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Tricks for Saving Money

saving money while gas is cheap

For years, we had the hardest time saving money. Although there was money coming in, it made the briefest of stops in our checking account and was out the door before we could even register a bump in the account balance. We used debt, busy lifestyles, and the Joneses as excuses and figured it was normal to be living paycheck to paycheck. After deciding to dig in and finally get out of debt, we also learned a few tricks for saving money along the way.

Gas is On Sale, Save Up!

Perhaps one of the best tricks for saving money right now is based on oil and gas prices being lower than they were two decades ago. Unfortunately, most people will end up spending any money saved at the pump. I have no problem with taking a cheap road trip to cash in on savings, but don’t waste extra dollars on eating out or even worse, buying a brand new gas guzzler just because you can.

If I have learned anything during the years since obtaining a driver’s license, it’s that gas prices fluctuate. Everyone loves cheap gas. Then, once prices rise, out come the articles and testimonials about how high gas prices are cutting into family expenses and causing people to be poor.

There is a better way. If you live in an area where driving is a necessity, be smart about the cost of fuel. Always pretend that gas is the same price. In our area, the average fuel price is around $3 per gallon. Right now, it’s about half that.

As an example, if we pretend gas is still $3, and have a $20 fill up at current prices. We should transfer $20 into savings right away.

No one can say this is unaffordable because that would mean no filling up the tank once prices rise. I don’t know anyone who sits on the sidelines when gas prices are high. If you can afford to drive when fuel prices are at their peak, you can certainly afford to save now.

Save Money While Heat Costs Less

This works the same way for propane and natural gas used in home heating. We participate in an even pay program where our monthly payment is the same, determined by our annual propane costs from the previous year divided by 12. I recently received a message that our credit balance is over $1,200, meaning our monthly drafts will be on hold until summer.

Does this mean I should go out and spend those extra dollars on something nice for myself? Nope, that amount gets transferred to savings. By pretending we still have a bill, we can build up a nice stash of cash for when prices rise or an emergency pops up.

Tricks for Saving Money

There are a million other ways to trick yourself into saving money each month. Pretend to spend while pocketing the savings. If you’ve never tracked spending, it’s time to check where your money is going so you can find ways to save. A free account with Personal Capital takes about a half hour to set up and can shed light on different areas where it’s possible to cut back. Some ideas include:

  • Brown bag lunch instead of eating out.
  • Do your own hair color or nails instead of visiting the salon.
  • Pay off a vehicle and pretend you still have a car payment.
  • Lower internet or cell phone bills.
  • Cut cable and switch to streaming.
  • Pretend your salary is the same after getting a raise or bonus.
  • Do online shopping through Ebates and deposit the cash back savings.
  • Quit smoking/drinking/buying lottery tickets. You might be amazed an how much money gets wasted on vices each month!

Put Savings Out of Reach

Now that you’ve discovered all this money available for savings, actually save it. Put it out of reach. Transfer savings out of your normal bill pay account so you won’t buy a session of retail therapy after a hard day.

In my experience, having a savings account at a different bank has worked wonders. If we need the money, it can be transferred in a couple of days. However, taking the steps to do so is just enough work to make us think long and hard about whether this is a good reason to spend our savings.

Although saving is only one part of financial stability, it’s a great first step for those looking to pay off debt of build an emergency fund. Cheap gas prices won’t last forever, so take advantage of this savings opportunity while you can.

How have you tricked yourself into saving money? Have you been able to save more money since gas has been cheap?

 

 

 


About Kim Parr

Kim Parr is a private practice optometrist, freelance writer, and personal financial blogger. You can follow her journey to 20/20 financial vision at Eyes on the Dollar.

17 comments

  1. One way I’ve found that helps to save a little bit is by rounding up when I write expenses in the budget. If I spend $9.15 at the grocery store I just put it in the budget as $10 even then doing that for every purchase can add up at the end of the month and right before payday whatever exra money I’ve saved in the checking account I put into savings.

  2. There are so many ways to save money if you’re just willing to look for the opportunities. One of our favorite things to do is call providers to ask for discounts. We’ll usually do that 1-2x/per year and it usually helps us reduce bills – we also do a number of the things in your post to save money.

  3. I wish I could say we are taking advantage of low as prices. But honestly, we don’t drive enough to notice a difference.

  4. I may be one of the few people around who is sad to see low gas prices. With driving an electric car we don’t quite see the bang for the buck like we did when gas was $3.50 a gallon. 🙁

  5. I like that, especially SAVING the money you save. So often, when some price goes down (like gas) we use the excess to increase something else like going out to eat or buying stuff we don’t actually need. Putting the excess in a savings or retirement account, or increasing your debt payments, is a much better use of the extra money.

    Of course, sometimes the savings just goes to counteract other expenses. A lot of our most recent economizing has merely made up for an increase in our insurance costs.

  6. I’m trying to create an “economic environment of scarcity” with this new job, meaning living off the old budget that I used to have as a freelancer and saving the rest. It doesn’t feel like a hardship because in the back of my mind I know there is plenty of money sitting around now if I need it.

  7. I brown bag my lunch every day. My coworkers couldn’t believe I had worked at our building for over a year and had yet to purchase my lunch. I am pretty proud of that streak!

  8. I love your advice about putting your savings out of reach. Money in another bank is really god idea, that could prevent anybody from compulsive buying what is one of key enemies of your savings. Nice post thanks for sharing ideas.

  9. The number one trick that I make my clients use for saving money is to set up auto drafts from their checking accounts to their savings accounts. It naturally helps them not only save but spend less, and if they ever have to move money from the savings to the checking, it’s an eye opening move for them that makes them change what they are doing.

  10. I’ve used the idea to put a savings account out of reach. We opened a savings account that my wife was the primary account holder, therefore i couldn’t add it to my online portal – and we didn’t set up online tools for my wife. So, we couldn’t do anything online with the account, we had to physically go to the bank to withdraw any money.

  11. That is a trick I do. Event though I got recently a raise, I still pretend to have the same salary. So the increase I have goes directly to savings and I think there’s no need to use it as my needs or expenses are the same.

  12. I like the idea of saving the money you were you paying on a car loan, even after the loan is paid off. You have already adjusted your budget to living without that money. I very rarely buy anything new. Not because I can’t, but because shopping and spending is over rated. I would rather have money in the bank and peace of mind!

  13. The best trick i always create my clients utilize regarding lowering costs can be to put together auto drafts off their examining reports thus to their personal savings reports. It naturally helps these not only spend less yet devote less, and when these people at any time need to shift cash on the personal savings for the examining, it’s an eye starting shift for the children that produces these modify what they may be doing.

  14. Yes watching the spend with Personal Capital helps a lot.
    I really like the way you treat discounted items as regular price and save the differnce, or consider transferring the money into another bank account as spending.
    Instead of cable, I find antenna has worked pretty well for me. For those who can’t miss ESPN’s live sporting events, streaming service like slingtve would be a good and inexpensive alternative.

  15. I like that gas trick…never thought about sacking the savings at the pump into a savings account (or throwing it towards student loans, for example)!

  16. Cool tips Kim, I like all of them. Saving dollars when the opportunity presents itself is key to building up cash. Just like people with big incomes, they spend like crazy because they think it will last forever and then reality hits when they lose that income.

  17. All good information, and all true. Especially the lottery and the smoking stuff. You quickly spend alot of cash on it and you get nothing in return. What is also important is to shop at the right stores for the right products. Dont buy all your feed at the same supermarket but just check carefully wich places have the best prices for specific stuff. It doesnt seem much but if you do this everyday you save 10s to 100s of dollars monthly just on the location you buy it.

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