Thus far I've put aside more than $2,000. It's not a fortune, but plenty of it is money that might have otherwise dribbled away.
I envision an entire home, but message board reader "Tiredboomer" focused on just a kitchen. She had a cabinet store design the culinary center of her dreams, and she kept a picture of the plan by her desk "as inspiration to try to put as much money as possible in my kitchen account."
It took a couple of years, but now she's cooking in style -- and she paid cash.
It wouldn't hurt to rubber-band a photo or advertisement of your goal to your credit card or debit card either. When you want to stop for takeout instead of going home to heat up leftovers, you'll see the picture of that new baby who will one day need to go to college.
Rounding up extra cash
An old savings tactic is to round up the amounts on checks -- for example, recording an $11.09 check or debit card purchase as a $12 transaction. At the end of the month, you add up the discrepancies and transfer that amount into savings.
Some financial institutions will do the transferring for you and maybe provide some matching funds. Bank of America's Keep the Change program and Capital One's SmartCents program are two examples. Of course, you'll want to read the fine print for things such as minimum balance requirements.
Another time-honored technique is to bank the money you save by using manufacturer coupons each week. The Unlock Your Wealth Foundation, in Scottsdale, Ariz., suggests doing the same with money saved through supermarket loyalty-card savings.
Some people swear by the "dollar bill challenge," setting aside all singles that come into their hands. If that's too rich for your blood, save only your change. You'd be surprised how quickly it adds up. In one year, I amassed $34.54 just by picking up money other folks had dropped. (I donated it to a food bank, though.)
It's a bill, so pay it
Wouldn't it be great if there were savings collectors every bit as persistent as the ones who go after debts?
The fact is, savings is indeed a bill to be paid.
The easiest way to pay bills is the easiest way to save, too: automatically. Direct deposit from your paycheck whisks money away before you even see it. You quickly learn to live on what's left.
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