Technology can be super helpful when it comes to saving money— from apps that help you budget to online shopping tools that find you the best deals.
But sometimes the best way is the old-fashioned way.
Many old-school money-saving tips are still effective in today’s technology-driven world, according to financial experts.
Here are six old-fashioned tips that are can still help you save big bucks today.
1. Use the envelope budgeting system
The premise of this classic money-saving method is simple.
After you pay your bills and set aside money for savings and any investments, divide the rest into spending categories like groceries, eating out, clothing, and entertainment. Get an envelope for each category, write the name on it, then stick inside the amount of cash you want to spend in that area — whether for the week or for the month.
Once the cash runs out, you can’t spend any more money in that particular category.
“Our [financial planners] frequently encourage employees who are struggling with cash flow and debt to use the envelope system,” Cynthia Meyer, a certified financial planner at Financial Finesse, told INSIDER. “This can be a particularly effective way to master discretionary spending on things like food, hobbies, and entertainment (for most people it’s not necessary to put fixed expenses like housing or utilities in an envelope). There’s no substitute for the awareness that comes with paying in cash.”
One way to make this system even more effective is to put the receipt for each purchase in the envelope once you spend the cash, so you know exactly where your money goes, Meyer added.
Pamela Capalad, a certified financial planner and founder of Brunch and Budget, told INSIDER that she has a few clients who use this system and that it’s most helpful if you use it only for a few main expenses — so you don’t have a million envelopes to keep track of — and if you are committed to sticking to it.
“You need to be diligent about pulling cash out, separating it into the right envelopes, and not just pulling more cash out when you run out,” Capalad said. “Categories that work best are groceries, shopping, and if you’re a couple, fun money/allowances for each of you. Clients have also found it easier to budget on a weekly basis vs. a monthly basis.”
2. Go cash-only
They say cash is king, which is why some people make a cash withdrawal of a portion of their paycheck to use for discretionary spending, Jennifer Lane, a certified financial planner at Compass Planning, told INSIDER. That way, when the cash is gone, you know you’ve used up all your “fun” spending money, she said.
“For example, you want to cut down on lunch at work and decide to allow yourself $20 per week,” Lane said. “Cash the $20 on Monday and parcel it out for the week. You can spend it all on Monday or cut back and eat a few cheaper lunches instead.”
3. Freeze your credit card
Yes, literally freeze it.
Several experts recommended this tip for helping you stop spending money you don’t have.
“Freeze half a bowl of water,” Lane said. “Add the credit card to the bowl then top off the water and freeze… the card is suspended in the ice giving you plenty of time to think before making a big purchase.”
This is especially effective because putting it in the microwave would ruin your credit card, so there’s no way around it, Financial Finesse financial planner Steve White added.
Of course, this only works if you have not memorized your card number.
4. Balance your checkbook
With online banking, this practice may seem outdated, but it can make all the difference.
“Learning how to balance your checkbook, even though you can easily look online to see if stuff cleared, is important so that you understand how it works,” Kelley Long of Financial Finesse told INSIDER. “I’ve seen too many people incur overdrafts after writing checks because they didn’t understand that the money could still be in their account for days, sometimes weeks, and they ended up spending it.”
It can also help you check for any errors or fraud, she said.
“We recently returned from vacation and, when reconciling our receipts with what posted, found that a server had added a 0 to his tip, to take it from $6 to $60,” Long said. “Had we not been checking, we would have missed that because it wasn’t unusual for us to spend that much at a restaurant on vacation.”
You’ll also have a better idea of where your money goes — one of the most important aspects of budgeting — because you’ll be recording transactions, she said.
5. Separate your bank accounts
It can be helpful to have at least three separate bank accounts for various types of expenses, Meyer said.
She recommends having one for fixed monthly expenses, one for annual expenses (such as life insurance, summer camp or vacations) and one for emergencies.
Lane also touted the benefits of this method, which she calls “a twist” on the envelope system.
“The nice thing about this system is that you can a chance to work out how much of your paycheck is already committed before the non-monthly expenses happen,” she told INSIDER. “For example, decide in advance how much of your check you can devote to friend’s weddings or kid’s camp this year. Then when it comes time to plan the event you know your budget and can say no thank you or adjust to fit what you can afford.”
Most online banks and some brick-and-mortar banks will let you open multiple savings account without an additional fee, Lane added.
6. Learn to make things instead of buying them
One of the most straightforward ways to save a bunch of money is to simply learn how to do and make more things that you would normally spend money on.
Teig Stanley, a certified financial planner at Financial Finesse, told INSIDER that there are many ways you can cut costs by being more self-sufficient.
You can make “DIY cleaning supplies, bug repellents” and even bake your own bread and grow your own vegetables if possible, Stanley said.
Financial planner Tania Brown added that “making instead of buying gifts” to that list.
And the benefits might be more than just financial. One woman who was able to quit her job at age 32 by being extremely frugal told INSIDER that learning new skills to save money was empowering and improved her relationship.