8 Ways to Build a Cash Stash

Saving money is a curious term with two meanings: 1) To spend less, as in “I buy things on sale to save money” and 2) To physically place money where it is safe from being spent.

Okay, that’s fine. But here’s the problem. It’s easy to trick yourself into thinking that 1) and 2) are the same. They are not, unless of course you stop by the bank to deposit the difference between what you would have spent had the item not been on sale into your savings. That would be a clever way to boost your cash stash this year and at the same time adjust your mindset on what it really means to “save money.” Here are eight more:

TAX YOURSELF. Determine right now that you will assess yourself a specific “tax” each time you make an ATM withdrawal. It might be $5 or $10, you decide. Whatever the amount, make sure you become a tough tax collector. No slacking, no IOUs.

IMPOSE A MORATORIUM. Select a specific denomination of currency, like the $1 or $5 bill that you will no longer spend, but save instead. Forbid yourself, and get very strict. Why not go with the $5? Your stash will grow so much faster if you absolutely refuse to spend any Abe Lincolns.

HOARD COUPON SAVINGS. Starting today, here’s the plan: When you grocery shop, ask the clerk to total your order and then pay for it. Then hand her the coupons and watch your total plummet. Since you’ve already paid, the clerk should hand back the cash equal to your coupon savings. If available, open a savings account at the bank branch located in the super-market. It’s easy to stop on your way out to make a savings deposit — even if it’s small. It all adds up.

RACK UP REBATES. They’re coming back in a big way as retailers want to make their products appear cheaper without actually reducing the price. They offer a rebate, knowing full well only a small percentage of consumers who buy the item will ever carry through. No matter how small the rebate or complicated the process, promise you will not be among the lazy bunch. Apply for, follow up and then stash those rebates as they arrive!

DRINK WATER. Pay yourself a bonus, like a dollar or two each time you eat out and opt for water instead of a pricey beverage. Don’t be a slacker in your obligation to pay up. And remember, no IOUs allowed.

MAKE A SWITCH. Opt to exercise outdoors instead of paying a gym fee. Or, determine you’ll ride the subway instead of jumping into a cab. Identify a name brand you will leave on the shelf this year in favor of its store brand equivalent. Then stash what you would have spent.

GIVE IT UP. Pick one thing that you will sacrifice for a specific period of time, like the coming year. Just cut it out. Stash the amount you would have spent on whatever it is — regular manicures, French fries, gourmet coffee, cigarettes — into your savings container or account. You could always do your own manicures, swear off the junk food, or brew your own coffee. As for that smoking habit, just imagine all the dough for your stash if you give that up.

TRICK YOURSELF. Whenever you write a check or take an ATM withdrawal, record the amount rounded up, to say the next dollar in your checkbook registry. Then deduct that amount from the balance. At the end of the month, reconcile and stash the “oops!” overage. 

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