11 Ways to Save Money So You Don’t Have to Move Back in With Your Parents

ways to save money
Penny Hoarder writer Carson Kohler moved back in with her parents in St. Petersburg, Fla., after college to save money. Heather Comparetto/The Penny Hoarder

You finish college, and you are finally free.

Err, you thought you were. For, like, two seconds.

Now you’re tied down to monthly bills you can barely afford while that student loan debt lingers over your shoulder.

Yeah, I feel you. I had to move back in with my parents after finishing grad school. It wasn’t always fun, but I simply couldn’t afford to live on my own at that point without racking up credit card debt.

I’m not the only one, either. For the first time in over a century, more 18- to 34-year-olds live with their parents than any other living arrangements, a 2016 Pew Research Center reports.

Want to avoid that situation? Yeah, I want you to, too.

11 Ways to Save Money So You Don’t Have to Move Back Home

You’ve worked hard to finally become an adult. You deserve to live on your own, to cut the umbilical cord.

Bills make that tough, though. Here are 11 tips to help you afford rent — so you can keep living that independent lifestyle.

1. Get Help Paying off Your Credit Card Debt

A lot of us are being crushed by credit card interest rates north of 20%. If you’re in that boat, consolidation and refinancing could help you save thousands on interest over time.

A good resource is Fiona, a search engine for financial services, which can help match you with the right personal loan to meet your needs.

Fiona searches the top online lenders to match you with a personalized loan offer in less than 60 seconds. Its platform can help you borrow up to $100,000 (no collateral needed) with fixed rates starting at 4.99% and terms from 24 to 84 months.

2. Pocket Extra Cash Watching Videos and Playing Games

Did you know you can get paid to kick up your feet and watch videos? InboxDollars will pay you to watch movie previews, celebrity videos, the latest news and dozens of other videos? Plus, you’ll get a bonus $5 just for signing up.

And when you get bored of that? It’s time to get lucky! (Err… not like that.)

An app called Lucktastic releases a new assortment of digital scratch-off tickets each day. It says instant wins range from $1 to $10,000. You can also earn tokens, enter contests and play games.

The app is supported by advertising, which allows it to keep the payouts high and the games free. For more info, check out our full review.

3. Earn Cash After Your Next Grocery Haul (or Alcohol Run)

We know it sounds strange, but Ibotta will pay you cash for taking pictures of your grocery store receipts.

Here’s how it works:

Before heading to the store, search for items on your shopping list within the Ibotta app. When you get home, snap a photo of your receipt and scan the items’ barcodes.

Bam. Cash back.

Ibotta is free to download. Plus, you’ll get a $10 sign-up bonus after uploading your first receipt.

Some cash-back opportunities we’ve seen include:

  • 25 cents back for any item.
  • 25 cents back on strawberries.
  • 50 cents back on frozen fruit snacks.
  • $1 back on a box of tea.
  • $5 back on a case of Shiner Bock beer.

Notice a lot of those aren’t tied to a brand — just shop for the staples on your list and earn cash back!

4. Set Your Savings to Autopilot (Without Fearing Overdraft Fees)

Actually putting away 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.

Bonus: Penny Hoarders will get an extra $5 just for signing up! Additionally, savers will receive a 1% bonus every three months.

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 30 days, then it’s $2.99 per month afterward.

5. Start Investing (No Financial Jargon Included)

Want to give investing a try? Come on! It’s time to try something new — and this is easy.

Start small, and download Acorns, an investing app that’ll round up your debit and credit card purchases and, once it accumulates $5, it’ll invest the spare change for you.

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

If you’ve got a $50 bill burning a hole in your wallet, then look into Swell Investing, an SEC-registered investment adviser committed to supporting sustainable companies.

Its Impact 400 portfolio features companies whose products and services align with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. It considers everything from gender equality to ending poverty to clean energy.

You’ll get a $50 bonus with the code PENNY after making your initial investment.

Swell doesn’t have any trading fees, price tiers or expense ratios. It charges a 0.75% annual fee — that’s about the cost of one coffee ($3.75) per year if you invest $500.

Disclosure: We have a financial relationship with Swell Investing LLC and will be compensated if consumers apply for an account and/or fund an account with Swell through links in our content. However, the analysis and opinions expressed here are our own.

6. Stop Worrying About When the Next Sale Will Be

Sure, a lot of us know how to save money on groceries, but what about everything else?

Try digging up some extra cash with Paribus — a tool that gets you money back for your online purchases.

It’s free to sign up, and once you do, it will scan your email for any receipts. If it discovers you’ve purchased something from one of its monitored retailers, it will track the item’s price and help you get a refund when there’s a price drop.

One of our favorite ways to save on everything upfront is with Ebates, a cash-back site that rewards you nearly every time you buy something online. For example, Ebates gives you up to 10% cash back on online purchases at Walmart. Plus, you’ll get a free $10 gift card to Walmart for giving the site a try.

Disclosure: Paribus compensates us when you sign up using the links we provide.

7. Find a Fun and Flexible Side Gig to Boost Your Income

If you’re looking for a flexible, independent way to earn money — and you love hanging out with dogs — Rover might be your perfect gig.

The online network connects dog walkers and sitters to local dog owners through its 4.9-star-rated app, so you don’t have to staple flyers on every utility pole across town.

Rover says sitters can earn as much as $1,000 a month.

Rover dog-sitter requirements vary by location. In general, you must:

  • Be 18 years or older.
  • Pass a background check.
  • Have access to the Rover app (iOS or Android).

Here’s how it works: You’ll create an online sitter profile where you’ll answer questions about your experience with puppers and your schedule availability.

You can choose to offer a variety of services, including dog walking, overnight boarding at your home or theirs, and daycare. Boarding is the app’s most popular service, so offering it can get you more gigs. You set your own rates. (Rover keeps a small percentage as a service fee.)

Dog owners will reach out to you. Accept which gigs you want, then start snugglin’ pups. As soon as you complete a service, you’ll be paid within two days.

8. Get Paid to Back in Shape

Anyone who knows me knows I’m the absolute worst at keeping my workout goals in check. After about two weeks and three skipped workouts, I give up.

But financial motivation helps big time. Here are two tools that’ll offer just that.

The Achievement app rewards you in points for making mindless, healthy efforts — like taking more steps. When you get 10,000 points, Achievement lets you cash out for a $10 Amazon card.

If $10 doesn’t do it for you, HealthyWage might. This site allows you to place a bet on your weight loss goals. Jaclyn Brown lost 140 pounds and made more than $5,000.

9. Spend an Evening Wading Through Your Clutter

It’s easy to accumulate a lot of stuff when you’re off at school and moving around, but now it’s time to declutter a bit.

You can sell virtually anything on Letgo. This easy-to-use app lets you snap a photo and upload your item in less than 30 seconds. It removes a lot of the hassle of selling things online, and it’s 100% free to use.

If you’ve got old technology lingering (think: phones, CDs, DVDs or video games), download the Decluttr app, and start scanning the barcodes on your media to get immediate quotes. It’s completely free to use, you won’t pay listing or seller fees, payment is super fast and even shipping is free.

Plus, enter FREE5 at checkout to get an extra $5 for your trade-in order!

10. Cut Your Car Insurance Premiums

There’s no getting around car insurance, unfortunately. But one way you could save money is by shopping around and comparing rates at least once a year. Less than 50% of us do that, according to this survey from The Zebra, though 81% of us report wanting lower rates.

The Zebra, an online car insurance search engine that offers “insurance in black and white,” compares your options from 204 providers in less than 60 seconds.

11. Let This Robot Negotiate Your Internet Bill

The price of internet — and cable, if you’re still into that kind of thing — certainly isn’t decreasing. If anything, prices are steadily climbing.

And if you’ve had to chat with a representative from your internet/cable company recently, you know how long you can sit on hold.

That’s why it’s time to call in a robot. The negotiation bot Trim will negotiate your cable or internet bills down for you.

It works with Comcast, Time Warner, Charter and other major providers.

You can sign up simply with Facebook or your email address. Then, upload a PDF of your most recent bill, and Trim’s AI-powered system gets to work. If at first it doesn’t succeed, it’ll keep negotiating until it can save you some money.

Also, if you have any outages, Trim believes you deserve a credit, and it’ll handle that for you. Trim takes 25% of the savings tab, and you get the rest.

Carson Kohler (@CarsonKohler) is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She now lives on her own… in case you were concerned.

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