12 Ways to Save Money and Add $5K to Your Bank Account This Year
How much money would you like to have saved for the holidays? Or your next vacation? Or your emergency fund?
Whatever your goal, the number probably seems overwhelming.
Trying to figure out where several hundred or a few thousand dollars might come from is tough. Instead, break it down. Find ways to set aside just a little bit at a time -- you’ll be surprised how quickly you can move toward your goal!
To help you get started with that first step, we've put together a 12-month strategy to save money and work your way up to $5,000 in savings this year!
Here are 12 Ways to Save Money Each Month
Month 1: Open a New Bank Account and Set Aside $5
Open an online savings or checking account and deposit $5. Heck, roll your quarters if you have to.
There are a bunch of great online banks, but one of my favorites is Aspiration because it offers an interest rate that is around 100 times what a normal bank offers, with no monthly fees.
You can open a savings account at your local bank, but my suggestion is to go with an online bank -- you’ll be less likely to withdraw the money.
I know it doesn’t seem worth it to deposit only a few bucks, but getting started is an extremely important first step! Just trust me.
Month 2: Earn $655+ in Passive Income From These Websites
Wouldn't it be cool to make money just for using a website or mobile app?
Some of these companies collect data to better understand web and mobile usage better -- what times of day people browse, how long they stay on websites and use apps, and which types of sites and apps are popular (or not). Some others will pay you for interacting with advertisers, whether it's by watching videos or just seeing actual advertisements.
These are our favorites, and can help you earn at least $89/year or more:
+ InboxDollars - Did you know you could get paid to watch movie previews, celebrity videos, the latest news, along with dozens of other videos? It's pretty passive work and this company will pay you via Paypal or Amazon gift card. Can you rack up an extra $50?
+ Smart Panel - This free app will give you $5 for downloading and sharing some anonymous stats from your phone. If you keep it installed for at least two weeks, you’ll earn another $10. And then for every month that you keep the Smart App installed, you’ll get another $5. All total, you can earn up to $75 for the 1st year!
+ ShopTracker – If you’re a regular Amazon shopper, you can earn money each month contributing to research to help companies understand what people are buying online. Download and connect this to your Amazon account. They’ll instantly send you a free $3 Visa gift card, plus another $3 for every month you keep it installed.
+ Nielsen Mobile Panel – If you have a smartphone, this Nielsen panel will pay you $50/year to keep this app on your cell phone and browse the web like you normally do.
Month 3: Consolidate Your Debt to Lower Your Bills
OK, so this one won’t necessarily help you make money to save. But it could substantially lower the overall debt you'll accumulate from high interest rates and help you save more money over time.
Most of us are being crushed by credit card interest rates that are north of 20%. If you’re in the same boat, it might be worth seeing if you can consolidate and refinance your debt.
A good resource is Even, which allows you to compare rates from several lenders and then borrow up to $35,000.
If you do decide to consolidate your credit card debt, be sure you don’t close your old accounts. A huge part of your credit score revolves around the length of your credit history and closing active accounts can definitely hurt it.
Savings vary, but reader Julie Fulesday consolidated some of her student loans before refinancing them and was able to save between $10,000 to $12,000. While this is an extreme example, consolidating debt could help you get out from under it faster.
Can you knock your monthly payment down $100?
Month 4: Sell All Your Stuff With These Apps
Are your closets and shelves packed to the brim with stuff you never use -- or even look at?
You can sell virtually anything on letgo. This intuitive app lets you snap a photo and upload your item in less than 30 seconds. Not only does it remove a lot of the hassle of selling things online, it’s 100% free to use.
But there are also apps for selling more specific stuff to people who might actually be looking for it.
Have a bunch of movies or CDs collecting dust on a shelf? Decluttr will pay you for them!
Decluttr buys your old CDs, DVDs, Blu-rays and video games, plus hardware like cell phones, tablets, game consoles and iPods. Plus, enter PENNY10 at checkout to get an extra 10% for your trade-ins!
For old books from college, you can use Bookscouter. Just type your book’s ISBN into the search bar and the site will connect you with more than 25 of the best-paying and most reputable buyback companies online.
Set a goal to make an extra $100 decluttering your place this month, and add it to your bank account -- every little bit helps!
Month 5: Uber Your Way to an Extra $2,400
Love driving? Here’s how to save money with your car.
If you want to earn extra money on the side or even work for yourself full-time, signing up as an Uber driver-partner could be a great opportunity.
Sign up as a driver-partner with the rideshare service this month, and you could have a new side hustle! Or, if you don’t want to keep it up long-term, you could at least use this opportunity to get some extra cash in the bank.
Pay depends on your location and a number of other factors, but Uber drivers earn a national average of over $600/week.
You could take it easy, work about 20 hours a week this month and bank $1,200. Or, hit it hard for four weeks!
Work 40 hours a week for one month, and you could bank about $2,400.
Month 6: Earn an Extra $180 by Joining an Online Focus Group
We know you’re not going to get rich joining focus groups, but I’ve been able to pocket an extra $10-$20 a month this way, and that adds up.
Start in Month 3, and that be could up to $180 this year!
Month 7: Learn How to Make $1,000 in One Weekend
Make $1,000 in the time you’d otherwise be watching Netflix this weekend?
It sounds promising -- though you’re probably a little skeptical. But it’s doable if you strike up a freelance business.
If you don’t know where to start, appropriately-named site I Will Teach You To Be Rich could help.
CEO and New York Times’ best-selling author Ramit Sethi started this resourceful site back when he was a Stanford University student. He kept seeing tons of financial advice floating about (think: start investing), but he wondered: Are people actually doing this stuff?
Sethi took a new approach that teaches people what they can actually do to make money, including starting a freelance business, which he outlines in this free online guide. One of our favorite pieces of advice tucked in this course is:
“Most people try to reinvent the wheel when they’re starting a business. That’s a huge mistake. The world is a big place, trying to think of something that nobody else has thought of is almost impossible.”
If you want more golden nuggets of wisdom about how to start a side business, read through his free program and start brainstorming.
Month 8: Earn $250 By Opening Another Bank Account
Now that you've got some money saved, you could get paid just for putting a few bucks in another bank account.
We’ve put together a huge list of banks that will pay you just to open one -- some will pay you up to $250 for it!
There’s no harm in having multiple bank accounts. In fact, I often find it’s helpful to have multiple places to save (I’m less likely to touch the money), so I have savings accounts for my Christmas fund and my vacation fund.
The top bank bonus is $250 right now — head over to this list to see all of the banks in your area that are offering free cash.
Month 9: Earn Cash Back on Everything You Buy
Anytime I shop online, I use a cash-back rewards site like MyPoints. It’s a smart way to earn cash for the shopping you’re doing anyway!
And it works at most of my favorite retailers. Once you sign up for a free account, you can get 1.4% cash back on purchases at Target and a whopping 5.4% at Walmart.
There are more than 1,000 stores on the list, so you can purchase nearly everything you need through the cash-back site.
Plus, when you spend your first $20 through the portal, MyPoints will give you a free $10 Amazon gift card.
Try to average at least $10 in cash back for the last three months of the year.
Month 10: Ditch Your Unused Subscriptions
We all sign up for stuff. Sometimes it’s easier to put subscriptions on a recurring payment and forget about it -- looking at you Netflix.
These kinds of payments can be smart for paying bills and chopping down debt, but getting rid of the subscriptions you’re not using and socking away the savings could help you roll over the $5,000 mark this month.
If you can’t keep track of them all, check out an app called Trim. Once you sign up and connect your bank account and phone number, it analyzes your transaction history for recurring payments.
When it finds one, the app sends you a text and cancels any subscriptions you don’t want to keep.
Just make sure you actually save the savings. Can you save another $100?
Month 11: Sign Up for a Clinical Trial to Earn Up to $1,150
Do you live with a chronic condition like arthritis or migraines? They’re a serious pain in the neck… or wrists… or head…
But they may also make you eligible for clinical studies that can really pay off. These studies help medical professionals learn how to better treat chronic conditions.
Payment varies by study, but we found some that offer pretty killer compensation:
- Migraines - If you’ve never had a migraine, be glad you can just take my word for it: They're really, really bad. Local research studies may offer payment/compensation up to $1,150 (learn more here). These studies help doctors discover better ways to treat — and hopefully eliminate — migraines.
- Arthritis: If you have rheumatoid arthritis in the knee or hip and are otherwise healthy, you may qualify for studies offering compensation up to $625 depending on the number of study visits. You can find more info here. Just a head’s up, you’ll need to provide a valid phone number and see a study doctor to see if you are eligible, and complete the study-required visits, before you’ll be compensated for participating.
- Crohn’s disease – Have you been diagnosed with this chronic gastrointestinal disease? If you’ve had Crohn’s for at least three months, you may qualify for one of the local studies that may offer payment that varies by study up to $750. Plus, you may also receive no-cost study-related care for the length of the study. (Learn more here)
Month 12: Earn a $100+ Bonus by Opening a New Credit Card
As long as you pay down your credit balance in full each month, rewards cards are a great way to make some extra money. We're not advocating that you open 1,497 credit cards like this guy, but taking advantage of a sign-up bonus here or there can definitely help your bank account!
Check out this list of seven credit cards with no annual fee that offer a $100 bonus or more when you open a new account.
Disclosure: You wouldn’t believe how much coffee The Penny Hoarder team goes through. This post contains affiliate links so we can keep the grinds stocked!