Friday, October 20, 2006

6 Ways I Scam Myself into Saving

I'm not a natural saver. I have trouble passing up sales, restaurants and manicures. But after a few reality checks bounced me on my designer-clad derriere, I started to get my act together.

It's a process, but I've developed a few tricks designed to increase my savings account.

1. Hide-don't-Seek: I literally hide money from myself. Therefore, doing laundry is like payday when I pull out twenties and fives from my pockets. I also have coins stashed away in little jars and drawers.

Bottom Line: If you don't see it, you can't spend it. This strategy works especially well for automatic payroll deductions, electronic transfers into savings accounts and 401k plan contributions.

2. Break the Bill: I use all of my big bills as much as possible. My purse is stuffed with lots of quarters and small bills.

Bottom Line: When I go shopping, I see all of that lose change and small bills and then think twice about buying anything.

3. The Break-the-Bank trick: Annoying banks and farflung, inconvenient credit unions are great for tucking away money. I especially love mean customer service reps, who treat me like fingerprints on a white wall.

I give them my money and then I'm too intimidated to go back for it.

Bottom line: It's great to save money at horrible institutions. The rates may be lousy and the service is poor. But my account grows because it's too much trouble to take the money out.

4. Duck-the-Flyer: How can I spend money if I avoid the weeky flyer of so-called savings? One week I saved over $30 at CVS and Walgreens on advertised specials. But I would have saved $50 if I had just stayed home. How many bottles of two-for-one hair goo do I really need?

Bottom Line: The best sales are the ones I don't see.

5. Cart-the-Check Around or Keep the Check in the Mail: I don't cash birthday checks or invoice payment checks right away. I hold the paper in my jewelry box or purse and then one day, I deposit the assorted checks into my savings account.

I know I'm losing interest on the money while the checks sit at the bottom of my purse. But if it's not liquid, it doesn't count. Lost interest vs reckless spending?

I'll take the uncashed check.

And my favorite trick:

Eat gourmet ice cream.

After spluring on high-end gourmet ice cream at my favorite sorbet shop on Lincoln Road ( The Frieze), I feel so decadent, so rich. Stuffed and chilled, I feel so over-indulged and I spend lots less.

Bottom Line: By fattening my waist, I fatten my bank account.


Trent said...

I find that putting my money in a savings account that I can't easily access works well for the "out of sight, out of mind" trick. An ordinary savings account doesn't work for me if I can get to it easily with my ATM card. I put mine into ING Direct, which I can't access at an ATM or with a check card. Plus, there it earns some interest for me.

Anonymous said...

I do the opposite of your Break the Bill trick. I find that if I have lots of small change in my purse, I'll squander it on small things.

But I'm with you on the Good Ice Cream rule - you don't eat it as often because it's not as accessible, but it's so worth it!