19 Real Stories About Savings Tricks That Helped
Money is a feminist issue — and yet, women are still reluctant to talk about it. According to a recent Bustle survey of more than 1,000 Millennial women, more than 50 percent of people said they never discuss personal finances with friends, even though 28 percent reported feeling stressed out about money every single day. Bustle's Get Money series gets real about what Millennial women are doing with their money, and why — because managing your finances should feel empowering, not intimidating.
Different people have different ways of saving money. Some people learn savings tricks from their parents while others may have a financial advisor to guide them — and their money — along. I asked Millennial women for real stories about savings tricks that helped them, because, TBH, the more savings tips, the better, right?! And, no doubt, you probably have some of your own that you picked up along the way.
"Remember, it's never too late to start saving, no matter where you are in life," Anna Colton, Merrill Edge executive, tells Bustle. "Having money automatically deposited from a paycheck into a workplace retirement account can make investing for the future effortless. In addition to saving and investing your other funds, create an emergency fund. As you create an emergency plan, aim to maintain at least six months' worth of living expenses in an easy-to-access checking or savings account. Plus, 'stash' any extra cash you receive that may come in the form of a tax return, bonus, or gift."
All great advice, of course. And, below, I spoke to 19 Millennial women about even more savings tricks that help. So, prepare to take notes.
"These probably sound silly, but small things, like using UberX more instead of regular Ubers, finding happy hours with good deals, and trying to bring more lunches to work instead of buying lunch."
"I try to pack lunches and cook at home instead of going out to eat. I also blog on the side to help pay for my workouts, because I love workouts — like Barry’s Bootcamp, Shred, and Flywheel, which are a little bit more expensive than a typical gym membership. Some of my favorite restaurants are on Groupon or Gilt City, so if I see one for my favorites, I always buy the Groupon/Gilt City deal, because I know I’ll be going eventually, so it'll help cut the cost of the total bill."
"My best tip (which stems from my lack of self-control) is to pretend like that money isn't even there. I set up direct deposits so that the money is taken right out, and I factor my savings into my monthly overhead as if it's non-negotiable. (And I can negotiate with myself preeeetty well when it comes to money!)"
"I started a blog, Budget Undercover, about paying off my student loans, and continue to live like a student to make it work! I love saving, so no tricks here. One way I keep on budget, though, is by setting aside a monthly amount for personal spending on the first of the month. My checking account starts at $0, and I have a daily transfer set up to go from that 'monthly spending' account to checking. I can save it up or spend that small amount each day. It's kind of like reverse saving."
"In terms of money-saving strategies, I am frugal by nature and limit my expenses as much as possible. An example of this is that I do not have a car (despite living in L.A.) and bike to work, ride-share, and take public transit. Also, I have about $30k+ total in savings with a Roth IRA account that is pre-tax. I make sure to max out my contributions each year and transfer $1k+ into savings every few months."
"Since I started working full-time, I've adopted a system of 'hiding' money from myself. I set up automatic transfers of 15 percent of my paycheck to the other accounts. That way, I was able to build my FU fund up to equal six months of my living expenses in a couple years. To help me save more money, and replenish my FU fund, I'm currently trying out spending 'fasts,' where I try to live off as little as possible. My goal is to keep my spending under $100/week. I also made sure to participate in company-sponsored retirement plans and max out any matching, when I had the option."
"For savings, I like the idea of 'out of sight, out of mind.' At the end of each month, I have 3k transferred from my bank to my investment portfolio. This makes it incredibly easy to save."
"For money-saving tips, I have my account set up so it automatically deposits money from my checking account into my savings and Roth IRA each month. It's been set up for so long, I hardly even notice that the money is being withdrawn. Also, living in the city, I go out a LOT for happy hours or on the weekends with friends, so one of my favorite apps is HOOCH. It's a cocktail subscription app that gives me one free drink per day from some of the best bars in San Francisco. It's great, because drinks can be pretty expensive. Plus, they're always adding new venues, so I can discover new places to go out!"
"A big money-saving strategy for me is not letting myself get out of control with credit card spending. I used to charge everything on credit cards, which left me with no money to save after paying off huge bills at the end of the month. Now, I try to pay with cash or charge everything on my debit card, which I find makes me more conscientious of my spending habits. I also signed up for my company's 401(k) program, setting it up for the maximum match. After paying off my credit card bills, I put 50 percent of my performance bonuses into my Roth IRA and automatically deposit $100 of my paycheck into my savings accounts."
10Rachel M., 28
"OK, so this is a little underhanded, but it works great. I don't cash checks until I need them. If I say have a check come in from a client that's a big one that I just want to file away, I tuck it in an envelope in my bra drawer until I need a chunk of change. Also, when I travel, I don't change foreign currency back to USD. I've brought home stacks of bills (this doesn't work with coins or some third-world currencies) from a few countries to just hang onto. When that country’s currency value increases, I deposit it in my bank account for a flat exchange."
"Put your debit card away! When you have your debit card on you, you know you can use it. That makes it harder to control how you spend your money. The idea that, 'Oh, I can take out cash and...' makes it too easy to spend money on things that you might not really need. If you leave your debit card at home and start using your credit card as the primary method of payment, you'll see that you'll actually spend less and save money over time."
"For serious and consistent saving, automation is truly the way to go. This is more a proven strategy than a trick. Also, Digit is an app that's kind of like Venmo, in that it holds onto money for you without taking any fees. After you hook up your checking account to Digit, it withdraws very small amounts of money every few days ($0.5 -$10) into an account. You barely notice it at all, and then at the end of the month, you could have over $100 in your Digit account. I've been using it for over a year, and it's awesome. I also stash every $5 that comes into my possession! Every time I end up with a $5 bill in my wallet, I put it in my hiding spot in my room and let it collect over time. At some point, I had over $200 in there, and used it on a vacation as 'fun' money."
"During my first year of living on my own, I've learned a few small ways to save money that actually work. Swap out any fancy/big coffee drinks for a small black coffee. It does the job for less money. Buy a big lunch so that you can have half of it now, and the other half for dinner or lunch tomorrow. Think of a trip you'd like to go on in the near future, or the type of apartment you want to live in next, and look up the price. Keep that price in mind and give yourself a breakdown plan for the next few months/year for how you can save for that. Even if you end up not taking the trip or moving into that apartment, you'll have a lot of money saved up for something else that you want."
"A good money-saving strategy for me has been transferring money from my checking to my savings each week after getting paid so that I am not tempted to spend it. I also am enrolled in Bank of America's 'Keep the Change' savings program. Each time I make a purchase using my debit card, it is rounded up to the nearest dollar amount, and that amount is transferred from my checking to my savings account. It's a small sacrifice that can one day make a big difference!"
"My strategy is simply to save $200 from each paycheck and put it directly into my savings. Don't even think twice, just put it away. Some pay periods, I put less, because utilities may be higher or I may have spent more money on some necessary clothes or shoes. But I do tend to put between $50-200 per pay check directly into my savings. I have not touched my savings in over two years except for one instance in 2016 when I desperately need a new, upgraded bed."
"I keep track of my expenses and have a budget that I easily calculated using an app called Daily Budget. For me, it is easier to keep track day-by-day rather than monthly, as a huge chunk of my expenses go to pay off my student loans. My money tip: Identify the activities that are costing you the most and try to reduce the costs by reducing the amount or substituting for cheaper options. For me, asking the following questions has helped me reduce my shopping habits: Do I need it? Am I going to use it more than once? Is it worth it?"
"I save money — or realistically, try to save money — by automatically putting a set amount of my paycheck into my savings account. Usually, depending on the month and my bills, I try to put at least 15 percent of my paycheck into savings, which I treat like a vault. When you dip into your savings more frequently, it becomes less of a savings account and more of a backup account — especially when you can transfer money directly from the app on your phone."
"My best strategy to save is to make a budget. Every pay period, I make sure to manually transfer a constant minimum into my savings and make sure I don't touch it — I manually do it so I keep track of what I'm saving, as well as keeping a close eye on my account. I pretend my savings doesn't exist and act as if I have no money, only paying for things that are absolutely necessary. Other tips — make sure that if you have a monthly gym membership or something else you never use, scrap it. I also make sure I never withdraw money from ATMs not affiliated with my bank, because I'm not about that unnecessary fee life."
"Work toward a goal. Save for something you really want and add an extra 10 percent to it. That way, you are working towards something."
Feeling inspired? I know I am, and learned a lot from the above savings tricks. Erin Lowry, Millennial finance expert and author of the upcoming book, BROKE MILLENNIAL: Stop Scraping By and Get Your Financial Life Together, inspired by the blog of the same name, shares her thoughts with Bustle. "Because saving $10 or $20 per paycheck sounds so insignificant, many people will give up before they even get started," she says. "They may wonder, why bother saving $10 a paycheck, when it would take five months to get to just a $100 (assuming you're paid bi-weekly)? But the point of saving even just a few bucks isn't about the amount but, rather, building the habit. It's much easier to increase your savings later on as you earn more and pay off debt than it is to try and jump start a habit and make a complete lifestyle shift. Plus, every little bit you can squirrel away eventually adds up."
So see? Every cent counts — literally. Whether you start using the above tips or think of some on your own, you'll soon see you can save more money than you'd ever imagined.
Check out the “Get Money” stream in the Bustle App for more tips and tricks on how to save and spend your money.