News & Tips
10 Creative Ways to Save Money
Saving money can be challenging. But after the holiday season, it’s often a top New Year’s resolution. Plus, it always feels good to pocket extra money for trips, treats, and rainy day funds. Sometimes all it takes is a closer look here and there to see what can help you reach your savings goals, and from there, setting things up to go on auto-pilot. And sometimes, it’s about finding just the right time of year to make large pre-planned purchases. From joining special savings accounts to making some daily item switches, we’ve rounded up 10 ways that could save you thousands of dollars a year!
1. Automate Your Savings
One of the best ways to save money is to squirrel away your income regularly, which also helps prevent impulse buying. A common rule of thumb is to save 20% of your income each month. With most financial institutions, like at SCCU, you can set up automatic transfers from your checking account to your savings account. (Psst, you can get your direct deposit up to two days early at SCCU42 with your checking or savings account.) We also offer other types of ways to earn a higher interest rate with your savings. And with a Christmas Club Savings account, saving money all year for the holidays is easy-peasy!
NOW OFFERING! We now offer a round-up savings program called SCCU Saving Cents, where your debit card purchases are rounded up to the nearest dollar and automatically deposited into a savings account.
2. Analyze Insurance Policies
It’s not a good idea to skimp on insurance, but it’s worth removing unnecessary coverages. Also, don’t forget to ask your insurance providers about special offers, discounts, and bundling opportunities. New lifestyle changes could also mean possible reductions on your premium. For example, you may be able to save more on your monthly auto payment if you’re working from home. (Also, you can save thousands of dollars if your car is totaled with GAP insurance, which is a one-time purchase at SCCU.) Shopping around for other providers may also mean a better deal for you. SCCU has partnered with dedicated insurance companies for a variety of products to help you prepare for the unexpected.
3. Review Interest Rates
Whether it’s an auto loan, a mortgage, or a credit card, the total amount of interest payments can be quite costly. If your credit card charges a high interest rate on your outstanding balance, it may be time to look at other options. Consider opening a credit card with 0% APR for six months and transferring your outstanding balance, which will help save money on interest charges. You could also look into refinancing your auto loan or mortgage with a credit union, which typically has lower rates than other types of lenders and financial institutions. See our rates here. Not sure if it’s a good time to refinance? See our articles on auto refinancing and mortgage refinancing.
4. Redeem Points You’ve Earned
Sometimes with the hustle and bustle of our daily lives, we forget to look into points that we can redeem. Credit cards, retail loyalty programs, grocery points, you name it, may have untapped points that are ripe for the reaping. You’ve collected those pretty points from your purchases with your hard-earned money, so you deserve to get cash back or materialize them. One idea is to save all your points until December, and use the points to buy holiday gifts. Be sure to shop around for rewards programs. SCCU offers a Visa® Platinum credit card with 1% cash back rewards, you can redeem points for gift cards, merchandise, experiences, and more with a Visa® Signature credit card.
5. Choose Self-Care
One of the best ways you can save money is take care of yourself. After all, if you don’t invest in taking care of yourself now, you may find yourself facing costlier consequences in the future. Some examples include washing your hands to avoid illnesses, drinking more water, getting enough sleep, and exercising. Eating home-cooked meals more often and bagging leftovers for lunch at work can also save you thousands of dollars a year. It’s almost five times more expensive to eat out than to eat at home, as most restaurants mark-up food nearly 300% in order to make a profit. Keeping an eye out for grocery coupons in the mail and on apps, and buying produce in season can also save you lots of money in the long run.
6. Look Over Monthly Statements
It’s helpful to review your bank statements every month to get a bird’s-eye view of how much money you’re spending and where the money is going. If you see charges for memberships and subscriptions that you never use, it may be time to ditch them. And if you see that you’re spending too much on coffees and smoothies, it doesn’t hurt to make them at home more often. Many bank accounts also charge excessive service fees or direct deposit fees, with Americans spending an average of $13.95 a month for them. But at SCCU, you have 0 fees with our Free Checking account. Plus, monitoring your transactions regularly is one of the best ways to stop fraudulent activity in its tracks.
7. Switch to Smart Home Devices
You may have heard about smart home devices, which are electronic devices that can be controlled remotely from a mobile device or built-in app on your smartphone. Heating and cooling systems in particular take up the largest piece of the electric bill pie. A smart thermostat can save you $140 a year. While there’s a larger investment up front, smart bulbs use LEDs, which last 25% longer and use up to 75% less energy than incandescent bulbs and can save you $1,000 in a 10-year period. Many of our devices are energy vampires, drawing power even when they’re not in use. Smart Wi-Fi power strips are also another way to save money, where you can plug in devices and turn off power when devices aren’t in use.
8. Opt for Reusable Items
Almost anything that replaces purchasing disposable paper and plastic items will save you more money. Reusable items hold their value a lot longer, and you’re not just throwing money away. Swapping out paper towels and napkins for reusable cloths can save you $600 a year alone. Some other items include glass food storage containers, cloth grocery bags, refillable K-cup filters, reusable silicone bags, dryer balls, and reusable water bottles, which can save you over $700 a year. If you’d like to save another $500 a year, look into making your own homemade cleaning items. Plus, you’ll be helping the environment by keeping single-use plastics and non-recyclables out of the ocean and landfills. It’s a win-win!
9. Buy Items at their Cheapest Times
In most cases, stores will display seasonal items as early as possible to earn profits early on. Once the next seasonal items come along, they’re looking to offload the previous seasonal items. That’s the best time to stock up on the items for the next year. For example, if you’re looking for decorations for Halloween, Christmas, or Easter, take your pick after the holiday has come and passed to enjoy plenty of deals and discounts. On another note, it’s best to buy home appliances and electronics in November, the month of Black Friday sales. And Memorial Day and Labor Day weekend make great times for mattresses and furniture.
10. Go DIY with Gifts
Did you know that the average American spends more than $600 a year on holiday gifts alone? Whether it’s for a birthday, a holiday, or an anniversary, sometimes the sweetest, most memorable gifts come from the heart. You can save a good chunk of change in the gift-spending department by using resources that you have on hand (and putting your skills and hobbies to good use). Some examples include baking a cake, decorating a mug, writing a poem, sewing a sweater, painting a portrait, building a bird house, embroidering a coaster, hand-stitching a Christmas ornament, painting a portrait, helping with home projects, and making a candle. And hey, if you think your creation isn’t fridge-worthy, scratch-off lottery tickets are an easy last-minute gift!
Save More with SCCU
Here at SCCU, our members’ interests come first. Members can enjoy competitively low rates for credit cards and loans and higher-than-average rates for checking and savings accounts. Plus, we offer exclusive hero loan programs that help our hometown heroes save money, No Closing Costs home loans, and No Down Payment home loans. Students can also save more with our Student Checking Account and Visa® Student credit card. And most of all, you won’t deal with the stress of hidden “gotcha” fees here because it goes against our values. If you have any questions, one of our Team Members will be happy to help you.