Savvy strategies to give your savings a quick boost.
We can’t help it—as humans, we’re hardwired to want to see quick results. There’s nothing more rewarding than having something to show for all of your hard work. And conversely, there’s nothing that can stall your progress faster than the disappointment that comes along with glacial progress.
But here’s the thing: change doesn’t happen overnight—especially when it comes to your finances. Unless you win big in the lottery (unlikely, sorry!), paying down debts or building up savings takes both focus and patience.
Of course, you can give yourself a leg up by implementing some financially savvy strategies. Though none of them will make you a millionaire overnight, they will help you grow your bank account quickly. Here’s how to hit the ground running:
1. Use an app to round up your purchases
This clever platform automatically rounds up purchases you make on linked credit or debit cards to the nearest dollar. Then, you can save or invest that money. You can also use the app to get cash back at over 350 retailers. You can then put that money directly into your savings or investment account. Note: There is a small monthly fee (between $1 to $3 depending on the plan you choose), but it’s a cost many find worth the set-and-forget-it way of saving. You’ll be shocked how quickly those incremental deposits add up.
2. Cancel unnecessary subscriptions
Chances are you have at least a few subscriptions that can be eliminated or, at the very least, restructured. Look over your credit card bill, and make a list of any subscriptions you currently have. Then ask yourself: Do I regularly use this? If the answer is infrequently or never, ask yourself one more question: Do I need this? If the answer is no, bite the bullet and cancel your subscription. If you’re wavering back and forth, see if there’s a way to downgrade your current plan to save a little bit of money each month. For example, maybe you can swap your premium ad-free streaming service for a slightly less expensive one that requires you to watch a few commercials.
3. Reduce transportation costs
Do you default to Uber instead of taking the train home? Or maybe you technically live walking distance to work, but prefer to sleep in and then hop on the subway to get there faster? In NYC, one subway ride costs $2.75, meaning you’re spending a minimum of $5.50 on transportation each day if you take the train to and from work. And even if you live in the suburbs, the rising cost of gas makes any trip exponentially more taxing on your wallet. If walking or biking to work or activities is possible, consider doing so. It’ll not only help you build up your savings faster, but it’s also better for the environment and your overall health.
4. Limit meals out
In 2019, the average American consumer spent nearly $10 per day on “food away from home,” according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. A mere $10 per day on lunch might not sound like a lot, but at the end of the year, you’re looking at upwards of $3,500—no small number. While it’s fun—and totally fine—to splurge on restaurant food every now and then, meal planning can help you save some serious cash, since you’re shopping intentionally and sharing ingredients between meals. Plus, you won’t be paying added costs, like a tip for your server.
5. Use coupons
Paper coupons are still readily available in store circulars and newspapers, but today there’s also a more modern (read: convenient) way to save. Apps like Ibotta and the browser extension Honey alert you to current deals and promotions running, plus help you discover coupons that will help you save on the items in your cart, whether physical or digital.
6. Shop around
You don’t have to waste time going from retailer to retailer to find the best deal. Websites like Pricegrabber let you seamlessly compare prices across retailers to score the best deal. There are also sites like CamelCamelCamel that will show you 90 days of price data, so you can make sure you’re shopping at the right time. If you’re not in a rush, you can even set alerts to get notified if the price of an item on your “watch list” drops, so you can jump on the deal.
7. Enroll in loyalty programs
If you regularly shop at certain stores, check to see if they have a loyalty program. This way, you can make your purchases work for you by collecting points you can use toward future shopping trips. Many grocery stores have these types of programs, as do clothing retailers and electronic stores. Even places like nail salons and coffee shops may have rewards programs that give you a free manicure or coffee after a certain number of purchases.
8. Carry cash
Rather than default to your credit card every time you make a purchase, carry a predetermined, finite amount of cash. Since cash is more tangible, you’ll be better able to track your spending. As the money dwindles, resist the urge to take out more—once it’s gone, it’s gone.
9. Re-evaluate your biggest bills
Take a hard look at your biggest expenses. Think: homeowners insurance, auto policies, and cable subscriptions. Chances are these plans have been on autopilot for a long time, but you could save big by shopping around. Even if you don’t make the switch, your research may uncover potential discounts with your current policy.
10. Try a no-spend day
The concept is simple: Choose one (or more) days each month to eliminate non-essential spending, like coffee on your way to work or a taxi ride to meet friends. It’s a quick way to save a little bit of money, but it may have the longer-term benefit of enlightening you to your spending habits, so you can find places to tweak more permanently. If you’re really feeling ambitious you can even indulge in an exercise like Frugal February—a month-long mission to save as much money as possible by minimizing non-essential purchases.