For the 15 years my husband and I have been married, we’ve always shared just one car. Actually, most of the time I’ve been the one with the car—first because I had to drive to work while he could easily take the train, and, once I became a stay-at-home mom, because I usually had the kids that I needed to transport while he could commute by public transportation.
While he’s been a good sport about this situation, the time has come to finally buy another car that he can use.
The problem? We don’t want to take out a car loan because doing so would create a serious strain on our budget. We want to pay cash instead.
But how do you save money for a car when you feel like there’s absolutely NO wiggle room in your budget? Here are the strategies we’re using.
Save Cash Back from Credit Cards
Our credit card regularly gives us cash back. For the first three months of 2016, we’ve earned just shy of $150 in cash back. If we continue at this pace, we’ll have an extra $600 in cash back thanks to using, and paying off, our credit card each month for as many purchases as we can.
Save Whenever You Receive Discounts on Regular Expenses
This is my favorite way to save because there are so many opportunities to save this way!
For instance, at Christmas, we received a postcard from our car repair shop offering 10% off our next car repair. I held onto that, and just last week we had a $284 car repair. We saved $28 thanks to the postcard, and that money went right in our car fund.
We took a vacation recently and stopped by Denny’s on our last day when we had eaten up all the food we had brought with us in the cooler. Our total was $39, but for some reason, the cashier decided to give us a $6 discount. I put that money right in our car fund.
Our grocery store gives fuel rewards points for shopping. For every $100 spent in groceries, you get 10 cents off your next gallon of gas. If you buy a gift card, your reward points are for double that amount. I send any of those savings to our car fund. Just today I put 19 gallons in my tank, and I got 20 cents off per gallon. I put that $3.80 into our car fund.
Save Change or a Specific Bill
I don’t use this strategy anymore because we typically use credit cards for our purchases, but when I was using cash a lot, I never spent the change and earmarked it all for a specific fund. One time, I went several months saving all of the $5 bills I got and used them to pay down debt.
To be sure, none of these savings strategies is growing our car fund at an impressive rate. However, we ARE saving something using ways we save in our everyday lives. We’re consciously, physically setting aside our savings, which is a great way to save when your budget is tight and you feel like you have no wiggle room.
Do you save like this? If so, what are your favorite strategies?
Melissa is a writer and virtual assistant. She earned her Master’s from Southern Illinois University, and her Bachelor’s in English from the University of Michigan. When she’s not working, you can find her homeschooling her kids, reading a good book, or cooking. She resides in New York, where she loves the natural beauty of the area.
Blake Smith says
Great work Melissa! Saving money is about discipline. Especially when money is tight!
Norah @ Money Management IQ says
Well, all of these tips are useful. Save money when the money is tight is only possible when you prioritize saving before paying off your debt in some situations. Tracking spending has been huge for us. I will suggest to do it first.
Young and the Invested says
I think these tips are great. You find ways to save within the confines of your limited budget by carving out cash back rewards on credit cards or unexpected savings you otherwise might not have found. Great way to look at it and also smart for allocating this “found money” immediately to savings.