We all have our own complicated relationship with money, however, that doesn't mean we can't create new habits and fix our relationships. Whether you're overspending, buying unnecessary things, don't have savings, there are small changes you can make to end the month with money in your pocket.
1. Ditch Cable
Cable and satellite TV are a thing of the past—yet many households still have cable. A study from last year shared that the average household pays over $200 a month for cable. Streaming services, on the other hand, are only getting better. For about $10-$15 a month, you can get access to a streaming service with hundreds of shows and movies, minus the commercials. Bundle a few of the most popular services, and you can watch just about anything your heart desires, for a fraction of the cost of cable.
2. Negotiate Your Bills
Most people don't know that most of their bills are negotiable—it's one of the best-kept secrets for a reason. While it may take some time out of your day, negotiating your bills can help you save some serious cash each month. Internet bills, phone bills, and more are possible to negotiate. Remember to stay polite yet assertive, and if a representative can't help you, ask them to put you on the phone with someone who can.
3. Save a Dollar a Day
If saving large chunks of money feels intimidating, try just saving a dollar a day, or $30 a month. Consider it a swap—like saving that money instead of eating out one night or making that impulse purchase. This strategy can get you in a habit of saving, and you can continue to boost the amount the more comfortable you get. After a few months, you'll feel more and more confident.
4. Improve Your Gas Mileage
This strategy is more of a spend to-save strategy, however, taking care of your car can improve your gas mileage, which can save you money in the long run! That means keeping up with regular maintenance to ensure it runs smoothly. You shouldn't skip oil changes and asking around can help you find the best price for the service. In addition, keeping your tires aired can help your mileage. Buying a gauge at your local auto shop for a few dollars means you can air your tires yourself at a nearby gas station. Removing stuff from your trunk can also help your car run better.
5. Count Your Pennies
It may not seem like a big deal, however your spare change can really help in a pinch. If you find yourself with lots of change, especially if you receive tips at work, throw that change into a piggy bank. You likely won't think of it anyway, so it will accumulate quickly without feeling like a big deal. When it fills up, take it to an automatic coin counter (often, banks have one for customers to use for free). You'd be surprised at how much money your spare change adds up to be.
6. Automate Savings
If your paycheck is set up to direct deposit into your bank account, ask your employer if you can split up where your deposit goes. In most cases, you can split your paycheck between at least two accounts, which means you can automate your savings. If you can, send 20% of your paycheck straight to your savings, and the rest to your checking. That way, you won't have to think about the money. If 20% feels out of reach, start smaller. Automating reduces your opportunities to spend money, which helps you think about your purchases before you make them.
7. Slash Hidden Expenses
What are you paying for that you don't know you're paying for? Chances are, you've got a few hidden subscriptions that are costing you dozens of dollars a month. It's time to use it or lose it! Just about everything is subscription-based these days, which makes it easy to forget what you're paying for. Do a mini-audit of what you're paying for each month and cancel subscriptions you're no longer using (or not using enough).
9. Use Rebate Apps
Groceries and other necessities can all add up, yet you can't go without them. Websites like Rakuten and Ibotta allow you to scan your receipts for the potential to earn a little cash back on your purchases. All you have to do is shop through their platform. Depending on how often you use it, and what you buy, you can expect to get anywhere from a few dollars to a couple dozen dollars a month.
10. Round-Up and Save
If you have trouble sticking to a savings plan, try the round-up method. For everything you spend, round it up to the nearest dollar or (five dollar) increment, and save that amount. So if you spend 80 cents on gum, you'll put 20 cents into savings. It will seem insignificant, however these small increments all add up. In no time, you'll be saving on autopilot like a pro.
11. Get (Energy) Efficient
Bills may be mandatory, however you can cut back on your bills by making your house or apartment more energy efficient. The simplest step is to turn off and/or unplug things you're not using. Energy efficient lightbulbs, like LED bulbs, can reduce the energy consumption of your lights by 90%. To offset the upfront cost of the bulbs, you could start by replacing one or two lights each month. Or you can use a rebate program to get a few dollars back per bulb. Energy efficiency can reduce your energy bill significantly.
12. Use Balance Transfers
If you're paying high interest on your credit cards, it's time to consider doing a balance transfer. Many credit cards offer an introductory period of 0% interest for balance transfers, which can help you pay down high interest debt. While this can take a few months, in the long run you'll save money on interest, and you can eliminate some of your debt in the process.
13. Get Organized
If you're feeling financially frazzled, sometimes it helps to get your house in order, quite literally. Knowing where all of your regularly used things are can help you save a few bucks here and there. Organization can keep you from buying duplicates of toiletries or cleaning supplies, use products you've forgotten about, and feel more satisfied with what you have.
When you're feeling stuck financially, it can be lonely, however you're not alone. Many Americans struggle with their finances, yet you can improve that relationship. We hope that some of these tips will help you establish better money habits and find a way forward.