21 Quick Ways You Haven’t Tried Yet to Make and Save Money
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We’ve all done a million different things to make money, right?
Personally, I’ve written articles, bagged groceries, cooked cheeseburgers, donated plasma and walked dogs to earn cash. And when it comes to saving money… well, I’ve had to fool myself into saving any money instead of just spending it all.
If you need money at the moment, have you done everything you can to make and save a bit more cash? Everything? Really? Are you sure?
Because I’ve rounded up some quick ways that I’m betting you haven’t tried yet.
Simple Moves to Make When You Need Money
Here are a few tricks to try next time you need money.
1. Try Your Hand at Real-Estate Investing
Want to try real-estate investing without playing landlord? We found a company that helps you do just that.
Oh, and you don’t have to have hundreds of thousands of dollars, either. You can get started with a minimum investment of just $500. A company called Fundrise does all the heavy lifting for you.
Through the Fundrise Starter Portfolio, your money will be split into two portfolios that support private real estate around the United States.
This isn’t an obscure investment, though. You can see exactly which properties are included in your portfolios — like a set of townhomes in Snoqualmie, Washington, or an apartment building in Charlotte, North Carolina.
You can earn money through quarterly dividend payments and potential appreciation in the value of your shares, just like a stock. Cash flow typically comes from interest payments and property income (e.g. rent).
(But remember: Investments come with risk. While Fundrise has paid distributions every quarter since at least Q2 2016, dividend and principal payments are never guaranteed.)
You’ll pay a 0.85% annual asset management fee and a 0.15% annual investment advisory fee.
Interested? Get started with Fundrise here.
2. Get Your Paycheck up to 2 Days Earlier
Want to get a jump on payday? Let Chime be your secret weapon.
Unlike most financial institutions, this online bank account doesn’t wait until your pay date to give you access to your money. As soon as it receives notification of a direct deposit from your employer, it immediately posts those funds to your account.
That means you’ll get your paycheck early — like Samuel Demeny, who recently switched to Chime. He uses direct deposit. His company technically pays everyone on Fridays, but Chime gets him access to that cash two days earlier than his co-workers.
“The fact that I’m paid on Wednesday versus Friday… helps me budget before the weekend even starts,” Demeny told The Penny Hoarder.
Not everyone is guaranteed the two-day head start Demeny has. That depends on your employer and its financial institution. We talked to another Chime account holder, Lee Best, who gets his paycheck one day ahead of his co-workers — on Wednesday instead of Thursday.
Plus, Chime offers some other unique features other banks haven’t caught on to yet, such as:
- It doesn’t charge overdraft fees, monthly maintenance fees, foreign transaction fees or minimum balance fees.
- You can open an easy-to-access, connected savings account. It allows you to automate your savings with features like the round-up tool, which will round up your transactions to the nearest dollar and dump the change into savings.
- It has a “Pay Friends” feature, so you don’t have to mess with cash, math or other apps to split the bill.
- Chime customers have access to thousands of fee-free MoneyPass ATMs around the country.
Who doesn’t want to get paid early?
Opening an account with Chime is free and only takes about five minutes.
3. Start Investing for the Future
It’s no brilliant secret that investing can be a smart way to make money.
Sometimes, though, it feels restricted to a few wealthy elite.
But Stash is different. This app lets you start investing with as little as $5 and for just a $1 monthly fee for balances under $5,000.
Stash curates investments from professional fund managers and investors and lets you choose where to put your money — but it leaves the complicated investment terms out of it.
You just choose from a set of simple portfolios reflecting your beliefs, interests and goals.
Bonus: Right now, The Penny Hoarder is teaming up with Stash to fund your first investment — so you’ll get a $5 bonus to get started!
4. Use Your Money in a Way That Makes You Happy
They say money can’t buy happiness. And sure, that’s true. Even we can concede that.
But shouldn’t you get the most happiness you can from your money?
Enter Joy, a free iPhone app that helps you save money and spend in a way that makes you happier.
It takes a psychology-based approach to daily financial decisions and bills, and it calls itself “the first and only money app that won't judge you for how you spend your money.”
Its features include:
- Personalized Money Coach: Based on what it calls your “financial personality,” Joy will assign you one of four in-app money coaches tailored to fit your specific needs.
- Buying More Happiness: The app prompts you to rate purchases, helping you recognize spending habits and focus more on what brings you long-term happiness.
- Savings Account and Daily Saves: The app identifies a daily savings amount based on your income data and spending habits, then prompts you to make that save via your free Joy Savings Account. This should help decrease overall stress, increase happiness and promote a sense of ownership over your financial future.
5. Earn up to $350 Opening a New Bank Account
Visit this Chase Total Checking® page* to apply online, or enter your email address to get a unique coupon to take with you to open your account at any Chase branch.
This coupon expires on July 16, 2018, so you’ll need to complete the application at a brick-and-mortar location before then.
- Get a $200 bonus when you open a new Chase Total Checking® account and set up direct deposit.
- Get a $150 bonus when you open a new Chase Savings(SM) account, deposit a total of $10,000 or more in new money within 10 days, and maintain a $10,000 balance for 90 days. You’re not required to open the savings account to earn the $200 Chase checking bonus.
6. Turn Your Down Time Into a Money-Making Opportunity
Don't have time for a second job or side gig? Consider taking advantage of time you're just hanging on the couch.
Surveys aren’t the best way to make money fast. But there’s a certain appeal to clicking a few buttons and earning money when you’d otherwise be doing nothing. Here’s our recommendation: Sign up for these legitimate survey sites all at once. Chances are, you’ll qualify for at least one or two surveys on each site a month, and the rewards will add up.
- VIP Voice surveys are relatively quick to complete and reward you with points you can redeem for cash or gift cards. Plan to login a few times each week. You’ll have no trouble earning an extra $30 this month with almost no work.
- Opinion Outpost: What sets this apart from other survey sites is it gives away $40,000 every year. It has a quarterly drawing for a $10,000 cash prize — and for every survey you complete, you’ll get one entry into the sweepstakes!
Want an even more passive way to earn income? A number of companies will actually pay you for downloading apps on your smartphone or computer — and you’ll get paid again for every month you keep them installed.
The apps collect data and help companies better understand web and mobile usage — so you'll get paid to use your computer and devices like you normally would. Check out these apps:
- MobileXpression for iPhones – After you’ve installed this app for one week, you get to play an instant rewards game for a prize (everyone wins something). We've seen users win a $25 Amazon gift card, but some of the other prizes include iPads and Samsung TVs.
- MobileXpression for Android – This one is the same as above, but for Android devices.
7. Take Steps to Consolidate Your Debt
Have you ever considered consolidating your debt? It could substantially lower payments you’re already making and help you save more money each month.
A lot of us are being crushed by credit card interest rates north of 20%. If you’re in that boat, consolidation and refinancing might be worth a look.
A good resource is online lending platform Upstart, which can help you find a loan without relying on only your conventional credit score.
Unlike traditional underwriting models that use only the common FICO scoring model, Upstart’s technology looks at factors like your education and employment history to determine your creditworthiness.
It can help you borrow up to $50,000, potentially with better terms (e.g. lower interest or lower monthly payments) than traditional lenders. If managing many different bills and credit lines is a hassle, you can also use an Upstart loan to streamline all of your loans into one.
8. Earn Cash Back When You Swipe Your Credit Card
If you’re not using a rewards credit card for everyday purchases, you’re missing out on free money.
You just have to be sure you don’t get too carried away with those purchases — and that the card is paid off at the end of each billing period.
Here’s an option we like: It’s the Chase Freedom Unlimited card. Its claim to fame? You’ll earn an unlimited 1.5% cash back on all your purchases. Plus, if you spend $500 in your first three months of opening the card (hi, groceries), you’ll pocket a $150 bonus.
There’s no annual fee, and the cash-back rewards don’t expire. We checked Credible’s annual rewards calculator, and it estimates $417 in annual rewards based on our spending habits.* (You can enter your unique spending habits and see what you’d earn, too.)
Get signed up — and 0% intro APR for 15 months — here.
*Annual Rewards amounts will change based on the amounts you enter. The monthly spending category names and definitions may vary among issuers, and categories may not align one-to-one.
The information for the Chase Freedom Unlimited card has been collected independently by The Penny Hoarder. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. The Penny Hoarder is a partner of Credible.
9. Start Saving More
Saving money is tough. So what if you could do it in a way where you wouldn't even notice?
Digit makes that possible.
This innovative app automates saving for you. Simply link it to your checking account, and its algorithms will determine small (and safe!) amounts of money to withdraw into a separate, FDIC-insured savings account.
Using this set-it-and-forget-it strategy, one Penny Hoarder saved $4,300 without noticing — read his Digit review.
If you need that money sooner than expected, you’ll always have access to it within one business day.
Digit is free to use for the first 100 days, then it’s $2.99 per month afterward.
10. Get Help Choosing the Right Credit Card
So you want a credit card, but there are too many to choose from. What to do?
Should you leaf through your junk mail and just accept one of those credit card offers that show up in your mailbox? That would be quick and easy, right?
No, no, a thousand times no! Don’t do that. That’s a good way to end up unhappily shackled to a credit card that’s all wrong for you.
At least one in five cardholders are carrying around a credit card whose fees and rewards don’t match their actual spending habits, according to a 2016 study from J.D. Power.
To get some professional help making your choice, check out Even Financial. It offers an online marketplace to find the right card for you, based on your situation and needs. (Yeah, it does that, too.)
It starts by asking what you want most out of a credit card:
- Do you want to earn rewards?
- Do you need travel incentives?
- Are you looking for a balance transfer card?
- Would you like to improve your credit?
What’s your top priority?
Even reviews the information you provide it. It considers cards from its partners.
You’ll enter your email, address, phone number and financial information, and Even will play matchmaker, connecting you with the cards best fit for you.
Lickety-split, Even Financial’s matching algorithms help identify the right card for you.
11. Take a Financial Snapshot (No, Not for Instagram)
Breaking your finances down line by line is sweat-inducing. “I spent how much on coffee last month?” you might ask. Or “I have rent due in how many days?” you question, while biting off all your nails.
Sure, looking at line items can help you understand your finances, but sometimes the best place to start is the big picture — a quick snapshot of sorts. This will help you prioritize what’s important, rather than grieve over the $6 you dropped on a cappuccino.
For your financial snapshot, sign up for Cinch Financial. The online service will analyze your accounts and sum up your situation in these pretty little pictures and even deliver you tailored, actionable advice.
Once you create a Cinch account, you’ll connect some or all of your financial accounts and enter some personal info (to access your credit report).
Now that you’re in, Cinch delivers your 90-day financial snapshot, which profiles your total debt, your cash flow and your total cash.
The breakdown is simple and easy to digest. Now, tap into your dashboard. That’s where you’ll find personalized advice from Cinch, which it prioritizes based on how important each step is to achieving financial wellbeing.
Your first 90 days with Cinch are free, then you’ll pay a $4.99 monthly fee.
If it’s not a fit, canceling your account after the free trial is easy. Go to your profile and navigate to settings. There, you’ll find an option to delete your account, which will wipe all your personal information from the platform.
12. Make Your 401(k) Blossom
Got a 401(k)? You’re on the right track.
Now, you just need to make sure it’s doing what you need it to. However, tapping into that account and deciphering the information — or lack thereof — can be hard.
There’s a robo-advisor for that. Blooom, an SEC-registered investment advisory firm, will optimize and monitor your 401(k) for you.
It gives you an initial 401(k) checkup for free, and you’ll get to know your account a little more intimately. Find out if you’re paying too many hidden fees, have the appropriate amount invested in stocks versus bonds, that kind of fun stuff.
After that, the tool is $10 a month to use to continue to monitor your retirement account. Let Blooom know your target retirement age, and it can help you get there by investing more and less aggressively.
13. Protect Your Identity
If you want to keep your finances secure and orderly, don’t be afraid to use plastic. Just protect your information.
Credit Sesame helps you avoid identity theft by keeping a watchful eye your finances.
Credit Sesame’s free identity theft protection will alert you to important changes in your credit report (like someone trying to apply for credit in your name), and it offers $50,000 in identity theft insurance.
Isn’t that better than counting on Jim at the grocery store to keep his prying eyes off your personal info?
14. Earn Rewards for Making Good Financial Decisions
This app kind of rules them all: MoneyLion is an all-in-one app for managing your personal finances.
Basically, it offers the financial services you’d typically get from three or four different banks or providers, and they’re all bundled into one place.
MoneyLion connects with all of your bank, credit card, student loan and other financial accounts. Based on your income and spending patterns, it offers personalized advice to help you save money, reduce your debt and improve your credit.
Targeted at the financial middle class, MoneyLion offers rewards to help you develop healthy financial habits. The rewards program gives you points for taking actions like:
- Connecting a bank account.
- Signing up for credit monitoring.
- Paying your bills on time.
- Keeping your credit utilization low.
You can redeem the points for gift cards. It’s like giving American Express-style rewards to middle-class customers who may not have a points-earning credit card.
15. Streamline Your Prescription Refills
Nothing is more frustrating than getting home from the grocery store and realizing you forgot to pick up your prescriptions. You know, the ones that have been sitting there for two weeks.
Then you worry the pharmacy is going to put them back, so you have to make a special trip back to the store the next day.
To save you the trouble, some companies actually deliver prescriptions right to your door — and can save you money.
Try Phil, an online prescription refill service.
After you sign up, Phil contacts your pharmacy, doctor, your insurance company — whomever it needs to talk to — and handles the rest. Each month, it’ll deliver your prescriptions to your doorstep. You’ll still have to pay for them, but delivery is free.
16. Declutter Your Space
Start taking a good hard look at your belongings. What do you actually need?
- Clothes: If you have clothes you haven’t worn in the last year, why do you hang onto them? Try selling them to folks in your area through the online marketplace Letgo. It takes about five minute to list an item, and it’s free.
- Technology: Begin with your overcrowded entertainment center, likely full of outdated music and movies. Consider selling these items to Decluttr. It’ll buy your old CDs, DVDs, Blu-rays, video games, and even cell phones and tablets. Shipping is free, and Decluttr pays you within 24 hours of retrieval.
- Books: Bookshelf collecting dust? Through Amazon Trade-In, you can trade in your used textbooks, plus other items, like electronics, in exchange for an Amazon gift card.
17. Have a Cup of Coffee and Check Your Credit Score
Your credit reports are basically the Holy Grail of your finances — and your life.
Financially, they can influence many of your big life decisions, like buying a house or a car. These decisions can become a whole lot more difficult if your credit reports have an error.
This is easy to prevent, though, especially if you just check in on your credit reports (you’ve got three major ones) every so often.
One option is to use a free app like CreditWise® from Capital One®. There, you’ll get a free TransUnion® credit report, which you can review for signs of error, theft or fraud. It’ll even give you personalized suggestions to help you improve your credit score.
Advertiser Disclosure: Capital One compensates us when you enroll in CreditWise using the links we provided above.
18. Set Your Savings and Investing to Autopilot
Siphoning a chunk of your paycheck into a seperate savings account isn’t the easiest personal finance move, especially if you’re already crunched on funds. Plus, unexpected expenses always pop up; it never fails.
This is where setting your savings to autopilot can save you — and your money.
Lots of apps on the market allow you to create a set-it-and-forget-it savings plan. One we can recommend is Rize.
Rize is a pay-what-you-want, 256-bit-encrypted (bank-level security) web app that’ll help get your savings on track. You’ll create a goal and set a deadline. Goals and deadlines always help kick your booty into gear, right?
These could be short-term goals, like saving for a weekend road trip or meeting your monthly student loan payment. You’ll even earn 1.16% interest on your balance. (For some context, that’s 19 times higher than the national average for savings accounts.)
If you have a longer-term goal, have Rize invest the money for you and help you maximize returns. It asks you to contribute at least $2 a month for that service and will take a 0.25% fee of assets invested (comparatively low for investor fees).
Like with any savings plan, you might need time to figure out what you can realistically set aside, but you can easily tweak your settings in Rize.
19. Set a Budget You Can Stick To
An integral part of managing your money is creating a budget. Ew, gross. We know. But it’s important to take a good look at what you’re spending and where.
If you’re not sure where to even start, we favor the 50/20/30 budgeting method for its simplicity. Here’s how it works:
- 50% of your income goes toward essentials.
- 20% goes toward financial goals.
- 30% goes toward personal spending.
The key is to accept you can’t create the perfect budget in an hour. You’ll have to experiment to find what works best for you.
20. Switch Carriers to Cut Your Cell Phone Bill to $1/Month
Your phone buzzes. It’s your cell phone provider, which might text you more often than some of your friends.
“90% of your data plan has been used,” it kindly informs you. “We’ll add 1GB of shared data to your plan for $15.”
How nice. Just go ahead and add that to my already-enormous cell phone bill.
If you’re sick of of paying your cell phone carrier hundreds of dollars each month, look beyond the so-called Big Four and into the discount carrier.
You might have heard of Virgin Mobile, which runs on the Sprint network. It offers low-cost plans for the iPhone.
You can bring your own iPhone, or buy a new or used one through Virgin.
Virgin keeps it simple. Its main cell phone plan is “The Inner Circle,” which offers unlimited talk, text and data for a flat $50 per month. Plus, right now it’s offering an introductory rate of just $1 per month for the first six months. No kidding.
21. Play the Slots — and Save Money
There’s something so titillating about playing digital slot machines. You watch the columns go ’round and ’round as you hold out hope that you’ll hit the money bags and win big.
Of course, you never do win, and you end up spending way more than you’d planned.
There’s a new app on the market, though, that combines playing slots and saving money. Right — it seems 100% counterintuitive, but it’s really cool.
We’re talking about Long Game Savings. Download it for free for iOS or Android.
You’ll create an account, verify your identity and connect your bank account. Set how much you’d like to automatically save each pay day, as little as $5. Once you link your bank account, you’ll earn 300 points, so you can start playing while you wait for payday.
You’ve got tons of options — from slot machines to scratch-offs to spin-to-win wheels. Your deposits earn you coins you’ll use to play and hopefully win more coins to play more games or even cash prizes, which will automatically go into your Long Game Savings account.
If you run out of coins to play with, you can opt to deposit more money into your savings or you can wait until next pay day when your auto-savings will kick in.
If you need to tap into the money that’s in your account, you can withdraw at any time. So think of it this way: It’s costing you money to play games, but you’re not losing it — it’s all going into your Long Game Savings account. Rather than saying you gambled away money this weekend, you can say you saved it away!
*Fine print from Chase:
Checking offer is not available to existing Chase checking customers, those with fiduciary accounts, or those whose accounts have been closed within 90 days or closed with a negative balance. To receive the $200 checking bonus: 1) Open a new Chase Total Checking account, which is subject to approval; 2) Deposit $25 or more at account opening; AND 3) Have your direct deposit made to this account within 60 days of account opening. Your direct deposit needs to be an electronic deposit of your paycheck, pension or government benefits (such as Social Security) from your employer or the government. After you have completed all the above requirements, we’ll deposit the bonus in your new account within 10 business days. You can only receive one new checking account-related bonus per calendar year. Bonus is considered interest and will be reported on IRS Form 1099-INT.
Account Closing: If your checking account is closed within six months after opening, we will deduct the bonus amount at closing.
This content is not provided by the bank advertiser. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the bank advertiser. This site may be compensated through the bank advertiser Affiliate Pro.
Mike Brassfield ([email protected]) is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. He’ll never have enough money.