Do you work full time? Do you find that your household income just barely covers the necessities and you have little left for the extras? Maybe you’re thrifty and do your best to save, but still have no extra cash to show for it all? If so, here are two old-fashioned solutions, that like many trends, are coming back around and have been upgraded to include today’s technology.
Money Market Accounts: Money market accounts are a bit of an upgrade from your regular savings accounts that were very popular for many of our grandmothers and mothers. You remember when they would go to the bank and deposit their little nest egg money and then would write every cent down in their nifty little passbook. Well the money market is like the Extreme version of a savings account. There are a few key differences between a traditional savings account and a money market that make the upgraded option a favorite with expert and novice penny pinchers everywhere.
First, the interest rate is usually a bit higher on a money market account, which is a good thing. But, in order to get this higher interest rate, you have to be comfortable with the second difference. With a money market account, the financial institution can invest your money more freely in other, safe investments. But, don’t worry, there is very little risk of losing your money and just like traditional accounts, money markets are FDIC insured for up to $100,000. Most online money market accounts do not have a minimum balance requirement and a few favorite institutions where you can get them online are Capital One and ING Direct. They are available at most brick- and- mortar banks as well, but be sure to ask for individual restrictions and features.
So, now you have the money market account but not much is going into it? I know this is probably going to sound like a pain and maybe even a waste of time, but try clipping coupons. If you’ve ever watched an episode of Extreme Couponing and felt a tiny tinge of jealousy when the families save hundreds of dollars per grocery store visit, then you know that couponers are a force to be reckoned with. This is another money saving tip that has been around for decades but that has been cast aside.
The reason many frown on couponing may be because actually finding the time to sit down and clip them is the hardest part of it all. If you’re serious about saving, dedicate just 30 minutes per day to couponing. As you begin to save you’ll probably be willing to add more and more time to your new favorite task. As soon as you get home from shopping and your groceries are unloaded and put away, sit down at your computer and move the amount you saved in coupons from your checking account into your money market account. Most stores will show you what you saved on the bottom of your receipt. Make this task as much a part of grocery shopping as putting away the cold items first. And, if you want to make this savings tip even less traditional, use your smartphone to transfer the $$$$ into your money market .
And remember that coupons are not just for groceries anymore. Check the mailers and magazines you get every month. There are coupons for makeup, clothing, large retailers like Bed, Bath and Beyond and more. A friend recently bought a sweater at Macy’s and saved $25.00 with – that’s right – a coupon.
Use the internet to download either printable coupons or coupons you can load onto your cellphone. There are many sites, like www.smartsource.com, that are designed specifically for this purpose.
Still not sure a money market account coupled with coupon savings will help you establish that little nest egg you are after? Consider this – if you spend $3,000 on groceries, clothes, housewares, gifts, etc. and you save 10% in coupons. That is $300.00 you just put into your savings. Try for twenty-one days to use a coupon every time you shop and deposit the savings. You will be pleasantly surprised.
Emmie Graham and Diathe Garnes