7 Best Ways to Save Money (and still enjoy your life)
Everyone wishes they had more money in the bank, but that’s often easier said than done. Our six tips for the best ways to save money will get you headed in the right direction!
Create a Budget
Everyone knows that one of the best ways to save money is by creating a budget. Thankfully, that no longer means keeping an excel spreadsheet and a pile of receipts to reconcile. There are a host of free budgeting apps out there that can help you get on track and stay there. If you’re ready to take the budgeting plunge, one of these apps may be for you.
Not only is Mint free, but it syncs with your other accounts to help track spending. Impulse purchases can add up, and tracking your spending with Mint can help keep you honest. Especially with features like budget alerts that notify you when you are exceeding the maximum spending threshold you’ve set. You can also get access to your credit score and credit score monitoring, making it a one-stop shop for getting your financial life in order.
Looking to set up your first budget in a flash? Check out the free version of EveryDollar, which touts the ability to create your first budget in less than ten minutes. With the EveryDollar app you can manually track your transactions to ensure you are staying on budget. If you opt for the paid versions (formerly EveryDollar+, now Ramsey+) you’ll get even more tools, the ability to sync your accounts, and access to financial classes from well-known financial guru Dave Ramsey.
Let’s get down to brass tacks. PocketGuard focuses on what most people want to know when it comes to their money: How much do I have to spend? With PocketGuard you can track your income, bills, and savings goals and always know how much cash you have left in your “pocket.” If you’re looking for an app to help keep you from over spending, PocketGuard may be the right choice for you. One of the best parts? You can categorize your spending and track the balances of all of your accounts in one place.
Invest in Yourself
Once of the best ways to save money in the long term, is to invest, which can seem unattainable to those of us on tight budgets. However, growing your money through investment accounts doesn’t have to be difficult, or costly. These three services make it easy to not only invest your money, but to grow your retirement as well.
Acorns is an FDIC-insured digital banking platform that makes it easy for its users to both save and invest. With Acorns you can chose from three tiers at $1, $3, or $5 per month to make saving, investing, and saving for retirement easier for all. For just $1 per month, you can invest your spare change with the Acorns platform and start growing your investment portfolio. Want more? For $3 a month you can get an all-in-one investment, retirement and checking account with access to more than 55,000 fee-free ATMs nationwide, and a metal debit card with your signature inscribed. And for $5 a month, you can extend the service to your entire family, setting your children up for future financial success. Easily set up an IRA with recurring contributions to watch your retirement wealth grow, setting aside as little as $5 per month. Acorns also features hundreds of articles by financial experts to help you grow your knowledge base.
According to Stash, “investing is a great way to make your money work for you!” With a Stash account, you can invest in fractional shares of well-known companies for as little as $1 a month. Fractional shares allow you to buy a portion of a share in companies like Apple, Amazon, Yum (Taco Bell) and more. The accompanying Stash checking account offers no hidden fees, no minimum balances, the unique Stock-Back card,--awarding you with fractional shares in the companies you shop at most--and access to more than 19,000 fee free ATMs. You don’t need to be wealthy to invest, but investing can help your wealth grow. Want more? For $3 a month you can opt for the Stash growth plan making it easy to invest in an IRA for your future retirement. Have kids? Try Stash+ for $9 per month and start growing their wealth today.
Bonus feature: All Stash accounts come with life insurance to help protect your family.
Take retirement investing into your own hands with a RocketDollar account. This is a great option for self-employed individuals looking to invest in an IRA or self-driven 401(k) retirement accounts. Users who qualify can contribute up to $57,000 annually in their 401(k), invest in anything allowed by the IRS, and even borrow from their own 401(k) plan and pay it back over time. If you’re self-employed and looking to set yourself up for financial success in retirement, RocketDollar may be for you!
Shop with a Grocery List
Food is awesome. I love food so much, I eat it every day. But food can also get really expensive, especially if you go to the grocery store and shop without a list. At my house, we have four containers of poultry seasoning in the cupboard, and I suspect the next time a turkey needs to be roasted-- if I don’t go to the store with a list-- I will have five. Take inventory before you go to the shopping, make a grocery list, and stick to it. You’ll be surprised how much you save on avoiding impulse purchases when you come prepared. Add meal planning to the equation and you’ll find you waste less food too.
Hate shopping? Sign up for Thrive Market and get groceries delivered directly to your door.
One great way to accomplish this is with a free app, like Mealime. With Mealime, you can browse from a wide variety of recipes, choose the ones that are best for you and your family, and the app automatically creates a shopping list for you with everything you’ll need. Dietary restrictions? No problem. Mealime offers more than 200 personalization options to make browsing and selecting recipes even easier.
Pro-tip: Never go shopping hungry. While that box of Cookie Crisp cereal may look appetizing on an empty stomach, if it’s not one of your regular staples, chances are it will sit in the pantry until it goes stale.
Sign-up for Free Rewards-Based Sites, Like RewardFish
At RewardFish, we believe in helping you save money, and we believe one of the ways you can do that is buy shopping and completing your online activities through reward sites like ours (we may be biased, but we think our site is pretty great!). These sites work with companies to promote their goods and offers and when you shop through them, you get a little something back.
At RewardFish, we “reward” our members with points redeemable for gift cards, with a wide selection of retailers, restaurants and entertainment to choose from. These electronic gift cards are delivered straight to your inbox to make the savings easy-peasy. If you’re not shopping through a reward-based site, you could be leaving money on the table. Other reward sites to check out are:
• Inbox Dollars
Buy Used or Refurbished Goods
One of the best way to save money, particularly on high-dollar items is by buying lightly used or refurbished goods. Many come with a warranty and can have a significant impact on the cost of new vs. used. You can buy refurbished goods through many manufacturers, and even on sites like Amazon. That’s right, you can take your daily surveys and offers on RewardFish, rack up the points, and turn that Amazon gift card you redeemed into even more savings by buying refurbished. Not only are you saving money, but you’re also creating less waste. We love that!
You can also put a lot of extra money back in your pocket by shopping used. Sites like OfferUp and Facebook Marketplace are like virtual yard sales full of great deals. Before you shell out the cash for something brand new, see what you can find used online (you can often find unused items on these sites as well) and keep the difference in your wallet where it belongs.
Pay Yourself First
This may seem counterintuitive if you’re struggling to make ends meet, but having an emergency savings account can save you big money in the long run. No longer will you need to whip out a credit card when you experience an unexpected flat tire or leaky roof. So, each payday, pay yourself first. Stick a little money in your savings account each month, even if it’s only $5 or $10. You’ll be surprised how fast it adds up. And by avoiding using plastic to pay for unexpected expenses, you’re also avoiding potentially steep interest rates that can put you even further behind your financial goals.
Put Unexpected Money in Savings
If you come in to unexpected money, don’t spend it all in your mind before it even hits your bank account. Put that money aside in savings and you’ll be ready for those aforementioned emergencies I was talking about. If there is a purchase you’ve been saving for and the money finally makes that possible, don’t forget to consider refurbished goods as an option.