When it comes to saving money, some approaches have years of proven success behind them. Meticulously tracking expenses and income is tried and true. Prioritizing pinching pennies and intentional spending is known to work. Coupons and buying discounted products are great options, too. But what about new-age approaches to saving money?
One you might not think of immediately is putting your calendar to work for you. Printed or digital, super detailed or extremely high-level, calendars come in all shapes and sizes. They provide flexibility in format, organization style, and more. Regardless of which calendar type you prefer, you can use different strategies to help your wallet. Here are a few to consider incorporating into your routine.
1. Document Your Savings Opportunities
Annual sales, discount events, and coupon expiration dates are all worthwhile to keep track of in your notes on your phone or computer. While effort is required to make a note of every chance to save, it can make a difference in your budget. As soon as you’re aware of a sale or savings event, add it to your calendar. Even a simple, half-complete note is better than nothing. This type of approach can save you time (and money) because taking action immediately makes you less likely to forget.
Remember, too, that you don’t have to take advantage of each opportunity to save. If you’ve added something that you thought you might be interested in only to find yourself no longer caring, that’s okay! It’s better to ignore a discount event than spend aimlessly. At least you made an effort and could take advantage of savings if you felt so inclined.
Keep gifts in mind, too. Maybe you don’t care about a beauty store’s sale — but a friend or loved one does. Including those on your calendar can save you money in the long run and up your gift-giving game. The same method of immediate action applies here, too. Once you hear of a sale that could save you on an upcoming gift, add it to your calendar.
2. Highlight Yard and Estate Sales
Shopping second-hand doesn’t have to mean heading to a thrift store. Many yard and estate sales happen every weekend, offering shoppers access to unique, discounted items. Keeping track of them on your calendar can make sure you are reminded when and where they’re happening.
Following social media groups for yard and estate sales can aid in this process, too. They do the work for you and may even specify what each sale focuses on — clothing or furniture, for example. That can help with narrowing down your options and attending the sales of most interest to you.
Consider making your “sleuthing” for great finds, a social event with someone really good at these types of sales. If your friends like to shop and are down to hunt for great pieces — especially unique items — sales are a great activity. Plus, you’ll be able to get more for your money and hopefully leave with some one-of-a-kind pieces. You may even find something you’ve had on your wishlist that becomes a forever-cherished item. And all of this is a possibility because you threw it on your calendar.
3. Mark Recurring Expenses
Many bills are due on the same day each month. While that can make remembering to pay them easier, it doesn’t mean you’re immune from forgetting. Life is hectic, so it’s only natural to have commitments like bills sometimes slip through the cracks. That’s where your calendar comes in.
Diligently make a note of every recurring expense you have. Streaming services, mortgage or rent payments, credit card statements, and anything else recurring. Even better if you enable a color code for payment due dates on your calendar; luckily, this works for every calendar type and makes due dates easy to identify at a glance. If you use digital calendars, you can enable notifications for another helpful reminder.
Don’t forget about autopay, either. Despite being a fantastically convenient feature many companies offer, it can lead to wasting money. People often pay for products or services they don’t even know they’re signed up for. In fact, a recent study shows people spend an average of $133 each month just on forgotten subscriptions alone. Instead, track each automatic charge and consider whether it’s worthwhile to continue. Something you use daily is a no-brainer, but if you forget you even subscribed, it’s time to cancel and move on.
4. Know When You Get Paid
Many people track expenses because money is leaving their accounts. Tracking is a great habit to establish because it helps you understand where your money goes. However, also knowing when you get paid and where those funds are allocated can be important for financial success. This is even more valuable if you have multiple income streams, like your side hustles and freelance gigs.
Keep track of all payments in a calendar — you can even color code it to notate an influx of money versus an expense. From there, it’s much easier to understand your spending habits and ensure what’s coming in is greater than what’s going out. If it’s not, adjust your spending to find the right balance for you.
If you share finances with a partner, this approach to your calendar is even more important. One person may be paid biweekly, and the other could be weekly. While that likely won’t drastically change your financial approach, you want to ensure to align incoming payments with expenses. Take a look at recurring, fixed expenses, and always have at least that in an account to avoid overdraft fees. Ultimately, this relatively small effort makes budgeting and saving that much more second nature.
5. Do a Spend-Tracking Challenge
When you’re trying to save more money, there’s really no wrong or right way of going about it. The main obstacle is to find out what works for you. If you want a fun, interactive idea, consider making yourself a no-spend challenge. Or simply create a gamified reduced spending approach, whatever best fits your lifestyle.
These challenges are customizable, and the rules can fit your lifestyle while helping you save. You can choose to only buy necessities — like groceries and gas — for a set period of time. Or opt to have days each week where you spend zero dollars. Use one of the best online calendars to track your progress, assigning a color to mark success and another for missing the mark. While there will likely be slip-ups and expenses that come up, these challenges can make a big difference.
Then, at the end of your challenge, you can evaluate how you did by reviewing your calendar. Try to find common threads on both successful and unsuccessful days. You’ll learn a lot about your spending habits and be able to easily look back on the challenge, whenever you like. The best part is that when the challenge is over, you’ll have more insight into your spending habits. From there, it will likely be easier to control impulse purchases and prioritize your money.
When in Doubt, Calendar it Out
Completing all of these approaches may feel like a lot from the start. Instead of tackling everything, try incorporating one or two into your calendar approach. See how those work for you — noticing if you’re more money-conscious or avoid late fees — and go from there. You may no longer need certain monthly notes and can add or remove habits as you see fit.
The beauty of inking financial obligations and opportunities to your calendar is the chance to maximize its use. Not only are you tracking vacations, dinner plans, and birthdays, but you can also save money in the process. And once you find an approach that works, it just requires sticking to it. From there, you simply reap the benefits.
Featured Image Credit: Photo by Ivan Bertolazzi; Pexels; Thank you!