6 Random money saving techniques

By glblguy

Random traffic lights
Photo by: Andy Welsh

This article is part of an ongoing series called Money Saving Monday. Each Monday, I share tips and techniques you can use to start saving money.

Instead of sharing one focused tip with you as I normally do, I’m going to share 6 completely random things that I do (and you can too) to save money and reduce overall expenses.

Save your spare change

My wife and I keep a large mason jar up in our cupboard. Everyday when I get home, I place my keys on the key hook and then empty my pocket change or $1 bills into the mason jar. This jar serves two purposes: 1) To provide any small cash needs for our children’s lunch money, or for that $5 they need for some activity they forget to tell us about and 2) For general savings. Once the jar becomes reasonably full, we either hand count it or take it to one of the money counting machines at our local grocery store.

Track your expenses

We track everything we purchase and/or spend money on. I was using a custom spreadsheet for this, but last month switched to You Need a Budget (YNAB) Pro to both track our expenses and manage our budget. By tracking your expenses, you’ll see where your money is going allows you to identify areas where you are overspending and focus on cutting back in those areas.

Ever looked at your checking account and thought to yourself: “Where in the world did that money go?” or “How in the world did we spend that much?” If you don’t write down each expense and place it in a category, keeping track of where your money goes is difficult.

Before I started doing this I was spending on average $40-$50 a month on coffee and $100 on lunch. I now make my own coffee at home and pack my lunch saving myself $150 or more each month.

Open an ING Savings Account

Before I started reading blogs, I had never even heard of ING Direct. Now I have a checking account and 4 savings accounts. I initially joined for 2 reasons: 1) High interest rate 2) Sign-up bonus.

A year or so ago, ING was paying more than 5% in interest. Due to the economy, it’s now dropped down to 3%, still higher than the average local bank. ING offer’s a $25 sign-up bonus when you deposit $250.00. Even if you don’t plan to use ING longterm, receiving a free $25 makes it worth it. Here’s the best part, you can then refer your friends and get $10 each time they sign-up.

ING has a really nice web-interface and a few features that keep me as a customer:

  • Sub-Accounts – Once you have established an ING Saving account, it’s simple to create an ING Sub-account. I keep sub-accounts for saving for our property taxes, insurance, Christmas fund, and for holding the money I earn here on Gather Little by Little. You can create as many sub-accounts as you want.
  • Automation – ING’s website makes setting up automatic transfers easy. Automating your savings, in my opinion, is the one single thing that will make a huge difference in how much you save. Doing this with ING accounts takes just few simple clicks. They also offer frequent sweepstakes for those that set-up automatic transfers. Currently, they have a $60,000 sweepstakes going on. To enter, all you have to do is set-up and automatic transfer for $100.00 or more.
  • Security – Their login process not only asks you for your user-id, but for a PIN number as well. Entering the PIN is done in such a way to minimize the risk of key loggers capturing your password and they additionally show an image that you select to verify your identity. It’s obvious to me they’ve put in a great deal of time and effort around security and that makes me feel comfortable keeping my money there.

Start using MyPoints

MyPoints is a way to save money by clicking on emails, filling out surveys, playing games, and shopping. MyPoints is an online company that gives you points each time you click on an email or complete one of their surveys. You can also receive additional points by purchasing the items in the emails, or by shopping through the MyPoints website. These points can then be redeemed for a huge list of things, including gift certificates. For example, my wife and I ate out at Olive Garden using our MyPoints points.

Implement the 24 hour rule

When making a large purchase, it’s far too easy to get caught up in the emotions of having the item and as a result make a bad decisions. For any large purchase like a car, TV, new furniture, laptop, etc. implement a 24 hour rule. Instead of buying the item right away, go home and wait 24 hours to see how you feel about it. Chances are you’ll talk yourself out it, or maybe decide to purchase something a little less expensive.

If after 24 hours you’re still okay making the purchase, than go for it.

Make sure you use your debit card as a credit card

I didn’t realize until recently that using your debit card as a debit card didn’t earn you points on the awards program. I’m guessing a number of others don’t know this as well, or worse maybe don’t even know their bank offers a rewards program. My primary checking account is with Wachovia, and they offer a visa rewards program where you get visa rewards points each time you make a purchase. You can them redeem these points for gift items and gift cards. You only get the points though when you use your debit card as a credit card and sign for the purchase.

Tip: I’ve found many card readers will automatically detect your card as a debit card now, and by default prompt you for the PIN number. Ask the cashier to tell you how to run it as a credit so you can get your points. Not sure if your bank has a points program? Call them and find out, you might be missing out on free money.� Most banks offer points programs.

What tips and/or tricks to you have for saving money? Use any of the one’s I’ve mentioned above? How has your experience been?

15 Responses (including trackbacks) to “6 Random money saving techniques”

  1. KMunoz Says:

    Until I read this, I didn’t realize my main debit card has a rewards program (it’s Citibank). Looks like I have a few thousand points! Thanks for the tip.

  2. Laura Says:

    Automating my ING accounts has been wonderful. We don’t have to worry as much and we’re earning some money on them.

  3. Kyle Says:

    Love that 24 hour rule. That alone has kept me from making some really stupid and unafforadable purchases. Nice post.

  4. Fixemup Terry Says:

    I second Kyle’s comment. I’ll impulse shop at the grocery store a little, but mostly I’m a follower of the 24 hour rule. Now if only I could get my kids on board . . .

  5. MoneyBlogga Says:

    Being new to frugalness, I would say to keep a pricebook to find the cheapest grocery store in town. That one thing alone is going to save me upwards of $700 a month now.

  6. rachel @ master your card Says:

    I always think that having a coin jar isn’t a good way of saving. If the money is in the bank it can earn you interest whereas it will notbe doing it in a jar. My money making tip is to carry as little cash as possible and then you are not only earning more interest but you are less likely to buy things as you do not have the money handy.

  7. KMunoz Says:

    I disagree about the jar. That is a good way to keep change and small bills on hand that you are likely to misplace or leave in your pockets, etc. You aren’t going to run to the bank to deposit 50 cents each time you have some change in your wallet. It’s not meant for long-term saving, but just to collect money before you turn it into cold, hard cash.

  8. Mimi Says:

    I was wondering how you were able to set up sub-accounts within ING? I tried looking on the website but had no luck.

  9. glblguy Says:

    Hi Mimi, this article over at ChristianPF tells you how to do it:


  10. glblguy Says:

    @rachel – I agree with KMunoz, it’s just a temporary holding place for small amounts both for spare cash and to gain enough to justify driving to the bank.

  11. Damsel Says:

    Great tips!! We’ve done the money jar thing, too, though not recently. We take ours to our credit union where we have an account because the ones at our grocery store charge us a fee. The machine at the CU doesn’t because we have an account. You might check to see if your bank will count the change for free (if the other machine charges you or limits you to only spending the money at that store)!