Pretty much everyone who is older than say, 10 years old, knows that saving money is beneficial. But hardly anyone does it, according to CNBC.com. Only about 35% of adults have anything meaningful saved for retirement. For the 65% who don’t put money away each month, retirement could be an awfully austere time in their lives.
For many of these non-savers, putting money aside just feels downright painful. After all, the pain of today feels far more pressing and immediate than the pain of tomorrow. If you’re in this group, you probably know the feeling. You probably also know how frustrating it is to actually want to save money on some level and not be able to.
Fortunately for savers like you, there are some sneaky ways to put money away each month. Here are the top five sneaky ways to stash some cash without trying too hard.
1. Plant Some Acorns
The Acorns app encourages you to sock your small change away. Instead of throwing your small change in a jar or in a piggybank, download the Acorns app and put that money into a retirement savings account. For a mere two bucks a month, you can invest the small change that you don’t even think about in a retirement account. This app is ideal for people who really want to have a hand-off approach to investing.
Basically, the app rounds your purchases up to the next dollar and invests the difference. In other words, it invests your virtual change. Because you don’t see the money leaving your account, you don’t miss it.
Acorns also gives you the option to put larger chunks of change away, which can be especially handy for the times you get bigger windfalls. (Think tax time.)
2. Spare Time, Spare Change
It’s a drag to wait in line at the DMV or at the bank. But now, instead that time being dead time, it can be money-making time if you sign up to do online surveys. (Thank goodness for phones that can now connect to the Internet.)
You’re not going to get rich by doing surveys, but if you’ve used your dead time to make an extra hundred or two by the year’s end, then it is time well-spent. And an easy way to make money for savings to boot.
Here are some of the most popular survey sites to get you started.
3. Chez Mom’s Coffee Shop
That trip through the drive-through at the local coffee house can add up. Many coffee drinks, plus the snacks to go with them can take $6 or more each day out of your wallet. If you go through the drive-through five days a week (or 23 days a month) and spend $6 each time, that’s roughly $138 you’ve spent on coffee out.
Instead, go ahead and invest in one of those fancy cappuccino makers for your house and a good travel mug to go with it. While your initial investment might actually be upwards of $100, you’ll save in the long run. Once you’ve made the investment in the coffee maker, you’re going to spend maybe $10 or $20 a month on the coffee to go with it, instead of nearly $140 that you’d spend in the drive-through. Just remember to save the difference.
4. How Many Hours Do I Have to Work To…?
Time is literally money. However, when it comes to buying something that you so desperately want in the moment, it’s difficult to remember that. For example, if you’ve decided that you want to buy a new TV set for $200, it might be helpful for you to actually calculate the number of hours you have to work to make that purchase happen.
For example, if you earn $20 an hour, you still have to work 10 hours to earn that purchase. That’s more than one workday. That, of course, doesn’t count all of the other items/ services that are ahead of that $200 item, like rent and utilities. If your rent and utilities add up to $700 or $800 a month, you have to FIRST earn the money for those items, and THEN earn the money for the TV and other purchases.
In all actuality, to earn that $200 TV set and to not put your power out in the process, you’re probably going to have to work a week or two before you can buy that item outright. Thinking of each purchase in that way can help you avoid a frivolous purchase and helps you to put money into savings.
5. Break Out the Cash
Buying things on credit makes it easy to forget where your money is going. After all, when you hand the cashier the money for whatever items you’re purchasing, you don’t get the same amount of cash back at the end of the transaction. If you’re lucky, you’ll get a bit of change.
Not so with a credit card. When you hand the cashier the credit card, you get the same credit card back. Sure, the card now has a balance, but you don’t see that until much later. It fools your brain into thinking that there was no pain involved in that transaction because the credit card looks the same.
Here’s the point. If you only buy items with cash, you are very aware of where your money is going. Once the cash is gone, the money is gone. If you really feel like you need a sneaky way to save more money, start by being obvious. Make most purchases with cash and see how much money you save without trying.
Sometimes, you just need to fool yourself into saving money. After all, if you’re like most people, the thought of budgeting probably gives you some sort of hives. It’s so difficult to put money away when what you want is right in front of you.
But if you do things, like automate savings with apps like Acorn or make coffee at home instead of buying it at the local coffee shop, you’ll have more money in your wallet to invest for big purchases, like homes or to save for retirement.