Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Five Super Simple Ways To Stash Some Extra Cash

Below are five simple ways that my husband and I have learned to save and stash cash that actually results in hundreds of hidden dollars being saved every year. Then, we are able to strategically (and painlessly) use those extra dollars for specific purposes at specific times throughout the year. This has resulted in HUGE savings along the way!

1. Learn to Budget Using a Cash-Only Envelope System - 

By using Dave Ramsey's envelope system we're learning (have been learning for a very long time) to curb spending and save money. When I first started working (part-time three-and-a-half-years ago) I asked for help in setting up a budget. While definitely far from perfect, we have made great strides in learning to adjust and overcome. We leave enough money in the checking account to pay bills and the rest is divided up into envelopes to be used for gas, groceries, and other day-to-day living expenses.

2. Save and Roll All Loose Change - 

This is something that we've done since our children were small (and using the cash-only system produces a LOT of loose change...which is GREAT!!!) But, when the children were small, we'd save our loose change all year long, roll it, and turn it in at Christmastime. Between that and our 'override' checking account system (more about that in a minute) Christmas money was being stashed throughout the year and when it came time to buy all we had to do was take it to the bank and turn it into bills. We still do the same thing now, but, instead of Christmas we use our rolled change to pay for weekend getaways and mini vacations. 

3. Use the 'Override' System in Your Checking Account - 

This is one that drives some people absolutely crazy when I tell them about it, but it's something that we've done since the early days of having a checking account as a couple and it has worked for and benefited us in multiple ways over the years. I don't know why I call it the 'override' system, but that's what I've always called it and I'm not changing it now. LOL! 

What I do is simple. When making a deposit, I write down the actual amount of the deposit in the DEPOSIT, CREDIT (+) column (for example - $353.76), but in the running total column on the far right, I round it DOWN to the nearest whole dollar (using the example above, I would write down $353.00) and that is the total that I go by. In reality, there is a difference of 76 cents in the account that is not showing up in the total that I'm seeing on a day-to-day basis. 

Likewise, when I  write a check or pay a bill or make a payment for something using automatic withdrawal, I write the actual amount spent in the PAYMENT, FEE, WITHDRAWAL (-) column. For example, say whatever I purchased or paid for using my checking account or debit card totaled $24.01...that's what I would write in the (-) column. But, then, in the running total column I round the that amount UP to $25.00. In doing so, I just hid 99 cents from myself in that checking account. 

It all sounds crazy I know, but it's a simple method of hiding money from ourselves and at the end of the year we are usually sitting on an extra $300.00 to $500.00 that we didn't know we had.

I mean, we do know we have it...obviously...because every month when I balance the checkbook I know exactly how much is in the 'override' at that point, but, you know what I'm saying...we know it's there, but we don't acknowledge it being there until we decide to use it for something specific. This method has come in handy over the years to be used for Christmas, in an emergency, to pay towards credit card debt, or to be given away to someone in need. It's a great way to build a hidden savings account a few cents at a time.

4. Take Advantage of Store-Instituted Savings Programs - 
For example, Walmart's Savings Catcher -

I can't say that Walmart, in reality, makes our lives better, but I do save a lot of money at Walmart every year by taking advantage of their Savings Catcher program.

In a nutshell, what the Savings Catcher does (after making your account and going to the trouble of adding your receipt information in each time you shop) is check your receipt against all the other store ads within a so-many-square-mile radius of the store you purchased from, and, if there are any items on your receipt that you could have been purchased cheaper somewhere else, they give you the difference. I guess you could call it electronic ad-matching at its finest (or not). 

Anyway, I save up all my Saving Catcher dollars until I have a fair amount, then I have it transferred to my Bluebird card (this is the ONLY thing that I use my Bluebird card for) and then decide how to spend it. Last year we saved up $100.00 and gave it away as a gift and, just yesterday, I used my savings to purchase my entire $72.51 Walmart grocery shopping trip for FREE.

So...it really does pay (for us, anyway) to participate in this. 

5.  Take Advantage of Store-Instituted Point Programs - For example, Pete's gas station's Kickback card -

I really enjoy my Kickback card! Even though we, occasionally, have to settle for something else, we really don't like running any gas other than Conoco or Phillip's 66 through our vehicles. Those are the ones that our vehicles perform best on and that we get the best gas mileage with. So, we were super excited when our local Pete's chain of gas stations started the Kickback program! 

What happens with it is, after enrolling in the program and by sliding your Kickback card each time you spend money at Pete's (gas, drinks, food, whatever), you receive points. Each point equals 1 cent. You can't redeem the points FOR cash, but you can spend the points LIKE cash. For us, this results in one to two full tanks of gas for FREE each year!

Also, Kickback keeps track of fountain drinks purchased. Buy 9 and the 10th one is always free. 

Well, folks, these are a few of the ways that we've learned to stash some extra cash over the years in our home. When you add them altogether, these have added up to some substantial savings! 

Are there ways that you and your family have learned to stash some extra cash? If so, I'd love to hear your ideas in return!

Until next time...

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Happy Homemaking Monday - August 28, 2017

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