Saving money can be hard. Here are some clever strategies to help you save more.

Trick Yourself into Saving MORE with Stealth Savings

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Sometimes I think the saving habit is one of the hardest habits to develop.  But that savings account has saved my butt so many times, I just don’t understand how people function without one.  That’s one of the reasons I came up with this stealth savings strategy.

I think the trap people fall into is thinking that they don’t have “enough” money to develop a regular savings habit.  That’s kind of delusional thinking because the emergencies aren’t going to stop coming just because you don’t have the money on hand to deal with them. That emergency savings is critical to help you avoid credit card debt in situations where the car breaks down or the water heater goes out.  Which they absolutely will do at the worst possible moment!

I do a lot of debt-free coaching with people in my No BS Financial Freedom Framework and I’ll bet that 3 out of 4 people I work with either don’t have a savings account at all, or have one and don’t put anything it it.  That makes me crazy because I literally couldn’t sleep if I didn’t have a good cushion of money.  So, I share a lot of these methods with my clients, especially switching to cash.  That is very powerful.  Check it out to see if it might be helpful for you.

The No BS Financial Freedom Framework
Saving money can be hard. Here are some clever strategies to help you save more.

So when things go south, you are going to reach for the credit card, borrow from relatives, or heaven forbid, resort to the dreaded payday loan.  Those are all strategies that just dig you deeper in the hole. If Covid taught us nothing, it taught us that things can turn into a dumpster fire very quickly and without any warning! 

So, how to deal with that pesky problem with finding the money to fund your savings account.  The answer is you need to learn to fly under the radar with stealth savings – lots of tiny changes to generate extra savings.

Here are some easy stealth savings ideas for you:

Illegal Tender:

This was my Mom’s favorite strategy when building a savings account.  She would declare certain denominations of money as “Illegal Tender” – usually quarters, but sometimes just nickels or dimes.  Then she would sort the extra change out of her wallet every night and put it in a special jar.

It added up a lot faster than you would think and she would usually be able to deposit an extra $30-$50 per month to her savings account.

There are some banks that will do this for you automatically now. Every time you use your debit card, it rounds the transaction up to the nearest dollar amount and moves the change off to your savings account – sweet!

Spend a Little/Save a Little

I just heard of this recently, but I think it’s genius.  If you want something that isn’t in your budget, you can have it, if you are able to put the exact same amount in your savings account.  Say you want a $60 pair of shoes.  You can buy the shoes (with cash or a debit card), but only if you put $60 in savings!  But now those shoes will cost you $120 – how badly do you want them now??? Like I said, genius!

Couponing – Extreme or Otherwise:

It takes extra time and dedication, but you can save a ton of money with coupons.  The trick is to figure out how much money you actually saved and bank it.  Otherwise, it just slips off into the wild blue yonder and you never seem to benefit from it.

Pay Cash:

This one is bigger than you might think.  This is such a powerful strategy.  Paying with cash has a totally different feel than paying with plastic.  Here’s an article I wrote on why paying with cash hurts – and it SHOULD.  I guarantee if you switch to cash, you’ll spend LESS and be able to save MORE.  It’s just that feeling of when it’s gone, it’s GONE, where plastic just feels unlimited and gets out of control so quickly.

Brown Bagging:

If you aren’t already doing it, you can save money through brown bagging your lunches, or other types of food-related cutbacks.  For instance, meatless Mondays, breakfast for dinner, or cutting back on eating out.

This was a big help for me – I switched from eating in the company cafeteria at $5-$7 a day to bringing Lean Cuisines for $2-$3 a day. I saved money and lost 20 pounds in the bargain.  Again, the important part is to track your savings and funnel that money into the bank.

Garage Sales/Ebay/Craigslist:

If you are not having luck with any of these methods, its time to get more intense.  Start digging around your house for stuff you can sell for extra money.  I’ve done this for years and I’ve made thousands and cleared a lot of unwanted stuff out of my house.  It definitely is a lot of work, but it can be worth it.

Saving money can be hard. Trick yourself into saving more with stealth savings.

Extra work:

There’s a ton of ways you for building a savings plan by doing extra work.  It doesn’t always have to mean committing yourself to a second job.  You can occasionally babysit or tutor kids, give piano/guitar lessons, do hair, or clean houses, whatever floats your boat.

I do decluttering work for people when I have an extra evening and my husband does odd jobs and lawn mowing for people in the neighborhood.  It’s easy stuff and adds a few bucks here and there to our slush fund.

Direct Sales (party plan businesses):

This one comes with a warning.  Do NOT get into this if you have a shopping problem.  Voice of experience here!

It takes a lot of discipline to make this work properly and not be a liability to your budget.  However, if you’re smart and disciplined about it, you can make quite a bit of money in these businesses.

In the past, I’ve sold both Stampin’ Up! and Pampered Chef.  I didn’t make a fortune, but it’s a nice trickle of extra money, and I got a lot of stuff for free that I would have bought anyway.  Check out my post on Direct Sales Companies and how they can go well or poorly. 

The important thing is to get that money into the bank any way you can and once it’s there – forget about it and let it grow.  

What are your best ideas for stealth savings?

Here are some similar posts you might enjoy:

How to Make Money from Your Excessive Clutter

6 Kinds of Toxic Money Behaviors

10 Secrets of Women Who Always Have Money

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  1. {Kathy} Great suggestions! Saving money is a decision that happens way, way before any money comes into the door!

  2. Great round-up of savings methods, Adrian. Like Megan, I’m a fan of the auto-transfer. When I need to rein in my spending, I use the cash method. It’s very effective. I like your mom’s “illegal tender” strategy!

  3. My trick is to set up an automatic transfer at the beginning of the month when I get paid into my savings account. I never see that money, so I don’t miss it when it gets transferred. The amount transferred is relatively small, but every bit helps!

    I agree with you: my savings has saved my butt many times, so I like to keep it healthy.

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