Readers, this month we’ve challenged you to save your spare change, and believe it or not, we’re almost halfway through July. We’ve rounded up some creative ideas to help you stay motivated during the second half.
Rounding up your purchases and saving the “spare” change is a fun and easy way to add some extra savings in your budget. Of course, the old fashioned way is to just empty your pockets and add the coins to a savings jar, but most of us pay with plastic, not paper. So we recommended signing up for a tool such as Acorns that will automatically save and invest your spare change.
Whether you use such tools or not, there are some creative ways to mix up the challenge and make it a little more doable for the rest of the month.
Save When You Splurge
We all give into the occasional spending temptation (I can’t stop buying junk online). Here’s a clever and prudent trick to monetise your temptation: Every time you splurge, put that same amount in a savings account. The Motley Fool suggests this in a post on saving for a down payment, but you can use it for anything:
Inundated by these opportunities to spend, skew the act of spending to your favour. So you want to buy those new boots? Match that spending with an equal contribution to your down payment. Sometimes the pain of doubling a cost is enough to deter a purchase. In the case you still choose to spend, the matched contribution ensures you’re at the very least taking measures to save.
This rule is kind of a win-win. You either skip the splurge because you can’t afford twice the amount or you give in and save some money. Either way, you’re going to save. Plus, this method forces you to think twice about your purchase. If your transactions account is already dangerously low and you really want to spend $10 on, say, a cocktail, knowing it will actually cost you $20 might encourage you to spend a little more deliberately.
Save When You Save
When I cook a meal at home on a Friday night, I like to say I “saved” $20 since I didn’t go out to eat. The truth is, though, I’m not actually saving anything. The imaginary $20 is still there, in my transactions account, ready to be spent on something else. So why not literally save that $20?
With this rule, you deposit a specific amount in your savings when you hypothetically save money. For example:
- You decide to skip a night at the movies and watch a free movie in the park instead. Add $20 to your savings account.
- You get a free drink at happy hour. Add $10 to your savings account.
- Your grocery receipt says “Total savings: $12”. Add $12 to your savings account.
Basically, when you find yourself giddy that you saved money on something, make sure you really do save that money in, you know, a savings account.
When we posted the challenge, one of our readers, Ag Obair, replied: “I’ve been doing this for years, can I still participate?”
Yes! And another reader, DefinitelyNotD.Trump, came up with a great way to do so:
You could “round up” even further! IE: If you currently round up to the next full dollar you could round up to the next $10 increment. So if it was $31.23 for some purchase you round up to $40.
This would make the next morning coffee/tea/soda/whatever seem excessively expensive and potentially make you rethink small purchases.
This is a great variation because you’re still challenging yourself. Plus, this tip encourages you to give your purchases a bit more thought. And mindful spending is a good thing.
Save Specific Notes
Finally, a reader suggested this one during last year’s challenge: Save all of your $5 notes.
Instead of saving only your loose change, make it a goal to save specific bills, too. So if you pay for coffee with a $20 note and get back a 10, a five, and a couple of coins, put the $5 note in your savings account.
Of course, this requires you to pay with cash, but if you’re doing that anyway, it might be an easy way to boost your savings this month. Good luck, readers!