If you want to get beyond having money issues, you will need to learn how to save money. I know it's easier said than done. If you are like the 40 percent of Americans who cannot handle a $400 emergency, fret not. Trust me, together we can do this. Budgeting will help you get part of the way there.
Your budget becomes your plan, your roadmap. But, based on your situation, you might need to earn more cash (check out all these ways you can make more money)
It's no fun when we have to rely on credit cards or, worse yet, borrowing money from our families to get to the next paycheck. If you want to have money to take care of emergencies, eat out at restaurants, buy a better car, go on vacations, or save for retirement, you will have to figure out a way to spend less and save more, and if you check out the opportunities below, then you will be ready to start saving money.
In The Next Millionaire Next Door, authors (the late) Dr. Thomas Stanley and daughter Dr. Sarah Stanley Fallaw, used research data to demonstrate a slow, steady approach to building wealth will make you a millionaire. The millionaires featured in the original version highlighted everyday millionaires who made money slowly over time. They didn't sign a multi-million-dollar contract or hit the lottery. Wealth is based on behaviors that include spending less than you make and saving your money. Are you ready for a brighter financial future? Read on!
Here are some ways to save money:
- Cashback & Free Samples
- Save Money When You Go Shopping
- Cut Your Monthly or Yearly Expenses
- Comparison Shopping to Save Money on Insurance
- Open an Online High-Yield Savings Account
- Pay Off or Refinance Your Debt
- Check Your Credit Score
Cashback & Free Samples
As you move along your path to financial freedom, you will want to spend less and avoid unnecessary expenses. However, you will not stop buying things. With that in mind, look at these offerings that provide some cash back on purchases you need to make anyway. (Note: You will be more successful if you have a plan for what to do with your cash back rewards before you start receiving them. Maybe stick them into a high-yield savings account, hint! hint! Be sure to visit that section below).
Thousands of ways to save. Sound good to you? That's what you'll get when you sign up for Fetch Rewards, a mobile app that will not only save you money, but earn you some “cash” back in the form of gift cards. It is easy to start earning rewards with Fetch Rewards. Download the app (iOS or Android), and see what rewards brands offer. It doesn't matter where you shop as long as you buy the featured items.
Simply scan your receipt via the app and watch your point total rise. Fetch features special offers that will grab you even more points. All it takes is 3,000 points to get a gift card. You can get really close with an extra 2,000 points when you sign up today using the code FETCH2K. (Note: at the time of writing, 1,000 points = $1, so that's a $2 bonus waiting for you.)
S'more is an interesting app in the Google Play store. It will award you points every day for using the app as your lock screen. In exchange for points, you agree to let S'more send ads to the lock screen. You receive 10 points a day, and as you build up rewards points, you can redeem them for gift cards from Amazon, Applebee's, AMC theaters, Best Buy, CVS, Domino's, Target, Starbucks, and more.
You will need at least 100 points before you can redeem them for an Amazon gift card. Others are 500 or 1,000 points. And, one more catch: You have to use S'more for 10 days before you make your first redemption.
What is nice is that by signing up, providing all the information, and getting just one friend to sign up … you can get your first 100 points relatively quickly.
Another nice feature of this app is that it combines the functionality of other rewards programs: You can earn more points by taking surveys and watching videos from within the app. Keep in mind, the survey companies are looking for very specific people, so don't be surprised if you answer some pre-qualifying questions and are not what they are looking for.
Mr. Rebates has been around since 2002, which seems like an eternity for an online shopping rewards program. You can shop via its website or the Mr. Rebates mobile app. When you purchase items through its links or app, you will earn cash back rewards. It has partnerships with more than 3,000 stores.
If you purchase an item, make sure you do so through the website, the browser extension or the app — else you will not get any rewards.
Mr. Rebates is free. They make money through their affiliate relationships with the retailers. Whenever you buy something, it will take up to three days to be credited to your account. You will need to have at least $10 in rewards before you can cash out.
You can choose to have a check sent to your address or have the money deposited in a PayPal account. Some people like to use programs like this in conjunction with cash-back credit cards. Be careful with credit cards. They serve a purpose, but don't go into debt to save a few dollars. And, make sure you are buying things you need, else you are spending money — not saving money.
Unlike Mr. Rebates, with Shopkick, you can earn rewards in-store and online. Shopkick calls these rewards kicks. This is a free app, and what caught my attention with this is you can earn kicks without purchasing anything. Yes, you read that correctly.
You can start collecting kicks just for walking into one of the partner stores (you will see them when you sign up, which is an easy process). Scan some barcodes on ShopKick-listed products in the store to earn a few more kicks. And, you can watch videos in exchange for Kicks. Can't beat that. And, let's not forget it is a shopping app, and you can earn extra kicks by purchasing items with a connected credit card and shopping online.
Again, these types of rewards programs are not going to make you rich, but when you save a little here and a little there, it adds up over time.
This money-saving website and app is named TopCashback for a reason: You get cash back on qualifying purchases through the site, and they say they provide the top cash back rewards. Like similar sites, TopCashback has affiliated relationships with thousands of retailers.
When you purchase from their partners through the website or app, TopCashback earns a commission, and then it sends you a portion of it as a cash-back reward.
One TopCashback user received more than $2,500 back over the course of a few years. This just shows you need to be in this for the long haul: Focus on earning a little bit over a long period of time. What could you buy with $2,500 saved on products you were going to purchase anyway?
Do you think you can go on a vacation with that? Can it be a downpayment on a car? A lavish long weekend? Making concerted, small decisions over a long period of time will help you bring TopCashback. Some of the ways to earn top dollar is on hotel bookings, casino deals and financial services products. If you travel for business, you might as well see if you can get some rewards through TopCashback.
CoinOut started out as an app that let you deposit your spare change from in-store purchases into a digital wallet, but it has transformed into a cash rewards program. You can download the app for free and start scanning photos of your receipts to earn pennies back on each purchase.
It's kind of weird because there's no strings attached. It is free, and you don't have to purchase any specific product to start collecting “coins.” You can connect with retailers through the app for better rates, but, really, any receipt from a business you can scan into your phone and potentially earn rewards.
If you connect your bank account or want an Amazon gift card, then there is no minimum to receive cash out. However, if you want the money to go into your PayPal account, then you will need to wait until you get $10. One guy tested this out, and he received an Amazon gift card with a whopping balance of 4 cents. You might want to wait until you have more. Just sayin'.
This service is different than the ones I mentioned already; it is considered payment protection. Earny monitors your online orders by checking your email for receipts to determine if another retailer is selling what you purchased at a cheaper price. If so, it will send an email for you to the retailer asking for the difference to be refunded. This helps avoid buyer's remorse when you purchase something only to see it go on sale the next day.
Some people are a little uneasy because the service monitors your emails, and when it sends out an email it is as if it is coming from you. But, they are working as your agent to save you money — in exchange for a 25 percent “success fee.” That means if you purchased something for $100 and Earny discovered it was selling for $80 elsewhere, it would send out the email. If you are successful in getting a refund, then Earny will send you $15, and it will keep $5. Some might consider it steep, but all of this happens without you lifting a finger (after you sign up, of course).
When you sign up with PINCHme, you will answer some qualifying questions to see if you are eligible for their once-a-month free samples. If you are eligible, you will get to select an assortment of free trials that PINCHme will ship to your door at no cost. In return, you will let companies know what you think about their products.
This is not a kind of service where you can earn money, but you might qualify to receive free samples of personal care, home and family, food and drink, and pet products. By receiving free trial-size items, you might realize some cost avoidance. So, you might be able to save some money … indirectly.
This is market research, and, whenever you are dealing with this topic, companies target very specific people. They don't want to hear thoughts on pet food from people who don't own pets. Be prepared to not qualify for some free samples.
Daily Goodie Box
The Daily Goodie Box is similar to PINCHme in that you will receive a free goodie box in exchange for your opinions. If you like interesting products, you will want to consider the Daily Goodie Box. Here are just a sample of what you might receive: Organic applesauce pouches from Prince & Spring; Michele's Granola; PiperWai Natural Deodorant Stick; Goddess Garden facial sunscreen lotion; Pure Aura Cosmic Shimmer Hologram Foil Mask; and Saffron Road Dark Chocolate Crunchy Chickpeas. Interested now?
ReceiptPal is similar to other take-a-photo-of-your-receipt-and-send-it-to-us apps. With Receipt Pal, you can begin accumulating points that can later be converted into gift cards. You are not required to purchase any items in particular, and you don’t have to purchase several of the same items to qualify for points. When you first download and register this app, you will receive five virtual punch cards for the week. These are known as point cards. After that, you will receive three of these point cards a week. If you happen to scan more receipts than you have point cards, then you will be entered into a sweepstakes to win prizes. ReceiptPal is only for Android users.
Save Money When You Go Shopping
Rally's and Checker's have a slogan: You gotta eat! Well, you gotta shop, too. No family escapes having to shop, so you might as well learn how to save money while doing it, right?
Ibotta describes itself as “a free app that pays you cash for everyday purchases.” It has exclusive offers at a variety of grocery stories, retailers and shops. You can earn cash three ways — sending receipts, linking loyalty cards and through mobile in-app purchases. The money is paid to you through PayPal or Venmo once you reach $20 or can be converted to purchase gift cards.
Ebates / Rakuten
With Ebates (now called Rakuten), you can earn up to 40% cash back from over 2,500 stores without filling out forms. You use the Ebates / Rakuten website or app and follow links to the stores you want to shop from. Ebates / Rakuten gets commissions from the stores and shares it with you. Ebates / Rakuten will pay its members each quarter either through PayPal or through a check that they mail to you.
Capital One Shopping (formerly Wikibuy)
Capital One Shopping is a powerful online shopping tool that does so many things to help you save money. With the browser extension, Capital One Shopping alerts you to better prices, reward opportunities, and coupon codes. If you have a Capital One credit card (you know, the one you pay off every month and don't carry a balance), you can link it to earn a percentage back on purchases from its partner stores. (Note that Capital One Shopping compensates us when you get the browser extension using this link provided.)
The Drop app makes it easy to earn reward points when you link your debit and credit cards. As these points accumulate, you can convert them into gift cards. You will generally earn 1-2 percent on rewards points for every dollar spent. When you total 5,000 points, then you will be eligible for a $5 gift card.
With apps like these, it is important to use them for purchases you are going to make anyway. Drop does a real good job of sending you notifications about how to snag some bonus points. These are called Flash Deals and are on a time limited, first come, first serve basis. When you sign up, it asks for you to select five retailers (including Amazon and Starbucks) where you shop. When you make purchases at these locations, your points will automatically be tallied.
Like with similar apps and websites, be careful because you can end up spending more than you normally would, and we want to help you make more money and save more money. Be wise in your purchases. Some people like to disable Drop from sending push notifications so they will not be tempted to spend more.
With My Points, you can earn points while shopping online, taking surveys, watching videos, reading emails and more. Points convert to gift cards or cash through PayPal accounts. MyPoints partners with thousands of stores to help you earn points. You can also print coupons to save at the store.
Swagbucks says, “Get free gift cards and cash for everyday things you do online.” You earn points through shopping online, watching videos, searching the web and answering surveys. To earn your SBs (rewards), you need to shop online through its links. Like MyPoints, you will earn points for printing out coupons, not to mention save money when you buy. There is also a Chrome extension that will generate extra SBs and alert you when a site offers Swagbucks rewards.
Honey helps consumers find the best price online by using their browser extensions. It finds and applies the best coupons on over 37,000 sites, saving time and money for their members. Members install the app and then shop like normal. Honey helps its members shop Amazon using their price history and price detection feature, so users can be confident they'll find the best deal on Amazon. Finally, the Honey Droplist feature allows its members to set the amount they want to pay for a product and Honey will send an alert if the price is met.
Amazon Prime is a paid membership program that offers several perks to its participants. These benefits include free two-day shipping on Prime-eligible products, exclusive deals for Prime members and early access to lightning deals. In addition, Prime members have access to hundreds of movies and TV shows and ad-free music, which could potentially save you from having to purchase similar streaming services for $10-$15 per month. Cost of a Prime Membership is $119 per year. Amazon is always trying to improve the benefits of its Prime Membership. Amazon is also willing to give you some credits in its digital music store or food pantry if you opt not to have your items shipped in two days.
Regi is an app that allows you to keep track of everything regarding the stuff you buy. Scan the barcode and take a picture of the receipt, and Regi keeps it all for you. Regi will let you know if there are recalls on your stuff or if there is a lower price or if your warranty is almost expired. You'll also have access to how-to videos and user manuals, so you'll be able to use your stuff to the fullest extent possible.
Cut Your Monthly or Yearly Expenses
Let's return to the basics for a second: If you want to improve your financial position, you need to bring in more income or cut expenses. Ideally, it will be a combination of the two, but with this group of apps and services, you will find ways to cut your expenses.
Trim is an automated personal finance assistant that looks for ways to save you money on your cable and internet bills, your monthly subscriptions, and even searches for subscriptions you might no longer use but still pay a monthly fee for. On the Trim website, it boasts how it saved its users $1 million in the previous month. You connect your bank accounts, credit cards, insurance companies, utility providers, and services where you pay a recurring fee.
Trim will analyze where you are spending money in order to see if it can save you some cash by negotiating a better rate. You can also implement a simple savings plan to transfer money into a savings account on a weekly basis and earn a reward on your balance. It can also help you create a debt payoff plan.
Can peer pressure be a good thing? Well, researchers found people who use the Status app to track spending cut their expenses by about 3 percent, according to a Wall Street Journal report. When you sign up for your free Status account, you enter personal and financial details (like checking, savings, investments, credit cards and mortgages), and you are placed in a group of similar people. You get to see what your group spends on average, though everyone's privacy is protected. People who used the app have cut their discretionary spending.
The app will track your net worth, help with budgeting, show you your expected cash flow, monitor your credit, analyze interest rates, and spend you alerts on your accounts, like if one is getting too low. From the Status dashboard, you can see your spending, income, debts, and rewards.
Status also offers cashback rewards for opening a credit card at a lower rate; opening or transferring money to high-yield savings accounts; and printing and using coupons. And, let's not forget, it will show you opportunities to save money.
With more people working from home, families are seeing their electric bills rise. But, did you know energy rates are at historic lows? You might be able to get electricity cheaper. ElectricityRates.com makes it easy for you to compare rates from a variety of providers. Then, if you like one of the new rates, you can easily switch and save money on your electric bill. There will be no interruption of service and reliability will remain the same.
Shop Around & Change Cell Phone Companies
Spend some time shopping different cell phone companies to see if you can find a cheaper plan.
Tello Mobile is the only mobile carrier with a 5-star rating, and that is due to thousands of positive customer reviews. Tello provides coast-to-coast wireless coverage through the Nationwide Sprint® Network*. What makes Tello interesting is the customization of its plans, and they are all affordable (1 GB for $10; 2 GB for $14; 4 GB $19).
Tello Mobile offers prepaid, no contract plans, and you can pick the number of minutes and data you want. Feel free to upgrade or downgrade at any time for free. Better yet, there are no overage, administration fee, activation, or port out fees. You can bring their own device, and all plans include free tethering (hotspot).
Tello has apps for Android and iOS devices, which gives you the opportunity to make outgoing calls via WiFi … and save those minutes. Find out why Tello has nearly 5,000 positive reviews, and remember to sign up for their 3 month discount program. Try Tello Mobile today >>
If you want to save money on your cellular bill, you have to try Mint Mobile. It is a prepaid service, but it locks you in for a little longer term than just month-to-month. By having customers sign 3-, 6- or 12-month contracts, Mint Mobile knows how much bandwidth it needs, so it can get a better rate and pass on those savings to customers. The longer you sign up for, the more you will save.
Mint Mobile offers great introductory 3-month rates: $15/month for 3GB (reg. $25/mo); $20 for 8GB (reg. $35); and $25/mo for 12GB (reg. $45/mo). Mint has just added an unlimited data plan, too. You can get unlimited talk, text and 5G or 4G LTE (which ever is strongest) for just $30/month (reg. $40). So, you will pay from $10 to $20 less per month than its normal fees, depending upon your data plan. When the initial 3-month period is up, if you sign up for a year, then you get to lock in your introductory price. If not, then you pay the regular price. Check out Mint Mobile now. And right now you get three months free when you buy any three month plan!
Mint is a mobile virtual-network operator (MVNO): It uses T-Mobile's towers and doesn't own any of the equipment or infrastructure. It purchases bandwidth from T-Mobile at discounted rates. You get a free SIM card for your phone, or you can purchase a phone through them. If you run out of data, you can purchase more, and you can add international roaming if you are traveling abroad. See if you have coverage in your area.
Ting Mobile made its mark among MVNOs because it allowed users to pay for only what they used instead of a flat fee for a predetermined amount of minutes, texts and data. This can be unsettling to some who would rather have a fixed cost so they know what to budget each month. Knowing this, Ting has added plans with set prices and data limits for customers who prefer fixed costs.
If you use Xfinity for your internet service, then you can check out Xfinity Mobile for a chance to save some money. The mobile service, which features unlimited talk and text, is only available to Xfinity internet users. With Xfinity Mobile, you can either pay $15 per GB of shared data among all lines or $45 per line for unlimited data (speeds will be throttled down after 20 GB of usage).
If you are a light cell phone user, then FreedomPop's free service might be just what you are looking for. If you use a Sprint-compatible phone on a CDMA network, then you are looking at 500 MB (not GB) of 4G LTE data, 200 minutes of calls, and 500 texts per month (200 MB of data on GSM LTE network). Remember, this free plan is for light, or you might say very light, users.
The last of the MVNOs highlighted here is Republic Wireless, which offers unlimited talk and text for $15 per line and $5 per GB of data. All of the calls are routed through Wi-Fi, and when it is not available, it will go through Sprint's or T-Mobile's networks. Depending upon how much data you buy, when you get close to your limit, the Republic Wireless app will alert you, giving you an opportunity to add more data or change your plan.
If you are planning to bring your own phone, realize iPhones are not supported. You can see the limited number of supported phones here. If you don't use a lot of data, Republic Wireless might be a good option for you. If you are a heavy data consumer, then an unlimited plan somewhere else might be a better option.
Life’s about choices, right? If you want an inexpensive cellular plan without a lot of bells and whistles, then Boost Mobile might be a good choice for you and your budget. They offer a variety of deals that provide discounts on new Android phones, and they have four plans starting at $35 a month. Each plan can have up to five lines. All plans have unlimited data, talk and text, however be careful with the $35 a month plan. You get 3GB 4G LTE data, and after that, your data speeds will be slower. This plan only features SD video streaming and music streams at 500 kbps. If you use your phone as a mobile hotspot, it will count against your data limit. The $50/month plan has the same streaming limitations, with these exceptions: You get unlimited 4GLTE data and up to 12GB of hotspot data.
Boost Mobile is a mobile virtual network operator, and it uses Sprint’s network to connect calls and stream data from the internet, whether websites, documents, ebooks, music, or video. A nice feature is that you will receive free music streaming from partners like Pandora, Spotify or iHeartRadio. With Boost Mobile, there is no long-term contract. If you are going to use one of the unlimited plans (they also have a $60/mo plan with 30 GB hotspot data, HD video streaming and music streaming at 1.5 Mbps), be sure to do some comparison shopping.
Comparison Shopping to Save Money on Insurance
Insurance is one of those things you pay hoping you will never have to use it. They say only two things in life are certain: Death and taxes. Well, we might want to add insurance to the list. Insurance is all about spreading and sharing risk. Instead of each one of us paying for damages to our vehicles, or damage we caused to another's vehicle, or repairing our home after a storm, or paying for all our health care costs, we join pools of other people to share the costs. If we are going to have to pay for insurance, then we might as well find the best rates we can.
Use Gabi to shop for potentially lower rates on homeowners insurance and auto insurance. Gabi shops from a network of over 40 of the top insurance companies including Progressive, Nationwide, and many more so you can easy compare prices.
Before an online service like Policygenius came on the scene, it was difficult and time-consuming to do comparison shopping on insurance policies. You either had to call an insurance agent or go into the office and get a quote, and then repeat the procedure for every additional quote. Now, Policygenius makes it easy to see who is offering the best rates.
The kinds of insurance policies you can compare include life insurance, disability insurance, health insurance, homeowners insurance, renters insurance, auto insurance and pet insurance.
I appreciate how Policygenius is upfront about how it makes money: It earns a commission on every insurance policy it sells. It does not sell a policy any cheaper than another broker, because insurance companies file their rates with the states where they do business, and every insurance agency sells according to those rates.
The genius of Policygenius is that you get to see side-by-side comparisons easily to help you make a more informed choice. Sometimes, it is more important to find the best value, not just the lowest price.
Open a Free Online High-Yield Savings Account
CIT Bank has a Savings Builder with which you could earn you a high interest rate, depending on how much you deposit. Open an account with just $100.
Pay Off or Refinance Your Debt
When we decide to go into debt, whether by making a purchase on a credit card, financing a car, taking out a loan on a home, or buying something at 90 days same as cash, we are committing future dollars we have not earned yet in order to have something today. Not all debt is bad, but all debt presents a challenge. I have a lot of resources concerning debt, which I hope you will check out here, but you might want to start with my Conquering Debt series.
According to its website, “Credible is an online marketplace that provides borrowers with competitive, personalized loan offers from multiple, vetted lenders in real time.” You fill out a form, and you will get real rates to secure a private student loan; refinance a student loan; get a personal loan; or apply for a credit card. Credible will not be offering you financing, rather it will connect you with a lender. Check it out, it might save you some money.
Check Your Credit Score
I want to round out this How to Save Money Guide with ways to check your credit score. Understanding what your credit score is and how to improve it can potentially save you money. You will get a better interest rate if you have to apply for a credit card or a loan. Did you know some insurance companies use your credit score as a factor in determining your rates?
Your credit score basically tells lenders how much of a risk you are. If they stand a greater chance of being repaid on time based on your payment history, amount of debt, length of credit history, and kinds of credit you have used, then you will usually get better rates. Lower rates mean you will pay less in interest, thus saving what you might have spent otherwise.
Credit Karma allows you to access your credit score at no cost. It will monitor your credit score and let you know when there are changes. If you want to improve your credit score, Credit Karma will send you insights so you understand what affects your credit score and what steps you can take to improve it. You can create your free account in a few minutes. After you enter your personal information through its secure connection, Credit Karma will see if you are paying too much for loans and credit cards. You can also check to see if you have any unclaimed money owed to you (maybe a utility deposit or a bank account you forgot about when you were younger). All of Credit Karma’s services are free to you. They make their money from lenders when you act on personalized recommendations for a new loan or credit card with better terms.
I hope this How to Save Money Guide has been helpful. Remember, saving is only one part of the equation. Learn How to Make Money here.