Scoring Big on Small Discounts: The Cumulative Savings Effect

Compound interest is like a snowball rolling downhill—it starts small but gets bigger and faster as it goes. Saving doesn’t just add money, it multiplies it.

Published on 2024-05-13

In his book Atomic Habits, James Clear explains that we often underestimate the power of small changes and overestimate the grand. However, ambitious changes are usually unattainable and seldom last. On the contrary, if you manage just 1% of positive change, the cumulative effect is remarkable. This is also true for finances: instead of aiming at big life-altering changes, go for more humble changes you can sustain and appreciate eventually.

One obstacle we place in our path to our financial goals is discarding small changes because we think they will not lead to big results. This same mindset makes us brush off small expenditures that can put a dent in our finances when added up. However, the adage “Look after the cents and the dollars will take care of themselves” is spot on. To understand how this works, let’s look at compound interest. Compound interest applies not only to the initial sum of an investment but also to the accumulated interest from previous periods. In simpler terms, it involves earning interest on your interest. This means that every single dollar you keep in your bank has the power to multiply your money. So, why would you not save every single cent you can by becoming a savvy consumer?

Here are three ways to save big on small discounts. These tips can be applied to other areas of your budget as well.

Finding the best deals when dining out

Cutting back on dining out is a sure way to save money but it might not be the right choice for you. It is OK to prioritize dining out if it is an important activity. Nonetheless, there are ways to save money at restaurants. Sign up for websites that group the best restaurant deals. You can also sign up for local newsletters to find out about discounts. Many restaurants offer discount coupons and you can combine that with the reward points or special deals your credit and debit cards offer.

Keep a clear register of groceries

If you make it a habit to audit your groceries once a week, you will have more control over this part of your budget. Instead of buying a product at its full price, if you know you are not running low, you can wait until there is a convenient deal or wait until you’ve accumulated coupons. When there is no need to run to the store to buy something, you can patiently wait for a good deal.

Going out and striking a deal

Depending on your spending habits, entertainment can be a sizable part of your budget. If going out to the movies, theater or game night is something you are not willing to negotiate, you can still save money. Instead of choosing where to go out on a whim, plan your entertainment around the best deals. Instead of going to the movie theater nearest to you, find if there are better deals elsewhere and do the math. Maybe introducing new experiences to your monthly outings can actually make it more fun and less expensive when you plan according to the best deals.

The first step to saving big on small discounts requires a change in mindset. Instead of discarding small changes, take action and watch your savings grow. Compound interest will do its magic!

Looking to learn more smart ways to save money? Read all about it here. Or better yet