Here are a handful of things I do/did that’s really impacted our finances over the years…
Check ’em out and see if any of them are worth testing out!
Rounding up debt payments! — Whatever your monthly payment is, just roundup to the nearest $10th and kill off a little extra debt without even noticing it! This works sooo good for your credit cards, car loans, or even mortgages. Or if you really want to step up your game – round up to the nearest $100th! We’ve probably shaved off at least a year or two of payments doing this, and makes it a bit easier to budget too if you prefer using whole numbers vs exacts.
Rounding up investments — Similar to the above, if you get into the habit of rounding up your monthly investments they’ll only compound that much faster. And if you really want to speed things up, use apps like Acorns which will *automatically* round up ALL YOUR TRANSACTIONS to the nearest $1.00 and drop the difference right into investments for you. So every time you swipe your card for coffee or groceries or even your 100th Amazon purchase of the week (hah), you’ll feel a tad less guilty knowing that you’re at least investing at the same time ;) I banked $600.22 when I first tried Acorns without even noticing it – it was great.
Actually SAVING your savings! — You know when people say they’ve “saved” money by using a coupon or getting something 10% off or buying one and getting another one for free? Well, you might not have paid full price for the item, but you’re still very much *spending* money vs *saving* since nothing actually went INTO your savings account!
With this spending/savings hack (dubbed “Spavings“) you’re actually doing just that: putting the money you’ve “saved” from discounts right into savings. So that 10% off becomes an extra $4.00 dropped into your account, and that coupon for buy one get one free becomes an extra $10.50 banked that you didn’t have to spend. You literally save every time you spend! And let me tell you – it adds up. When I experimented with this for 10 months back in 2018 I amassed $4,040.50 – almost enough to fully fund a Roth IRA!* Try it out for a month and see how it goes!
Asking for fees to be waved — Probably the easiest of all tricks. The next time you get a fee or penalty or any other of the sort, just pick up the phone, or email, and ask (politely) if it can be erased! I’d say over 50% of the time it works, especially if you’re a loyal customer and it’s the first time you’ve been hit. And often if you ask for a supervisor after getting rejected you’ll win a number of those battles as well.
I just did this with the $19.31 late fees I stupidly acquired on our water bill last month, and within minutes it was waived! 3 minutes and 4 seconds to be exact as I timed it ;) (Shout out to ZJ for reminding me to do this!!)
Doing a “no spend” month — This was one of the first challenges I tackled as a nubile 20-something starting out my financial journey, and every month since I’ve “saved” at least $200 a month from being in more control.
The idea is to spend *only* on the necessities of life for a month (food, shelter, etc), and then resist from spending money on the “wants” (Starbucks, new clothes, new books, etc). Not only do you save a hefty amount for the month, but more importantly it forces you to STOP and face your embedded behaviors over the years! Where you learn quickly what triggers your desire to spend and how to curb it since you’re not allowed to for the month. And if you’re really smart about it, you’ll put in some barriers over this time so that when the month runs out you don’t go back to your freewheeling ways and erase all progress! Just be sure to *tell everyone* you’re on this mission so all your friends/family don’t hate you every time you have to say “no” to something ;)
Waking up an hour+ earlier — Not a finance trick specifically, but slowing down your life and spending more quality time on yourself will definitely affect your money and mood (and confidence!) for the better. And certainly if you use this hour entirely on improving your finances every morning there’s no way for your wealth not to grow! Imagine spending a whole hour every single day on it?! For me these days though, I choose to use it for my *mental* health and guard this time pretty intensely. All other hours are dedicated to my kids or family or life/projects/yada yada but these 1-2 hours every morning are solely for ME where I sip my coffee, feed my brain (i.e. read), eat my porridge, and basically just reflect on life as the sun creeps up and brings about the new day. One of the best habits I’ve ever set up for myself, and I owe it entirely to Benjamin Franklin!
I’ll have to dig through my brain for more, but these are just some of the smaller things we’ve done over time to really help grow our wealth… Which may not look that impressive on their own, but combined can really pack a punch! Try one or two out over the week and see how you do!
Any tricks you do yourself that’s worked out well too?
*I included other “free” money in this account too, like birthday checks or found money on the ground, or any savings from cutting down bills over time, etc… That’s the real game changer right there – doing one-time work for monthly passive savings!
Get blog posts automatically emailed to you!
Awesome list of savings tricks! I definitely did the “no spend” month (for several months actually) and was saving $350 each month. It was great.
Another trick was that I started “brown-bagging it”; that is; making and bringing my own lunch to work (usually a sandwich) rather then ordering out each day. My savings took a boost after that one. :)
$350/mo – nice! I bet you didn’t even know what you were spending on either that whole time :)
The 5am wake up thing, I really think could work under the right circumstances. One day I will try it. I’m still in that phase of if I get up at 5am, my 2 youngest children also start waking up at 5am. Once they have a desire to sleep in, I will try it at that point. Its really only 1 hour earlier for me.
I really think it would help me plan my days more purposefully.
Haha yeah, that would be the *opposite* of what we’re trying to do here ;) And one of the only reasons I’m glad I don’t live in a tiny house or van or anything even though I really want to one day! Hard to do things in there without waking up the entire family.. (or when you’re sick and can’t get away from everyone!).
I do hope you find a way to make it work one day though – it really is a game changer.
Yeah, for us its not really the size of the house its the layout, one of the drawbacks of living in a rancher is noise seems to travel more. Plus my dogs are freekin loud. its like the running of the bulls every morning as they traverse the hallway to get let outside. Our English Mastiff has such a robust tail that its like someone soft punching the wall the entire hallway.
Oh gosh those dogs are massive! I can only imagine how much food and exercise i needs too 😬
I invest cash back rewards I get on one of my credit cards. It’s not much, but it gives me great satisfaction knowing that I have a little bit of money working for me from part of my everyday spending. .
Yeah – there you go!!
Much better than just turning around and spending it :) And since it’s all “extra” you don’t even have to miss any of it!
Love it J! The spavings idea escapes me sometimes but the apps you mention are good to use. I tend to spend savings or discounts I negotiate as a reward (or put it towards my next goal bucket), however this is spot on.
Another thing I do to turbocharge savings is default to biking instead of driving when only going 5-10 miles on my own, and also defaulting to looking for a pre-owned item for a purchase I’m trying to make (have you seen how much furniture costs these days?!)
I love the biking hack!!! I’ve started traveling more on my long board, but it still usually requires me to drive somewhere first and then ride… Still too much of a wuss to go on main streets w/out a car :(
Oohh I have a longboard too! I ride it to the gym everyday and grocery store, such a fun way to get some fresh air!
Sweet! I just took mine to the coffee shop – such a great way to enjoy the weather and sneak in some exercise :)
I did Acorns before they added the stoopid monthly fee for about 17 months. I did the $20 monthly deposit, which accounted for $340. When I closed the account, it was at $1530. You truly do not notice the spare change. Now if I could just find a new, no-fee provider. Oh, additional incentive to NOT withdraw unless you really have to – your money is actually in the market, in about 10 different funds. Some of it is reported as long-term, some as short term. Serious PitA.
Ahhh yes – forgot about the tax hassles, but at least they print it all out at the end of the year for you right? At least that’s what I remember… Of course, I just passed it to my accountant so it wasn’t too much of an issue, but if I were doing it myself i prob wouldn’t be as happy 😂 That’s really with *all* earnings though – the more you earn the more taxes/filing you need to do but still worth it in the end…
Great Post J, I had never even thought of rounding up on investments and payments, but I’m going to start. Thats amazing you “Spaved” over 4 G’s in 2018, I’ll have to look into that, thanks for pointing it out! Peace out!
Great!! Glad you found some helpful ones!
Dude. Good tips to live by! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to come crawling to company X, Y, and Z to request a penalty or some random fee be withdrawn. Way I see it, if it takes a 5 minute phone call to get $50 back, you’re working at a rate of a lot of dollars per hour (all obviation of course, but who cares!)
Great SAT word! (obviation) lol.. had to look that one up.
I know this sounds OCD but every time I saw what I had saved by purchasing on sale or with a coupon, I moved that amount from my budgeted line item to be invested. I also did this when someone would treat me to lunch or dinner. Then any surprise money, like a $3 rebate check I moved that too. I would invest it in my S & P 500 index fund when I had the minimum amount to do so. My friends that I told laughed at me for doing such small amounts but it sure did add up. It gamified savings and was fun for me.
yes!!! beautiful!! I bet you’ve invested *thousands* over the years doing that… not including the amount of compounding from putting it into the markets either! Such a simple, yet effective, habit. Well done.