Your stomach is turning: You just realized you need to save a decent amount of money, but you don’t have a lot of time to get it done. Maybe you have an immense medical bill to pay for. Perhaps you’ve decided it’s time to finally grow your emergency fund. Or maybe you’re saving money for the black tie wedding of your dreams.
Whatever the case may be, there are myriad ways you can save money — and fast. Even if you already think you’re a good saver, there are countless areas you likely haven’t tapped into yet. Below, you’ll find 29 simple ways to save money fast.
1. Sit down and finally make a budget. If you don’t have a budget, you’re not alone — a Gallup poll found that only 32% of Americans maintain a budget. But if you’re trying to improve your personal finance habits and save money fast, it’s imperative to have a budget. There are countless budgeting strategies out there. If you’re struggling to find one that feels like a good fit, consider using this weekly budgeting template.
2. Prioritize paying off your high-interest debts first. There are two common debt payoff strategies: the debt snowball and the debt avalanche. The debt snowball involves paying off debts from smallest to largest in balance, while the debt avalanche involves paying them off from highest to lowest interest rate. If saving money is your priority, you should go with the debt avalanche, as paying off high-interest debts first will save you more money.
3. Consider adopting the debt snowflake add-on strategy. Often used in conjunction with the debt snowball or debt avalanche, the debt snowflake is a supplemental strategy that involves putting away savings right after they occur. For example, if you skip a lunch out and instead bring your own meal, you would immediately deposit that $10 savings (or “snowflake”) in the bank.
4. Go to an affordable grocery store. There’s a good chance your grocery bill is one of the biggest expenses you have each week. So if you’re trying to save money, cutting back significantly on how much you spend on groceries is a great place to start. If you typically shop at high-end, organic stores like Whole Foods, consider opting for a cheaper spot that sells generic products and bulk items.
5. Consider (temporarily) becoming a vegetarian. If you’re already a vegetarian, you’re in luck: It turns out vegetarians save more money on food than meat eaters. In fact, research has shown vegetarians save at least $750 more money per year than their carnivore counterparts.
6. Go generic on toiletries. It can be tempting to buy name-brand items — especially ones you’ve used for years. But if you’re trying to save money fast, buying generic brands is one of the best things you can do. While you’re on the journey to save money, consider replacing your typical Dove body wash, Schick razor, or Head & Shoulders shampoo with the generic version.
7. Take one or two days to think a big purchase over. Maybe you have your eye on a new espresso machine. Or perhaps you’ve been yearning for a new pair of sneakers. With the rise of online companies like Amazon, impulse shopping has become a trap many of us find ourselves in. The next time you’re considering a “splurge” purchase that’s over $100, leave it in your virtual cart and take one or two days to think it over. Chances are the desire will vanish, and you’ll be one step closer to your savings goals.
8. Ask for that raise. If you’ve reached the point in your career where you’re deserving of a raise, ask for it. You could tap into several hundred extra dollars (or more!) each month simply by talking to your boss.
9. If a raise isn’t possible, find another job. If you asked your boss for a raise and he or she said no, consider searching for a new job. If you’re looking to save money fast, finding a new job with a higher salary could make the difference between barely getting by financially or thriving.
10. Use your skills to teach online. You’d be surprised by how much money you can make by having a side business where you teach others about your area of expertise. Places like Skillshare and Udemy allow you to use your specific skills to make extra money. Whether you’re an HTML master, personal essayist extraordinaire, accounting pro, or Adobe expert, there’s likely a fit for you on one of these platforms.
11. Take on a side gig. To save money fast, you can always take on a side gig that is flexible and works around your full-time job. Consider delivering food with DoorDash, running errands on Favor or Instacart, or driving people around via Uber.
12. Sell used items online through the Facebook Marketplace. Save money by selling old items that are sitting in the back of your closet on Facebook. Consignment shops and used clothing stores are a thing of the past. Now, everyone sells their unwanted items online. If you have a penchant for a particular brand or item, whether it’s Coach purses or Air Jordans, there’s likely a group on Facebook where you can sell your things. (If you’re taking a hiatus from social media, you can always sell items on Poshmark, though the site takes a hefty fee of 20%.)
13. Set up an Etsy shop. If you’re artistically inclined, consider selling your creations on Etsy. Whether it’s handmade notecards, crocheted hats, artisanal chocolates, or hand-sewn skirts, you can sell anything and everything that’s handmade on Etsy.
14. Sell collectibles on eBay. One way to save a lot of money quickly is by selling a collection that is gathering dust. Although it might be difficult to part with your coin, stamp, or baseball card collection, doing so could help you save a ton of money.
15. Depending on where you live, have a sidewalk or garage sale. Garage sales might feel like a thing of the past. And in some areas, they are. But if you live in a city where people still tack up neon signs announcing their sales, you should, too. After all, selling a host of unwanted items could garner you several hundred extra dollars.
Hidden Areas to Find Extra Money
16. Your cell phone bill. We all spend money on a cell phone bill. It’s a part of life. But it might be one area where you can save extra money each month. Take a closer look at your plan. Can you cut back and opt for the next cheapest plan instead? And if you have a plan with a more expensive carrier, consider moving to a cheaper one. Let’s just say there are probably better deals out there than the one you have.
17. Credit card rewards. Most credit cards today have perks like points and cash back rewards. Check all of your credit cards to see if there are any unclaimed cash back rewards. You might find yourself with an extra $50 or $100 you forgot was there.
18. Fitness studio or gym memberships. Do you really need that $150-per-month spin, barre, or pilates membership? If you’re saving money, the boutique fitness studio membership should go. Opt for a low-cost gym that’s just $20 or $25 per month instead. Plus, gyms often have the same types of classes as pricey fitness studios.
19. iPhone app subscriptions. Chances are you’ve signed up for mobile apps with automatic renewals without even realizing it. Go into your phone’s settings and check for any auto subscriptions you might have forgotten about.
20. Magazine subscriptions. Most publications today offer their content either for free or at a lower cost online. Cancel the print subscription to save a little extra money, and opt for the digital content instead.
21. Cut back on entertainment subscriptions. You don’t need Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, Netflix, Spotify, and Pandora subscriptions. If you find yourself keeping up with multiple monthly entertainment subscriptions, pare them down and pick the one or two you value most.
22. Refinance your car loan, mortgage, or student loans to get a better interest rate. One of the best ways to save money is by reassessing your outstanding loans, such as your mortgage, auto loan, and student loans, to see if you can secure a better interest rate. Doing so could save you a significant amount of extra money each month.
23. Cut out miscellaneous monthly expenses. This could include everything from a cleaning service to a monthly subscription box like Birchbox. Take a fine-toothed comb to your monthly expenses and eliminate any recurring costs that aren’t absolutely necessary.
24. Cancel any shopping memberships (unless you use them). Shopping memberships like Costco, Sam’s Club, and Thrive Market can be great— if you use them. But if you rarely find yourself shopping at these stores, you’re throwing money away. As the old saying goes: If you don’t use it, lose it.
Cutting Back on Social Plans and Entertainment
25. Have friends over for a potluck dinner instead of going out. A night out, depending on the city you live in and your drinking and eating habits, could run you several hundred dollars that you could’ve saved. The next time your friends suggest a night out on the town, consider having everyone over for a potluck dinner instead.
26. Rent a movie and grab some store-bought popcorn. In 2018, the average price of a movie ticket was over $9. For a family of four, that’s nearly $40. Add in marked-up concessions like popcorn and soda, and a simple night at the movies is an unneeded expense. Save money by renting a movie on iTunes or watching one on Netflix instead. (Plus, store-bought popcorn is just as good as the theater kind, but with a price tag you’ll appreciate.)
27. Grab the local paper and scan it for free or cheap events. Although it can be tempting to catch a live concert or sporting event, those activities both cost some serious cash. The next time you’re itching to explore but don’t want to spend money, check your local paper for free events. From stand-up comedy to wine tastings, you’re likely to find something that’s both free and fun.
Automatic Savings Strategies
28. Set up an automatic savings plan with your employer. One way to save money quickly is by setting up an automatic savings plan at work. It’s simple: You can set it up with your employer so that a specific amount of money gets deposited directly into your savings account each pay period.
29. Create your own automatic savings plan. You can also schedule automatic savings yourself. Simply set up an automatic transfer from your checking account to your savings account each week or month for a predisposed amount of money. For example, you can set it so that you transfer $10 each week indefinitely.
What to Do Once You’ve Saved Your Money
You did it. You saved money. And you did it faster than you ever thought possible. Bravo! But your job is not done.
The next step is being smart when it comes to your saved money. Whether it’s moving the money to a savings account or investing it with the help of a professional, you shouldn’t let this money simply sit in your checking account. Do your research to find low-risk investments to park those savings that you’ve worked so hard to build.
Congrats on being one step closer to achieving your financial goals!