Finding Money to Save When the Money’s All Gone

by Andy Hough

Just when you think you’re clear to keep the $50… $100… $200 contribution to your savings account intact, another bill pops up. Or perhaps an overdraft fee squeaks through, due to the fact that you and your spouse aren’t on the same sheet of music in regard to the family finances. Overcoming those situations are a big part of reconciling your accounts and keeping an up-to-date budget plan. What do you do when there’s no money left to save at the end of the month? Perhaps it’s time to look at ways to realign the things you spend money on – and possibly come to find that there is a little bit left over, if you play your cards right.

Impulse Shopping and Self Indulgences

Cutting out unnecessary expenditures can help save a bundle over the course of a month. Whether you enjoy having a massage, getting your nails done, or playing 18-holes of golf every Sunday morning, the fact is that the “things” we spend money on selfishly could equate to thousands saved for retirement, or even to pay off credit card debt. Those trips to the corner Barista for an afternoon pick-me-up, or lunching outside the office with co-workers can add up – so perhaps taking the time to reevaluate and cut back can help keep your finances in order. It doesn’t have to be a “forever” thing… maybe you just cut back to bi-weekly manicures and work-week lunches once a month.

The Insurance Conundrum

If you’re carrying a low insurance deductible (anything less than $1,000) then you’re missing a vital area in which funds could be reallocated and placed into savings. The general population has come to understand: insurance is meant to cover large-scale accidents or emergencies. Replacing windshields and dented fenders by making an insurance claim has become a thing of the past, because the claim is generally close to the same amount as a low-end deductible. Raising your deductible to the $1,000 – $2,000 range can equate to hundreds each year in savings – especially if you’re a good driver who hasn’t seen the need to make a claim throughout the past several years.

Pimp My Ride

The experts say that driving your car for an additional 3 to 5 years after paying off the loan is one of the best ways to save money. Why? Taking that $350 per month from your former car payment and socking it away into a savings account – or a Roth IRA, if you qualify – can put you in a much better place financially than trading in the old vehicle and taking on an even larger car payment than you had before. Your previous $350 car payment turns into an annual contribution of $4,200 – or a whopping $12,600 in three years or $21,000 if you can drive your vehicle for a five year period. I don’t know about you, but imagining a $21,500 nest egg to put toward your golden years, either in savings or a Roth IRA is plenty of motivation for me to avoid another car payment!

Make Your Move

Although most people feel like they’d rather go bigger than downsize when it comes to the size of their home, some considerations should be explored when you’re looking for ways to save more money. If you live in a prestigious neighborhood and are sending the kids to private school, yet finding yourself without enough to make ends meet each month, it could be time to look at a more reasonably priced neighborhood with a strong public school system. If you already live in suburbia and can’t envision going any smaller square-footage wise, consider the option of moving into a reasonably priced bedroom community, or even pricing a unit in a similarly sized multi-family housing neighborhood instead of maintaining a home which requires more money (and time) than you have available.

Another way to save money is by using credit card balance transfers to transfer your high interest debt to lower rate cards.

The facts are plain to see: getting out of debt, saving for retirement and meeting budget milestones each month are only part of the battle. Discovering additional ways to save more money out of your regular paycheck can take your personal finances to the next level, and provide for a more comfortable future.

Are there ways you’ve found to save money by cutting out small expenses – only to come to find that you didn’t miss them nearly as much as you though you would? Share your experiences with us!

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