Technology has created some handy apps and websites, especially regarding saving money. Building up your savings account does not involve magic, but it requires some discipline. The technology apps that add value make saving easier if you run short on self-discipline. Hey, it happens to the best of us. The following five savings tips are based on classic saving techniques, but each has a helpful twist due to the wonders of technology. No more putting cash into separate envelopes each month or struggling to understand digital assets.
Try out one of the many available personal banking and budgeting apps, and you can set the app to instantly and painlessly import every financial transaction you make. Add the details on each account, including credit cards, investment accounts, savings and checking, and any other accounts for which you have transactions, like Venmo or Paypal.
The app categorizes your spending transactions automatically. You can review the categories to make any adjustments or corrections. Within minutes, you can compare your spending each week or month, by category, for the whole year, with no spreadsheets in sight.
Visibility to your spending like this saves you money because you will start to see that late fees cost you $500 for the year or that your Starbucks weekly tab is enough to cover your monthly car insurance payment. This visibility alone can inspire you to find smarter ways to spend and put the rest into savings.
Pay Yourself First
This is classic savings advice. Before you pay any other bills, pay yourself first by depositing to a savings account. For many people, this is easier said than done, especially if you are in a period of living paycheck to paycheck.
You can set up an auto transfer at your bank or credit union to make regular transfers to a no fee business savings. By automating the savings deduction, you won’t even notice the money missing from your checking account.
You can also use a savings apps that sweeps “extra change” out of your bank account by rounding down your bank balance every few days so that you don’t even feel a difference. Over time, you will see your app’s account savings grow faster than you ever thought possible, with no discipline or pain required.
Set Bills to Autopay
You are probably no stranger to late fees if you travel a lot, have a crazy busy schedule, or have an allergy to paying bills. Imagine how much you could save each month if your bills were always paid on time. Using autopay gives you fewer tasks to focus on each month, which can relieve stress and anxiety. Sometimes, you can schedule the date you want the auto-payment deducted so you can time payments to your direct-deposit paycheck receipt.
You can also save money by setting autopay to make a credit card payment right when it becomes due at the beginning of the grace period. The difference between paying your card on the first day it’s due versus paying it on the final day of the grace period, before it’s late, can save you money. Credit card interest is usually calculated daily, and the earlier you make the payment each month, the lower balance the interest is applied to, cutting your monthly interest charges and saving you money.
Set Up an Online Budget
Budgeting doesn’t feel like fun, but when you have a budget and find yourself saying no to unnecessary spending, it feels good and becomes self-reinforcing. When you use an app that automatically imports all of your transactions, setting up a budget becomes easy because it’s based on what happened last week, month, or year.
Each month, you can challenge yourself to beat the previous month’s spending and put that money into savings, even if just a little bit. Keeping an actual budget also inspires people to look at where their money’s going, such as all those monthly subscription payments for things you forget to use but keep having deducted from your bank account. The more often you review your budget, the more you will save because finding new areas to pare down can become addicting.
Use Online Cash-Back Sites
If you’re shopping online anyway, you might as well do a few extra clicks and log onto a cashback website first. These sites add to your savings by paying you cash for shopping online at any of their partner sites. You can also add an extension to your internet browser that will remind you to “turn on” the cashback feature every time you visit a website partner that offers cashback.
The cashback money stays in your cashback account until you request a payout, although some cashback sites pay on a set schedule. You could add money to your savings account for every online purchase if you shop online a lot. An internet search for “best cashback sites” will return dozens of options.
If you spend $1,000 each month online for goods and services, business inventory, etc., and get 4% cash back on all those purchases, that’s almost $500 of free money a year for Christmas spending. And cashback sites do not interfere with any other cashback you receive from your credit cards or discounts and coupons you may use while shopping online. Bonus!!
To wrap up, technology offers several ways to save money, and the best part is that it requires very little motivation, discipline, or willpower. If you try some of these methods, you may find that technology has made saving money easier than you ever imagined.