If you want to save money, but you’re spend happy and living paycheck to paycheck… that’s a major problem. But guess what? You’re not alone!
Let’s make one thing clear… saving money isn’t easy, especially when finances are tight. Some people are gifted when it comes to building their savings. I call it a gift because it takes discipline, something that most human beings lack; discipline to say no to the non-necessities, discipline to limit recreational spending, and discipline to be more frugal with everyday things.
It also takes a certain awareness to continue saving even when you feel you have a “decent enough” buffer, rather than being spend-happy again. The reality is, that buffer probably isn’t nearly enough.
A few years ago, Sam told me that his friend, who is just a year older than me, had over $300,000 saved in his bank account. I remember feeling surprised, envious, and a bit embarrassed. How in the world did this kid (I say kid because at the time, we were mid-twenties) have so much money saved? I was barely scraping by, and here was my peer sitting on more money than most middle-aged adults.
Sam told me that his friend was really good at saving. That he barely spent anything. He lived with his parents for a long while, wasn’t in a relationship so he was only spending for one, didn’t go out that much and lived a relatively minimalist lifestyle. In the past year, the same person purchased an investment property in a major city suburb, renovated it, and quickly landed himself a tenant. He has also invested $200,000 into a friend’s entrepreneurial venture – because he had the cash to do it.
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TEACH ME THE WAYS, amiright?
Wouldn’t it be nice to have enough cash that you could invest in something that could eventually earn you back what you spent, and then some? Or simply, enough cash to rest easy knowing that if you lost your job tomorrow, you could coast by for a while?
Then be honest with yourself.
How much do you earn each month? Do you put any of it into savings or do you live paycheck to paycheck? How much do you have in your savings? Do you have an emergency fund?
The first step in solving a problem is admitting you have a problem. Not going for a cliché here, it’s just straight facts. If you are spend-happy but don’t have a savings to speak for, this post is for you.
Just remember… it IS possible to build a savings, even on a small income. Building a savings takes time, commitment and patience, but once you get started, let that snowball effect take over and continue putting money away until you’re asking yourself, “why the heck didn’t I start this sooner?!”
So, what are some easy ways that you can start saving money now?
1. Use Money Saving Apps
Three of our favorites are Trim Financial Manager, Ibotta and Digit! We use them all and have saved quite a bit with each.
Use smart apps like Trim Financial Manager to save you money. Trim is like having a mini personal finance assistant. The app helps you automate your savings to clean up unnecessary expenditures, like subscriptions you never use.
I realized I had an Audible subscription that I haven’t used in over 6 months so I kicked that subscription to the curb with a simple request to Trim.
With Trim, I cancelled almost $40/month of subscriptions I no longer use – some of which I completely forgot about or was too lazy to cancel on my own! That’s $480 in savings a year! All I had to do was tell Trim to cancel them for me. In the last month alone, users have saved over $1,000,000!
- How does it work? Trim will analyze your accounts to determine how much you are spending and where you can save more money. He will find recurring subscriptions and take care of cancelling those that you no longer use, negotiate lower prices on your bills (such as cable, internet and mobile) by up to 30%, help you build your savings and much more.
- Is it safe? Trim is bank-level secure with 256-bit SSL encryption, 2-factor authentication, and read-only access. So, yes.
- What does it cost? NADA!
Save money, without thinking about it!
What is financial health? To Digit, it is saving money and paying down debt, and their goal is to make both effortless for all. With Digit, users can automate their savings transfers, putting aside money without even missing it! This app is GREAT for people who have never been able to save and people who think they are unable to save.
On average, users save an additional $2,500 per year!
All you have to do is connect your bank account, and based on the app’s proprietary algorithm, it is able to automatically build your savings within your Digit account. It saves a little bit every day, and a little more when income spikes or expenses fall! It will build a rainy day fund and put money aside to pay toward your credit cards if necessary. Digit is free for 30 days and $2.99 a month thereafter
Ibotta pays cash rebates for items that you can buy any day!
Install the app and browse the offers available to see what you can earn cash back on. This includes a ton of regular grocery store items as well as store and experience purchases, so you might as well, right? The great thing about this app is that if you were already planning on purchasing something, you can get some money back for it.
Go shopping at any of the participating stores and hold onto your receipt! Redeem your offers by simply taking a photo of your receipt and Ibotta will match the items that you bought to the offers you selected. In exchange, YOU GET CASH!
The best part? Cash is deposited into your Ibotta account within 48 hours! You need to earn just $10 to cash out. Ibotta is available for iPhone or Android, US only.
For more money saving apps, check this article out.
2. Start A Cash Envelope or Money Jar
Bringin’ it back to the old school method of saving! There is a reason why we hear stories of our elders stashing cans and envelopes of cash around their houses. And if you slid your allowance into a piggy bank as a child, you probably remember the excitement you felt when it was time to count your stash or cash in on a rainy day. It’s one of the most basic and efficient ways to save!
Any time you have a few extra singles or a spare $5 bill, throw it into an envelope or jar. When you’re sitting on a nice sum, bring it to the bank and deposit it into a savings account. Spare change adds up quickly and is a fast track way toward starting an emergency fund! Just don’t dip into it!
3. Get FREE Gift Cards!
If you love free stuff as much as I do, you need to get on Swagbucks! With Swagbucks, you can earn gift cards by taking surveys and simply doing the things you would normally do online, like watching videos, surfing the web, playing games and shopping for things you were already going to shop for!
This is one of THE most popular survey sites and is one of our favorites to make money in our spare time. To date, it’s paid their members $308,244,809!
💡 Get your FREE $5 bonus here by signing up through our link. Takes just a second to join!
4. Try Micro-Investing
Investing isn’t for everyone, whether for lack of experience or lack of cash-flow. But did you know that you can learn how to invest (and start saving) with a small amount of money?
Yes! You DON’T have to drop $1,000+ into a stock to starting investing! It can be incredibly difficult to decide what you are going to invest in because there are so many factors to consider: the risk, how much you can afford to invest, what type of investment means most to you (i.e. alternative energy, technology or health industry… you don’t want to put your money on just anything), etc.
If you are interested in investing but don’t have a very large slush fund, a great way to start is with micro-investing. Rather than investing a few hundred or thousand on a stock, why not try $5, $25, $50 here and there? It’s an awesome way to start building your savings.
My favorite way to experiment is with micro-investing using apps. Here are some apps you can use to invest small and learn the lay of the land:
- Swell Investing –Investors can join Swell for a minimum of $50! Swell is an impact investing platform with portfolios in things like renewable energy, green tech, disease eradication, clean water, zero waste and healthy living (aka, total feel-good options). You can build your own mix of companies, monitor your investments’ progress, and watch your money grow! Try Swell here.
- Acorns – Acorns is a favorite among newbies because it is one of a few that allows you to invest your spare change. The purpose is to show users that anyone can grow their wealth, because what you are investing is barely noticeable!
- Stash – You can start investing with Stash for as little as $5! What I love about Stash is that you learn as you go. I am not as privy to investing as Sam is, and this was a great way to put a few bucks on things that mattered to me. From innovation to the environment, users can choose a selection of stocks that reflect their interests, beliefs, and goals… and the app will do the rest!
5. Round Up
Savings programs like Keep the Change at Bank of America are a great way to save money without even noticing. You can build your savings automatically by rounding up each purchase to the nearest dollar and turning spare change into savings. All you have to do is spend like you normally would and Bank of America will do the rest of the work!
Each time you make a transaction with your checking account, the bank will round up and transfer the change to your savings account. You can even transfer the change to someone else’s account, which would be a great way to start building up a savings account for your child.
*This calculator is for illustrative purposes only. Actual change saved could accrue faster the more you use your debit card.
Think about all the individual transactions you make on a daily and weekly basis. Coffees, groceries, gas, dry cleaning, etc. We pull out that piece of plastic more than we even realize! So, say you spend about $19.25 on gas each week. That’s $.75 transferred to your savings account each week, or, $39/year! Without even having to do anything! Buy a $3.63 cup of coffee every day? Well, you’ll be saving $135.05 without breaking a sweat.
If your bank doesn’t offer this type of program, it’s easy enough to do it yourself!
6. Ditch Your Credit Card
Raise your hand if you have credit card debt! Trust us, we KNOW how debilitating credit card debt can be. Credit cards will be the demise of millennials because we rely on them too much. It’s time to STOP saying “I’ll just put it on my card,” and only use what you have! Leave your credit card at home and only use it in the event of an emergency.
AND REMEMBER: clear your browser history, cache… WHATEVER… to remove your credit card information so you can’t say “oops, I accidentally just hit “BUY” before I realized my digits were already entered, OH WELL!” [**insert eyeroll**]
How To Pay Off Your Credit Card Without Interest Fees
17 Easy Ways To Live A More Frugal Life
7+ Must-Have Money Saving Apps
10+ Flexible Jobs To Make An Extra $1,000/Month
8+ Personal Finance Hacks to Get Rich in 2019
7. Take Free Online Surveys
Taking surveys online is an easy, hassle-free way to make money in your spare time (and thus, SAVE more money!). Easy money without the hassle? What’s not to love? The beauty of taking online surveys that pay is that anyone can do it. They don’t require special skills… just your honest opinion and a bunch of time.
There are quite a few survey sites out there, many of which aren’t great, but Survey Junkie, Swagbucks, American Consumer Opinion, Inbox Dollars, Toluna and Vindale Research are an awesome place to start.
Sign up for as many as you can to increase your odds of getting matched with new surveys. The more you qualify for and take, the more money you can make. Most surveys can be taken while you’re hanging around at home watching TV. Full disclosure: you won’t make hundreds of dollars a day, but you can certainly rack in a few hundred a month.
Once you start cashing in… put the money you’ve earned directly into your savings account – don’t spend your side hustle cash on new things just because you have another source of income! The point is to SAVE more right?!
Learn more tips & tricks for making and saving money!
8. Spend Cash Only
Not only should you leave your credit card at home, but you should try the cash only method. It’s much harder to part with cash than it is to swipe a card. If you know you’ve only got $35 to last you until the end of the week, you will think twice before spending money on non-essentials. Because what happens when you spend that last dollar? Welp, you’re S.O.L. aren’t ya?
Relying on cash only is definitely not easy, but it works wonders for those who are serious about living more frugally so they can build up or rebuild their savings (and stop digging themselves deeper and deeper into debt).
9. Get Paid To Lose Weight
Yes, you read that right! An awesome way to add more money to your savings account WHILE getting healthy is HealthyWage! HealthyWage is a program where you can place a bet on how much weight you are going to lose and if you succeed, you get paid.
Lord how I WISH I heard about this sooner! Coming from someone who has experienced weight fluctuations for the better part of 10 years, this concept is killer. Incentive programs are known for being a successful way to lose weight – that’s why so many large companies have programs and challenges for their employees!
- How does it work? You use the HealthyWage calculator to enter your goal and calculate your potential winnings. Then, you make your bet, lose the weight and WIN MONEY!
It’s simple, money motivates. And if you’ve got some weight to lose and a savings account to fill, this could be the perfect program for you!
10. Stop Eating Out So Much
This doesn’t just mean dinner… this means all meals! Stop buying your coffees and bagels before work, stop getting your usual salad or sandwich from the deli across from your office every day for lunch, and for goodness sake, stop ordering pizza when you’re feeling lazy! It doesn’t matter if you are a fast food, dollar menu spender. In fact, fast food is even easier to shrug off because of the small transactions!
These easy alternatives to prepping your own food may not feel like much when purchased individually, but if you just take a peek at your bank account and do the math… I think you’ll be surprised. Food prep is not as cumbersome as you may think. In fact, it doesn’t just save money, but it saves a lot of time! Give it a try.
This is not to say that you have to stop treating yourself here and there; in fact, saving is much easier when you allow yourself to indulge from time to time. But only if you treat it as a TREAT… aka something you don’t have often.
11. Buy Less Expensive Personal Products
I KNOWWWWW, whyyyyyyy?! If you’re anything like me, there are probably select hair, skin and makeup products and brands that you use. But, if you’re trying to save money, maybe it’s time to explore more affordable options. Something as simple as changing your shampoo or face wash brand could save you a nice chunk of money.
I am a lover of department store products like Lancôme and Estée Lauder. But they are a bit on the pricier end, am I right? Lately I have been using Simple products which are both affordable and of good quality. For example…
Lancôme Bi-Facil Face Makeup Remover – $40
Simple Kind to Skin Micellar Cleansing Water – $5.12
Pretty big difference, huh? I love Lancôme but when I can’t swing it, I can’t swing it. It costs me $35 less to use Simple make up remover, which gets the job done and is quite nice on my bank account!
12. Shop Thrift & Second-Hand
You can find some pretty awesome stuff in thrift stores – for a fraction of the price! Thrift stores sometimes get a bad rep from people who turn their nose up to second-hand items. But why? Most decent thrift stores have standards for the clothing items that they accept – it’s not like they’ll just take a torn, pit-stained white t-shirt… slap a price tag on it and expect it to be a best seller, lol. No! They accept gently used goods! It’s time to get past that word “second-hand” and start buying smart to save money!
Not only can you get gently worn clothing, but you can also find things like furniture, sports gear, decorations, and more! Of course, you may have to weed through the racks a bit until you find the good stuff, but that is part of the fun!
13. Don’t Shop Just Because There Is A Sale
Just because your favorite store is having a big promotional sale does NOT mean you have to shop! We are all guilty of using sales as an excuse to spend money. A great way to avoid temptation is unsubscribing from all of those email newsletters that try to lure you into getting a “good deal.” Rather than wasting money on stuff you wouldn’t have purchased otherwise, unsubscribe and avert your eyes from the excessive marketing campaigns meant to trick you into spending. You will be surprised at how much you will save!
14. Shop on Brandless.com
Brandless is a website where everything they sell is just $3! Bath tissue, dish soap, corn chips, silicone cooking utensils, shampoo, snacks… the list is long! Sure, there may be some kitchen and household essentials that you buy by brand… but if there are items you couldn’t care less about but need… spend less!
This is also a GREAT way for college students to save money! I recommended this website to my brothers when they moved into their first apartments their junior year of college to help them save money (“I need to buy my own surface cleaner now?” LOL)!
There are so many ways to save money, you just have to take it seriously! Your savings account is NOT going to build itself! Get to it already!