How to Save Money Fast
Who isn’t looking to keep more money in their bank accounts or how to save money fast? Look no further than this blog post to get you pumped up and ready to get on a budget, pay down debt and learn how to save money fast with side hustles and cash back shopping portals.
Table of Contents
Find Yourself A Side Hustle (or Three)
Side hustle; it’s the hip, new term that sort of replaces the part-time job. Unlike a part-time job, it’s done on a freelance basis (so you’re your own boss, you get no benefits besides cash) and people often have more than one. So rather than getting a part-time evenings and weekend job in the shoe department of your local clothing retailer, you might decide not to limit yourself to one type of work. You could tutor kids China in English online on weekdays, deliver pizzas on Friday and Saturday nights, and spend Sundays scouring the stores for bargain-basement deals that you’ll resell on Amazon. The possibilities are endless.
Side Hustles You Can Do From Home
These are especially great for stay-at-home parents, or for people home-bound due to health issues:
Sell crafts and digital products on Etsy
Join Amazon FBA and resell new items that you get from local retailers
Transcribe documents, podcasts, audio files
Become a virtual assistant (VA) for businesses
Do voice-over work
Start and monetize a blog
Side Hustles That Get You Out of the House
Drive for Uber or another ride-share program
Get a paper route
Become a dog walker or pet sitter
Cut grass and/or shovel snow
Offer handy-man type services
Two Ways to Pay Off Debt Efficiently
There are two main approaches to paying down debt. Dave Ramsey advocates for using the debt snowball which means you pay off your smallest debt first. This will likely give you a few “quick wins” if you have small debts under $1000, and get you motivated to buckle down and work your way through all your debts. The alternative, the debt avalanche, approach has you start with the debt that has the highest interest rate first. This will save you money on interest fees, especially if you have a lot of high-interest debt and some very low or no-interest debts. Both approaches have their merits, but the best one is the one that you actually do. So choose the one that feels right to you and your situation.
Once you’ve decided on a method, you list your debts in order (either smallest to largest, or highest to the lowest interest rate). Then you pay the minimum balance on all them each month. After that, any and all extra money you have available gets put on the one at the top of your list. This will ensure that this debt it paid off first. Once that debt is paid off, add the minimum payment that you were paying towards that debt, and apply it the second debt. That’s the new “minimum payment” for that debt. Continue to add all extra money to paying it off. Repeat this process until you’re debt-free.
Budgeting: The Best Way to Save
Want to know one secret on how to save money fast? Budget.
Budgeting your income and expenses is the best way to keep on track of your finances and ensure they’re in the best shape possible. While this B-word might make you cringe at first, you’ll find that it gives you a sense of control, security, and freedom. First, write down your monthly income at the top of your notepad. If you combine finances with your partner, include theirs, too. Also add in other streams of income. This could be: spousal or child support, rental income, money from a weekly babysitting gig.
Then write down all the categories in which you spend each month, starting with the necessities. Your list might include: rent or mortgage, food, gas, child care, car payment, insurance, credit card payments, student loans, clothing, car repairs, eating out. Across from each line item, write the amount that you spend. Your goal is for the budget categories to NOT exceed your income. If they do, rework it. If your income exceeds the budgeted amounts, that’s great! Rework it, adding extra funds to debt payoff or investing.
Don’t expect your budget to work out exactly. But after about three months of creating a budget, following it, and tweaking it as necessary, you will be able to balance your budget easily. That is very an empowering feeling!
Five Money-Saving Tips
There are plenty of books and blogs devoted to saving money. Here are our favorites that will help you save money fast:
Go to the library for books, magazines, music and movies rather than buying them.
Join the YMCA for affordable gym and/or child care.
Shop thrift and consignment stores for clothes, toys, and household goods.
Buy a lunch box and coffee mug to take your own food and beverages to work.
Have a stay cation and discover your hometown on the cheap.
Save (and Earn) While Shopping with Coupons and Rakuten
Coupons have been around for ages, and have gotten popular in the last decade thanks to blogs and shows that help people take their couponing skills to a whole new level. One of the first sites dedicated to helping families save money was Money Saving Mom. They post weekly deals from major national retailers. Search Google and Facebook for blogs and groups that are local to you so that you can find the most relevant deals.
Shopping online is a great money saver. It saves you the cost of going to the store, especially if they’re not nearby or if you wear a hard-to-fit size. One way that I use to save money is by starting my online shopping trips with Rakuten (formerly eBates). It’s a shopping portal that helps you get cash back for your online purchases. Sometimes there are coupon codes that will get you money off before placing your order, but you can expect to get a cash rebate (paid out quarterly) of up 1% to 10% from retailers like Target, Wal-Mart, Sears, Kohls, and hundreds more.
Once you’ve joined (it’s free), just go to the Rakuten site and search for the retailer you want to use. Click the link, you’ll get a unique tracking number, and then be taken to the store’s site. After you place your order, Rakuten will email you saying how much you’ve earned. The only caveat is that you have to have at least $5.01 to get a payout. If you don’t reach that before the next payout date, it simply rolls over to the next one. There’s no cost to you.
You can also use an online coupon site like Retail Me Not to find coupon codes that might apply to your order. This might take a few minutes to find one that’s working (hint: search using the store name and the current month and year), but if you can save 20% or more, it’s time well spent.
Shop At Home, MyPoints and Swagbucks are others that give you cash or points. You can redeem points for gift cards for stores and restaurants. Each website’s program varies, so be sure to read the fine print to know exactly how you’ll get credited for your shopping.
There you have it, over a dozen ways to earn more money, manage the money you earn, pay off debt, and save on your spending.