Erik Larson writes about the job market, resume improvement, and career advice
Saving money is a two-fold process. First, of course, you have to find way to spend less money in order to have excess money to put in savings, but then you also need to find ways to sock that excess money away so you don't spend it on other things. Here are some great ways to cut spending to create a surplus in order to put away in savings - and some great ways of doing that!
1. Buy used, pay cash
Even if you pay the exact same price for two items, if you buy it on credit, you could end up spending double the price, depending on how long you take to pay it off. On the other hand, if you look online and find someone in your area selling the same item on a site like Craigslist or OfferUP, you can sometimes pay half the price of retail or less. Better yet, you can often find things you might need for free on Freecycle. Check to see if there is a local Freecycle group in your area.
2. Save money on food
Food is something we all need every day and over time the price tag for all that food adds up. Thankfully, the old days of clipping coupons to save money is a thing of the past. Today, apps like Ibotta and Checkout 51 can save you money on everything from grocery store purchases to alcohol to online purchases - without holding up the checkout line fishing for and scanning coupons. Just check the site to see which items offer rebates, do your shopping, take a picture of your receipt in the app and voilà - instant money!
If you want to save money in restaurants, there are also a number of great ways to do that as well. There are of course generally great deals from Groupon and Living Social, but you can also just browse restaurant prices to find the cheapest restaurants in your area or wherever you are traveling. Golden Corral prices, for instance, are always economical but change from area to area.
3. Small change adds up
For some people, saving money is a mental game. While debit cards and online banking make financial transactions a breeze, they can also make it harder to save money because the money is too accessible. Saving up cash, on the other hand, has many of the same drawbacks, not to mention it is easily stolen.
Saving up change, however, is an age old tried-and-true formula for building up a few hundred dollars of emergency equity. Change is heavy and bulky enough that it can't be quickly and easily pocketed by some ne'er-do-well, but it can be converted relatively easily into cash thanks to modern coin counting machines. When you do convert your change, however, go to your own bank if possible rather than a change counting machine in a grocery store that will charge you a fee or a percentage of the total.
Of course, in order to save change, you have to actually be spending cash, not just swiping your debit card everywhere. This is also an advantage, however. Studies have shown that people actually spend less money when they pay in cash than with a credit card. Cash is an actual real, tangible thing. You can touch it, hold it, feel it and understand it's exact value. Therefore you value it more and are less likely to spend it frivolously. Going back to point #1 - the more often you buy things in cash, the less likely you are to overspend.