12 Ways to Save Money and Add $5K to Your Bank Account This Year

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Rare $5,000 bill
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Honest Abe

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Some of the links in this post are from our sponsors. We’re letting you know because it’s what Honest Abe would do. After all, he is on our favorite coin.

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:

Ways to save money

Kevin Krejci under Creative Commons

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 American Express because right now they’re offering an interest rate that is around 100 times what a normal bank offers and there’s no monthly fees.

Here’s the promo link:

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.

Balance: $5

Month 2: Earn $100+ in Passive Income From These Websites

Ways to save money

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 $100/year or more:

Shoptracker – Download this app and connect your Amazon account. It’ll instantly send you a free $3 Visa gift card, plus another $3 for every month you keep it installed.

+ InboxDollars — Google may have become synonymous with “search,” but it’s not the only name in this game. If you’re feeling reluctant to look elsewhere, InboxDollars has a pretty convincing argument for branching out: They’ll pay you to search. They use Bing’s engine, so it’s the same thing you’re used to seeing and you can earn over $50/year.

Drop — As an exclusive Drop app user, all you have to do is link your credit and debit cards. When you make a Drop-qualified purchase, you’ll automatically earn points, whether you’re grocery shopping, hailing an Uber or ordering a pizza. The points will add up, and you can then exchange them for gift cards to popular retailers like Amazon and Starbucks. 

+ Paribus Let this tool search your email for companies that owe you money. It’s free to sign up for Paribus, and once you do, it will scan your email archives for any receipts. If it discovers you’ve purchased something from Target, Walmart or one of the other 20-plus retailers listed on its website, the tool tracks the item’s price and issues you a refund anytime there’s a price drop! You don’t have to do anything!

Balance: $105

Month 3: Consolidate Your Debt to Lower Your Bills

Kerkez/Getty Images

 

OK, so this one won’t necessarily help you make money to save. But it could substantially lower payments you’re already making on your debt and help you save more money each month.

A lot of us are being crushed by credit card interest rates north of 20%. If you’re in that boat, consolidation and refinancing might be worth a look.

A good resource is online lending platform Upstart, which can help you find a loan without relying on only your conventional credit score.

Unlike traditional underwriting models that use only the common FICO scoring model, Upstart’s technology looks at factors like your education and employment history to determine your creditworthiness.

It can help you borrow up to $50,000, potentially with better terms (e.g. lower interest or lower monthly payments) than traditional lenders. If managing many different bills and credit lines is a hassle, you can also use an Upstart loan to streamline all of your loans into one.

Can you knock your monthly payment down $100?

Balance: $205

Month 4: Let Someone Borrow Your Place for the Night

Rental Real Estate Sign in Front of house

Have a spare room? Might as well use Airbnb to make some money by renting it out.

If you’re a good host with a desirable space, you could add hundreds — even thousands — of dollars to your savings account with Airbnb.

Taking a few simple steps can make the difference between a great experience and a less-than-satisfactory one.

Here are a few tips:

  • Make your space available during high-demand times in your area. Think: concerts, conventions and sporting events in your area.
  • Be a good host, and make sure your place is stocked with the toiletries you’d expect at a hotel — toilet paper, soap and towels.
  • Be personable. A lot of travelers turn to Airbnb for the personal touch they won’t find at commercial properties.

Here’s the link to sign up as an Airbnb host.

(Hosting laws vary from city to city. Please understand the rules and regulations applicable to your city and listing.)

If you can rent your place for $100/night just five times this year, you’ll bank a cool $500 this year.

Balance: $705

Month 5: Sell All Your Stuff With These Apps

Ways to save money

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 FREE5 at checkout to get an extra $5 for your trade-ins!

Set a goal to make an extra $100 decluttering your place this month, and add it to your bank account — every little bit helps!

Balance: $805

Month 6: Lyft Your Way to an Extra $2,400

Ways to save money

Jason Tester Guerrilla Futures under Creative Commons

Need a fun, flexible way to earn money this month? Try driving with Lyft!

Demand for ridesharing has been growing like crazy, and it shows no signs of slowing down. To be eligible, you’ll need to be at least 21 years old with a year of driving experience, pass a background check and own a car made in 2007 or later.

We talked to Paul Pruce, who’s been driving full-time with Lyft for over a year. He earns $750 a week as a driver.

Best of all, he does it on his own time. You can work days, nights or weekends — it’s up to you!

Work 40 hours a week for one month, and you could bank up to $2,400.

Balance: $3,205

Month 7: Earn an Extra $100 by Joining an Online Focus Group

Ways to save money

Barcin/Getty Images

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 6, and that be could up to $100 this year!

Two of our favorites are Harris Poll and Survey Junkie (both rated A+ with the Better Business Bureau)

Balance: $3,305

Month 8: Earn a $200 Bonus By Opening a New Credit Card

Stack of Visa cards, Mastercards and $100 bills
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.

Here’s an option we like: It’s the Chase Freedom Unlimited card. Its claim to fame? You’ll earn an unlimited 1.5% cash back on all your purchases. Plus, if you spend $500 in your first three months of opening the card (hi, groceries), you’ll pocket a $150 bonus.

There’s no annual fee, and the cash-back rewards don’t expire. We checked Credible’s annual rewards calculator, and it estimates $417 in annual rewards based on our spending habits.* (You can enter your unique spending habits and see what you’d earn, too.)

Get signed up — and 0% intro APR for 15 months — here.

*Annual Rewards amounts will change based on the amounts you enter. The monthly spending category names and definitions may vary among issuers, and categories may not align one-to-one.

Balance: $3,455

Month 9: Earn $250 By Opening Another Bank Account

Class-action settlements

Maminau Mikalai/Shutterstock.com

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.

Balance: $3,705

Month 10: Earn Cash Back on Everything You Buy

Stacks of various denominations of dollar bills
Believe it or not, there are sites that will give you free gift cards just for signing up with them.

One of my favorites is Ebates, the cash-back shopping site. They’re giving away $10 gift cards if you sign up as a new member and earn your first cash-back rebate. You can choose a $10 gift card from Target, Walmart, Macy’s or Kohl’s.

You do have to wait 30 days, but it’s free money so can you really complain?

Balance: $3,715

Month 11: Ditch Your Unused Subscriptions

Paolo Cipriani / Getty Images

Paolo Cipriani / Getty Images

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?

Balance: $3,815

Month 12: Treat Yo’Self to a Free Vacation

Sarasota, Florida, USA downtown skyline.

SeanPavonePhoto/Getty Images

At this point, you might be craving a weekend getaway — but one that doesn’t ruin all you’ve worked hard toward. Try joining eMiles, a survey site that grants you travel rewards.

You’ll get rewarded in points for hotels and flights for doing simple tasks — taking surveys, watching ads and claiming deals. eMiles claims to save consumers $20 to $30 on their next trip just by spending an hour on the site.

You can redeem these points for flights with major airlines like American Airlines, United or Southwest. If you’re not much of a traveler, you can also use them at Amazon or Starbucks.

Signing up takes approximately 10 seconds. You’ll just need your email address and to be a U.S. resident. Plus, for a limited time, you can snag bonus points, too.

Balance: $5,000+

Congrats! You saved over $5,000 this year!

This content is not provided by American Express. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by American Express.

Do you think this article might help you put more money in your pocket?

Honest Abe

Disclosure:

Some of the links in this post are from our sponsors. We’re letting you know because it’s what Honest Abe would do. After all, he is on our favorite coin.