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A Few Unique Ways to Save Up Money

unique ways to save up moneyI was shocked to learn that roughly half of Americans are saving 5% or less of their incomes. That blows my mind! Only about 15% of the population is saving over 15% of their income. This saddens me especially since technology makes it so easy to set up automatic deposits and many companies are offering some type of contribution-matching. Dave and I have been married 5 years now and saving has been part of our lifestyle since our engagement, so this is an area where I’ve seen great progress as we knock out financial goal after goal. I want to help people figure out simple, practical ways to save more money like we’ve been able to.

One of our goals for 2015 is to pay an additional $12,000 toward our mortgage principal on top of our regular monthly payments. A significant factor that will help us reach this goal is that I started working part time for my church doing admin tasks mainly from home. We have continued to live off of my husband’s income and every penny I make after tithe, tax, and a few hours of childcare each week (which another staff member splits with me so I only have to pay $5-$6/hour!) goes toward our goal. My salary certainly doesn’t add up to $12,000 in take home pay so the rest of the income that contributes to our goal comes from these two unique ways to save up money:

1. Tax refund

Our 1-year old helped us out this year by getting us a heftier tax return. We decided before we even figured out how much we would get back that ALL of it would go toward the mortgage. If we hadn’t agreed on the decision to put all of it toward the mortgage, you can bet we would be looking into something like new patio furniture, new clothes, or padding our vacation fund.

2. Third paychecks

This is our other unique way to save up money, and I didn’t realize I even did this when we first created our budget spreadsheet in Excel 5 years ago: I set our monthly budget to come from 2 paychecks each month. Since there are 2 months a year that yield a 3rd paycheck, we end up with what I view as two big bonuses! We’ve been taking our momentum from paying off $30,000 of student loans in 9 months and have kept plowing through one financial goal after another. These third paychecks have offered a big boost to our student loan payoff, 6-month emergency fund, new(ly used) car savings, and savings for our delivery-related medical bills. This year these two extra paychecks we’ll get are going toward our $12,000 mortgage principal pay-down goal.

I’ve heard some folks try to get ahead of their mortgage payment by scheduling additional mortgage payments each year. We thought about doing this but since we are motivated to pay off as much as we can, we take advantage of the one additional payment we are allowed to make toward our principal every month. I’ll note that actually having a budget is pretty important if you want to set a financial goal; how else will you know how much extra you can save each month if you don’t even know what your monthly expenses are?

Some of you may not be as zealous to pay off your mortgage for various reasons. I think we can agree Derek was VERY zealous and saved up over $50k to put toward paying off the rest of his mortgage in 2014. We won’t have ours paid off that quickly, but I find great comfort and get excited when I think about our mortgage being paid off before our 1-year old daughter reaches her 10th birthday! Financial freedom is on the horizon and I’m excited for the opportunities that will arise when this mortgage is gone.

What methods do you use to save up extra money?

This post has been written by Jessica from



My name is Derek, and I have my Bachelors Degree in Finance from Grand Valley State University. After graduation, I was not able to find a job that fully utilized my degree, but I still had a passion for Finance! So, I decided to focus my passion in the stock market. I studied Cash Flows, Balance Sheets, and Income Statements, put some money into the market and saw a good return on my investment. As satisfying as this was, I still felt that something was missing. I have a passion for Finance, but I also have a passion for people. If you have a willingness to learn, I will continue to teach.


  1. My tip isn’t going to get people thousands of $$ but it sure is easy. At the end of the day, I empty my change I’ve accumulated into my piggy bank (pink of course). Then I take excess $1 bills (leaving 4 in my wallet so I can leave any type of tip to servers) and put them in an envelope. A couple of times a year I pump the pigs stomach and take the change to my bank who runs it through the coin counter for free and deposit that and the $1 bills I’ve accumulated into my savings account. It usually adds up to a $200-300 each time. Easy peasy.

    • Pump the pig’s stomach haha we did the same thing when I was younger and called it our Cedar Point fund. I love the idea. We have a change ziploc but haven’t decided to do anything with it. I’m curious to see what it will add up to!

  2. My wife and I put $20 each into an envelope each pay period through out the year which roughly comes out to $1000 at the end of the year. Then at the first of the year we put the money we have saved on the mortgage, just like that you’ve made an extra mortgage payment without even thinking about it. In five years we’ve shed around 18 – 20 months off the life of the loan. I so love screwing the bank!!! We also do as Kathy said in the above post about rolling coins. My wife and I usually around xmas sit down and roll all our coins we’ve saved through the year. We each have our own piggy bank so we can see who saved the most, we actually make it a challenge to see who can save the most. This past xmas we saved roughly around $300.00. Piece of cake!

    • Great idea! That’s a simple but significant act because $20 per month doesn’t hurt to stash away but it sure adds up over a year. I’m sure you’ve already saved so much by NOT paying all that extra interest that would have accumulated.

  3. My grandmother shared her secret before, her unique ways to save money. She hid some of her money under her bed. 🙂

    • Clarisse- that sounds like a grandmother secret 😉 I could see a small amount or short term savings being stashed away like that but I hope it wasn’t her reitrement!

  4. My tip is for those who live in Michigan or any other state that reimburses you for returning cans. We get 10 cents per can in Michigan. Many of my friends and neighbors do not enjoy returning their cans so I happily clean out their garage and put all my profits in the bank!

  5. My parents let my sister and I keep the cash we made from returning cans when we were in high school. We usually bought a half pint of Stabuck java chip ice cream as our reward! I’m sure you use it for a better purchase 🙂 Smart thinking getting your neighbors’ cans too; no need to waste money buying pop for yourself.

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