No matter where you’re at with your finances, there are always opportunities to save more. And since nobody likes depriving themselves, why not make the act of saving effortless?
That’s why I created this list of 17 money hacks that make saving easy.
#1 – Switch to a High-Yield, Zero Fee Savings Account
Did you know that in 2017 banks collected over $34 billion in overdraft fees?
If you paid even $1 in fees last year or earn next-to-nothing on your savings account–you need a new bank.
Head over to Fiona, which is like a search engine that helps you find a bank locally that offers high-interest rates and won’t nickel and dime you in fees.
When I did this, I found a bank that paid 22X the national average on their savings account!
#2 – Get Cash Back For Price Drops
One of my secret weapons is called Paribus.
Paribus is a free site that gets you cash back on items you bought online when the price drops. In other words, it’s like getting price matching even weeks after you purchased something.
It’s free to sign up. Then, once you do, Paribus scans your email archives for receipts.
When Paribus learns you bought something from one of their monitored retailers (including Amazon, Target, Walmart and 20+ others), it tracks the price. When it learns a price has dropped, it helps you get a refund.
Unlike other similar sites, Paribus allows you to keep 100% of the refund.
#3 – Earn Free Gift Cards While Watching TV
Did you know you can earn free gift cards or cash for participating in market research online?
It’s pretty easy too.
You just sign up for a survey site and then you’re notified by email when a qualifying survey is available.
The hack to actually making this activity worth your time is signing up only with legit sites. That is sites that do not send you spam, do not ask for your phone number, and are highly rated by TrustPilot and Better Business Bureau.
Here’s what’s to like about Survey Junkie:
- Free to sign up
- Over 6,000,000 members
- The highest rated survey site by TrustPilot with an 8.8/10
- An A- Rating with BBB
- Known for having some of the highest payouts
- Pays you instantly in cash via PayPal or can cash out in gift cards to stores like Amazon
#4 – Make Your Debt Go Away Faster
How exactly does having an excellent vs. poor credit save a typical 35-year old male $274,918 over his life?
Interest payments. The average American spends $8,037 each year on interest.
What’s more shocking is the amount of money in interest people give to banks they don’t have too. One study2 showed that homeowners paid an unnecessary $5.4 billion to banks because they didn’t refinance.
While not everyone has a mortgage, the majority of people in the U.S. have other personal debt such as credit cards and car loans.
And just like mortgages, many homeowners give more money to banks then they have to by not refinancing.
A great resource to help you find a lower interest payment on your personal debt is Fiona.
Fiona is like the Expedia of personal loan providers. Instead of going to banks one-by-one, Fiona searches the top online lenders to match you with an offer in less than 60-seconds. Rates start as low as 4.99%.
#5 – Shop Around For The Lowest Insurance Rates
Maybe the easiest way to save big money fast is to compare car insurance quotes. If you can save $300 in 30 minutes of work, that’s a $200 an hour task!
Start your search at Esurance, which takes only a few minutes to get a quote.
As an online-only company, Esurance has some of the lowest rates in the industry. Plus, an excellent quoting experience, as it only takes a few minutes to get a quote, even on your phone.
Live in CA, IL, NJ, OR, PA, VA, or WA? Then check out MetroMile, which offers car insurance based on how much you drive. As I work from home and drive less than 5K miles per year, I recently switched to MetroMile as they had the cheapest rate by far.
#6 – Improve Your Credit Score
It turns out — having a high credit score, is one of the biggest hacks for saving more. One study1 showed the difference of having excellent vs. poor credit saves the average 35-year old male $274,918 over his life.
It’s important to know and manage this number. A free website called Credit Sesame can help you do just that. By signing up, here’s what you can expect:
- See your credit score for free, then get monthly updates
- Get personalized tips on managing your credit, based on your credit profile and goals
- Instant alerts for when an important change has been made to your credit report
The last point above is worth signing up for alone. A recent FTC report found 20% of Americans have an error on their credit report. With how big of an impact your credit score has, it’s vital to know if an error is bringing down your score.
#7 – Get Cash Back On Things You Already Buy (My Favorite)
Wouldn’t it be nice to get up to 20% cash back on everything you bought online?
This is actually possible with Swagbucks.
Swagbucks is a cashback site that allows you to earn up to 20% back in cash when you shop online.
Swagbucks splits the referral fee with you for sending you to a site.
You don’t pay a penny more. All you need to do is start your search at Swagbucks and shop your favorite online stores as you normally would.
Swagbucks has now paid out over $275,000,000 in rewards and has an A-Rating with the Better Business Bureau.
There’s also a $10 sign up bonus if you use this link.
You’re probably shopping online as it is, so why not get some free money back?
#8 – Get Help Achieving Your Financial Goals
There are a lot of apps that can help you track your finances. But tracking and categorizing your expenses can only help so much.
At the end of the day, the more important thing is learning the best actions you need to take to achieve your financial goals.
Not only does Stratus track your money, but it offers hyper-personalized recommendations to help you accomplish your goals.
For example, say your goal is to save for a vacation. Stratus will analyze your financial situation and provide specific recommendations to help you get to your savings goal faster.
Stratus is completely free to sign-up.
#9 – Discover If Your Employer’s 401(k) Is Ripping You Off
High investment fees can literally add years to your working life.
Do you have to work an extra 2 years, 5 years, or even 7+ years because of excessive fees in your 401(k)?
It’s definitely not unheard of.
Here’s how to find out.
With employer-sponsored plans, there are two layers of fees:
- Account management fees. This may be a flat fee or a fee based on a percentage of your account value.
- Mutual fund fees. These are fees charged for the specific mutual funds you choose.
Fees can often be hidden. However, a free tool called Blooom can help you discover hidden fees in your 401(k).
All you do is link up your retirement account, then get a free analysis of your 401(k) fees in minutes.
Start the sign up process by entering your name, birthday, and estimated retirement date. Then, let Blooom link up to your retirement account to get your free analysis.
#10 – Use Coupon Apps For Groceries & In-Store Purchases
Just as cashback sites can get you money back for your online purchases, coupon apps can get you cash back for in-store purchases.
One of my favorite cash back apps is iBotta.
Here’s how it works:
- Sign up for the app (get a $10 bonus by using this link)
- Before you walk into the store, scan iBotta for rebates
- Once you purchased the item, scan the barcode and receipt
- Then, get cash back in a matter of minutes once your purchase is verified
iBotta works with hundreds of stores, from WalMart, Target, Costco, Publix, and more.
#11 – Let a Robot Save You Money
One of my favorite new personal finance apps is Trim. The idea behind Trim is to become your robotic personal finance assistant.
Trim takes care of money-saving tasks like:
- Canceling and negotiating subscriptions
- Getting you cash back for price drops
- Lowering your cable and Internet bills
All you do is sign up and connect your account. Then, Trim’s robotic assistant will notify you of ways to save money.
#12 – Earn Money and Gift Cards Watching Videos
You probably know of InboxDollars, the popular cashback website and app with a 4.4 rating and 52,000+ reviews.
Well, there’s a little-known way you can get paid for watching videos through InboxDollars called Cash Video.
How it works is InboxDollars gives you a specific playlist of videos to watch (you can watch in the background on mute). Common videos include movie previews, music videos, and news.
Once you get through the playlist, you’ll earn cash from InboxDollars. Most playlists run between a few minutes to around 30.
Availability of videos changes daily, but it’s possible to earn up to $225 a month watching these videos!
Plus, there’s a $5 bonus just for signing up.
#13 – Get Paid for Doing Absolutely Nothing
There are a number of websites and mobile apps that pay you for access to data about your shopping habits, TV viewing history, and device usage (among other things). This is a form of passive income, and a great way to earn a little bit of extra cash with essentially zero effort. I’ve written a couple of articles about passive income, including one about the best passive income ideas and one about the best passive income apps.
One option that falls into both of those categories is the Nielsen Mobile Panel, an app that runs in the background of your smartphone (or other device). It’s produced by Nielsen, the well-known market research company that conducts the TV viewership ratings you hear about in the news.
The app collects your data anonymously and uses it for market research purposes. You’ll earn about $50 per year, per eligible device, just for keeping the app installed. You can learn more about the NMP here.
#14 – Go Cash-Only for Certain Categories
It’s widely studied that we spend more when using credit cards vs. cash (estimated at about 12-18% more). However, going “cash only” in today’s day and age isn’t the easiest thing in the world.
A good workaround is to select one or two categories where you overspend. Then, do a cash-only budget for those categories only.
For example, say month-after-month you blow through your budget on dining out. What you’ll then do is set aside a certain amount of cash for dining out. Then, place it in an envelope at the start of the month. Anytime you want to dine out, the money must come from that envelope. Then, when the cash is gone, it’s gone! No more dining out until next month.
#15 – Focus on Your Food Budget
Large monthly expenses, such as your mortgage, car payments, and utilities are difficult to save money on overnight.
That’s why often the best place to start saving money is lowering the amount you spend on food.
There are a lot of easy hacks to save money on food.
The easiest is switching the grocery stores you shop at. I’ve found stores like Aldi and Costco are 20% to 30% lower than shopping at typical grocery stores. Just as important, you’re not sacrificing quality.
While you may not have this same combination of stores, the lesson to remember is to optimize your grocery spending.
Another option to consider is Imperfect Produce, which delivers fresh fruits, vegetables and other household staples right to your door — for up to 30% less than in-store prices. In theory, the items have cosmetic blemishes or other imperfections. However, I use the service and the produce usually looks better than what’s for sale in the supermarket. You can read about my experience with the service in this review.
#16 – Set Financial Goals
Setting goals is a difficult task, setting financial goals is even harder.
None of us know what life will bring us next month, let alone in 5, 10, or 30+ years. On top of that, we must make a whole bunch of assumptions about things we have no control over.
It’s these reasons, among others, we tend to forget the process altogether.
But despite the frustration, financial goals make a lot of sense. After all, working for money takes up most of our waking hours. Once in a while, it makes sense to ask yourself if you’re on the right track.
I’ve written a financial goal setting workbook, to help guide both individuals and couples for setting financial goals. It’s a step-by-step process for gaining clarity in your financial life. Sign up below for free access.
*Paribus compensates us when you sign up for Paribus using the links we provided.