I’ve written extensively about how to save money online—be it on groceries, home goods, travel and more. Saving—particularly savvy spending—is all about knowing how, and when, to spend your money online.
I’ll admit I was even excited #PrimeDay, Amazon’s much-lauded holiday that was supposed to be much like Black Friday, but in in the summer. As you probably noticed, for two years in a row, the internet exploded with posts about what Amazon was selling, but not always in a good way. Some compared it to the discount aisle at TJ Maxx, others called it the garage sale they never wanted.
What did I think? From a marketing standpoint, I was impressed—Amazon was able to cleverly sell off its unwanted an excess inventory and offer some decent deals on its own products, all at the same time.
But, as we rapidly approach the holiday season, I realized that Prime Day was also a great example of American’s tendency towards consumerism. Did we really need that pink feather hat or the GloBowl toilet night light? Even if they were a steal, do we even need to answer that question?
So, as I sat down to write this column, I thought a little bit about the financial advice I’ve compiled over the past years and decided to make some modifications to offer you our five tips for financial planning for the rest of 2016.
1. Round up. It may sound silly, but round every purchase you make via check up to the nearest dollar. Sure, your checking account won’t be exactly balanced, but you will find yourself with dozens of dollars in savings each week, and potentially hundreds of extra dollars by the end of the year. Banks like Wells Fargo and Bank of America even do this for you with select accounts.
2. Think Ahead. Remember long-term savings. When you’re completing healthcare open enrollment forms or evaluating your annual cost of living adjustment, consider putting any “extra” you’re making towards long-term savings like 401(k) plans, IRAs or even tax-sheltered benefits like health savings accounts. If you never see that extra money that (would) have been hitting your paycheck, you won’t miss it, and you certainly won’t spend it.
3. Say No. Sales are a great thing. In fact, I think we’ve become so attuned to our favorite stores offering deals (we’re looking at you, Old Navy) that we won’t buy anything at full price. Heck, even 30% off seems expensive when we’re used to 40 or 50% discounts. But do we really need that new sweater or that cute scarf? Probably not.
4. Pay Cash. This oldie but goodie works every time. Take out a certain amount of cash for household expenditures during the week. You’ll find yourself less likely to “splurge” if you have to watch each and every dollar come (literally) out of your wallet. We love our rewards credit cards, but sometimes seeing that big bill at the end of each month can feel daunting. Make an agreement that you’ll only use credit cards for certain types of purchases (like double points grocery deals, or anything over $100) and cash for everything else. Put unused funds each week in a “fun” fund, towards vacation or a new home purchase.
5. Know a Good Deal When You See One. Do your homework. Like me, you were probably underwhelmed by most #PrimeDay deals, but bargains are out there. When you see something you want, keep watch on the price. Holidays, like the coming Black Friday, are a great time for savings, but sales can spring up at any time. Watch prices at your favorite store or research to see if they offer a big annual or semi-annual event. If a bargain can be had, know when (and where) to shop for the best price and selection.
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net