3 Ways to Save Hundreds (or Even Thousands) of Dollars Without Thinking
Looking for simple ways to save more money that don't take a lot of work? Here are three ways to put more money in your pocket each month without having to dramatically change your behavior. (See also: 10 Things You Do to Save Money That End Up Costing You More)
Keep Paying Off Your Loan
Have you just finished paying off a debt, such as your car loan? If so, why not continue making the same monthly payments? The key this time around, however, is to make them to yourself!
This is an effective way to save because mentally, you've already gotten used to making the monthly loan payment for the past 48 months (or however long the term of your loan was). If you don't need to take out a new loan anytime soon, sending the monthly payment to an investment account should be painless.
How This Works
Let's say you've just finished paying off a $300-a-month, 48-month car loan. Your car's in good shape, and you expect it to last another seven years.
By continuing to pay yourself and investing the $300 each month in a mix of index funds that grow 5% each year, at the end of those seven years you'll have given yourself over $30,000. (If you'd like to see how I'm investing in index funds, and how you can as well, check out the Core Four Portfolio.)
Now, by the time you need a new one, you have more than enough to purchase a decent, reliable car. And best of all, you won't need to get into debt to buy it! (See also: Guide to Buying a Used Car Without Going Crazy)
Save Your Extra Expense Reimbursement Money
Do you drive a lot for work? If so, you probably get reimbursed a standard 56.5 cents per mile for business-related driving.
Depending on the car you drive, the amount you're reimbursed can be two to four times more than the cost of gas. Save this extra money, and it'll add up to a nice amount over time.
How This Works
Let's say your car gets 20 miles per gallon and has a 10-gallon tank. With the average cost of gasoline at $4 a gallon, this works out to a cost of 20 cents per mile to drive your car.
Let's say you drive 100 miles for work each month. With reimbursement, you'll get $56.50 back — and only $20 of that money would be needed to pay for your gas. (See also: The 5 Best Gas Rewards Credit Cards)
If you save the extra $36.50 each month, at the end of the year you'll have over $430. Then you can use this money to pay for maintenance on your car, so that it keeps running smoothly.
Save Your Extra Paychecks
Most of us are used to getting paid twice a month, every other Friday. If this describes you, then there are two months every year in which you'll get a third, extra paycheck. The actual months change each year.
Since our bills (phone, internet, utilities, rent, etc.) usually come on a monthly basis, we tend to plan our finances around this time frame as well. And during ten months out of the year, you get along just fine with two paychecks. (See also: 10 Monthly Bills You Can Slash)
So when the months come in which you get a third paycheck, treat it like a bonus. Then send to your savings or investment account.
How This Works
The key to taking advantage of this way to save is to prepare for the months with extra paychecks in advance. In 2013, August (this month!) is one of the months. And in 2014 it'll be January and May. So if your take-home pay is $1,500 each pay period, you'll get an extra $3,000 each year using this mental trick.