44 Legit Ways to Save Money Fast (Even if You’re Awful at Saving)
If you have little to nothing in your savings account, you’re not alone.
You’ll often hear experts recommend that you have an emergency fund that would cover between three and six months of living expenses, but many Americans don’t. In fact, a recent Bankrate survey of 1,000 people found that 23% of respondents had no savings at all.
But don’t panic. It may be daunting trying to save money fast, but it’s not impossible. Here are 44 tips to help you save money quickly.
13 Ways to Trim Your Monthly Budget ASAP
Hopefully, you have a budget that already includes allocations for savings. But you can do better than that. Chances are, you can find additional savings to squeeze out — even when it comes to necessary expenses.
These tips will help you cut the fat from your monthly budget.
1. Cancel subscriptions and memberships that aren’t essential — like that meal-kit service and gym membership. There may even be subscriptions you didn’t realize you were still paying for. A subscription-tracking tool, like the Empower app, can help you figure out what’s being automatically drafted from your account.
2. Say goodbye to your cable bill and move to a less expensive streaming service. Hulu and Netflix offer free trials for your first month of service. There are even subscription options that will allow you to watch live TV, such as Sling TV, which has plans starting at $25 per month.
4. Use your smartphone’s Wi-Fi hot spot for internet access instead of paying for home service. This option is best if you don’t use internet at home often, because frequent use may drain your cell phone’s data.
5. Call your phone, internet, cable and insurance providers and threaten to cancel. Sometimes they’ll be willing to give you a lower rate to keep you as a customer.
If you don’t want to spend time on the phone yourself, download Truebill, an app that’ll help you identify and cancel unwanted subscriptions. Truebill users cancel an average of $60 per month in unwanted subscriptions. That’s a savings of $720 per year.
6. Get your insurance policies through the same company for discounted rates.
Tia Chambers, of Indianapolis, Indiana, saved $33 per month on her mortgage insurance and $27 per month on her car insurance — a combined monthly savings of $60 — by switching her home and auto insurance to one company.
To find the best rates, try the search engine Gabi, which gives you a true apples-to-apples comparison at the same coverage levels and deductibles you currently have, compares the major insurers’ rates for that same coverage and helps you switch on the spot if it finds you a better rate.
7. Increase your insurance deductibles to lower your monthly bill. Just be aware that you’ll pay more out of pocket should you need to file a claim.
8. Contact your student loan servicer to ask about switching to an income-based repayment plan or deferring your payments if you’re experiencing hardship. Don’t think of these as long-term solutions, though, as they could increase the overall interest you pay on the loan.
9. Set up automated bill pay to avoid late fees. Your bank likely has an online bill-paying service that lets you set up transfers directly to another account.
You can also set up auto bill pay by providing your service company with your bank account or debit card information, and having the company withdraw funds by the bill’s due date automatically.
10. Save on housing costs by listing a room on Airbnb or getting a roommate to split expenses. If you list a room, you’ll want to make sure to have your landlord’s approval.
11. Adjust your tax withholding status if you get a hefty refund check each year. Pocket your take-home pay increase as savings.
12. Transfer your credit card balance to a new card with 0% interest. And while you’re at it, avoid racking up additional debt. Don’t make any large purchases on your credit card or take out any new loans.
13. Save money on your car payment and insurance costs by selling your car and going from a two-car household to a one-car household. If you only have one car to begin with, you could sell that car and get a cheaper one.
Just make sure the vehicle you’re selling is worth more than what you owe on it and that you also factor in the cost of title and registration fees. If public transportation is widely available where you live, you could sell your car and rely on local transit systems.
How to Save Money Fast: 7 Ways to Cut Daily Spending
If you’re trying to save money fast, take a good look at what you spend every day. Where you can make a change?
You might think you have no wiggle room to save, but that $1.50 toll and $5 cup of coffee add up. Saving a little money every day will snowball into a nice amount of cash at the end of the month.
Save Money on Food
You’ve gotta eat, but that doesn’t mean you have to overspend on food.
14. Only go grocery shopping once a week; make a list and stick to it. Before you go, take inventory of what’s in your freezer and pantry to see what you can make out of what you already have. Buy staples — like oatmeal or rice — in bulk.
15. Pack your own lunch to bring to work, and make snacks at home for when you’ll be out running errands. Meal planning can also help you avoid overpaying for food. Prepare several meals at the start of each week. Plan meals that have minimal ingredients, and ignore recipes with high-cost ingredients.
16. Avoiding drinking your potential savings. Drink water instead of buying soda or juice. Nix the bottled water, and go with filtered water or tap instead. Make your own coffee to avoid the high prices at coffee shops.
Save Money on Transportation
Unless you work from home or you can easily walk or bike to work, you’re probably spending money on transportation every weekday. Here’s how you can reduce those expenses.
17. Carpool with your co-workers or neighbors who work close to your job. Split the costs of gas, tolls and parking.
18. Check out local public transportation options to see if you could cut the cost of your commute. Public transit isn’t available everywhere, but it can save some commuters on gas and parking. Oftentimes, purchasing a monthly pass is a better deal compared to paying each day or getting a weekly pass.
19. Fuel up for less. Use apps like GasBuddy to find the cheapest gas when it’s time to fuel up. Or sign up for a fuel rewards program that’ll save you money on frequent purchases at a given gas station.
20. If you pay for parking, seek out a cheaper garage or lot — even if that means you have to walk a few blocks farther to work.
6 Money Moves That Help You Save Faster
Saving money takes effort, especially if you’re looking to bulk up those savings fast.
21. Set up direct deposit to put a certain percentage of your paycheck into savings each time you get paid. It’s a simple way to set money aside before it reaches your checking account.
22. Treat saving like a bill you pay to yourself. Set up your bank account to automatically transfer money from your checking account to your savings account once per month.
This can be especially useful for workers who don’t rely on regular paychecks, like those in the gig economy or those who get paid in tips. For example, you could set up a $50 savings transfer midmonth. Or you could set aside 10% of your tips at the end of each shift.
23. Download savings apps that’ll help you save money without even thinking about it. One of our favorites is Digit, which pulls small amounts from your checking account to your savings account after determining how much you can safely put aside.
24. Keep your savings someplace you can’t access it easily — like an online bank account where you can’t make withdrawals at a nearby ATM. Better yet, make sure it’s a high-yield savings account so that you’ll earn more interest.
25. Temporarily pause or lower contributions to long-term savings vehicles — like your retirement account or kids’ college fund.
26. Save any extra money you might get — whether that’s a work bonus, side-gig income or birthday cash.
7 Ways to Change Your Mindset From Spending to Saving
When you’re trying to bulk up your savings quickly, you need to be dedicated. You have to have the right frame of mind.
Setting personal finance goals can keep your mind focused on what you’re trying to accomplish — like having an emergency fund as a safety net or saving up for a special trip — rather than dwelling on what you’re missing out on by reducing your spending.
Here are some tips to help you become a saver instead of a spender.
27. Find ways to enjoy your downtime without spending money. Go to the park or the beach. Take a walk with a friend instead of meeting up for lunch or drinks. Host a potluck dinner or game night. Check out DVDs from the library instead of going to the movie theaters. Attend free events in your city.
28. Stop impulse buying. Attach a sticky note to your debit card asking yourself if the purchase you’re about to make is necessary.
If internet shopping is your weakness, you can remove your credit card info from online accounts, block your favorite retail websites or even install Icebox, a free Google Chrome extension that removes the “add to cart” option on retail sites and replaces it with a “put it on ice” button. You won’t be able to purchase the item for however long you determine you want to “freeze” the purchase.
29. Switch your spending over to a cash system. Put cash in envelopes for each budget category. Handling cash for each transaction helps you easily see how much money is being spent. Once you’ve spent all the money in that budget category, that’s it for the month.
30. If you have a two-income household, try living off one income while saving the other. After Dallas resident Veneta Lusk got married, she and her husband decided to live off his income while saving hers to build up a six-month emergency fund and a down payment for a car.
By choosing to save and not spend her income, the couple was able to pay off that first car in less than a year. They were also able to buy and quickly pay off a second car and pay off their home mortgage in five years.
31. Commit to a “no-spend challenge,” where you nix all spending outside of essentials and planned purchases. Get comfortable telling yourself (and others) no, and watch your savings blossom.
32. Manually track your spending. R.J. Weiss, of Geneva, Illinois, uses a spreadsheet to manually track every dollar he spends around the holidays and special occasions. Though he uses a budgeting app most of the year, he uses pen and paper when he anticipates expenses may run high, because it makes him more aware of his spending.
33. Save your change. After you buy something, set the spare change aside to deposit into your savings account. Your bank may provide paper to roll up your coins for free — or it may accept the loose change unrolled.
If you’re trying to exchange coins for cash at a coin-counting machine like Coinstar, be aware of service fees.
7 Strategies for Saving When You Still Need to Spend
Let’s be real — no matter how dedicated you are to saving, you can’t completely eliminate all spending. Sometimes, you just want to treat yo’ self. Or perhaps you’re trying to save money during the holidays but don’t want to be a complete Scrooge.
These tips will help you save even while you spend.
34. Never buy anything full price. Email the manufacturers of your favorite brands to ask for coupons. Use Groupon or look for promotions for special discounts when dining at a restaurant or planning an outing. Take advantage of senior, student or military discounts, if any of those apply to you.
35. Check old gift cards to see if you have money left over to spend. For example, before you go out and buy a present for your kid’s upcoming birthday, check to see if there’s a balance on that old Walmart gift card in your wallet.
Also, some states have gift card laws that mandate retailers must give you the cash value left on the card if it falls below a certain amount.
36. Get your haircut or manicure at a cosmetology school instead of your regular salon. Vocational schools usually offer lower prices for their services.
37. See what you can get without spending any money at all. Check Craigslist or your local Buy Nothing group on Facebook for free items. Barter services — like babysitting or lawn mowing — with family, friends and neighbors. Host or attend a clothing swap, book swap or toy swap to get free items while getting rid of some of your own.
38. Find great deals at dollar stores on items like greeting cards, party supplies and even socks. When you shop elsewhere, save money by choosing generic brand products.
39. Open a rewards credit card that earns cash back — just make sure to pay off that credit card purchase ASAP.
40. Limit gift giving. Spend time with loved ones for birthdays, Christmas and other holidays instead of giving presents. Or if you do give presents, choose to exchange DIY or very inexpensive gifts.
4 Ways to Get Extra Cash to Pad Your Savings
It’s simple: The more money you make, the more you can save.
Making extra money — whether that means selling unwanted items or taking on a side gig — is a great way to score additional savings quickly.
41. Get a side hustle, start a part-time job or find other ways to make money fast, like being a mystery shopper or donating plasma. Use all that additional income from your side business to pad your savings.
42. Earn extra money at your current job by negotiating a raise, volunteering to work overtime or requesting to pick up more shifts.
43. Declutter your home and make quick cash by selling unused items you have lying around. After Toronto resident Sandy Yong got married last year, she decided to sell various items she had purchased for her winter “Beauty and the Beast”-themed wedding.
Yong turned to Facebook Marketplace, Letgo, Bunz and Kijiji, a Canadian online classified ad service, to earn extra money. You could also sell unwanted items on eBay, at a local consignment shop or by having a garage sale.
44. Check your state’s unclaimed property website to see if someone owes you money. It might be a long shot, but there could be insurance policy money or a forgotten security deposit that you’ve never claimed. Check the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators or Missing Money to search for potential unclaimed money with your name on it.
Nicole Dow is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder.