There are a lot of unknowns ahead, and so much is out of our own control. Yet there are smart choices and changes you can make today that will have a positive impact on your future.
This is especially true when it comes to your personal finances, as there’s a lot you can do to save money without even leaving your house.
The easy steps outlined in this article will not only help you get through these difficult times, but will also put your finances on the right track so that you’re in a better place when all is said and done.
#1. Transform Your Personal Finances With a Zero-Based Budget
In the 1960s, one particular method of saving money took the business world by storm. In fact, the method was so successful that’s it’s still widely used today. Actually, consulting companies like McKinsey, which charge clients millions of dollars, use it to cut expenses.
What does this have to do with you saving money? Well, when individuals use this same method on their personal finances, they save, on average, over $6,000 in just the first year (according to YNAB).
The method? It’s called zero-based budgeting. And not only does it work, it’s simple to learn.
The first big idea is that you must justify all expenses every month. So, Step #1 is looking at your current expenses and asking yourself:
“What in my current budget, knowing what I now know, I would not buy again today, if I had to do it over?”
If you have subscriptions to Netflix, Hulu and HBO, yet you only watched one show last month on Hulu and zero on the other two services, cancel those unused subscriptions.
But the idea also needs to apply to bigger expenses. Maybe the car you bought was too expensive, and you’re just realizing that today. If that’s the case, the time to correct course in now, not later.
The point here is not to beat yourself up over past mistakes. It’s to recognize that a lot has changed and you must change as well.
Step #2 of zero-based budgeting is to budget in a way where your income meets your expenses.
What this looks like is:
- Make a list of your upcoming monthly expenses by category.
- Total your monthly take-home pay (i.e., your net income from all sources).
- Assign your income to the different budgeting categories, until you’re left with zero.
The secret to making this process as easy as possible is using an app that automatically pulls and categorizes your transactions by syncing up with your financial accounts. Enter the free budgeting app Truebill.
Being able to see your income and expenses with a quick glance is a must-have feature in itself, but Truebill goes way beyond traditional budgeting apps.</p?
#2. Get Free Gift Cards by Sharing Your Opinions
When you’re trying to cut spending, it’s important not to deprive yourself. Just as diets don’t work if you’re constantly hungry, neither do budgets if they cut out things that are important to you.
One way to fulfill a few wants you may have is by using gift cards to make those purchases.
It’s actually pretty easy to earn free gift cards for popular retailers like Amazon by completing online surveys.
So, instead of killing time on your phone, you can complete one or two quick surveys every day. Then you can buy something for yourself without it impacting your budget.
If you’d like to earn extra cash by sharing your opinions, check out Survey Junkie. With over 5 million members, Survey Junkie is one of the largest survey sites around.
It’s super easy to sign up and get started (no phone number is required). Just complete a short profile survey, and then you’ll be sent survey opportunities via email or through the app.
#3. Complete Simple Tasks in Your Spare Time
One of my favorite things to do in my spare time is research the highest-paying sign-up bonus offers.
Heck, it’s hard to resist easy money. And with a few clicks, you can earn anywhere from $5 to $20 — and in rare cases, even more.
One of those rare cases is available today, with the new investment app Webull.
As of today, Webull offers new signups two free stocks (up to $1,400 in value) when you deposit ANY amount.
Webull is a legit company that’s registered with the SEC, and is a member of both FINRA and SIPC. But still, out of curiosity, I had to test out this free stock offer for myself.
I didn’t hit the jackpot, but I did receive two free shares of Investors Bancorp Inc. (ISBC), valued at around $12 each. I sold those shares shortly after.
There are a lot of these opportunities online. Some of them save you money, while others let you make it. If you’re interested in learning more, check out our frequently updated list of the best get paid to sign-up websites.
#4. Save Money When Stocking Up
Coupons can save you a lot of money — especially when it comes to food costs. The problem is they’re difficult to remember to use, and finding them takes time.
Fortunately, technology makes that problem a thing of the past. Ibotta is an app for your smartphone that gives you easy access to the best coupons available.
All you have to do is download the Ibotta app (which is free), scan for coupons from your favorite brands and products, and save them to your digital coupon book with the tap of a finger.
As you can see in the photo below, I saved well over $400 with the app in a little under 18 months.
When you’re done shopping, scan your receipt — Ibotta will add cash-back to your account within 48 hours.
Ibotta users save $240 per year on average, so you don’t want to overlook this opportunity.
#5. Get Rid of Credit Card Debt ASAP
Thanks to 0% interest rates, one of the best opportunities right now for saving money is consolidating and refinancing high-interest debt (like credit card debt) to a lower interest rate.
When you consolidate debt, you’re borrowing money to pay off multiple loans at the same time. For example, you might take out one loan to pay off five high-interest credit card balances.
Your goal is to find a loan with an interest rate that’s lower than you’re currently paying.
Consolidating and refinancing saves you a significant amount of money because:
- Less of what you pay goes to interest, and more towards paying off the debt’s principal.
- You pay off your debt much sooner and can start putting your money to better use.
This is why, if you have high-interest debt, a personal loan with a low-interest rate is worth considering.
To find out what type of personal loan rate you’re eligible for, check out Credible.
Credible is a free online marketplace that helps you find rates from multiple lenders in just two minutes without impacting your credit score.
When you complete the form, look for a rate that’s under what you pay in interest from your current credit card providers. If you find one, use the loan to pay off that debt. Then be aggressive in paying off that personal loan.
#6. Get Cash-Back on Things You Already Buy
If you’re anything like me, you’ll be making a lot of online purchases over the coming weeks.
If that’s the case, did you know that you can earn anywhere from 3% up to 20% cash-back when shopping online?
The trick to earning this type of cash-back is shopping through reward sites like Swagbucks.
Swagbucks has paid out over $400 million to its members and has an “A” rating with the BBB, so check them out if you haven’t done so yet.
To help you get started, Swagbucks offers an easy $10 welcome bonus for new users. Don’t shop online without it.
#7. Boost Your Savings With Paribus
Paribus is a free tool (owned and operated by Capital One) that helps you easily get money back for online purchases. How it works is you sign up, then Paribus scans your email archives for receipts.
If Paribus finds that you’ve purchased something from one of its monitored retailers, it tracks the price and helps you get a refund when it drops.
Here’s the best part: it’s completely free to use. You keep 100% of the savings.
#8. The Fastest Way for Homeowners to Save Big
A mortgage is likely the largest debt you’ll ever have. So it makes a lot of sense to minimize the interest rate as much as possible.
Right now, the Federal Reserve set short-term interest rates at 0%. As such, many homeowners can benefit from refinancing (even many that already refinanced in the last few months).
You can find out quickly if you qualify for a lower rate at Credible, which compares rates from multiple lenders in less than three minutes.
Credible brands itself as the world’s most customer-centric mortgage marketplace.
A few things you’ll like about Credible:
- You get actual prequalified rates in three minutes without impacting your credit score. Most other lenders use general information, so the rates you see upfront can sometimes be quite different from the rates you’ll get at closing.
- They do not sell your information to other lenders! (This is rare in the loan industry.)
- The end-to-end experience is conducted entirely on Credible — from rate comparison to closing.
#9. Protect Your Loved Ones With Affordable Life Insurance
Affordable life insurance without leaving your house?
Until recently, something like this wasn’t even possible because you needed a medical exam to buy the cheapest life insurance available.
Thankfully, that’s now changed as a result of online companies like Bestow that use technology to offer affordable life insurance in as little as five minutes from start to finish.
#10. The Easiest Way to Save $720 a Year
Last, but certainly not least, is shopping for your insurance.
If it’s been over a year since you shopped for insurance, you’ll likely save big money here.
One company, Gabi, saves new customers up to $720 per year.
Furthermore, they make the process of shopping around effortless. There are no forms to fill out, no annoying phone calls, and you get instant rates.
Gabi allows you to get an apples-to-apples comparison with your current plan by simply linking your policy and providing your driver’s license number.
You’ll then get quotes from over a dozen top-rated insurance companies in under two minutes.
And here’s the best part: Once you sign up, you never have to shop for insurance again. Once they have your policy, Gabi’s software automatically monitors rates for you. If it finds a better one, it will help you make the switch. That way, you know you’re always paying the lowest possible rate.
So that means big savings today and big savings in the future.
March 2020’s Top Offers
— Get a free stock (valued at up to $1,400). The highly-rated and free investment app Webull has a limited-time promotion where you can get a free stock for making your first deposit of ANY amount.
— Get paid for completing online surveys with Survey Junkie. Their new $5 minimum payout makes it possible to cash out your earnings today.
— Get $10 in cash from Ibotta. The popular receipt scanning app Ibotta has a $10 welcome offer for new subscribers. Download the free app today and scan your next receipt to earn.
*Paribus compensates us when you sign up for Paribus using the links we provided.