no need to even stop in to the library. Browser plug-ins like BookBurrito and Library Extension make this even easier by automatically checking availability at your preferred library.
There's nothing like making a big purchase, only to realize you overpaid. So, before you buy on the spot, price compare for better deals. Smoopa, PriceGrabber, and ShopSavvy are a few of the best apps for price comparison available right now. Install one of these apps on your mobile phone, and scan the barcode of the item you are considering purchasing. Online and retail store prices will be displayed, so you can be sure to get the best deal. (Some even let you buy the item straight through the app.) Spend a minute to do this before purchasing an item in-store, and enjoy the savings!
Cell phone companies have us so scared about high overage charges that most of us pay for much more data than we really use. Take a look at your past three to six months of bills, and see exactly how much data you used. Once you know your typical usage, lower your plan to a more reasonable level, and save money every month. Free services like BillShrink and SaveLoveGive will analyze this for you as well. It's especially useful if you are open to changing providers.