We recently held a giveaway on social media in honor of National Savings Day (Oct. 12). For the contest, participants submitted some of their favorite financial tips for saving smart to compete for a cash prize. While banks may be teeming with financial experts, we wanted to hear what our clients had to say on what works for them in saving up.
With that in mind, we picked some of our favorite tips from the contest to spotlight in their own post.
1. “Do your holiday shopping right after each holiday and save for next year. After Christmas, buy wrapping paper, cards, and Christmas-themed gifts. This works for every holiday: Get a Mother’s Day card for next year the day after Mother’s Day. Get Easter egg-decorating kits the day after Easter, and Halloween decorations on Nov. 1. The discounts are tremendous, and you can just put this stuff in the closet until next year.” – Christy G.
This was our winner, in part because it’s simple, clever, and easy to execute, but also because it’s perfect to keep in mind with the holidays coming up. Never underestimate the power of post-holiday discounts. You can also buy some of your holiday gifts months in advance so they’re not as pricey around the holiday season.
2. “Follow the 30-day rule! Here’s how it works: Instead of making an unplanned impulse purchase, you instead shelf that potential purchase for 30 days and deposit money into your savings account instead. If you still want to buy that item after the 30-day period is up, go for it. Otherwise, the money stays in your saving account.” – Scott F.
This tip is a good way to check your impulses; often, instant gratification will push us to buy something in the moment that we don’t actually need. If you give it a few weeks of consideration, the shine might wear off, and you may save yourself a lot in unnecessary purchases. After a month, if you still want the item, you’ll know it’s truly worth the investment in the long run.
3. “Follow the 50-30-20 budget rule! The basic rule is to divide after-tax income, spending 50% on needs and 30% on wants while allocating 20% to savings.” – Brandi F.
The 50-30-20 rule is a classic and reliable way to hold yourself accountable to a budget. It allows for a steady, recurring deposit into your savings account while also placing a reasonable limit on wants-based purchases.
4. “Plan your meals in advance and stick to a list while grocery shopping. Shop the ads and plan your meals around what is on sale. Use coupons and shopping savings cards. Then take the savings each week and deposit it into your Academy Bank savings account.” – Julie M.
The average American spends roughly $3,000 a year on dining out. Meal-prepping instead of going out to eat can save you that considerable sum of money, and stocking up on coupons will make your groceries even cheaper.
5. “Whenever I resist going out to eat and eat something at home, I put the money I would have spent eating out into savings. Review the amount each week, and that motivates me to keep doing it!” – Susan A.
This relates to the previous point too. Not only is this a good way to cut superfluous spending, but it also allows you to keep track of how much money you would otherwise be spending on food. It can add up fast!
6. “Go on a spending freeze. Which means…don’t buy any nonessential items for a week…or even a month!” – Brenda F.
A spending freeze is one of the more intense ways to save money fast, and it requires a certain amount of discipline, but it may be necessary this time of year, especially with holiday gift-giving season coming up. By separating your needs from your wants, you can identify how much money you actually need to be spending and save the rest.
7. “I have an amount on my calendar at work on Mondays. Every Monday increases by one dollar, and every Monday I transfer the amount on the calendar into my savings account. Starting in Jan. 2020, I will resent the amount back to $1 on the first Monday.” – Heather I.
This method is a unique way to keep up with savings on a weekly basis, even if you’re initially just putting a small amount away.
8. “Your employer’s matching contribution doesn’t count as gross income and doesn’t show up on your W-2 at the end of the year. Your 401(k) account annual statements keep track of it. Contributing to a 401(k) account at work lets you save for retirement, tax-free!” – Bill D.
A 401(k) account is a classic and prudent way to save for your long-term financial future. Not only does socking that money away prevent you from spending it in the moment, but it accrues value over time, providing you with more in the long run than you started with.
9. “Every time you deposit a check, put a percentage straight into savings. Don’t touch the savings account except for real emergencies.” – Faith Y.
Having an emergency savings account can be crucial when it comes to handling unexpected, urgent expenses. According to a CNN study from earlier this year, 60 percent of Americans would be unable to cover an unexpected $1,000 expense with their current savings.
10. “Take advantage of Academy Bank’s Saving Cents program.” – Pauline E.
Well, because you brought it up…Academy Bank’s Saving Cents program allows you to build your savings automatically by rounding up your purchases and depositing the change into your savings. You choose how much you’d like to round up your debit card purchases in your checking account, then with each purchase, the extra change is transferred automatically from your checking account to your savings account. You can track those transactions on your bank statement each month. To learn more, click here.