Whether you're saving for something in particular or you just want to build a little nest egg, it's hard to save money! But there are a few penny-savvy things you can do to boost your savings without depriving yourself, and while they may seem odd, they really work!
1. Round It up
I'm no math whiz, so this money-saving trick actually calms my nerves and makes checkbook-balancing a snap: I round up when I write down a purchase, which makes the math easier and slowly but surely builds a cushion. For example, if dinner out costs $15.48, I round up to and even $16. In one week, I saved about $12 in this "rounding up" method, and in a year, it saved me a little more than $600.
2. There's an App for That
Want to invest that "round up" change in a diversified portfolio? There's an app for that! It's called Acorns, and it's a free app that takes the change at the end of all of your everyday purchases and invests it. It's not a savings account per se, but it will help you build a nest egg!
3. Keep the Change
What is it with me and the spare change, right? This is another way to save some cash, though, so it's worth mentioning. Grab one of those big glass cider jugs and put it in the back of your closest, where you can't really see it very well, then every day, dump your loose change into it. When it's full, take it to your bank where they have a free coin-counting machine... and you'll have anywhere from $150 to $800 in change, depending on how big and full your container is. Sweet!
4. Return the Empties
In some states, the cans and bottles your favorite carbonated beverages come in are returnable for a deposit fee, usually either 5 cents each or 10 cents each. Once a month, gather your empties and return them, rather than just putting them in your recycle bin. Bonus points (and change!) for collecting the returnables you see as litter, and for getting them from friends and family you know won't return them. In one year, I saved almost $150 just in returnables from my own bin.
Did you know you can get cash back for the purchases you make at every grocery trip? Many of the stores and brands you use most contribute to Upromise, and best of all, it's free! Start earning today, and watch the pennies add up.
6. Switch Credit Cards
Credit cards are an excellent way to build your credit, which in turn means that when you have to borrow money for a house or a car, you'll get a lower interest rate. So why not get one of those really low-interest cash-back credit cards (like one from Capital One), use it for everyday purchases, then pay them off at the end of every month, and get that cash back? You'll build your savings and your credit.
7. Open an Account
It's always a good idea to have accounts at various financial institutions, so when you see those "get $100 for opening a savings account" ads, why not open an account? Don't do it all the time, of course, but choose one new account every year or two, an account that doesn't have a debit card (so you can't spend the money), and sock some cash there every month or so.
8. Use Your Discounts
Most companies offer you a discount for being a student, a military member, AAA member, and so on. Why not take advantage of those discounts? When you go to a shop you've not been to before, ask if they offer discounts, and if you qualify for one, take advantage of it.
9. Claim Single, Zero
This one's going to sound really strange, but bear with me. If you typically claim single, one dependent on your taxes, why not claim single, zero dependents? More taxes will be taken out of your paycheck each week, and because you're paying more - sometimes FAR more - than you need to, you'll get it all back at the end of the tax year. You probably won't notice much of a difference in your weekly take-home pay, but you will definitely notice a difference in your annual tax return. Some will argue you'd be better off putting that $20 a week in your own bank account, rather than letting the government collect interest on it, but if you're not the best at saving money, this works really well.
What other strange but effective ways do you save money? Let me know... I'd love to save more!