A recent study by Bankrate indicates that nearly a quarter of Americans do not have an emergency fund. For many in this category, getting through an emergency expense will require a credit card or a loan from family. It’s not that these people don’t understand the importance of a rainy day fund. However, growing a savings account is much easier said than done. Between debt and household expenses, many simply don’t earn enough; and others don’t save because they have difficulties adjusting their lifestyle. However, saving money doesn’t have to be a chore, and it doesn’t necessarily imply a significant lifestyle change. If your savings account needs help, here are some strategies that might work for you.
Hang out on the weekdays or during lunch
Weekend nights are a popular time to go out with friends, but it’s also one of the most expensive times to be social. Many restaurants feature weekday or happy hour deals and discounts, allowing you to save without compromising your lifestyle. Rather than go out on a Saturday night and pay full price, you can get together with friends on a work night and save. If you decide to go out on the weekends, getting together with friends for lunch will be easier on the pocketbook, especially since restaurants tend to offer cheaper lunch prices. Both moves can significantly reduce how much you spend on entertainment, at which time you can deposit the savings into your bank account.
Get a cash rewards credit card
The more you use a cash back credit card, the more cash you earn. These credit cards pay between 1% and 5% cash back for just about every purchase. Use your card for shopping, groceries, gas and travel. Once you’ve accumulated enough to redeem a cash reward, request a check from your credit card company. Deposit this check into your savings account.
Automate your savings
Look into ways to automate your savings if you can’t seem to develop a good savings routine. Set up automatic deposits and schedule regular transfers from your checking to your savings account at certain intervals during the month, preferably a day or two after receiving a paycheck. Additionally, sign up for savings programs offered by your bank, perhaps a roundup program. For every transaction, your bank rounds up your purchase to the nearest dollar and deposits the difference into your savings account.
Stack up on restaurant coupons
Review your budget and determine how much you currently spend dining out each month. Going forward, resolve to spend half this amount and put the difference into your savings account. This doesn’t mean that you can’t ever enjoy meals outside the house. But for a cheaper night out, check online for restaurant coupons. Groupon, Living Social and Gilt often feature buy-one-get-one free coupons and other discounts. This way, you can enjoy a night on the town and save money at the same time.
Save your pay raises
After a pay raise, you might be tempted to shop, buy a car or move into a bigger house. However, there is no rule that says you have to “upgrade” your lifestyle after a raise. If you’re surviving on your previous salary, put any additional earnings into your savings account. For example, if your pay raise brings in an extra $300 a month, that’s an added yearly savings of $3,600.