Thursday, March 15, 2007

Save Money Automatically

There are many ways you can save money without expending a lot of effort. Most investment accounts offer a way to automatically have your checking account debited by a certain amount on a regular basis. Many of these accounts can be opened for as little as a few hundred dollars. If you work for a company that offers an employee investment program, most of the work is already done for you - and employer matching programs can't be beat! If your budget is constrained and you're struggling under a lot of debt, your first goal should be to pay down your debt rather than worrying about saving money; the interest avoidance you'll reap by doing this will almost always beat the best return you can hope for your money in most traditional forms of investment (with at least one exception being the employer matching investments.) Can you tell I like employer matching investments?

If you pay cash for a lot of daily expenses, you can save a surprising amount of unexpected cash that you can use to create a little extra buffer for things like holidays and out of the ordinary expenses. Just by saving and not immediately spending the leftover change you have each day, you can end up with hundreds of dollars in change within one year - easily converted to cash at your local bank (and even some supermarkets.) Some banks offer the electronic equivalent of this plan by rounding up all your checking account debits up to the nearest dollar and then depositing the difference into a savings account - a great idea!

Another way to save money automatically every month is to do a review of all your recurring expenses and cut out the excess. Every time I do this I find at least twenty or thirty dollars I can squeeze out of something with virtually no pain at all (besides the pain of simply sitting down and reviewing everything.) Extra cell phone charges, unwatched television channels, and optional subscriptions of various types are prime targets for this exercise.

I'm sure you can think of many other automatic ways to save money. The main benefit of doing this automatically is it takes most of the work out of saving money. And with all upside and virtually no downside, it's the best way to save.