Though long-term savings are important, sometimes getting quick results can motivate you to stick to a savings goal. Over time, small areas of savings can add up and be used to contribute to an emergency fund or to fund a future dream.
Of course, everyone’s spending habits are different. See which of these suggestions could make the biggest difference for your bottom line.
1. Cancel unnecessary subscription services and memberships
To be an effective saver, get rid of unnecessary subscriptions. Perhaps you signed up for a new streaming service for the free promotional period but forgot to cancel it. Or maybe you have a gym membership you no longer use. Go through your monthly credit card or bank statements to look for recurring subscription charges.
You don’t need an account at a specific institution to get a helping hand. There are a number of fintech services—like Trim and Truebill—that are designed to help you find ways to save on subscriptions and other bills.
2. Automate your savings with an app
If you often forget to put money into your savings account or struggle to know how much to sock away, consider using an app that does the work for you.
There are plenty of apps that will automate your savings. Qapital and Digit are two options. These automated savings apps are designed to automatically transfer a predetermined amount from your paycheck into your savings.
You won’t earn the highest annual percentage yield (or sometimes any) on your deposits with these apps, so once you’ve saved up a bundle, consider transferring the money into a high-yield savings account.
3. Set up automatic payments for bills if you make a steady salary
We’re busy. It’s all too easy to forget to pay all of our bills on time. One easy way to save money is to pay your bills when they’re due, assuming you can afford to do so.
Companies charge you late fees for overdue balances. While this might amount to just $5 here or $10 there, those fees quickly add up. Credit card late fees can be a lot more expensive.
People with irregular income may want to hold off automating bill payments and instead consider trying a service like Steady, which connects you to side gigs and other earning opportunities near your payday and bill due dates.
Some banks let you set up a rule within your digital banking account. At Chase Bank, online banking customers can set up an auto-savings rule so that when, for example, they receive a $1,000 deposit, the bank automatically moves $100 of it into a savings account.
4. Switch banks
Banks make a lot of money from account fees. In fact, banks made over $8 billion in 2021 in overdraft and nonsufficient funds fees alone, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
It’s easy to avoid paying monthly fees, particularly at online banks. Nearly half (46 percent) of checking accounts that don’t earn interest are free, according to Bankrate’s 2022 checking account and ATM fee study. Some banks will even give you a generous bonus just for opening an account.
For your savings account, look for one that pays a competitive yield. Compare savings accounts rates and fees to find one that fits your needs.
5. Open a short-term certificate of deposit (CD)
A one-year CD could help you earn more interest than a savings account. Plus, a CD’s yield is usually fixed; as long as you keep the money in the CD through the duration of the term, you’re guaranteed to earn the opening APY.
One important caveat: Avoid CDs if you think you might need the cash before the CD term ends, so you won’t have to pay early withdrawal penalties.
6. Sign up for rewards and loyalty programs
Sign up for discount cards at grocery stores and drug stores in your area.
Using these programs regularly can help you save money at checkout or possibly help you earn rewards toward future purchases. Just make sure not to be swayed into buying unnecessary stuff by appealing deals.
7. Buy with cash or set a control on your card
You can trick your brain into saving money every time you go to the store by using cash instead of a credit card to make a purchase. Whatever cash you have is your spending limit. Check out the cash stuffing trend to explore this idea further.
It’s too easy to lose sight of limits with a credit card.
8. Stop paying for convenience
Paying for convenience can save time, but it can cost you money.
Taking a little extra time out of your day to brew your own coffee or clean and repair things around the house can grow your bank account.
Choose to reduce your expenses on things you care less about. For example, maybe you value the experience of going to a coffee shop, but you can cut back on how many times your order delivery food.
9. Earn cash back on your purchases
Even when times are toughest, you’ll still need to spend money on essentials, so you might as well be rewarded with cash back. There are cash-back credit cards that can help you collect cash back on your purchases. Some don’t even have an annual fee.
Your existing credit card might also have cash-back offers at certain retailers, but you might need to opt in to redeem this reward. These offers may have an expiration date or other terms and conditions, so double check to ensure you’re not caught off guard.
Cash-back apps might also be an option to consider before you start shopping for new credit cards.
10. Reevaluate your recurring bills
Look at your cable, satellite or streaming options to potentially save money. You might start off with a good deal from your cable or satellite provider, which lapses after an initial period. Finding a new deal after a couple of years could save you money.
There are also apps, such as Rocket Money, that can help negotiate bills for you. These apps are often free but take a percentage of the earnings if they help you save on bills.
11. Look for coupons and sales
Planning ahead with coupons and checking around for sales can make a major difference. Looking through store flyers and online can help you get a good deal and save money. A website extension, such as Honey’s browser add-on, looks out for coupon codes for you.
12. Sell unwanted items
Sell items you don’t need for an injection of cash fast.
Look at your closet, attic, garage or storage space to find the dress or ring or hiking boots you no longer wear. Then, post the item to a popular online marketplace, such as eBay or Poshmark.
A garage sale might be an option for selling many items at once.
Whatever approach you take, do your homework to avoid regrets. Make sure you know the value of an item before you sell it for less than it is worth.
13. Reevaluate your housing costs
Housing costs—such as rent or mortgage payments—are some of the largest expenses in most budgets. Moving to a place with a lower rent could help you start saving immediately. Refinancing your mortgage can help you save money on monthly payments and in the long run. But make sure it makes sense for your situation.
14. Shop around for insurance
Shopping around for insurance can help you save big. Sometimes you’ll find a better deal as a new customer or you can contact your existing insurer to ask them to lower your current rate if it has gone up. Bundling insurance products with the same insurance company can also help you save.
15. Limit energy consumption
By reducing how much energy you consume, you’re not only helping the environment but also lowering your monthly bills. Some ways to save money on energy consumption quickly include unplugging electronics when they’re not in use, switching to LED lightbulbs and lowering your thermostat a couple of degrees at night during colder months.
16. Downgrade an annual fee credit card
Sometimes an annual fee credit card can provide real benefits. But it might not make sense to pay this annual fee if the card discontinues these benefits or if you aren’t fully utilizing them. Downgrading to a no-annual-fee card might be a better fit for you, if this is an option. Call your issuer to see if you’re able to downgrade your current card to a no-fee card.
17. Cook your own meals
Food can be a large expense in your budget. Prep for your upcoming meals and have a clear understanding of what you need from the grocery store. Make a list, look for coupons, and try not to buy anything that didn’t make it on the list.
Even without coupons, buying food at a grocery store is significantly less expensive than ordering carryout or eating at restaurants.
18. Try a no-spend day
Not spending any money in a day or week can help you quickly save money. This can force you to think about every dollar you spend. After a no-spend day (or days), you may also realize your spending habits have improved.
19. Make a budget
Assessing your spending is a way to find areas where you may be wasting money. This can be an eye-opening process.
The goal of making a budget is to set a guideline for how much you spend and how much you save each month. It can give you insight into where you can cut down on spending, and it can incentivize you to build toward savings goals.
20. Eliminate one spending habit today
There’s probably one treat or convenience that you’re paying for on a daily or regular basis that you can live without (or indulge in less often). Over time, you may get used to skipping this item and it will no longer be a habit.
By following a plan and using some discipline, you can find yourself with more money at the end of the week or month, and in time, the year.