This 7-Day Savings Challenge Is Exactly What Your Bank Account Needs

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Carmen Mandato/The Penny Hoarder
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One week. Seven days. It’s not such a long time.

But if you commit to the seven-day plan we’re laying out here, you can fix your finances in just a week. Then you can flex your arms and say, YES, I AM MR./MRS. FIXIT.

At the very least, you can take steps to improve your financial situation in some tangible ways.

C’mon, seven days. Give it 15 minutes a day. Get out your calendar, and let’s give it a go.

Day 1: Open a Separate Banking Account

Operating everything out of one account can make your finances muddy and contribute undue stress to your money management.

To simplify, open an account dedicated to saving, and put your money to work. One of our favorites is Aspiration’s Spend and Save account — you’ll pay no monthly fees, and you’ll earn up to 2.00% APY on your savings.

Bonus: The spending account comes with a debit card that earns 0.5% cash back on all your purchases (every single one!).

Everything you save this week will go into this new account.

Day 2: Craft a Meal Plan You’ll Stick With

How much do you spend on groceries each week? Think you can plan each meal for less than $5 this week? That’d get your weekly food spend down to $105 — max!

Go ahead and give it a try.

First you’ll want to create a meal plan that works for you and your family. Keep it simple, and find ways to use the same ingredients in multiple recipes.

“Once you start translating food into ‘number of meals,’ you’re on your way to meal planning,” Penny Hoarder contributor Nicole Dieker writes.

Second, create your shopping list, and hit the grocery store. A shopping list is key in keeping you focused on the essentials.

Ahem, put that pricy wedge of cheese back… it’s not on your list.

Day 3: Find out Whether You’re Paying Too Much for Car Insurance

You’re probably overpaying for car insurance. And how would you know, really?

Have you shopped around lately? Have you compared rates from the 20 largest auto insurers that do business in your area? That sounds kind of difficult and time-consuming, doesn’t it?

Fortunately, a service called Gabi will do it for you, and you don’t even have to fill out any forms. Simply link your insurance account and provide your driver’s license number, and Gabi will go to work.

Once you link your insurance account to Gabi, it will:

  • Scan your existing insurance plan.
  • Analyze what coverage you have.
  • Compare the major insurers’ rates for that same coverage.
  • Help you switch on the spot if it finds you a better rate.

Gabi says it finds an average savings of $720 per year for its customers.

It is a true apples-to-apples comparison at the same coverage levels and deductibles you currently have. Once you sign up, you never have to shop again. Gabi’s software has your policy on file and keeps on monitoring for savings as your life changes.

Day 4: Watch Videos to Grow Your Savings

And on the sixth day of organizing your finances, you get to relax. Who said any of this had to be hard?

Surveys aren’t the quickest way to make money, but they’re a great way to cash in on your down time. Fill them out while you’re watching TV, riding the bus or waiting in line.

One survey site we love is called InboxDollars. It offers several short, daily surveys. You earn cash, so you don’t have to worry about exchanging points. It also offers more ways to earn, such as watching videos, playing scratch-off games and searching the internet.

Bonus: You’ll get a free $5 just for signing up!

Need more convincing? When Sarah Houston needed some extra cash, she signed up with InboxDollars and earned $600 in three years.

Day 5: See if You Can’t Cut Back on Your Monthly Bills

If you’re like most of us, you’re probably paying for more subscriptions than you realize.

To clear them up, download Truebill, an app that’ll help you identify and cancel unwanted subscriptions. The average Truebill user has $270 in subscriptions per month, the company reports. Some of them you want. Some of them you don’t even remember signing up for.

Simply connect your bank account to Truebill (It uses bank-level security!), and it will review your recurring payments. Find any subscriptions you don’t need anymore, and click to cancel them through the app. The more accounts you connect, the more likely you are to find those sneaky subscriptions.

Truebill users cancel an average of $60 per month in unwanted subscriptions. That’s a savings of $720 per year. Just imagine what you could do with that extra money.

Truebill can also help you lower your monthly bills, such as cable and internet, and find potential refunds if you experience an outage. It’s free to submit your bill; Truebill just keeps 40% of your savings for the first year.

A premium subscription on a pay-what-is-fair model from $3 to $14 a month gets you access to concierges who will automatically manage subscriptions and get refunds for bank fees.

Day 6: Save Money on Every Gallon Pumped — Automatically

If you’re a savvy saver, you probably already use GasBuddy to help you find the cheapest gas station in town. It’s an easy — and free — way to avoid overpaying.

But once you pull up to the pump, here’s something else you can do: Swipe your Pay with GasBuddy card to automatically save 10 cents per gallon on your first purchase (and 5 cents per gallon after that).

The free discount card is tied directly to your checking account. It works at 95% of gas stations throughout the country, so you don’t have to drive around town just to find “your” station. Plus, you don’t have to wait for a rebate — it’s immediate savings.

Simply and securely sign up through GasBuddy. Connect your bank account, enter your address, and GasBuddy will put a card in the mail.

Day 7: Enjoy a No-Spend Day

Farmers market? Museum? Nature? It’s easy to get sucked into spending money on weekend outings, but there are plenty of free activities you can do today, instead.

You can search your local newspaper, magazines or websites for plenty of ideas. Here are a few to help you get started:

  • Go on a penny date. The rules are simple: Have your date or a family member pick a number between one and 30, pick a street corner and have them flip the penny. If it’s heads up, turn right. If it’s tails up, turn left. Do this at each intersection for whatever number they chose. Wherever you end up is where you’ll spend the day.
  • If the weather’s nice and you live near a body of water, head to the beach for the day! The beach offers a full day of entertainment and relaxation at potentially no cost.
  • Not near a beach? Plan a day of hiking. You can find a ton of free tails. (If you live near a national park, take advantage of the free admission days.)
  • The library is a treasure trove of freebies, including free museum passes. Maybe you’ll even check out a book or two.

Mike Brassfield ([email protected]) is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. He’s going to need more than seven days to fix his finances.