How to Save Money Fast: 6 Ways to Save in Minutes
Got big plans this year? Whether you’re scouting a vacation spot, saving money for the holidays or planning to pay off debt, you’re going to need some cash for those plans.
Savings strategies can be time-consuming and onerous (couponing, anyone?), but today’s apps and innovations have created new ways to save big with minimal time and effort. Saving money quickly can help you meet short-term needs, as well as motivate you to keep working toward big, future goals.
6 ways to start saving money in 60 minutes or less
1: Cancel unused subscriptions
How many times have you signed up for a subscription or recurring service, only to use it once and forget about it later? That $10 app here and $20 online magazine there can add up fast. But no one has time to comb through bank and credit card activity each month to stay on top of idle subscriptions.
The solution? Check out Trim, a free service that scans your statements for large purchases and recurring charges. Sign up, connect your accounts and get a list of current subscriptions texted to you in under two minutes. Trim says its users save an average of $180/year.
The best part is that Trim will continue to monitor your accounts monthly. When new subscriptions or big charges are detected, they text you an alert. In some cases, you can text a reply to cancel it immediately—handy for those services you only intend to use once.
2: Refinance your car loan
If you’ve got an auto loan, you could be overspending on interest—especially if you financed your car through a dealership. Dealers can mark up the interest rate, charging as much as 3% more than the APR buyers might otherwise qualify for. That translates to a lot of money you could’ve kept in your pocket.
If you can qualify for a lower refinance rate, you could save hundreds on interest. LendingClub allows you to check your auto refinance rate in less than one minute, without impacting your credit score.
3: Save while you sleep
One of the best ways to save money is to remove the temptation to spend it. You could sit down each month, review your budget, figure out how much you can afford to save, then transfer the money from your checking to your savings account. Or you could let an app do all that for you.
These money-saving apps will connect to your checking account and automatically transfer very small amounts into a savings account based on your goals and set limits.
4: Budget on your lunch break
Most financial experts agree that budgeting is one of the best ways to save money over the long term. When you know where your money is going, you can identify unnecessary expenses to cut back on (for example, swapping dinners out for cooking at home). But budgeting isn’t exactly a quick process, especially when you’re doing it for the first time.
Fortunately, there are a lot of great tools to help you start and manage a budget without a lot of time (or advanced knowledge of Excel spreadsheets). For example, You Need a Budget has the usual budgeting bells and whistles, like connecting to your bank and credit card, downloading new activity and auto-categorizing expenses. But the service also offers support and education, so you don’t need to figure it all out on your own.
5: Lower your cell phone bill
Mobile phone bills are expensive. When you add up calls, text and data, you could be paying over $100/month depending on your plan. But shopping around for a better plan sounds like a pain, so most of us just keep paying the same provider year after year.
Google is trying to change that with its new phone service, Project Fi. Using the combined network of Sprint, T-Mobile and US Cellular, Project Fi switches between these carriers and available WiFi to give you the strongest signal (even while abroad). But the real draw is its simplified billing: $20/month for unlimited U.S. calls and texting plus $10 per GB for data. You pay for what you use with no overage fees.
The one caveat is that Project Fi only works with Android phones—if you have one already, this could be a no-brainer. But buying a new one means an upfront investment, so it’s worth doing the math to see how much you could save.
6: Cut the cord
In this day and age, many of us watch streaming video services more often than we watch regular old TV. And yet, most of us are hanging on to an expensive cable service because . . . well, we’re not sure why.
The average cable bill is $103/month. A Netflix subscription starts at $9/month. Could that extra money be put to better use? And if you want to save even more, check out Overdrive, an app that lets you check out ebooks, audiobooks and—you guessed it—video from your local library. For. Free.
How to Save Money—and Time
If you’re like most people, the only thing more precious than money is your time. But doing everything on this list could take you less than an hour and have a huge impact on your bottom line. Now that’s time well spent.