Sometimes you want to save money fast. Maybe you don’t have an emergency fund and it’s driving you crazy. Or, you want to save up for a big vacation or a home purchase. Whatever it is, if you’re anxious to build up that savings account ASAP, there are lots of great ways to save money fast. Below are over 30 examples!
What is the quickest way to save money?
Usually the quickest way to save money is also the simplest: look for your biggest expenses. Sometimes we spend a large amount on something because we feel that it’s expected. We never really stop to consider whether we need or want that item.
The math is simple. When you want to save money fast, you need to find the biggest money-saver for the least amount of effort. Instead of cancelling Netflix at $10/mo consider dropping your gym membership at $100/month. Rather than investing tons of time in coupons or driving all over to get the best deals, consider refinancing your home.
The idea is to find the long tent poles – those items in the budget that have a high cost for a low value to you. Making those cuts to your budget won’t have much of a negative impact on your happiness – and you’ll feel great about getting a big chunk of money back without much effort.
Once you’ve found the big expenses that can be eliminated, be consistent about cutting smaller costs. Identify the minor expenses that you can live without. Then make a plan to skip those expenses and stick with it. Your small savings won’t seem like much in the long run, but over time they’ll add up quickly.
How Can I save $1,000 Fast?
Let’s say you’ve set a goal of saving $1,000 fast. How can you accomplish this milestone in the shortest amount of time?
You’ve already taken the first step – you have a concrete and measurable goal. That’s awesome! Write your goal down somewhere obvious so you’ll be reminded of it every time you walk by.
Next, look at your budget and make a plan. First, decide what you can cut from your budget. Plan how much you will save each month and write it down next to your goal.
For example, suppose you plan to drop your daily latte and instead make coffee at home. You expect to save $4 per day, for about 30 days per month. That’s $120 a month saved at the coffee shop. You’ll have to buy some coffee to brew at home, which will run you about $20. So you’ve netted a $100 savings. Or, why not switch cell phone carriers? There are some low cost cell service providers that can save you tons of money on your monthly phone bill.
After you look at what you can cut from your budget, think about how you can make money. Do you have a big, expensive object that you could sell without really missing it? Maybe you have a bike sitting in the garage that could be sold for $100. Or a musical instrument you never play that could go for $150. Make a list of those items, take some clear pictures in natural light and post the items on Craigslist.
You can also think about taking on side jobs to make more money. Decide how much time you have and estimate how much you could make from dog-walking, freelancing (or another side hustle) each month. Write that down too!
You’ll end up with a list of three things:
- Net monthly savings
- One-time extra income
- Estimated monthly extra income
Suppose it looks like this:
- Net monthly savings: $100 per month
- One-Time extra income: $200
- Estimated monthly extra income: $100 per month from dog walking
Now you can figure out how long it will take you to reach your goal of saving $1,000! Once you sell your expensive items, you’ll have just $800 left to save or earn. If you can save and earn $200 per month, it will take you just four months to reach your goal of saving $1000.
You’re working with estimates at this point, so the next step is to actually keep track of your savings each month. Sell your items and write down how much you made. At the end of the month, note how much you saved by brewing coffee at home or by taking on a side gig. Track your progress toward the goal!
By setting a concrete goal, making a plan and tracking your progress, you’ll save $1,000 in no time!
Tricks to Save Money Fast
Now you have a plan to reach your savings goals quickly. Here are some practical and mostly painless tricks to save money fast!
Auto-Transfer to Savings
This is a great hack if you would like to save but never seem to have money left over at the end of the month. It’s simple – a day or so after you’re paid, transfer some money to your savings or investment account.
Even if you can only afford to save $25 a month, your savings will add up over time. If you make this simple change, you’ll have saved $300 by the end of the year without really noticing! Try slowly increasing the amount you auto-save over time to see if you notice it. This is a great – and painless – way to ramp up your savings.
Stick to a realistic budget
Budgeting is one of the best tricks to save money fast. Making a budget can solve many of the money challenges of marriage. When you both agree in advance to allocate a certain amount to eating out or shopping, suddenly the number is the enemy, not the other person!
Plus – budgeting is a proven method for saving money. When you put together your budget, be realistic about your expenses and leave room for some unexpected things to crop up. Stick with the budget and be sure to save what you have left over each month.
It’s so easy to spend money on your credit card. Even if you track your expenditures online regularly, you may not have a running total in your head at any given time. When you aren’t truly aware of how much you’ve spent, it’s easy to keep spending.
When you use credit cards, it’s also easy to forget your budget for certain items. Was it $300 or $350 for groceries? How much of that have you already used? Unless you are very good at tracking, you probably don’t know.
That’s why it’s super handy to use cash. With a simple count, you’ll always know how much you have left in the budget.
Challenge Yourself to Skip Shopping
Do you like a good challenge? If so, challenge yourself to go a month – or a year – without shopping. If you’re the kind of person who alleviates stress by buying a new bag or pair of shoes, this challenge might be for you.
You’ll definitely save money if you aren’t shopping – by definition, you’re spending less! You’ll also feel great about yourself and find different rewards, like reading a book or taking a bath. What could be better?
Spend Less than Last Month
This challenge is pretty simple: just try to spend less than you did last month. If you like specific goals, set a target – like spending $100 less than last month. Then, track your progress throughout the month (budgeting apps are great for this) to make sure you hit your target.
Entertainment – for free!
It’s always amazing to me how many free activities there are if you’re willing to look. Parks and playgrounds are always a winner if you have kids. Our county even has an indoor playground for when the weather is bad.
The library is full of cool content, like kids’ story time and (of course) free books, audio books, movies and music. You can easily amuse your kids – and yourself – for a couple of hours at the library.
Check out your local towns for festivals and cultural events as well. Our town regularly has free events, parades and festivals. My family usually has a ton of fun at these events – without spending a dime!
Pack Picnics & Snacks on Weekends
When you go to events and parks on the weekend, pack snacks, drinks and meals. Sure, you have to plan ahead a little bit but it’s totally worth it! You’ll both save money and eat healthier.
Subscriptions can hang around for a long time. They’ll usually just keep charging you, even if you haven’t used the subscription service in months. Do yourself a favor and check your credit card statements for unused memberships and cancel them. This is a great way to save big chunks of money each month!
Do you have unused items cluttering your house and garage? See if you can sell the stuff you no longer need. Take some high quality pictures in good lighting and post on Craigslist. Exercise equipment, furniture and musical instruments tend to sell for enough that they’re worth the time investment.
Sell Your Car
This one seems a little crazy, but stay with me. There are lots of situations in which you might be able to sell your car. If you’re now a 2 car family, can you make it on just one car? Maybe you and your partner can commute together, or one of you could take public transportation.
Selling your car would be a pretty big lifestyle change, but the payoff is huge. You’ll save on insurance, maintenance, gas and of course the car payments if you still have a loan on the car. That amount of money could be life-changing, even if you’re only able to manage it for a short amount of time.
Refinance Your Mortgage or Student Loans
If interest rates are low, figure out whether you could lower your monthly mortgage payments or your student loan payments by refinancing them. When it comes to your mortgage, if you’re paying PMI (Private Mortgage Insurance) and have been in your house for a few years, you may have enough equity to waive PMI. For federal student loans, if you’re not planning on pursuing Public Service Loan Forgiveness and are comfortable with losing some of the protections federal loans offer, you could get a lower interest rate and a lower payment by refinancing your student loans.
Save Raises and Bonuses
You’re used to living on your salary, so when you get a raise or bonus – save it! Don’t change your lifestyle with every raise. You’ll keep your expenses in check and also add some money to the bank.
Keep your Car Another Year
If you’re usually the kind of person who trades your car in before you’ve paid it off completely, consider keeping the car a bit longer. If you can make it even a year without payments, you’ve saved yourself thousands of dollars.
Switch Banks if You Pay Monthly Fees
If you’re paying a monthly fee at your bank, it’s time to switch. It may not seem like very much, but those fees add up. Many banks offer no-fee checking so it doesn’t make sense to stick with a bank that’s charging you.
Travel with Snacks
When you’re flying or driving, you often end up buying snacks. Especially in airports, it is so expensive just to buy a bottle of water and a granola bar. Plan ahead a bit and save yourself a ton of money by stashing some high-protein, healthy snacks in your bag. Don’t forget to bring an empty water bottle to fill up in the airport (after you pass security).
Start a Side Hustle
Whether you’re freelancing on the side, or providing a service to your local community, you could make money in your spare time to pad your savings account! Think about what you enjoy doing – whether it’s dog walking or graphic design – and you can probably find a way to make money doing it. Remember – there’s someone out there who doesn’t enjoy that activity and is probably willing to pay you to take it off their plate.
How Can I Save Money Every Day?
Saving money isn’t just about the big things. It’s also about the little choices you make every day that add up over time. Here are some ideas for ways you can save money every single day.
Ditch Coffee & Alcohol Out
Fancy drinks add up! You could spend $5 a day or more at the coffee shop if you like flavored coffee drinks. And alcohol can be even more expensive! A margarita – though delicious – can cost as much as your meal.
If you don’t want to cut out coffee and drinks entirely, try making your own drinks at home. Invest in some coffee equipment and syrups if you like flavored caffeinated beverages. Buy nice liquor and good mixers if you like mixed drinks. Check out the beer and wine store for interesting drinks at a fraction of the restaurant price.
Bring Your Own Lunch
It’s tough to remember to pack a lunch in the morning, but it could also save you big bucks. Even if you’re spending a modest $10 a day for lunch at a local cafe, that’s $50 a week. Remember that this isn’t all or nothing – if you can only manage to bring you lunch once or twice a week, that’s still $40+ that you’re saving every month.
Log Every Expense
Sometimes the simplest solution is the easiest – keep track of every single expense! Whether it’s a $1.00 soda or a $500 car repair, write it down manually. Sometimes just knowing you have to record an expense will make you rethink the purchase. Just like a food journal helps you eat healthy, a spending journal helps keep your budget healthy.
Save Your Pennies
Try an app that automatically transfers your spare change into a savings account. How cool is that? You spend $10.35 on lunch and the app will sweep the remaining $0.65 into savings. You can save every day without really noticing!
Make Yourself Wait
If you can’t go cold turkey on shopping, make yourself wait 48 hours before making a purchase. That will give you enough time to really think about the item you’re planning to buy. If you still want to buy the thing at the end of two days, it’s likely something that you’ll use. On the other hand, those two days might give you a chance to reconsider and skip the purchase.
“Forget” Credit Cards
I recently got a new credit card number, and of course all of the websites I usually shop on had my old credit card number. It’s such a small impediment, but in some cases the act of manually entering your credit card number gives you enough time to stop and think about your purchase. So do yourself a favor and don’t save your credit card number on any shopping websites. Your budget will thank you!
How Much Time Does this Item Cost?
Have you ever kept yourself from eating a cupcake by telling yourself it would take an hour of running to work off the calories? Well, purchases work the same way! Buying an item for $50 might seem trivial, but you could think about it differently if you realize that you’re working a couple of hours to make that purchase. Ask yourself if it’s worth that much of your time before you buy.
Decide Where You’ll Put It
Before you buy something, envision where you’ll put it in your house. How will you use this item? Do you have space for it in your closet or cabinets? Often, we buy based on an idea of how we would like to live, rather than how we actually live. When you’re forced to really think through an item’s place in your house, you might reconsider the purchase. This is a great trick for people trying to keep their home clutter-free, too!
Save Your Grocery Store Discount
Know how the grocery store always prints your savings on the receipt? Save that money! If you shop a few times a week, that can add up to a good sum without really noticing.
Find an Accountability Partner
It’s so much easier to splurge when no one is looking over your shoulder. Especially if you don’t live with a partner, it might really help to have a money-saving buddy. If you’re the kind of person who doesn’t want to let others down, tell your friends and family that you’re trying to save or look for someone to save alongside you!
Save Pocket Change and Bills
I’m always finding change and bills in pockets when I do laundry! I’m pretty compulsive about checking pockets because I don’t want to accidentally wash a crayon or something. If this is you, put any pocket money you find into a savings jar. This could really add up – especially if you use cash frequently! If someone left it in the pocket of a pair of dirty pants, most likely they won’t miss it. That money can go straight to savings!
Do a Diet Bet
If you want to lose weight AND save money, try DietBet. You buy in to a game (usually a small amount like $10-$25). If you meet the weight loss goal, you’re guaranteed to get your money back and will most likely make a profit. You’ll win by losing weight AND you can save your monetary winnings. Talk about a win-win!
Ways to Budget
Budgeting is one of the absolute best ways to save money – but what should go in your budget, and how much should you allocate to each category? Here are some examples of budgeting approaches recommended by experts!
The 50-30-20 Rule
The 50-30-20 formula is pretty simple. You should spend no more than 50% of your take-home pay on fixed expenses like food, housing and utilities. Thirty percent of your take-home pay can be allocated to wants, like dinners out. The remaining 20% should be saved and invested. If you want to save even faster, work to reduce your fixed and variable expenses so you can put more into savings!
Pay Yourself First
The Pay Yourself First, or Reverse Budgeting approach, focuses on saving first. Before you spend anything for the month, you set aside your savings and retirement funds. Then, you pay your fixed expenses like mortgages, car payments and utilities. Next up are variable expenses like food and gas. Then you make debt payments. Anything that is left can be spent on fun items, like eating out.
You should have a very good idea of your typical monthly expenditure before you try this method, and should review what you’re spending each month. Realistically, expenses can’t be paid in this order so you’ll need to know about what your variable expenses will be each month.
Use Cash & Envelopes
It’s old-school, but people still use this method because it works. First, decide on budget numbers for each of your expense categories. In some cases, there won’t be much wiggle room (your mortgage payment isn’t changing). For other categories, consider how much you can and should be spending.
Then label an envelope for each category and put the amount budget for that category, in cash, inside the envelope. This is super simple to track because you can always tell exactly how much of the month’s budget is left at any given time. No tracking credit cards! If you don’t really know where your money is going month to month, this is a great visual as well.
Zero Sum Budgeting
With Zero Sum budgeting, you give every single dollar you earn an assigned “job” each month. Does that mean you spend it all? Of course not! Some of your income will be allocated to your expenses and some will be planned for paying down debt, savings and investment.
Every dollar should be accounted for so that your expenditures add up exactly to your income at the end of each this month. This method really takes the temptation away to splurge on something because the money is there.
Find ‘Five Minute a Month Budgeting Nirvana’
If you hate spending a ton of time on budgeting, the five minute budgeting plan is for you! This budgeting approach is incredibly simple and a huge time saver. This plan works best if you pay all of your bills out of one checking account.
At the end of each month, your bank statement will tell you how much you spent that month. Back out any money spent on saving, investing or paying down debt to get a true picture of your expenses. Then add up your last 12 months of expenses to figure out how much your family is spending per month on average.
Once you have that number, you can react. Is this number more or less than your average monthly take-home pay? How much can you save? Is it possible to reduce your expenses and allow yourself to save and investment more? If so, where?
This super simple method will help you see, it a high level, where your money is going and how it compares to your income. You’ll have to dive into the details a bit if you want to find places to save, but the five minute plan definitely helps you track the big picture.
You Can Save Money Fast
Ultimately, with some planning and budgeting, you’ll can save $1,000 in less than a year! Using these tricks to save money fast, you’ll save a small amount of money daily and find bigger monthly or annual expenses to cut. You can also make more money by taking on a side hustle. Remember, if you stay focused on your goal and try several of the methods listed above you really can save money fast.