Don’t let the title fool you. I wasn’t always good with my money. In fact, when I was netting over $100,000 a year, I was a spend-a-holic. I quickly learned the error of my ways and have been living the frugal life ever since. While some of these tips are straightforward and gentle reminders for us all, others might be things you have never heard of.
I put 10 percent of my earnings in savings off the top
Since I am self-employed, figuring my gross earnings is easy, since that is what I am paid. Off the top of my gross earnings, I put 10 percent in savings, and then subtract for my quarterly taxes due to Uncle Sam. If you aren’t self employed, look at your last pay stub, find your pre-tax earnings and then calculate your 10 percent.
I put 5 percent of my earnings in investments right off the top
After I deduct my 10 percent in savings, I put 5 percent toward my investments. I start by funding my Roth IRA. Once I max that out for the year, I invest in gold and silver bullion.
I use cash back cards
I have a cash back debit card that I use religiously. In fact, I use it to pay all of my monthly bills, in addition to making my purchases. Paying my mortgage with my cash back card triples the points I would earn otherwise. At the end of each month, I cash out what I earned in rewards from my card, and transfer those earnings directly into a high yield savings account.
I use cash back websites
Not only do I buy online and save gas, I use cash back websites to do it. My favorite is probably E-bates. It’s free to sign up, free to retain and offers me a percentage back in cash on every single one of my purchases. Most recently, I bought a dishwasher from Home Depot. On this purchase, I earned 8 percent cash back of $600 ($48).
I am also an avid Avon user, and I earn cash back on my makeup and beauty products purchases. E-bates is partnered with all of your favorite merchants, giving you the opportunity to earn cash back on literally everything you buy. Since many merchants offer free shipping and no taxes, it makes a lot of sense to shop online. When I get my cash back rewards check at the end of each quarter, I take that money and put it in savings.
I get cash back on my cash back
When I shop online using websites like E-bates, obviously I shop with my cash back rewards debit card. Essentially earning me money back on top of cash back, all of which goes into savings.
I shop (and change) banks regularly
Nearly every day I get a mailer from a bank offering me $100 to open an account, or see high-yield savings accounts with a better percentage rate than what I am currently getting. I transfer money from one bank to another regularly to get the best deals. After about a year or so, I will terminate accounts I find I am no longer funding or regularly using, but always getting the best possible deals and interest rates.
I hunt for deals
In the days of our ancestors, there were hunters and there were gatherers. I hunt for deals. I never buy new cars, I only buy used. I haggle, I barter and I look on Craigslist and Amazon for the lowest possible price I can get on anything. I will even change cell phone plans if I see a year over year savings with another plan. Every time I save, I have more money to put towards my savings by factoring my savings against what I would have otherwise been spending.
More from this Contributor:
First Person: Stop Spending Money … Now
First Person: Goal Setting and Your Savings
First Person: How Much Should You Be Saving?