1. Saving Change in Virtual Piggy Banks or Auto Saving Deductions
Managing cash is rare nowadays. It’s usually immediately tucked away in banks via direct deposit or regular deposits. In turn, we resort to using our debit/ credit cards for purchases with little thought to our savings. Gone are the days of taking that used change and dumping it in a piggy bank.
No need to fret because banking technology is beginning to accommodate our changing world. Bank of America has a program called Keep the Change, where it automatically rounds up your purchase to the next dollar. Let’s say you purchase a cup of yogurt for $0.70 on your BoA debit card. You will be charged $1.00 with the $0.30 change going into your savings. For the first three months Bank of America even matches your virtual change deposits, and after this period it matches 5% per year – up to a limit of up to $250 per year. It’s automatic and painless… unless you don’t manage your account balance and overdraft. That would be a problem.
Banks can automatically allocate a portion of your deposits to your savings account if you so desire. This keeps the money out of your immediate disposal. You are forced to pay yourself the minute you receive your funds. If you consider this option, call in or visit your bank to see just how much they can accommodate your saving allocations. Most even offer a sub-saving category in which you can save for specific purposes. If you are saving for a home, you can create a sub-saving category and dedicate a portion of your savings funds to it. Nifty, right?
2. Education Matching Accounts
If you have recently attained student debt or have kids, an easy way to add to the debt/education savings is through a “Upromise Account”. Membership is free and it will allow you to effortlessly store away savings by making ordinary purchases. You’ll have to due a little due diligence and make sure the retailer that you’re purchasing from is participating. Only a portion of online retailers participate in the program. Currently more than 550 companies participate including McDonald’s, eBay, Barnes & Noble, JC Penney and Office Depot. After you buy from a participating merchant, you then receive 1- 25% (depending on the purchase) of the money. The money goes directly into a 529 account.
3. Using Bing Cashback & FatWallet & Dealsea for Cashback Rewards
The following sites can be used to find discounts, cashback, and deals on purchases. The sites routinely partner with or feature great deals from various big retailers. Hit them up for some excellent rewards:
4. Going Green
Going green in your own home can save you a lot of money. By simply replacing your existing light bulbs with energy-saving compact florescent bulbs, you can save a surprising amount of money in the long run. These bulbs use up to 75% less energy than a normal bulb. In addition, they are said to last anywhere from 5-10 times longer than the more traditional bulb. They may be a little more expensive, but they’re worth the price.
Other simple tips include turning the lights off when you leave a room and purchasing a thermostat with a timer that will automatically adjust your house’s temperature when you are sleeping or at work. For more tips, check out our 7 Ways to Save by Going Green post.
5. Give To Charity
We’ve discussed donations before. Giving things away that you don’t use can be a great way to obtain a tax deduction, thus benefiting from the savings. Every year consider try to peruse through your attic or your basement and give away old toys or clothes to a registered and qualified local or national charity such as the Salvation Army. It’s what the IRS calls a charitable donation, and donating something you no longer need or want is much better than simply tossing it in the trash.
Keep note of your documentation. Always take a picture of the things you donate in case you are asked to provide documentation. In addition always obtain a receipt from the charity itself in order to support the deduction on your tax return. If you are giving for the sake of the deduction, it is important to make certain that the charity you are donating to is legitimate and that you will receive a deduction for your donation – before you actually donate anything.
Partial info courtesy of Investopedia.
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