DR 130: The #1 Way to Save Money Is . . .

The many ways to save money are limited only by our imagination. That’s why I asked the readers of the Dough Roller Newsletter their #1 money saving tip. In past weeks they have given some great replies to other questions:

And they didn’t disappoint this week.  Listen to the podcast of their great tips, or read them below.

Automate

By far the most popular tip was to automate your savings:

Rich:  The easiest way I have found to save money regularly is to automatically transfer a specific amount every month to another account at the bank.

Jeff:  Make it automatic …

Lysa:  My tip, automate a designated amount (or percentage) of money into saving off the top of your pay. Easier if your salaried, not sure about how it would work for other pay schedules or commissions.

Jordan:  My #1 savings tip is automatic transfers to savings on paid days. It’s like paying myself first (even though technically the government takes their share in taxes first).

Dharmesh:  Tip: Automated transfer of funds to your 401k.

Matthew:  I guess I’d say automating your savings, but we only do that with retirement savings at this point. Probably after that, planning/budgeting and reviewing it monthly.

Michael:  Automatic allotment from check to savings account

Chris:  Automatic withdrawal from Checking to my Savings account.

Jeffrey:  Automate your savings. You will save more than when you depend on willpower.  If you mean a frugal tip, then research your large purchases.”

Ben:  Set a goal and then set up a separate savings account at another online bank.  Auto withdraw the money to that account.

Brian:  My #1 money saving tip is to pay yourself 1st using automatic withdrawals/investing.

Pay Yourself First

Paying yourself first, which is closely linked to automation, was the second most popular tip:

Stephanie: Make savings a priority and take it “off the top” (ie: having it come right out of your paycheck–direct deposit). If you never see the money it is much easier to not feel it’s “loss”. Think of it as paying yourself first!

Erik: Pay yourself first.  – By moving money into savings and investments through regular, automated withdrawals, I don’t spend what’s not in my checking account.

Joyce:  It is simple to say, not so simple to do — set up your budget so you live below your means and pay yourself first

Jeff: I’m not sure if I’m late to respond to the question of the week, but here goes. I would say that the best tip for saving money is to pay yourself first. Have it direct deposited into a separate account. Do this and you get used to living without the money. Before you know it, you feel like you can start to add more.

Everything Else

John:  My #1 “unique” money saving tip is for buying running shoes (which should be replaced every 300 – 500 miles):  You can get big discounts by buying the older model/style of a running shoe after the manufacturer releases the new model/style, typically in the late summer or early fall.  I purchase my favorite Adidas shoes online in December or January for $60-$70, a big discount from the $115-$130 regular price.  But be careful to not wait too long or your shoe size might be sold out.

Donna:  Making all meals at home

Bill:  Cook your own meals

Brian: Please keep the questions coming. Great stuff. I’m not sure this is my number one savings tip, but it’s the only one I can think of at the moment. I think you have perhaps mentioned this one in a past podcast. Pay your insurance premium whether life, auto, or other in full with one payment instead of monthly or semiannual payments (if allowed by your insurance company). Some companies charge a small processing fee (usually a couple of dollars in my experience) for each transactional payment. Paying the premium in full will save you a few dollars. Another tip we use in saving for this once a year bill is to divide the total premium by 12 and setup an automatic transfer to a separate savings account (insurance fund). Thus transferring 1/12 of the premium to this savings account each month. When it’s time to pay the bill, we transfer the money from our insurance fund to our checking account.

Dianna:  My #1 money saving tip is that I sign up for every app and email for coupons from stores.  I ONLY shop when I have a 20% or more off coupon.  I also regularly compare cell phones, TV, and Internet providers prices and I change whenever it benefits me.  I save hundreds a month using this strategy.

Kim:  Don’t take your hubby grocery shopping!

Jen: My number one tip is to ask vendors and credit card issuers, if you carry a balance, to help you save money. That is, ask vendors (e.g., TV, ISP, etc.) to help you lower your cost and call credit card companies to lower your interest rate if you carry a balance.

Jonathan: If you are going to use an item more than a few times, take the time to purchase a quality item that may cost a little more, but will not have to be replaced as often.

Meredith:  My money-saving tip is to switch to a no-contract phone carrier. I’m a huge fan of Ting. They offer pay-for-what-you-use pricing and have excellent customer support. In many cases you can bring your own device to Ting. Before Ting, I had two basic flip phones that cost around $65/month. I upgraded to smartphones (purchased used on eBay) and now my monthly bill for two phones averages $33/month.

Sally:  Start saving early no matter how much per month.

Shelley: My best money saving tip is to just stay out of stores and shopping sites on the web. No temptation, no buying. .

Claus: Contributing the maximum amount allowable into your HSA account each year, and don’t withdraw from it.

Erik: My #1 saving tip which I recently learned about that maybe a few of your listeners haven’t heard about are health flexible spending accounts. I am a fairly financially savvy Boglehead but boy did I miss out on this one. It has been offered through my employer (UNC Chapel Hill) each year since I started in 2008, and only this year did I learn about these. It is basically free money. With an infant daughter, I will EASILY spend the $2500 max this year, and with my tax bracket of ~25% marginal, I will be saving hundreds of dollars by in essence clicking a checkbox.

I’m embarrassed to admit that I used to think this was for “old people” with lots of health problems! I learned about these on a recent Boglehead’s forum on the topic of saving.

Yasha:

  1. Don’t spend money you don’t have.
  2. Negotiate your cable, internet, and utilities rates.  Generally you can get those companies to give you a better rate than they advertise.
  3. Stop buying things just because they are on sale.  Instead scope out the best deals for the items you do need.
  4. Make saving money a priority instead having be left overs.

Patrick:  That’s a tough question, everyone has their own incentives.  I’m a big fan of simplicity, so I use Elizabeth Warren’s 50/30/20 rule; while I’m not a huge fan of her politics, I’m always happy to see a politician who pushes financial responsibility.
50% to your NEED.
30% to your WANT.
20% to your $AVING.

When I council people, I take this step a little further.

IF possible, put 20% into your 401k/IRA before the money even hits your account, boom that goal is complete.
IF you have Consumer debt, cut back on the WANT portion, and pay that stuff off…. it’s fair, since debt is accumulated when the WANT portion gets too big.

NEXT… be honest with yourself, separate Needs from Wants.  It’s ok to have a couple Wants, but think about it before you spend.  Then I usually explain opportunity cost to them.

Sachin:  Wait a week to think over and buy that gadget or shoes or upgrade you need.

Kaitlynn: Forecasting my net worth makes me feel like I can rise above my debt.

Lauren:

  1.  Work from home!!  Lower gas bills, no wear and tear on your car, no wasted time sitting in traffic, lower car insurance, no dry cleaning bills, less laundry to do — it’s a win win all the way around! (The only down side is you never see anyone!)
  2. Pay yourself first — automatically, and never even touch it!

If you have other money saving tips, share your favorites in the comments below.

Topics: PodcastSmart Spending

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