Does it feel like your money has been slipping right out of your hands lately? Or like there’s a hole in your wallet? Maybe you just signed into your bank app and - ouch! There’s no denying the numbers that are staring out at you right from your phone screen. You know you need to save more, starting now.
But knowing you need to pump up your savings and knowing how to do it are two totally different matters. Forget about old-school advice about clipping coupons, we’re here to show you how you can really add to your savings. No scissors needed.
In the end, there are only two ways to save more money: make more or spend less - or option C, a little bit of both. If neither option sounds like fun, don’t give up hope. We’ve got some surprisingly painless ways to help you figure out your next steps.
It may seem like you’re spending the bare minimum, but if you gave your budget a long, hard look, you’d be shocked. It’s not just about skipping the morning lattes - spending less goes way deeper, and you’ll probably have to make some tough decisions on where to make some serious cuts.
But before you get started, the first thing you need to do is track your expenses. Yes, all of them, no matter how insignificant. Knowing exactly where your money goes is the crucial first step to figuring out where you can cut back. A free personal expense tracker like Wally will make it easy. You can set your budget, then track your expenses to see how you do.
1. Cut the Cord
If you are paying for cable tv - why? Do you really watch it? Or is it just background noise while you scroll through your phone? With so much streaming content available online, cable tv is probably a good place to start saving. If you really do enjoy your live shows, Sling TV offers both live and on-demand shows, plus a DVR, for a fraction of the average cable bill.
2. Shop Smart
No, not with newspaper coupons. Just a little willpower and effort can help you save money every time you shop. First tip: make a list, and stick to it. Don’t load up on tempting treats. Then, compare stores. Just because you’ve been shopping at the store on the corner for years doesn’t mean that it offers the best prices. Check out some other grocery stores to find the one that offers the best deals on the foods you buy most.
3. Go Green
You need your fresh fruits and veggies, but skip the overpriced produce at the grocery store. Instead, check out the farmer’s market. Not only will it be fresher, but you’ll pay less, too.
4. Bank for Free
You need someplace to stash your savings, but unnecessary banking fees can cost you hundreds each year. Check out free online banks, such as Chime. Many of them offer accounts with no monthly fees, no minimum amounts, and fee-free overdraft protection.
Make More Money
Saving more money is only half of the solution. The other way to increase your savings is to make more money. You can ask your boss for a raise, but if that doesn’t work, we’ve got you covered. Here are some creative ways to make more money.
5. Pick up a Side Gig
If you’re ready to work some extra hours, the Steady app was made for you. Once you create your free account, you can look for local full-time, part-time, and freelance jobs in your local area. There’s even a work from home option, if that’s your preference.
6. Cash In with Cash Back
Even when you’re cutting your expenses to the bare minimum - you are, right? - you’ll still have to spend some money. Using a shopping rewards app will help you get some of your money back with cash or gift card rewards. Ibotta is free and easy to use, no coupons or promo codes. Simply take a barcode picture of any of their eligible items, plus your receipt, to start getting cash back.
7. Cash from Clutter
If you have unused items taking up space in your home (and who doesn’t?), chances are there’s someone who will pay you for them. Craigslist, eBay, and local consignment shops are all easy ways to sell. You can also use specialty apps such as Second Sale (books) and Gazelle (electronics) to make some easy money.
8. (Micro)Invest Your Money
Investing might conjure up images of stuffy Wall Street execs, but micro-investing is a completely different ball game. When you link your credit or debit card to the Acorns app, it will automatically round up your purchases to the nearest dollar and invest the difference. You won’t even notice the money leaving your account, but it will add up quickly.
9. Go for a Walk
This one's for all you animal lovers out there! You’ll get fresh air, your pet fix, and some extra cash when you sign up as a pet sitter or dog walker with Rover. You set your own schedule, so your puppy love won’t interfere with other priorities.
Saving money isn’t much fun, but it can be painless. Keep working at it, and you’ll soon be seeing the extra zeroes at the end of that bank account!