20 Ways to Save Money You Probably Haven’t Tried Yet
You'll be amazed at how much money you can save each month when these small and simple expert strategies add up.
Automate your bills
When you’re being conscientious and seriously trying to sock away every dollar possible, you can undo all your good work in one fell swoop when you inadvertently rack up late fees. Brittney Mayer, a credit strategist at CardRates.com, offers a simple solution: Automate your bill paying. “It’s easy to do, not just through your bank but through your credit cards. You’ll never miss a payment again.” Mayer estimates this strategy can save consumers a solid $30 per month. And if you think that’s smart, check out 11 genius ways to save on every household bill.
Take advantage of card-issuer shopping/deals portals
Many credit card issuers have created shopping portals and deals pages that offer discounts and rewards on everything from coffee perks to hotel stays, Mayer tells Reader’s Digest. Take advantage of those shopping-and-deal portals for things you are going to have to purchase anyway, and you could save up to $20 per month. Mayer particularly likes Chase‘s new “Deals” tab.
Find a credit card that offers price protection
Did you know that some credit cards will automatically hunt for lower prices on your recent purchases and even refund the difference? Well, it’s true, Mayer tells us. It’s called “price protection,” and it can save you up to $1,000 a year (Citi Price Rewind caps your savings at $1,000, for example), so you could save as much as $83 per month. On the other hand, here are 10 times when you should never use a credit card.
Seek out credit cards offering cash-back rewards
Stop paying cash or debit for purchases that could be made with a cash-back credit card. Mayer points out that there are cards that offer as much as 6 percent back on purchases. Some credit cards offer higher rates of cash-back for certain types of purchases (say, gas or groceries). Seek out these deals and strategize which card you use to pay for your purchases: Mayer estimates you’ll end up with an extra $50 in your pocket every month. Check out these 40 surprisingly simple ways to save money at the supermarket.
Make sure to collect the rewards you’ve earned
If you are already racking up cash-back rewards, just make sure you’re taking that extra step to redeem them. For some credit cards, it’s as simple as a swipe on a smartphone app. For others, though, you may need to redeem them at the card site. If having to take that extra step to redeem them is too much for you and you find that you just don’t do it, seek out a type of rewards card that works for you. Don’t miss out on free money, says Jill Gonzalez, an analyst at WalletHub.
Take advantage of other credit card perks
In addition to price protection and cash back, many credit cards offer other perks, including purchase protection, extended warranty coverage, and travel insurance. Mayer tells Reader’s Digest you can save, on average, $15 per month by taking advantage of these perks.
Apply for a co-branded travel card
This is a credit card partnered with a travel company, such as the Amex Starwood card. “Some co-branded travel cards offer things like free checked bags, in-flight discounts, free hotel stays, and room upgrades that can make your annual vacation much more affordable,” says Mayer; she estimates a savings of around $10 per month on average. Here are 10 credit card perks you should always use on vacations.
Negotiate annual fees on credit cards
Still paying annual fees on your credit cards? If so, Mayer’s guessing you haven’t tried to negotiate those fees away. “Many cardholders have luck when requesting a waiver of the annual fee because credit card companies are motivated to retain your business,” she says. Depending on the quality of the retention offer, this could save hundreds a year, or equate to an average monthly savings of $30 dollars, Mayer tells us.
Look for 0 percent APR credit cards
If you typically carry a balance on your card, you should consider shopping around for a credit card that offers 0 percent APR. Your savings will vary depending on your balance, says Mayer, but you’re guaranteed to put dollars back into your pocket. Here are the 11 best credit cards for every type of purchase.
Transfer your credit card balance to the 0 percent card
Got that 0 percent APR card? Now use it to pay off the credit cards debt that are carrying higher percentage balances. “It may sound counterintuitive to get a new credit card in order to save money, but you absolutely can do it,” Matt Shultz of CompareCards.com tells us. Just be sure to pay down that 0 percent APR card before the rate goes up—you usually have up to 12 months. You don’t want to end up right back where you started.
Schultz also tells us that it’s possible to negotiate a better interest rate with your credit card issuer. “Your chances of success are far higher than you think, and the money you save can be significant. Don’t expect to go from a 25 percent APR to a 15 percent APR, but you can still save real money,” he advises.
Improve your credit score
Consumers who have a fair or poor credit rating often see monthly savings just by improving their credit scores, Mayer points out. “Higher credit scores can lead to better credit offers, including lower interest rates, which can help consumers with debt save $10 or more each month in fees.” Check out 11 ways to improve your credit score.
Take advantage of free FICO tracking that cards offer
While you’re working on your credit score, be sure to take advantage of credit cards that offer free monthly FICO tracking, Mayer points out. “This can represent a monthly savings of $15 or more versus purchasing scores and tracking through a third party.”
Take your savings account to an online bank
Have you considered putting your savings into an online savings account? You should, recommends Brian Karimzad of MagnifyMoney.com: “Online savings accounts can earn over 2 percent per year in interest, with the same FDIC protection. That’s a higher interest rate than most bricks and mortar banks offer. If you keep $15,000 in your savings account, it could be $300 a year in savings—or about $25 per month.”
Seek out low- or no-fee fund mutual funds
Mutual funds often charge fees that come right out of your pocket. But Karimzad points out that Fidelity offers several funds with no fee at all. Based on the average household retirement account balance (which Karimzad estimates to be about $144,560), that’s $850 a year ($70 a month) in savings. If you can’t find an appropriate no-fee fund, seek out funds with lower fees. Lowering fund fees means more money savings for you.
Download and use shopping rewards apps
“Another way to save money is to use rebate sites and discount apps for online shopping,” Gonzalez, tells us. Examples include Ebates, NerdWallet, and Ibotta. Think of it as an extra layer of savings even before you get cash back from your credit cards. Just connect your existing credit cards, shop for deals at participating stores, and the cash back will show up on your credit card statement. Check out 13 savvy shopping tricks you’ll wish you knew all along.
Download this price protection app
“The consumer advocacy app Earny automatically gets you refunds on the stuff you buy when prices drop,” says Carla Dearing, founder and CEO of Sum180, an online financial wellness service. “Refunded money will automatically be placed back in your wallet.” Earny shoppers have gotten more than $2,200 back in a year and more than $800 back in a single refund. And as with shopping rewards apps, it’s an extra layer of price protection on top of any you may have from your credit card company. Watch out for these 7 “money-saving tips” that don’t actually work.
Audit your subscriptions
Dearing also pointed out to Reader’s Digest that if you take a good, hard look at your monthly credit card bill, you might be surprised to see you’re paying monthly for services you never use. Services like Hulu, Netflix, or your gym membership can all be useful if you use them. If you don’t, it’s a waste of money, and it adds up fast. You can catalog all your subscriptions and then personally contact each company, one by one, to cancel the subscriptions you no longer want.
There’s an app that audits your recurring charges
If you’re looking for a more efficient way to track those monthly subscriptions, the app Trim can do the auditing for you, Dearing says. Trim scans your transactions on a recurring basis and cancels anything you don’t want to keep paying for. But note that Trim charges a $6 fee for “hard to cancel” subscriptions, such as those that require notice by certified mail. Here are 10 “money-saving tips” you’re better off ignoring.
Boost your 401k contribution
“Another great way to save money is by boosting your 401k contribution.” Gonzalez reminds us. “These contributions are pre-tax, so even the smallest increase will translate into several hundred dollars extra in savings each year, without taking a hit to your paycheck.” Of course, saving is a balancing act; putting aside money for later might not make sense today if, for example, you are carrying a lot of debt on high-interest rate credit cards. You’ll want to pay down high-interest debt first. Here are 10 more creative ways to save money.