Personal Finance

How to Save $500 by Memorial Day

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Memorial Day is the opening to the summer season, and it’s quickly approaching. That’s a scary fact for many Americans who haven’t begun to save for all of the summer fun they’ve been planning.

Millions of Americans hit the road for Memorial Day, spending money on hotels, gas and entertainment costs like theme park tickets and party supplies. But what if you haven’t budgeted for these fun expenses? (Not everyone has a budget strategy like this one, after all.) Luckily, there’s still time to save some fast cash before the holiday weekend arrives and you’re forced to put these extra costs on your credit card or opt out of the summer fun.

With this in mind, let’s take a look at three strategies you can use to save some extra cash for Memorial Day.

1. Curb Your Expenses

When you go shopping, follow these simple rules and you will start spending much less money.

  • Make a list, and stick to it. As easy as this one sounds, a lot of us don’t do it. Sticking to a shopping list ensures that you will only buy what you planned on buying.
  • Don’t go food shopping on an empty stomach. This one seems pretty obvious too, but only shopping when you feel nice and full is one of the best ways to avoid unintended purchases. As we’ve told you before, food is one of the most common budget breakers.
  • Create a weekly food budget. By planning your meals by the week (including meals out) you can ensure that, even if you stray from your shopping list occasionally, you can keep your spending in check.

2. Redeem Your Credit Card Rewards

Always buy groceries at the same store? Fuel your car at the same station? Rewards points add up very quickly and sometime you don’t even notice it. Make sure to redeem all your points as soon as you can – it may take time for the cash-back rewards to hit your bank account. Here are some tips.

  • Use your points for cash-back rewards directly to your savings account. (Check to see if your credit card is one of the best cash-back cards in America.)
  • Exchange your rewards for gift cards that offer discounts on services or merchandise you need for Memorial Day weekend. Many credit card issuers have deals with major car rental companies, cruise ships, airlines and even gas companies. You can make your points go further with gift cards that can help lower your Memorial Day costs.

3. Automate Your Savings

Save money every time you spend, without having to think about it. One great way to do this is to enroll in an automatic savings program. SavedPlus has an app to help you do this.

By saving a little (say, 5% of your daily spending), saving often (preferably daily or with every purchase), and saving without thinking about it (through automatic transfers to your savings account), you can build up your savings without constantly having to choose to set money aside. Think about it this way – if you plan to spend $2,000 on the regular day-to-day expenses between now and Memorial Day and use the 5% strategy, you’ll have banked $100 to spend on fun.

The last thing you want to do is incur debt because of a holiday weekend. Too much debt can cost a lot of time and can also hurt your credit. If you’re worried about how your debt could be impacting your credit, you can check each of your three major credit reports for free once a year at AnnualCreditReport.com. You can also use free online tools to monitor your credit more frequently, including those at Credit.com, which provides two free credit scores, explains why they are what they are, and shows you how to improve them over time.

Whatever method you choose, the important thing is to set a goal and start saving money towards it.  Then, when the holiday arrives, you will have the pleasure to spend it the way you like, with whomever you like, without having to worry about where it’s coming from.

More on Managing Debt:

Image: iStock

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