7 Ways to Get Your Savings on Track — No Apps Required
By Jacquelyn Pica, Penny Hoarder
We all want to save more money. The question is, how?
With so much new technology out there, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Plus, maybe you don’t feel comfortable sharing personal bank details with tons of different websites and apps.
Forget the latest tech — these seven methods will help you get your savings on track without signing up for any apps.
Figure out what you owe
First things first, find out what — and who — you owe.
Use a spreadsheet such as Google Sheets or Microsoft Excel to track all your debts and recurring bills. Personally, I use Excel to record my different credit cards, each payment due date and any balances on them.
I prefer using a plain-old spreadsheet over a budgeting app or website. It’s simple. It’s easy. And — best of all — you don’t have to provide your bank or card information to any third parties.
Create a budget
Now that you know what you owe, it’s time to get the rest of your money in order.
Keep track of your budget without relying on software or sharing personal information. You can use a spreadsheet for this one, too, and it’s easy to find free templates online. Here are my favorites for Google Sheets and Excel.
With these monthly spreadsheet templates, you’ll be able to track your income and expenses, and set goals for yourself.
Participate in the 52-week money savings challenge
The 52-week money savings challenge involves setting aside a certain amount of money per week. The first week, you save $1. The second week put away $2, etc. This continues until the last week of the year, when you’ll save $52.
Here’s a helpful chart so you can check off each week as you go. At the end of the year, you will have saved a little over $1,300! Without using technology to help guide you, it’s important to stick to some kind of savings plan or challenge so there’s a tangible goal.
Save every $5 bill you get
This savings strategy is a less calculated approach than the 52-week savings challenge, but it still adds up.
For this method, save every single $5 bill you get. If you usually don’t purchase items with cash, now’s a good time to start! (Plus, did you know paying with cash can help you save money?)
I’ve read countless stories of people who have managed to save thousands using this strategy alone, without even realizing the money was gone.
Save all your spare change
Likely the oldest savings tactic in the book, buy a giant jar and drop all your spare change into it. I do this religiously. So far I’ve saved a little over $100 — just in spare change.
It’s such an easy way to save money without thinking about it. If you combine this with the $5 savings method above — since you’ll already be spending cash — you’ll be hitting your savings goal in no time.
Tip: When you’re ready to cash in the coins, don’t go to one of those change machines at the grocery store. They charge a hefty percentage of whatever you cash in.
Instead, ask for empty coin rolls next time you’re at the bank and roll the coins yourself. It’s a bit time consuming, and you do have to count it all out in specific amounts, but you’ll get to keep all your money. Once they’re rolled up, take them to the bank and exchange your coins for cash.
Define “why” you’re saving and constantly remind yourself of it
Keep yourself motivated to save by defining why you’re saving, and constantly remind yourself of it. Are you saving to take a trip to Europe next year? To pay off credit card debt? Put a down payment on a house?
Whatever your reason, write it down on a sticky note and put it around your house. Seeing a daily reminder of what your goal is will help keep your savings on track.
Have a money date with yourself
I know — this doesn’t sound like the most exciting night in. But, it’s important to stay on top of your finances.
Have a “money date” with yourself weekly or monthly and figure out how you’re doing. Check your credit score, look at what you spent over the past month and see if your budget is on track. Based on this, you can figure out if you’re already doing everything right or if there’s room for improvement.
These savings methods are just as effective as any savings app, and you won’t have to share personal information or clutter up your phone. Here’s to saving more and achieving your financial goals in 2018!
Jacquelyn Pica is a junior writer at The Penny Hoarder.