When most people think of saving money, the first thing that comes to mind is that it’s either too “difficult” or impossible given that they don’t have much to save.
Many mistakenly believe that saving what little they have left over, after all their fixed expenses are taken care of, can’t possibly be worth anything. What most people usually do instead, like I used to do, is to try and limit their spending by hunting down sales or going without and saving whenever they can until something unexpected happens and then they have to start all over again.
But this is where most people go at this all wrong; Even saving just a little bit, consistently, is far better and much simpler than trying to reduce the amount you spend.
This is what I learned after losing all I had during the financial recession of 2008 and climbing out of the brink of bankruptcy soon thereafter. You should never wait to save until you’re ready because trouble will come whether you’re ready for it or not.
Why Waiting To Save Won’t Save You Money
Before I got really serious about saving, I always felt insecure about it.
Even after I got married and both our incomes made things pretty comfortable, I still didn’t think we had “enough” to save.
Instead, I focused mostly on spending less and bargain hunting, rather than thinking about researching how and what I can save.
It was only after my family and I got hit with an unexpected financial crisis that I was forced to learn how to save AND spend less and still get more out of life than I ever dreamed possible.
Spending And Saving Go Hand In Hand
By learning how to save while spending less, I was not only able to save $10,000 in three years, but pay off over $140,000 in credit card debt.
I was able to do this on significantly slimmer cash flow than before the financial crash, and without clipping coupons every Sunday, or by skimping on family vacations and other such “luxuries”.
Once I started saving, I found that growing my savings account was much more fun than spending what I didn’t have.
Saving money allowed me to get control of my money and opened up financial opportunities I didn’t know I had.
So if you’re reluctant about saving, like I was, here are 6 simple strategies below that will allow you to save while you spend.
Hope they help you on the path to saving now rather than later–when it may be too late.
5 Simple Strategies to Save $10,000 in Three Years
The Facts About Wealth
According to recent statistics, about 57 million Americans admitted to having a zero emergency fund should they lose their jobs in 2017.
What’s even more surprising is that about 69% of us don’t even have enough saved for a $1,000 emergency to fix a car, pay for unexpected medical expenses, or get a broken water heater repaired.
If this describes you, then take it from someone who’s experienced what it’s like to have an emergency but no money to rely on when you most needed it. Don’t go there.
Use these strategies instead to get started saving now before those emergencies come your way because they will.
Saving Strategy #1: Get Cheaper Utility
For most homeowners, utility bills, like the cost for electricity, can be a huge yet necessary expense.
This was the case for us, until a few years back, I realized that our electrical service provider and suppliers were different.
This meant that even though I had to pay my provider, Con Ed, whatever rates they set, since they were the monopoly, I could still negotiate with the 45 or so different energy suppliers in my area.
As it turns out, I was able to take advantage of this competition and get a lower rate that was 30% below what I’d been paying previously with my other supplier.
This gave me about $45 savings every month for the next 3 years or $1,620 that I shift over from my expense account to my savings account each month.
How’s that for just 30 minutes of my time?
Saving Strategy #2: Get Rebates
Sometimes claiming rebate offers can seem like more of a hassle than they’re worth—especially when those rebates are only worth $3-$5.
Yet, what I’ve often found was that even these little amounts, saved over time, can make it worth my while—especially if those rebates come from reputable sources like the government funded energy conservation incentives or from manufacturers like GE or Whirlpool.
By being selective and by researching what rebates I sign up for, I’ve been able to get back $30 or more in rebates every month for almost 3 years!
What made these rebates even better is that while I was getting money back, these new upgrades ended up saving me an extra 2-3 % on my monthly electric bill because they were so much more energy efficient.
Sure, in the whole scheme of things, $5-$30 a month doesn’t seem like much.
But even these small amounts, calculated over a period of 3 years is worth a $1,000 in savings!
As Ben Franklin once said:
“If you would be wealthy, think of saving as well as getting.”
So always find ways to save money while you spend money.
The odds are 1 in 13,983,816 that you’ll win the lottery, but to get a rebate offer is almost 100% guaranteed.
Wouldn’t it be better to receive $5 from a rebate spending that $5 on a lotto ticket?
Saving Strategy #3: Get Cheaper Insurance
Are you familiar with that Geico commercial that claimed:
“15 minutes can save you up to 15% or more on car insurance”?
This holds true not only for car insurance with Geico, but this holds true for every other type of insurance in my experience.
Every time I spent the time to shop around for better rates on everything from home owner’s insurance to life insurance, I’ve been able to save at least 15% or more.
Power? What Power?
The truth is many of us end up paying 15% or higher in premiums for the exact same benefits over the course of 3 years.
The premiums change, but people don’t change–their insurance that is. Why is that?
I think we do this because we think we have no power to negotiate with these giants.
But the simple truth is, the real power is in your hands and not in the insurance company’s.
You see, most insurance carriers, know that it costs more money to find a new customer than it is to keep a paying customer. In fact, studies show that it can cost businesses up to five to 25 times more to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing one.
So knowing that, ask your insurance companies for a better rate. As they say, there’s no harm in asking… but it’s your loss if you don’t.
On average, just by asking, I’ve saved an average of $1,200 a year (i.e. $100 lower premiums every month).
If I do this every year for the next three years, this can be a savings of $3,600!
In terms of an hours per dollars scenario, that calculates to be about $900 an hour!
This is an example of what the money guru’s mean when they say:
“Work smarter, not harder.”
Saving Strategy #4: Perform An Audit
If you’ve ever undergone a tax audit, like I have multiple times (Oh, the joys of running a small business!), you’ll know that what’s a necessary expense to you may not be to another–i.e. Uncle Sam.
However, if you were to review your expenses in the same objective manner in your own home, I’m willing to bet that much of what you think are necessary may not be.
Cut the Cord
Take cable T.V., for instance.
In this day of live stream, wi-fi and Smart T.V.’s, it’s redundant for anyone to spend $70 or more to have cable anymore.
In fact, when our family finally “cut the cord” sort of speak on both our cable TV and our cable phone line, I was able to recoup $70/month in savings every month. This meant that I’d be saving $2,520 and not spending it on something that didn’t do us any good anyway.
Of course, when we did this, we were initially sort of scared. Especially with the phone, since we thought in the case of an emergency, it’s always better to have both our cell phones and a cable phone rather than just one (especially for our youngest who doesn’t yet own a cell phone).
Yet, during the last 3 years since we’ve let go of these options, we’ve not missed them one bit.
In fact, saying “no” to cable saved us $2,520 and gave us back more quality time to spend with family and friends.
This last benefit was, as they say, priceless.
Saving Strategy #5: Collect Loose Change
This is probably the most underrated and yet most time effective way to save money, ever.
I realize that these days, not many people use cash to pay for things. Instead, everything is charged on credit or debit cards, thereby making loose change almost obsolete.
However, when you pay with cash for everything not only do you spend less money, as research shows, but you can also save all that loose change that ends up in your pockets.
In my family, when we started to collect all this “loose change” into a separate savings can, we were able to save over $25 at the end of every month.
This meant that saving this amount monthly over a period of 3 years, we were able to save $900 worth of change that we wouldn’t have recouped otherwise!
The best part about this change collection system is that it hardly takes any additional time or effort at all!
Even a child could do it as my 9 year old son who found over $5 worth of loose change under our sofas will tell you.
You just need to be intentional about saving and see how your small efforts can yield huge dividends.
Saving Strategy #6: Sell Your Used Items
If you think that your used items are not worth much to you or anyone else, think again.
In just 3 years, by selling everything from used books to used electronic gadgets, clothing, toys and furniture, I was able to save up close to $3,500.
There’s a huge market out there for used goods—especially with the surge of innovative on-line resale retailers like Thredup and Poshmark and off-line stores like Goodwill industries which reportedly brought in over $5 billion in sales in 2014 alone. Yes, you read that correctly. I said billions with a “b”.
The more exciting news about this growing used retail market, however, is that sites like Ebay, Amazon or even Poshmark have made the selling and shipping process easier than ever. All you have to do is take a photo (5 minutes) and write out a description (10 minutes) and upload it onto their site.
Save a Little, Make A Lot
Even if you make just $8.00 a month doing this (Believe me, $8.00 is a very conservative estimate), and do this consistently for 3 years, you can make close to $288!
There have even been times where I made more than $300 in just one weekend by selling my used items on Craigslist.
I’m telling you, making this minimal amount of money by selling what you don’t use sure beats working for that same amount of money to buy what you need!
Take Action And Save
So here’s a quick recap of all that I’ve been able to save over the last 3 years by applying the 6 Savings Strategies I’ve listed above.
As you can see, none of these strategies produced a significant amount of savings in and of themselves. The sum total, however, not only gave us a huge boost for our emergency savings but for our financial peace as well.
And, before you start to think that I’m the exception think again.
If anything I was, for the first 35 years, your typical spender and not a saver. I had no concept of saving thanks to the generous support of my immigrant Korean parents who acted as my safety net all the way through college, post graduate school right up until marriage.
Unfortunately, their extreme generosity and sacrifice resulted in giving me a warped sense about saving and wealth creation; one that’s not so uncommon with what many other 1.5 generation Korean-Americans peers are still doing still and instilling in their own children.
We think that to have more money, we need to work harder to make more money. Or get more degrees. Or attain higher social status.
However, by learning and applying these few simple savings strategies I’ve outlined above, I’m certain that anyone, with a little time and effort, can create peace and wealth in their homes-one that won’t go away whatever comes your way.
Perhaps you’ll be able to save enough to buy a car outright in cash (like we just did recently!), or even to fund that kitchen remodel you’ve been dreaming about (which I’m saving up for right now).
A Little Goes a Long Way
Bestselling author of The Automatic Millionaire, David Bach says:
“Putting aside as little as a few dollars a day for your future rather than spending it on little purchases such as lattes, bottled water…and so on, can really make a difference between accumulating wealth and living paycheck to paycheck.”
In other words, when you set your intentions towards saving rather than spending, the money will follow, and then your actions, and then your wealth.
Creating financial peace is critical to creating the kind of home you love for the ones you love. So start saving today.
You’ll never be sorry you saved. But you will be sorry if you didn’t.
If you want more strategies to save, here’s a list of 25 Smart Ways To Save Money