With all of the money-saving apps, tools and resources available on the web, you’d think saving money was a modern concept. Once upon a time, though, there was a simpler way to save funds. Just ask your parents. They swore by analog money-saving tactics that didn’t require much effort. Indeed, their classic savings tips were born out of necessity and pragmatism.
Prior to the invention of digital budgeting apps, spreadsheets or mobile banking, saving money entailed old school practices that were available to most everyone. Often, these tactics meant putting pen to paper and keeping tabs on (mostly) cash transactions. Today, it’s easy to lose track of your finances. It’s especially likely when so much commerce happens online. Who has time for tallying purchases when a simple card swipe and emailed receipt disappear into the ether of the internet or your inbox?
There’s certainly a benefit to online and digital savings tools, but they’re no good if you don’t invest the time to properly set up your accounts. This often requires quite a bit of time and patience. Expect a learning curve. (For instance, you might need to readjust how purchases are automatically categorized in an app.)
If you’ve grown tired of the digital money tools available, the following classic savings tips should help you. The best part? You can start each of them today with little effort.
Classic savings tips that never go out of style
Call it analog saving or old school saving, but it works.
Collect any and all spare change in one spot
Think for a minute about where you currently keep all your spare and loose change. Do you have some in your car? Maybe you have some in multiple purses or handbags? Or, maybe you empty out your pockets and leave spare change on the kitchen counter.
Make a point to collect every spare penny and coin you have in a single location. That can mean you have an adult version of the piggy bank you had in your childhood. It can mean you have a tin can for coins. Whatever it is, you’ll be amazed at how quickly your loose change piles up.
You can then cash it in at a bank without a fee (if you use your own paper rollers). You can also avoid the counting fees from an automated coin machine if you ask for store credit. Sometime you can use if for grocery shopping or ask for a gift card to an online retailer.
Use the cash envelope system
It’s easier to stick to a budget when you are continuously reminded of what your cash flow looks like. The cash envelope system can be as simple or complicated as you want it to be. The gist is this: At the beginning of each week, take out a set amount of cash you plan on using. Then, divvy up the cash into different envelopes, each labeled for a specific purpose.
You can have as many categories as you want. For example, you can have one envelope for groceries, another for lunch/coffee at work, another for “fun” stuff with friends, and another for personal shopping. When you run out of funds in a single envelope, resist the urge to transfer funds from one envelop to the other. You’ll quickly notice how much you’re spending in one category. You’ll also be forced to stick to your initial budget.
Balance your checkbook
There’s nothing more annoying that having a check bounce or seeing an overdraft fee on your account when you could’ve sworn you had enough funds. While banks might give you an idea of how much is in your available balance, transactions often take time to fully process. If you had a recurring payment you forgot about or something took longer to process, you can quickly find yourself with less money than you initially thought.
Take a page out of your parent’s workbook and learn how to balance your checkbook using pen and paper. Note every and all transactions as well as their expected posting/processing dates. It’ll help you also note any discrepancies immediately.
Make and gift what you can do with your own hands
Remember how your parents used to knit, bake, and just make more things in general? Those crafty tactics were money-saving tricks that are easily dismissed these days. If you have the time, consider what gifts you can make by hand. Maybe that means you can try baking something. You can grow some of your favorite herbs.
You can knit, crotchet, or sew something. Everyone loves a hand-made and thoughtful gift. Try picking up a new crafty skill and you’ll not only learn something new, you’ll save money by not having to purchase new gifts all the time.
Go grocery shopping with a list
We’re all guilty of this on some level. Going grocery shopping without a list and plan of action is a surefire way to end up overspending on items you don’t need. It’s easy, also, to wind up buying items you already have in your pantry. Or, more likely, you buy too much food that you don’t actually end up cooking throughout the week. The result is wasted time at the grocery store and money down the drain.
Make a list of what you plan on eating for a single week and look for what recipes you can batch cook. You’ll undoubtedly save money without much effort by meal-prepping.
Embrace the “dining out” concept as a luxury
Remember how when you were a kid and your parents made dining out a special occasion? With the abundance of meal delivery apps like Postmates, Seamless, etc, ordering food in has become commonplace. Eating out with friends and loved ones is also the default get-together idea.
Reframe your mindset away from one of “we have to order in/eat out.” Instead, opt for what you can cook at home and invite others to share a meal. Potluck-style will help you save even more.
Literally freeze your card or “forget” it at home
Okay, so this one might seem a bit like an old wives’ tale, but there are some benefits. The idea here is to quite literally make it impossible for you to use your debit or credit card, thus forcing you to not spend for a period of time. To do it successfully, freeze a small bowl of water halfway and then place your card laying flat on top.
Fill the bowl to the rim with more water and then freeze. Your card will float midpoint and if you need to use it, you’ll have to wait until it defrosts completely. The wait time alone should force you to rethink unnecessary purchases.
Stow an emergency fund in a secret spot
Maybe you’ve heard of the one about how it’s a good idea to stash some funds under your bed. There are plenty of online savings accounts that make it worthwhile to digitally store your cash (and earn more in interest). But, when all else fails, there’s nothing quite like saving a spare $100 in a secret hiding spot in your house somewhere.
Sometimes you really can’t wait for funds to transfer from your savings account. That’s when dipping into your secret stash of funds comes in handy.
This story was originally published on August 9, 2018. It has been updated (and will continue to be updated) to include new tips, advice, and guidance, to ensure we are always giving you the best, most valuable resources.