12 Quick Ways You Haven’t Tried Yet to Make and Save Money

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Carmen Mandato/ The Penny Hoarder
Honest Abe


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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. Get Employee Perks — Without the Job

young family walking through an amusement park
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Are you self-employed or an independent contractor? We meet more and more people in that boat every day.

If you were employed by some big-time corporation, you’d probably be getting some sweet discounts through them — company discounts are a common employee benefit.

Ah, but what if you could get those discounts anyway? What if you could save on products and services without having to go through an employer?

That’s where UNA Perks comes in.

It’s a group purchasing organization, which means it negotiates discounted prices from companies ranging from Office Depot to Disney by leveraging billions of dollars in buying power through its member organizations.

By joining, you’re able to receive discounted pricing you wouldn’t normally be able to get. That goes for hotels, rental cars, mobile phone plans, theme parks, shows, software, office supplies and shipping, among other things.

Oh, and it’s free to sign up. Did we mention that?

2. Get Your Paycheck up to 2 Days Earlier

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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. Use Your Money in a Way That Makes You Happy

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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.

4. Start Investing for the Future

A woman checks out the Stash app on her iPhone.
Carmen Mandato/ The Penny Hoarder

If you’re like most of us and wish your money would just take care of itself consider starting an investment account through Acorns.

You can start small — with $5 — and stack up change over time with its “round-up” feature. That means if you spend $10.23 at the grocery store, 77 cents gets dropped into your Acorns account.

Then, the app does the whole investing thing for you.

The idea is you won’t miss the digital pocket change, and the automatic savings stack up faster than you’d think. For example, Penny Hoarder Dana Sitar was able to stash $420 away per year.

At that rate, you could set aside $1,000 in about two and a half years — without trying.

But the beauty is you can set your own pace with Acorns’ features, so if you want — and can afford — to invest $1,000 faster, go for it.

The app is $1 a month for balances under $5,000, and you’ll get a $5 bonus when you sign up.

5. Start Saving More

A pile on money rests on a table in a man's home.
Carmen Mandato/ The Penny Hoarder

Not to be a total pessimist here, but many of us aren’t the savviest of savers. We’re almost convinced this is just part of the human condition — that maybe we’re born with it.

We’ve got good news, though. Some simple tricks can help you gradually build a stash of cash.

That’s where micro-savings apps come into the picture — like Stash.

With its Smart-Save feature, Stash users can automatically tuck money into an emergency fund (or a vacation reserve) without thinking.

Let us walk you through how it works:

  1. Sign up for Stash in about two minutes, tops. Plus, you’ll get a $5 bonus just for opening your account!
  2. Connect your checking account to the app.
  3. Smart-Save does the rest, analyzing your available funds, spending and income to calculate exactly how much you can afford to save.
  4. Watch the automated savings build.

If you’re tight on money one week, you can easily turn off the automated feature. Or if you need to tap into your savings, you can withdraw at any time.

Plus, it’s nice knowing Stash will never cause you to spin into overdraft. If your balance is low, Smart-Save won’t initiate a transfer.

Sneak a peek at Stash’s Smart-Save feature — then try to say that five times fast…

Please note, the Smart-Save feature is not a savings account offered by a bank. Smart-Save is a feature that may be turned on and connected to the checking account that is linked to your Stash Invest account.

Want another idea? Consider taking advantage of time you’re just hanging on the couch.

We know the work day is long and when you get home, you probably don’t want to go work a side hustle. So why not just get paid to answer some questions on your smartphone or laptop while you watch TV?

Seriously, hear us out.

You might recognize the Ipsos Panel name because it’s the same company that does most of the political polling during elections. It also has a survey app called i-Say that pays you for your opinions.

Some of the top-end surveys can pay up to $95, but those are rare and can take awhile to complete. Most surveys pay a buck or two and only take 10 to 15 minutes.

Also, i-Say rewards you with points you can redeem for cash via PayPal or gift cards to Amazon, iTunes and others. (For example, you can redeem 1,000 points for a $10 PayPal deposit).

6. Get Help Choosing the Right Credit Card

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Carmen Mandato/ The Penny Hoarder

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.

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.

7. Take a Financial Snapshot (No, Not for Instagram)

Woman holds up her thumbs and forefingers to frame her face.
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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.

8. Protect Your Identity

A woman at a produce market reaches for a customer's credit card
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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?

9. Earn Rewards for Making Good Financial Decisions

A woman smiles as she looks at her phone in a park in Tampa, Fla.
Carmen Mandato/ The Penny Hoarder

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.

10. Streamline Your Prescription Refills

Multiple prescrptipn medication lay on a table.
Sharon Steinmann/The Penny Hoarder

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.

11. Declutter Your Space

A woman gets piles of clothes ready to sell.
Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder

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? We love books as much as the next person, but see if your treasures are worth anything by simply searching their ISBNs at Bookscouter. The platform searches dozens of buyback sites to see where you could get the most money.

12. Have a Cup of Coffee and Check Your Credit Score

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We understand. None of us want to do this.

But did you know that around 25% of Americans have an error on their credit report that is likely bringing down their score? And those poor scores can hinder every part of your financial wellness…

Banks and credit card companies aren’t the only ones that look at your credit score. You may have to authorize a credit check whenever you want to move into a new apartment, rent a car with a debit card or buy a new phone, for example.

So pour yourself a cup of coffee and check your credit score on the free app CreditWise® from Capital One®. You’ll also get a free TransUnion credit report card to show you exactly where your credit shines… and where it could use some improvement.

Advertiser Disclosure: Capital One compensates us when you enroll in CreditWise using the links we provided above.

Mike Brassfield ([email protected]) is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. He’ll never have enough money.

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