Creative Money Saving Methods that Actually Work

man holding and fanning cash

You know you need to save more money, but are struggling to actually do it. 

Maybe you think of saving money as more of a chore that you have to do, instead of wanting to do it.

You might just think conventional methods are too boring, and find yourself unable to stick with a plan.

No one said saving money can’t be fun!

It’s time to think outside the box.

Challenge yourself, or turn money saving into a game with these creative ideas!

Give Me Five!

This one is easy. Every time you get a $5 bill, stash it away someplace safe.

You can do this anytime you go shopping. Say you go see a movie, and it costs you $12. Hand the cashier a $20 bill, then store the $5 bill you receive as change in your Give Me Five jar.

To maximize your savings, you can even ask to be paid specifically with $5 bills.

If you did a chore or service for someone and charged $20 for it, ask them to pay you with a $10 bill and two $5 bills instead so you can save those.

This method doesn’t work so well if you don’t normally keep cash on you. Studies show that you are less likely to spend money when using cash on hand, as opposed to swiping a debit or credit card.

To really take advantage of the Give Me Five saving method, combine it with the Envelope budgeting system. 

Learn more about the “Cash Only” or “Envelope” budgeting method here.

Of course, you can also do this with any dollar amount. It doesn’t have to be $5 bills. You can choose to use $1 or $10 bills, or even change like quarters. Whatever you feel most comfortable with.

Set a time frame for saving, such as 6 months or a year, and you’ll find you have a nice stash of cash saved up at the end!

The 52 Week Challenge

Sometimes we need a good old challenge to motivate us and kick start our money saving journey.

The 52 Week Challenge is a great way to ease yourself into it, then be surprised at how quickly it starts adding up.

For each week of the year, you save a specific dollar amount, then the next week add that same dollar amount to save.

For example, if you save $1 on week one, then week two you would save $1 + $1, or $2 total. Week three you would save $1 + $1+ $1, and so on for all 52 weeks of the year.

Starting out with just $1 dollar, you’ll have saved $1,378 by the end of the year! Not too shabby!

If you can afford to start with $5 on week one, but the end of the year you’ll have a whopping $6,745 saved up!

You can also do this in the reverse order. Saving money towards the end of the year can be the most difficult time, so instead of starting week one with $1, start with $52 and work your way backwards each week. 52, 51, 50, 49, 48, etc.

The Bad Habits Bank Method

Save money and reward yourself for kicking your bad habits at the same time! It’s a win-win!

Think of this like having a swear jar. You remember those? Every time you say a swear word, you put money in a “swear jar” for punishment.

It definitely makes you think twice about swearing, but you can do the same thing for all kinds of habits.

Try setting a limit on things you do each week, and if you go over that limit, it’s time to pay your jar. 

Maybe you tell yourself you’ll only eat out once a week. If you eat out twice, pay your jar. Worst case scenario is you’ll force yourself to save money for the future by acting on your “bad habit”, and if you don’t act on it, then you’ll save money by not eating out.

Another idea would be to limit doing laundry to once a week. If you do laundry more than once, you’ll still accumulate savings in your bad habit jar, and if you only do laundry once, then you’ll save money on your water bill.

No matter which choice you make, you’re still saving money.

What ideas can you think of? How creative can you get?

The Round-Up Method

A common way people have used to save money is to put your loose change in a jar. With a lot of transactions now being done digitally, it’s not as effective anymore.

But there is a digital solution! Virtual change!

Rather than using physical coins, The Round-Up Method has you “rounding up” the purchases you make on your debt card to the next dollar, then that difference goes into a savings account.

Some of the bigger banks already offer this feature, so you may want to ask if yours does.

If your bank doesn’t offer this, you can use an app like Acorns to round-up your purchases. The nice thing about Acorns is that you’ll not only automate your savings, but that savings goes into a portfolio of exchange-traded funds, meaning you can gain additional interest on top of your savings!

The Guilty Conscience Method

The accountability factor is something most people miss when it comes to budgeting and money saving practices.

Sometimes all we need a little nudge or reminder, or that small voice inside your head saying you probably shouldn’t spend money on whatever it is you have your eyes on.

Take a sticky note, an index card, or a piece of paper. Write in big letters something along the lines of “Do I Really Need This?” or “Can I Afford This?” or “Don’t Spend This!” It can be anything that grabs your attention. 

Keep it in your wallet, tape it to the outside of your wallet, or wrap it around your debit or credit card. 

Make sure it’s somewhere visible that you can see before you go ahead and make a purchase.

That little reminder can be enough to change your mind, and you’ll be glad you chose to save that money when you see the balance in your bank account increase.

Kakeibo

I can see the confused look on your face now saying Ka-what-o?

Kakeibo is a Japanese budgeting technique, invented in 1904. It essentially combines budgeting with the joys of journaling. 

Why haven’t you head of Kakeibo? Even though it’s been around for over a hundred years, it’s just recently been translated into the English language.

It’s pretty simple. At the beginning of the month, you open your kakeibo journal and plan out how much you’re going to spend, how much you’ll save, and what you need to do to make sure you achieve that.

It gives you four questions to answer:

  1. How much money do you have?
  2. How much money would you like to save?
  3. How much money are you actually spending?
  4. How can you improve on that?

The planning itself is also divided into four categories:

  1. Survival – housing, food, transport, etc.
  2. Optional – clothes, dining out, etc.
  3. Culture – books, music, movies, etc.
  4. Extra – gifts, repairs, etc.

At the end of the month, you open your kakeibo journal again and judge the months’s spending habits. You’ll see where you succeeded, what didn’t go as planned, and how you’ll do things different the next month. You’ll also fill in personal notes in the “reflections” section.

Easy-peasy. 

You may ask yourself why you would need or use this if you already have a budgeting app.

The reason is, kakeibo makes you evaluate your spending and savings habits honestly. There’s no avoiding it. You are confronted with your finances and goals. The basic idea of kakeibo is to be mindful of your finances, which you can’t really do by taking a quick look on your budgeting app or spreadsheet.

If you are someone who needs to be organized, or likes things on paper, right in front of your face, then kakeibo can be the perfect thing to get you on the path to financial freedom.

Plus, if you enjoy writing and journaling, then you’ll love kakeibo, as you read through your journal each month, reminiscing over your money memories and things to come.

You can pick up the official version of Kakeibo: The Japanese Art of Saving Money on Amazon.

Kakeibo: The Japanese Art of Saving Money

THE simple, foolproof journal to save yourself money one day at a time. People in Japan are masters of minimal living, able to make do with less in all aspects of life, whether it’s de-cluttering personal belongings or savvy seasonal cooking. But at the heart of all this is the kakeibo: the budgeting journal used to set saving goals and spend wisely. The simple act of completing your kakeibo ensures that saving is a part of your everyday life, while also giving you the opportunity to reflect and improve every month. By using this kakeibo, you can get a grip on your spending and start to achieve your goals, by finding ways to save for the things that really matter in your life. This is the Japanese Journal that puts more money in YOUR pocket every month.

For more money saving ideas, check out our article 10 Easy Ways to Save Money Today.

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