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Ways to Save Money for a Goal

June 8, 2024 12 min

Whether you’re building your emergency fund, saving for a vacation or interested in buying a house, there’s more than one way to save – no matter your income.

Even saving a small amount every week or month can make a huge difference! Here, we’ve rounded up 15 ways to save money. Not every idea will work for you, but even stacking three or four strategies can help you come up with the funds you need.

Review outstanding debt

One of the easiest ways to save money is to reduce your monthly expenses. If you have debt, refinancing to a lower interest rate will often result in a lower monthly payment. And if you’re struggling to reach your savings goal, you can direct the difference between the old payment and the new payment toward that objective.

Also, if you’re paying extra on your loans, it may be better to stop doing that so you can allocate more money toward your goal. This is especially true if the interest rate on your loans is relatively low or similar to today’s rates for the specific type of loan. If that’s the case, then think about focusing on building your savings rather than funneling more money to pay down your debt.

However, if you have high interest debt, like credit cards, you should focus on paying that off first before saving for your goal. Those interest charges can tank your budget, so it’s best to eliminate that debt ASAP.

So if you are saving and receiving 5% interest but paying debt at 10%, it makes more sense to pay down debt.

Tips to save money

1. Save every month. If you’re trying to save for a major goal, you should save for it regularly. Make contributions for your goal part of your monthly budget. Examine your expenses and decide how much you can afford to set aside for your goal. You may want or need to cut in other areas to free up money for your new goal.

2. Open a round-up account. These accounts are offered by many institutions – including Patelco. With a round-up account, your purchases are automatically rounded up to the nearest dollar. The difference is put into a savings account. For example, if you use your debit card to buy $25.60 worth of gas, the purchase is rounded up to $26 and $0.40 goes into your savings account. All Patelco Checking accounts let you do this – and the Plus checking account will even give you a bonus 10% match to help you save more money. This is an easy way to save without thinking about it.

3. Open a high-yield savings account. High-yield savings accounts, like our Money Market account, provide a higher interest rate than regular savings accounts. This will speed up your savings, so it takes less time to save for your goal. The more money you have in your savings account, the more it will grow from compound interest.

4. Eat at home more often. When it comes to saving money, one of the best things you can do is to eat at home as much as possible. Bring your lunch to work instead of grabbing lunch with coworkers. Keep easy frozen meals on hand instead of getting take-out. Use meal prepping strategies to make cooking dinner easier. Then put the savings toward your goal.

5. Find a side hustle. If you’re not making enough from your day job for extra savings, it’s time to increase your income. You can do this by starting a side hustle. Or, if you want more structure, you can get a temporary, part-time job, such as seasonal work at a store during the holidays. Direct all the money you earn from this job toward your goal.

6. Sell items. If you’re like most people, you have tons of unwanted items in your home just collecting dust. Go through each room, top–to–bottom, and find what you don’t need. Then, determine the best way to sell those items. It may take a few weeks to sell everything, depending on whether you want money quickly or want to maximize your profits.

7. Set up automatic transfers. Setting up automatic transfers from your checking account into your savings account can help you save without having to do it manually every month. Patelco Online™ makes this easy. Just log in and select Transfer & Pay and then Transfer or Pay. Set up a transfer to happen every week or every month. If you rely on yourself to do it manually, you’ll likely skip a transfer so you can spend that money.

8. Allocate windfalls toward your goal. If you’re like most people, every once in a while, you get a windfall – a pile of money you weren’t expecting. It might be a birthday check from Nana, a tax refund or a work bonus. Take a percentage of your windfall – as much as you can stomach – and put it toward your goal. You can still use part of the windfall to treat yourself, but make sure it’s only a small portion.

9. Give up an “extra” expense. Most of us pay for things we don’t really need. And if you haven’t reviewed your spending habits lately, you might be surprised at what you find. Go through your most recent bank and credit card statements and pick one item you’re willing to live without until you’ve reached your goal. Maybe it’s your daily latte, your streaming video subscription, or your quarterly beauty box. Put the money that you would normally spend on that item in your savings account. You don’t have to give it up forever – just until you’ve met your savings goal. And maybe you’ll realize that you’d rather have that money instead permanently.

10. Open a savings account. If possible, open a new savings account that doesn’t have a debit card attached to it. Then, have a set amount deposited each month from your paycheck. Almost every company allows direct deposits to be split, so you could have funds to cover your regular expenses put into your checking account and the rest put into your emergency fund.

It may sound obvious but keeping your savings in a savings account – rather than a checking account – can help you reach your goal faster. Savings accounts also pay interest, so you’ll reach your goal faster than if you keep the money in a checking account.

Some people even find it helpful to keep their goal amount in its own savings account. This can help you avoid accidentally spending that money because you forgot that it’s not just part of your emergency fund.

11. Use the 30-day rule. If you tend to get the shopping bug, institute a 30-day rule. When you see a non-essential item you want to buy, make yourself wait 30 days before purchasing. Doing this will help you decide if you actually want the item – or can live without it. If you forget about it before the 30 days are up, then you know it was an impulse purchase and not something that you actually want.

12. Get an accountability partner. When you’re trying to save for something special, it can feel isolating to cut back on spending. That’s why it helps to have an accountability partner with a similar goal. You can check in regularly and keep each other on track. You can text your accountability buddy, for example, when you’re feeling the urge to break your budget.

13. Set mini goals. If your goal will take a long time to reach, consider setting mini goals along the way with small rewards. For example, if you’re saving for a home down payment, you could give yourself a small treat every time you save $5,000. Doing this will keep you more motivated to stay the course, even when it feels like it’s taking forever.

14. Buy used items instead of new. The next time you want to buy something – whether a new TV for the living room or a new jacket for work – look for a used item instead of buying new. You can save money buying used and might even find a better quality item that will last longer. Sometimes you can even find the item for free by looking at sites like Freecycle or the Buy Nothing project. Buying used will help you funnel more money toward your goal.

15. Look for leaks. Another easy way to save money is to review where you are spending money on a recurring basis and cut expenses that aren’t providing enough value. For example, are you getting enough value from all of the streaming channels you’ve subscribed to? Perhaps unsubscribe from those that you don’t watch every week. Instead, subscribe when you are ready to binge watch that series that you love. Also look at any subscriptions that renew on an annual basis. Quite often, those will renew at a higher monthly rate.

Implement multiple strategies

The best way to reach a savings goal? Use two or more of the strategies listed above. If you can combine a few different ideas at once, you can hit your goal faster.

Also, don’t be afraid to rotate some of the ideas listed above so you don’t get burnt out. Learning how to save money is a lifelong process. Think of it as a marathon, not a sprint. And who knows? Maybe some of the things you implement as a temporary measure will become permanent changes.


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