Every year I start off saying I’m going to start saving money weekly to pay for a trip to Disney with our kids. So here we are now in May and I still haven’t saved anything. This has been the story of my life. Something always comes up, like birthdays or car registration or the kids are sick. So I have come up with a plan of which I intend to stick to.
Separate account for Bills
My husband and I have a joint account for the just the bills. We get paid biweekly on opposite weeks, which is great because someone is always getting paid. Of course he gets paid a lot more, so 3/4 of his check goes into what I call a bill account. All of the bills come out of this account and the rest is deposited into my spending account, which pays the normal day to day living costs; like food, gas and extra miscellaneous expenses.
So there are 4 months out of the year that have 5 weeks, when we get paid 3 times in 1 month. These months allow the best saving possibilities since only 2 of those pay checks go to bills. That leaves the third paycheck, which is not allotted to anything in particular. The same goes for my extra check. This happens 2 times a year for each of us. That is a significant amount of money to be used to pay off a bill or put towards a vacation or to just transfer into a savings account. Now you can’t let this get blended into your living expenses because it will just go pretty quickly.
The key is to have a separate account for bills and whatever is left over after the bills are paid is extra. This can be put into savings, used to pay debt or save for travel.
This year I decided to open up a new savings account linked to my everyday spending account, so that I could transfer money on pay days that wasn’t used the prior week, instead of it just rolling over and have it eaten up by my debit card. Having it directly deposited is even better since you will never see the money.
If these do not work for you I would recommend using Digit. You connect your bank account to their service and every few days they transfer a few dollars into your own Digit account depending on your spending habits.
Using a Grocery Delivery Service
For years I have been comparing prices to find the best store to shop at. I scour the weekly ads to see what is on sale and go to that store for that sale item. I have 2 local grocery stores in my area and I visit them weekly, going back at least once or twice getting things I forgot the first trip. If I’m not doing that, I’m going to Target, because they generally have the best prices around, but they are about 10 miles further. These strategies are awesome right?! You would think so, but they’re not.
Every time you go to the store, you see something else, not on your list, and pick it up. Sometimes you are just getting the item because it is on sale. Walking through the store aisles can wreak havoc on your grocery budget. Especially if you are spending $25 here and $25 there, it doesn’t feel so bad until you see your credit card bill at the end of the month for groceries. Eek!
When I go to the store I’m looking for anything under $2 and if it looks yummy or fun for the kids I will most likely buy it. Two dollars here $2 there, it adds up and before you know it, my $20 trip turns into $50-$60 and I go home feeling tons of guilt.
If you can make a list and stick to it and buy nothing else in your peripheral vision, then more power to you, please send some of that power over this way. If not, I started a challenge in my house, called the Pea Pod challenge. It all started when my kids were on vacation and we were having a birthday party for my son that weekend. I knew if I took them with me I would spend a ton more money than I had in my bank account. So I decided to go online to the only delivery service I know of in my area, Stop and Shop’s Pea Pod. They were offering 60 days free delivery and $20 off your first order. I was in. So I got $80 worth of groceries for $60 and free delivery! On top of that, if you choose a recommended delivery time, they take another $3-$5 off.
They were on time and brought all of the packages in for me, the worst part. Ok I still had to put them away, but it was actually exciting. If they are out of what you ordered they replace it with something comparable. They were out of something I wanted and they gave me the bigger item for the same amount of money. So not only did they shop for me, but I saved money. This was a no brainer.
Credit Card Rewards
This is a great way to save money if you are good about paying your bills. I admit I have trouble paying my cards as soon as I charge something. I end up forgetting and then something comes up and I don’t pay the amount allotted to that purchase and the charge rolls over into the next week and it is harder to pay. But the best way to do it is to transfer money into your bill account immediately and then when bill time comes around use that money for whatever was charged for that week or month.
I open new cards for vacations or if I know I’m going to be spending a lot of money, just to get the rewards. You can get up to 50,000 miles after spending a certain amount within 90 days of opening the account which can be about $500 off your bill. Some of these cards have annual fees so if that’s not ok with you make sure you read all of the terms before signing up.
My favorite card is the Barclay Card. They are offering 40,000 miles for the first $3000 in purchases, but it does come with an $89 annual fee, but this is waived the first year. If you don’t plan on spending that much, the Chase Freedom card is offering $150 off of $500 in purchases and if you refer a friend you get $100 credit. I referred my husband!
Just make sure not to get into trouble. You must make sure you transfer the money as soon as you make the purchase so you don’t end up in more debt than you started with. Keeping an eye on your credit score is a good idea which most cards now do for you which is great as well.