Budgeting Tips

How to Save Money: Build $1000 in Savings in 12 Weeks

We all know it’s important to have financial goals. Without them, we’re destined to remain in debt and struggling to live paycheck to paycheck forever. The best thing you can do is learn how to save money the right way, so that you can break the cycle of debt once and for all.

The first step to breaking the debt cycle is to build up a $1000 emergency fund. It’s also very important to learn to cash flow, or save for, other expenses such as vacations, medical costs, or car repairs before you need it.

With some planning and organization, you can easily save $1,000 in 12 weeks. Use these printable savings tracker and worksheet to help you start on your journey to learning how to save money:

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Build your $1000 savings in just 12 weeks!

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Not sure how to find the best way to save money? Learn how to save $1000 in just 12 weeks with these free, printable worksheets! #money #savings #savingmoney #personalfinance

Why You Need to Have Savings

We can plan all we want, but there are always unexpected expenses that pop up. Whether it’s medical, a wedding we’ve been invited to, or car issues, you can bet they’re going to show up at the worst times.

It’s not a matter of IF financial roadbumps come up, it’s a matter of WHEN.

The easiest way to stay out of debt when these roadblocks hit is to have some savings in place. I suggest having a $1000 emergency fund. $1000 is enough to cover your deductible for house issues as well as most medical issues.

Getting Started Saving Money

Now that you have your printables to help you learn how to save money, it’s time to get started saving:

Step 1: Find your motivation to Save.

It’s important to know your motivations for saving. Is your ultimate goal to be debt free, but you’re lacking an emergency fund? Do you want to take your family on vacation this year? Are you expecting a baby, or think you’ll need dental work?

No matter what the reason, take the time to figure out why you’re doing this. It’ll help you to stay motivated when things get tough.

Visual reminders are great as well – so make sure to use the saving tracker, as well as pictures of what you’re working toward to help with motivation.

Step 2: Set Your SMART Goal.

When you decide to set a goal, use the SMART method:

  • Specific
  • Measureable
  • Action Oriented
  • Realistic
  • Time Bound

To build a $1000 savings in 12 weeks, you’ll need to save $83 a week. That’s just shy of $12 a day.

Let’s create an example goal. Rather than, I want to save $1000, let’s make it SMART:

I want to create a $1000 emergency fund by saving $83 a week for the next 12 weeks.

This goal is very specific: it has a measurement of time and debt amount, it includes an action, and it’s realistic and has a time limit.

You’re much more likely to be successful at saving $1000 if you break your goals down into smaller sprints, such as one or two weeks chunks, or even a month.

Decide how you want to break your savings up and write it down on your worksheet.

Step 3: Track Your Current Spending.

In order to get started saving you need to know where your money is currently going. If you don’t already use an expenses tracking software like ynab.com or mint.com, now’s a great time to start. It can help you look back over the past 2 – 3 months and gauge your spending.

Step 4: Create a budget.

Now that you see where your money is going, you need to make some decisions on where to make cuts. This is where a budget comes in handy. It’s an easy way to play with the numbers and see where it makes the most sense to trim your spending.

I can recommend this zero based budget that we’ve used to pay off more than $19,000+ in the past 14 months!

You want to trim your spending so that you’re able to hit that SMART goal that you created in the previous step. Next, I’ll give you some ideas on how to do just that!

The Best Ways to save Money

Now that you have your goal and budget in hand, this is where you need to get creative!

There are only two ways to find money:

Spend less or earn more.

Sounds simple, I know, but it’s not always easy to keep consistent with it.  I’ve written a lot of in-depth articles about each:

How to Trim Expenses:

How to Earn More Money:

What to Do with Your Savings

Now that you’ve started your savings, how do you keep from accidentally spending it?

The best approach is to create a separate savings account. This new account can be linked to your regular accounts, but I really suggest keeping them in a place where it’s not as easy to access.

I also highly recommend automating the transfers to the savings account, so that you don’t forget and spend it.

For example, we have a savings account for my quarterly tax payments. Our checking is with a local bank, and this particular savings account is with CapitalOne. The monthly payments are automated so that they get taken out of checking at the beginning of every month.

If I need to access that money, it takes a couple of days to transfer back to my checking. It’s easy to set it and forget it – which means there’s no chance of accidentally spending it!

I’ve Hit my Savings Goal – Now What?

Saving for 12 weeks is long enough to have created a new “normal” for yourself and for your spending. You’ve adjusted to the new budget, and you’ve hit your goal. Now what?

The absolute best idea is to keep riding your momentum and continue! Either keep saving, or begin paying off your debt, depending on where you’re at on the path to financial freedom.

Saving up $1000 is pretty easy if you have a plan and break it into manageable chunks. These tips to save money and printable worksheets will help to get your savings on schedule. Once you’re on track, you’ll find it easier every day to keep going until you hit your goal!

Bonus: When Should I use my Emergency Fund?

One of the biggest questions I get is “what’s the difference between an emergency fund and sinking funds?” (Don’t worry – I had no idea what sinking funds were a couple of years ago!)

Knowing the difference between sinking funds and an emergency fund will help you to understand when it’s actually a legit reason to break into your emergency fund.

The short explanation is that an emergency fund is for actual emergencies, like medical issues or an unscheduled car issue. Basically, anything you can’t really plan ahead for.

Sinking funds are a savings account that’s for those irregular expenses that you know are coming: yearly HOA fees, quarterly tax payments, or your car registration. Items that don’t happen monthly, but you know they’re coming.

Once you’ve saved up your emergency fund, begin to save your sinking funds next so you aren’t spending your emergency fund by accident. Learn more about emergency funds versus sinking funds, and why you need both.

Download Your Savings Worksheet Now!

Build your $1000 savings in just 12 weeks!

Just enter your email to download your free 8 page savings worksheet and get weekly updates from Debt Free Forties!

We won't send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time. Powered by ConvertKit

Struggling to save money? Learn the best way to save money quickly, complete with free printable savings worksheets. Get your $1000 savings built in just 12 weeks! #savings #emergencyfund #savemoney

Can't seem to figure out how to save money? Use these free printable savings worksheets to get you on the right track! Learn how to save $1000 in just 12 weeks. #savings #emergencyfund #savemoney
Even if you're living paycheck to paycheck, you can still save your $1000 emergency fund in just 12 weeks. Use these free printable savings worksheets to get started! #debt #money #emergencyfund

The Best Money Saving App: How we saved $240 in minutes with Trim

How we saved $240 in minutes with the Trim app (so far!)

I like to think that I’m pretty savvy when it comes to saving money. I feel like I’ve learned all the tricks to cut costs and find extra dollars in my budget.

Boy, was I wrong.

By signing up for one service, and spending about 5 minutes to sync our accounts and submit our internet provider, we saved a whooping $240 a year. Did I mention it only took five minutes? If only every five minutes of my day could do the same!

By far the best money saving app I’ve tried, Trim is fantastic when it comes to cutting bills without a lot of hassle.Trim not only saved us money, but saved us the time it would have taken to contact and deal with all of those different providers. Trim is the best money saving app out there! #budget #savemoney #app

How We Saved $240 in 5 Minutes

We were able to save $240 a year in 5 minutes with the Trim app. I’d skimmed a couple of Trim app reviews before, but never really checked into it, though I’m definitely regretting that now.

I do have to admit that a while back I did I sign up and add one account, and then promptly blew it off. I strangely thought it’d be too much work and I assumed they’d never find any savings for us.

Silly, I know.

This time I decided to seriously try it out, even though I was oh so sure that I already was getting the best deals on all of our accounts.

We’re already cut everything possible, and haggled on everything from car insurance to daycare. My husband had even previously haggled with our internet provider to get the best deal, so how could they possibly get us a better one?

How Does Trim Work?

Trim does a lot more than I realized, or expected. I thought it was just a bill negotiator, but I was pleasantly surprised to learn that it does so much more. Trim works in three areas: it analyzes your spending, it alerts you about any subscriptions, and it does bill negotiations on your behalf, making it the best money saving app around!

How Trim Helps With Spending

I was not able to hook up our Barclay card, because it doesn’t support linking with Trim yet, but I did link our checking accounts Trim could check out our transactions. Trim texts you to let you know different notifications, such as:

  • If it’s payday
  • Any overdraft fees
  • Any late fees
  • Balance updates
  • Credit card usage
  • Large transactions (over $100)
  • Minimum balance (below $100)

You can turn any of these on or off to cater to what you want to be reminded about. Trim notifies you via your choice of text or Facebook Messenger to make sure that you’re on top of your accounts.

This way, you’re always know what’s happening with your accounts without having to login every day. You know what’s coming in, what’s going out, and when you’re close to running into problems, whether it’s overdrawing your account or if someone puts a big charge on your credit card.

Even better? You can ask Trim how much you’ve spent on particular services this month. For example, let’s say you’re a Target addict (oh, not me – just asking for a friend. Heh.)

If you’re brave, and want to face your Target demons, just ask Trim how much you’ve spent at Target by texting “Spend Target”. Then weep when you see the fallout. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

How Trim Helps with Subscriptions

I love that Trim can recognize recurring charges and let you know about them. Plus, you can cancel those subscriptions directly from Trim, which is awesome. Less work for me? Hells yes!

Just text “Subs” to Trim, and it will list all of your subscriptions. Then you can easily ask Trim to cancel them for you via text or messenger, saving you money in a snap!

Don’t make the mistake of thinking – oh, I don’t have any subscriptions (like I did). Even though we’ve only been signed up with Trim for about 2 weeks, they’ve found 4 subscriptions for us.

Subscriptions aren’t always things like Graze or Blue Apron or Stitch Fix. For us, they were recurring bills, such as: daycare payments, life insurance payments, my student loan payment, and our car insurance.

Even though these aren’t items we can completely cancel, it’s still a great reminder to make you stop and think about what you’re paying for every month.

For example, we pay car insurance every month. We could pay it once a year instead and save some money that way. I would have never thought about that without Trim reminding me that of that automated payment that showed up in subscriptions. Trim helped me to look at each transaction and think about how I could do differently.

How Trim Helps with Bill Negotiations

This is where we were able to save $240 a year on our internet service. Trim doesn’t negotiate any of your bills without you specifically asking it to, which is great. It also does not alter your terms of service in order to save you money. For example, we have the exact same speed and package for our internet, which we were paying $69.99 for each month. Through Trim, we are now paying $49.99 for the exact same speed and service!

Trim currently works on lowering your bills for your cable/internet provider or your cell phone services only. Soon, car insurance negotiation will be available as well, and you can bet I’m hopping on that as soon as it’s available!

To use Trim to lower your bills, you select your provider and connect your account. For example, I provided our Time Warner/Spectrum login credentials to Trim. Once it’s able to connect, they next ask you for your credit card information (I’ll explain why next). Then, you just wait.

I submitted our Internet info on a Thursday and promptly forgot about it. Imagine my surprise when I received a text a week later letting me know that Trim was able to negotiate our bill and save us $240 a year!

What Happens if Trim Doesn’t Work with Your Service Provider?

Next, I moved on to our cell phone provider, which is Straight Talk. Unfortunately, they’re not listed as a provider that Trim works with. However, they do have a section where you can upload your latest bill in PDF format, or you can email your latest bill to them to see what they can do.

I decided to log into Straight Talk, print my payments in PDF format (they don’t provide a monthly bill), and submit it to Trim to see what happens.

As of the time of this post, I have not received word yet what they can do for us, but in all fairness, I just submitted it this morning. I will make sure to update the post when I hear back!

Is Trim Safe?

The biggest concern with any app where we connect our personal accounts is always wondering just how safe it is. Luckily Trim has security covered and then some:

  • They use 256-bit SSL encryption (similar to websites with a secure online shopping cart)
  • Two-factor authentication (like having to provide two types of ID)
  • Read-only access (meaning they can’t write to your accounts and change anything)
  • Trim never stores your account credentials on their servers (they just pass the info along without saving it)

They use a set-up called Plaid that connects to your bank. When they ask for your login, they pass the info to Plaid, which passes it to your bank or credit card company. Then Plaid sends back an encrypted token. This is what’s saved by Trim, rather than your login credentials, and prevents them from having your info laying around.

How Does Trim Make Money? Is Trim Free?

Obviously, Trim doesn’t do all this for free. Well, if you don’t use the bill negotiation section, then yes, it is free. However, if you decide to ask Trim to negotiate your bills, they keep 25% of whatever yearly savings they find for you.

Remember how they asked for a credit card when I submitted our internet info? That’s why the ask for it, in order to charge you the 25% of your savings. In our case, they charged us $60 of our $240 savings.

Does it seem steep? A little. But really, we’re still saving $180 a year. Which equates to a lot of clothes for our kids. Or a night in a really nice hotel. Or tickets to an awesome show.

It’s totally worth it in the end. Trim turned out to be not only the best money saving app we’ve tried, but saved us the time it would have taken to contact and deal with all of those different providers.

Why not give Trim a try? You just might be surprised at the savings they find for you!

Want another quick way to save money? Read more about 10 Simple Rules for a Successful No Spend Challenge!

Have you tried Trim yet? Why or why not? Let me know in the comments!

Printable Debt & Savings Trackers Just for You!

Printable screenshots

Use these free debt & savings tracking printables to help you track and achieve all of your financial goals!

We won't send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time. Powered by ConvertKit

Trim is the best money saving app out there! Trim not only saved us $240 in about 5 minutes, but saved us the time it would have taken to contact and deal with all of those different providers. #budget #savemoney #app

We were able to save $240 a year in 5 minutes with the Trim app. I’d skimmed a couple of Trim app reviews before, but never really checked into it, though I’m definitely regretting that now.  #budget #savingmoney #trimapp

How to Quickly Save More Money: 10 Simple Rules for a No Spend Challenge

10 simple rules for a no spend challenge

One question I get asked a lot as a personal finance fanatic (say that three times fast!) is what the rules of a no spend challenge are. While there are plenty of very specific no spend challenges you can take, it’s a very personal choice as to which one to embark on.

The key takeaway of a no spend challenge is to reduce your outgoing money by cutting out non-essentials. Yes, you’re already doing that with a budget, but during a no spend challenge you’re amping it up and cutting even more.

So what’s the difference between a budget and a no spend challenge? And why should you start one? Continue reading

13 Quick & Easy Ways to Save Money that Freed Up $700 a Month!

13 quick and easy ways to save money every month!

During the past year of budgeting, we’ve found a lot of ways to save money. There’s no lack of money saving ideas out there. That’s the easy part.

The hard part about budgeting is really about making the mental adjustment to changing your spending.

On the surface, it can feel like being deprived. But when you stop and really think about why you’re doing it, you’ll realize that it’s just about deciding what’s really important to you. Is it owning a house? Getting a maid to come once a week? Or having a cushy emergency fund just in case your employer’s check doesn’t deposit on time?
Continue reading

10 Surprising Lessons from our First Year of Budgeting

We’ve officially been budgeting for an entire year, which means…it’s our one year budget-versary! I wonder what you give each other for a gift? If it’s paper (like a real one year wedding anniversary), I’ll make sure to frame the first copy of our budget! 😉

In one year, we’ve dealt with job loss, storm damage, and unexpected FSA bills. I’m not going to sugarcoat it – it was hard. We hit some points where we wanted to just scrap the budget and run for the hills.

But we hung in there, and persevered. Not only have we paid off over $14,000 in one year, but we’ve made some lasting changes to our lifestyle.
In the scheme of things, who can ever say they’ve had a smooth financial year? There’s always something that comes up, but it’s how you deal with it that really counts. Continue reading

Why You Need to Drop the New Year’s Resolutions (and What to Do Instead)

I love new beginnings. The feeling of a fresh start is just so motivating, it’s addictive. Emotionally, it’s the equivalent of reading a great love story (stay with me here). You’re cheering for the budding romance, wanting so bad for it to work out. Just like a new beginning, right?

So, like the apparent romantic fool I am (who knew?), I crave new beginnings and new goals to cheer for pretty often.

And like clockwork every New Year’s, I find myself tinkering with the idea of setting resolutions for myself, even though I know better. I’m not sure if it’s the need for tradition, or I’ve overdone it with the holidays, or I just love the idea of a fresh start.

However, I will not be creating resolutions this year (and I haven’t for several years), even though it goes against my natural instincts to always work towards a better version of myself. Here’s why I won’t set another financial or personal resolution, and you shouldn’t be doing so any time soon either. Continue reading

How to Easily Triple Stack your Savings on ANY Purchase!

How to Triple Stack your Savings on ANY Purchase! #savings #holidaysavings #shopping

Being the awesome frugal folks that we are, we’re always looking for a sale, deal, coupon, or discount, right?

But what can you do when it’s not enough of a discount, and you still need to make the purchase? Or it’s a financially stressful time of the year (looking at you, November and December). Or, there’s the unplanned for, unexpected costs that pop up and need dealt with sooner rather than later?

Sometimes shopping with the sales and coupons just isn’t enough. And there are plenty of things that are difficult or impossible to get at a discount. I know I have a very hard time coughing up money for anything that’s not on sale or I can’t find a coupon for.

So what’s a savvy shopper to do?Sometimes shopping with the sales and coupons just isn’t enough. And there are plenty of things that are difficult or impossible to get at a discount. This is how you can easily triple stack your savings on ANY purchase! #savings #couponing #budget

My Money Saving Secret Weapons

I have several pretty sweet secret weapons that I like to use to earn additional savings on everything from gas in my car to Christmas shopping.

By planning ahead – by even just a couple of hours – I can get a gift card through Raise.com that’s discounted by up to 30%!

By shopping sales/discounts, using coupons, and buying discounted gift cards from Raise.com, I’m able to create a triple stack of savings on just about every purchase. And haven’t even mentioned how Ebates or Ibotta fits in yet – which grows the savings even more!

How Gift Cards from Raise.com Work

Raise.com is an awesome website where users can sell their old gift cards at the price that they set. They can be discounted up to 30% by the seller. On top of that, Raise.com runs specials that discount some cards even further. Amazing, right?

Now, I know exactly what you’re thinking – used gift cards, yikes! But before you jump ship, hear me out. The great part is that Raise.com has a 1 year guarantee for any card purchased. If it doesn’t show up (physical card), has less available than expected, or any other problem, you just contact them within a year of purchase and they’ll replace it. Easy peasy!

More importantly, there are no fees, sales tax, processing or shipping fees ever. So the price you see is the price you pay, period. To get started, you can search by brand, category or value. Then, you can sort by the discount amount on the results to make sure you’re getting the highest discount.

Brand availability is based upon what gift cards are currently being sold. If you don’t see the brand you want, you can set up brand alerts so you’re emailed when they’re in stock. Physical cards are shipped, and e-gift cards are available electronically.

And to help sweeten the deal? Raise.com is offering $5 off of their discounted gift cards with a purchase of $50 or more for first time users. Just use promo code RAISE25AF at checkout to take advantage of these savings!

How EBates Works

Ebates is my go-to for savings. It’s so easy, it’s ridiculous! There are a couple of ways that the program works:

  1. Shop online: I highly recommend you install their browser plugin called the Ebates Cash Back Button. It’s a great reminder that any time you hit a site that they give cash back on, it’ll alert you. Even better, you can find coupons through the button as well, and it’ll try to apply all of them for you! When the cash back button flashes, just make sure to click the red “Activitate Cash Back” button before making your purchase. And you’re done!
  2. Shop in-store: Ebates also offers in-store rebates as well now. You just log into the website and view the in-store offers. If you find any you like, make sure to link those offers to your card prior to going shopping. That’s it!

Ebates pays out every 3 months either through PayPal or a gift card to certain stores. If you chose the gift card payout, they’ll even give you an additional higher percentage back!

How IBotta Works

Ibotta is an app that you submit your receipts to after spending. Primarily, it’s great for grocery shopping. However, they’re recently begun to branch out in mobile and in-store shopping as well.

Like Ebates, you just click through the app to make sure your online purchase registers with them. For in-store purchases, you just need to add those offers to your account prior to shopping. The savings varies anywhere from $5 back to 10% back, depending upon the store.

How to Tie It All Together to Get the Biggest Discount Possible

Now that we’ve got the basics down, here’s how to tie them all together to create a triple stack (or more!) of savings:

  1. Start by researching several couponing sites for coupons, discounts and sales. While this is optional if you’re pressed for time, I recommend trying to do this for bigger ticket items at the very least so maximize savings. The main sites I use are:
  2. Select which store to shop at with the best sale and coupon combination.
  3. Activitate the Ebates Cash Back Button (browser plugin) and purchase a gift card from Raise.com for that store. Don’t forget to use promo code RAISE25AF to save $5 off a $50 purchase!
  4. Chose to receive the e-gift card via email to save time.
  5. If shopping online:
    Activitate the Ebates Cash Back Button (browser plugin) to get an additional discount on your store purchase.
  6. If shopping in-store:
    • Check Ebates or Ibotta for a discount for in-store shopping. (Always check each app or website to make sure the store/discount has been added to your account prior to purchase!)
    • Print the e-gift card from Raise or pull it up on your phone when checking out.
  7. After shopping, submit the receipt to rebate apps such as Ibotta, or Walmart Savings Catcher, if needed.
  8. Sit back and enjoy your triple (or more!) savings!

Is All This Really Worth It?

It can sound overwhelming, but the potential for savings is worth it. Take it step by step and incorporate these websites and apps into your everyday shopping, and you’ll have quite a nice chunk saved up before you know it. That could go towards debt repayment or next year’s Christmas or vacation fund.

Shopping with gift cards can also help you limit your spending, similar to cash envelopes. If you limit yourself to just spending what’s on the gift card, and stop at that point, you’ll be able to stay in budget.

With a bit of planning, prep, and time, you can easily triple your savings on any purchase. It’s the small actions like using Raise.comeBates, Ibotta, and hitting sales that add up to help you grow your savings!

Do you use any of these websites to help stack your savings? Which do you like best? Let me know in the comments below!

Printable Debt & Savings Trackers Just for You!

Printable screenshots

Use these free debt & savings tracking printables to help you track and achieve all of your financial goals!

We won't send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time. Powered by ConvertKit

These are my secret weapons to triple my savings when shopping! How to easily triple your savings on any purchase #savings #couponing #budget

How to Triple Stack your Savings on ANY Purchase! #savings #holidaysavings #shopping

How to Stop Overspending Immediately with One Easy Trick

How to stop overspending with one easy trick

I love to shop. It might not be for clothes, expensive purses, or jewelry, but I love to buy home decor. And daydream about herringbone backsplashes and kitchen remodels. Oh, and don’t forget about the hours I could spend in any craft or home improvement store within a 50 mile radius!

The cold, hard truth is that shopping is a necessity, just like eating and drinking (lots of) coffee. Even if you try not to shop for non-necessities, you still need groceries, toiletries, and other household items.

Consumers are exposed to up to 10,000 brand messages A DAY according to the American Marketing Association*. Emails, billboards, and tv ads – oh my! There’s no avoiding marketing ploys even if you think you are. We’re subjected to them everywhere – even while buying groceries or picking up toiletries at CVS.

So are we all doomed to overspend at the sight of a online sale, girls’ day out, or those thousands of ads we’re subjected to daily? Thankfully, the answer is no. I have one great trick to help you wrangle your spending and cut down on buying things that you don’t really need. Continue reading

Money and relationships: How to get on the same page

How to get your spouse on the same financial page quickly

Today’s post is about one of the most dreaded financial conversations that a lot of couples tend to avoid, understandably. Grab your favorite drink, put on comfy pants, turn on some smooth jazz (hey, no judgements!) and breathe deep. You good? Ok.

Let’s talk about getting your spouse on board with the family finances.

Yeah, I know – don’t panic. Deep breaths, remember? This is THE most talked about topics in the budgeting groups I’m a part of. And I get it. There’s a reason why disagreements about money is one of the biggest factors in divorce, right?

Getting two people to see eye to eye about anything is difficult enough, but to add money into the mix? Yowza.

So what can you do? And how do you not only start the conversation, but keep it civil? Continue reading