It’s January, the month when our savings are dry and our credit cards are teetering close to their limit, thanks to some trigger-happy spending over the holidays. It’s also the month when we vow to be better with our cash for the next 365 days and start questioning how to save money fast to make up for our brazen over-spending.
If this sounds like you, we’ve got just the expert advice to keep your thrifty attitude in check for all of 2015. We chatted with women who are so good at managing money, that they made careers out of it–accountants, executives, analysts and traders–to gather their top tips for saving money fast. These are women who deal with dollar signs every single day and they’ve got the tricks to improve your financial future.
1. Set up an automatic savings transfer.
“Determine if your employer allows your salary to be deposited into multiple bank accounts. If so, take advantage of the opportunity to direct a given percentage (say 10% every month) of your salary to your savings account before the cash is available (and all-too-easy to spend!) in your checking/everyday account. This also ensures you will have to consciously transfer funds out of your savings account if they are absolutely required, and forces you to rationalize whether it’s really worth spending those hard-earned dollars.” —Anne, Trading Finance Executive
2. Do a balance transfer.
“If you’re struggling to pay off multiple credit cards, do a balance transfer of all the credit cards you have onto one card. This will mean that you can usually get an interest free period–sometimes up to six months!”–Katherine, Analyst.
3. Download “Mint” to your smartphone.
“There are heaps of cool apps for creating budgets and tracking your spending which are really helpful. Mint is a personal favorite–it breaks down your expenses into categories and allows you to set a goal for each category, for example you might budget $300 on going out for dinner each month. If you go over your limit, the app will email you with advice on how to reign in your spending. It also notifies you every time a bill is coming up, tracks how much is owing on your credit card and helps keep your credit rating strong while avoiding nasty late payment fees.” –Kate, Finance Executive
4. Consolidate your 401(k).
“It’s never too early to start planning for your retirement, so make sure a percentage of every pay check is automatically being transferred to your 401(k). You’ll get great tax breaks and won’t be able to touch the cash until you’re approaching retirement. If you’ve moved jobs a few times, make sure all of your 401(k) is consolidated in the same place, so it’s easier to manage your retirement assets with the continued potential for tax-deferred growth. You’ll be able to make better choices about your finances if you have a complete picture of your savings and assets.”–Katherine, Analyst.
5. Shop around for a better checking or savings account.
“If you’ve been using the same saving account forever, it might be time to look around for a better rate and lower fees. Make sure your money is earning the most interest possible in your savings account by researching different options with your current bank,and exploring new banks.” —Anne, Trading Finance Executive
6. Make small changes.
“It might not sound like much, but making small changes to your spending habits will add up overtime and get you closer to your financial goals. Try packing your lunch on Mondays and Wednesdays, make your coffee in the morning instead of buying one to take away, connect to office and home wifi to avoid excess data bills, shop around for the cheapest gym memberships, or try cooking at home more.” –Grace, Accountant.
7. Never pay more than your share.
When you and your friends are planning a holiday, trip, or event, it’s easy to end up with more than your fair share of the bill if you’re the one organizing accommodation, flights, activities, and dinners. To avoid this, try using an app like Splitwise, which creates a private group for the people involved and lets everyone input the expenses they incur each day. At the end of the trip you can see who has spent more on group expenses and easily settle the bill using Venmo or PayPal.”–Kate, Finance Executive.
8. Every time you get a raise, funnel it into savings straight away.
“The thing with money management is you don’t miss what you don’t see. So every time you get a raise or bonus, put more than 50 percent into your savings account before you have a chance to think about spending it.” —Grace, Accountant.
9. Sell your old stuff.
“I have a rule that every time I want to splurge on something expensive, I first try to get rid of something old that I don’t wear or use anymore. We all have pieces hanging in our wardrobe that we don’t wear or books we have no plans of re-reading, so use eBay or groups on Facebook to trade them in for cash before considering any new additions. It’s easy money.”–Anne, Trading Finance Executive
10. Consider how many hours it would take you to earn the money to pay for your shopping item.
“It’s easy to tell someone, ‘stop buying things you don’t need,’ but it’s harder to show them how to curb their spending. A technique I use to reign in my spending is this: Consider an item in what is costs you in time, rather than dollars, before you add it to your shopping cart. So if you earn $25 per hour and want a pair of shoes that costs $250, you will have to ask yourself if they’re really worth 10 hours spent bound to your desk at work.”—-Kate, Finance Executive.