University of Illinois Extension

Money-Saving Ideas that Work

Susan Taylor, Consumer and Family Economics Educator

As a parent to a grandchild, it may seem impossible to save money. You may think, "There's no way I can save any money!" But, most people find they can save when they really put their minds to it. Try these ideas.

Pay Yourself First

Make your savings bill a part of your spending plan, just like rent or utility bills. When you pay your other bills, pay your savings bill by depositing the money in your savings account. Make this the first bill you pay each month.

Work Together as a Family

Family members can discuss ways to save money to reach family goals. For example, all members can save coupons and choose to eat out less to save for a vacation. Or, the family might set an amount each person will save to help with a family goal.

Save Windfall Income

This theory is simple. You got along without the unexpected bonus, tax refund, overtime pay or gift. So why not keep on that way and save the extra money?

Have a Nothing Week

Once in a while, have a week when you try not to spend any extra money - don't go to the movies, don't go out to eat, don't go bowling. Save the money you would have spent.

Use Payroll Deductions

Have your employer deposit your savings directly from your paycheck into a credit union or bank account. If you never see it, you might not miss it.

Save Coupon Money

Put aside the amount you save by using coupons at the grocery store or drugstore. If you save $2 a week using grocery coupons, put the savings - the money you did not spend - in your savings account.

Pay Installments to Yourself

Once you pay off an installment loan (and if other loans are not overdue), continue to make "payments" to your savings account or investment.

Collect Loose Change

At the end of every week, empty your pockets and wallet, and put the change in a jar. Every other week or once a month, deposit the saved change into your savings account.

Break a Habit

Every time you don't have a pop or coffee at coffee break, save the money you didn't spend. We spend small amounts daily without thinking. For instance, one coffee or soda a day at $1/day adds up to $365 in a year. Cut out one pack of cigarettes a day at $3.50, and you'll save about $1,277 in a year!

Be A Comparison Shopper

Compare prices and quality at three stores before making a purchase.

Pay Your Credit Card Bills in Full Each Month

Families find they spend more than $1,000 a year on credit card interest. You can save 15 to 20 percent on your purchases by avoiding a finance charge on your credit cards each month. Make it a rule that if you can't pay the bill at the end of the month, you can't afford the item. Try to limit yourself to one credit card.

Observe the Two-Week Rule

If you want something, wait two weeks to get it. This will help you become an impulse saver, rather than an impulse buyer.

Do Not Waste

Turn off the TV when no one is watching. Turn down the heat at night. And, turn off the air conditioning if no one will be home. Conserving energy also saves money.

Saving is the process of telling your money where to go, rather than asking where it went. Unless you adjust your spending and saving habits now, you may be sacrificing your grandchildren's future or lowering your standard of living in retirement.