According to CNBC, the median American household has $4,830 in a savings account. A survey by Bankrate.com provided some startling insights into the financial security of American households, showing that 65% of Americans save little to nothing (20% save absolutely none of their annual income). Only 16% of survey respondents claimed that they save more than 15% of what they make, which is what financial experts typically recommend. Take a look below for 40 small ways you can start saving money today!
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The Bureau of Labor Statistics finds that on average, adults 65 and older spend almost $46,000 a year, and Bankrate estimates that half of Americans will not be able to maintain their standard of living once they stop working. In fact, more than 40% of Americans have less than $10,000 saved for when they retire. That is why it is so important to start saving now. Even small steps toward saving money will add up to a comfortable financial situation over time. Here are 40 tips to help you accumulate financial stability for emergencies, retirement, and peace of mind:
- Analyze potential purchases by hours worked instead of cost.
This can help put things into perspective. How long would you really be willing to work for that item?
- Add up all transactions under $10 in the past month.
Review your bank statement. Add up all transactions under $10 (and be shocked)! Did those purchases really matter? Financial awareness is key.
- Take the “52-week challenge.”
Save $1 the first week, $2 the second week, $3 the third week, and so on. You will save $1,378 by the end of the year.
- Google purchases before buying (both in-store and online).
You might find them cheaper somewhere else, find coupons, or discover negative reviews.
- Actually stick to a budget!
Sticking to a budget can open your eyes to how much little things add up. Mindfulness can save you a lot of money!
- Put loose change in a piggy bank or mason jar.
It adds up! Transfer it to your savings every month, or use it as a travel fund.
- Cut the cord on cable TV.
Cable and satellite cost an average of $107 a month. Subscriptions like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime can replace them for significantly less.
- Use cash instead of plastic.
Tons of research shows that people spend less when they use cash instead of swiping.
- Wait 30 days before purchases (or at least 48 hours).
Avoiding instant gratification is one of the important rules of personal finance. Often, the urge to buy will pass in 30 days (or less).
- Set up an email address exclusively for rewards programs.
This can keep your main email uncluttered while funneling in coupons and savings.
- Use a round-up app like Acorns.
Acorns rounds up every purchase to the next dollar and saves/invests the difference. Leave it be and it will add up over time!
- Use Honey to automatically find online coupons.
This Google Chrome extension automatically searches for coupons valid on your shopping cart. Plus you’ll earn a percentage back you can redeem for a PayPal deposit or online gift cards.
- Use the Ibotta app to get cash back on in-store purchases.
Snap a pic of your receipt and earn back real money from 289 stores like Walmart, Kroger, and CVS.
- Boil water in an electric kettle.
It’s more economical than using the microwave or stovetop.
- Zip up zippers before washing.
The metal teeth can wear down other clothing in the washer and dryer.
- Write a shopping list and stick to it.
Only shop when you have a list to prevent impulse buys and save time.
- Pick an eco-friendly font.
When printing, choose a font with smaller characters, like Garamond, or with thinner type, like Century Gothic, to save on ink.
- Shopping at Target? Use the REDcard (debit) and app.
Target offers a debit card option that links to your existing checking account. You earn 5% back on everything you purchase in store and online.
- Switch your ceiling fans to the correct seasonal setting.
They should spin counterclockwise in the summer and clockwise in the fall and winter.
- Stop smoking.
Smoking a pack a day costs about $177 a week, or $9,200 a year.
- Buy (and sell) clothes through online consignment stores like ThredUp.
Bonus points for being environmentally friendly.
- Buy generic groceries.
According to NPR, chefs buy generic baking mixes, tea, baking soda, sugar, soup, and spreads/dips most often.
- Move your savings into a high-interest account.
It will accrue money over time, and you will be less likely to withdraw from it.
- Cook more vegetarian meals.
Studies show that vegetarians save $750 compared to meat-eaters annually.
Preparing your meals in bulk can help you save money and prevent impulse takeout or restaurant meals.
- Set up an auto-deposit from your checking account to your savings account each payday.
- Drink a glass of water before any other beverage.
Craving a soda, juice, or milk? Drink a glass of water first. This can curb the temptation and save money.
- Watch YouTube tutorials for simple household fixes.
Developing your handyman skills can save you money and stress.
- Close doors of unused rooms in your home to save on heating and cooling costs.
- Embrace vinegar.
It’s a fabric softener, all-purpose cleaner, rug restorer, stain remover, deodorizer, etc.
- Replace incandescent bulbs with CFL or LED.
Switching just five frequently used bulbs to LEDs could save you around $44 a year on electricity.
- Choose one day a week to be a “no-spend day” and have one “no-spend weekend” a month.
It can be a fun, bond-building challenge. Cook at home, have a game night, watch a movie, or go for a hike.
- Check Groupon.com for dining and entertainment deals.
Plus, they often have coupons on top of the savings.
- Swap gym memberships for YouTube.
YouTube offers tons of free exercise videos and programs. Yoga With Adriene is one popular channel.
- Make your own coffee.
The average American spends approximately $1,000 annually at coffee shops. Brewing at home adds up to serious savings!
- Drive sensibly.
Aggressive driving (hard braking, speeding, rapid acceleration) lowers gas mileage by up to 33%.
- Make your own lunch.
Check out the Lunch Savings Calculator at 360FinancialLiteracy.org to see how much you could save over time by bringing your own lunch.
- Take out DVDs and books from your local library.
- Dine at home.
The typical food establishment charges a 300% markup on meals and drinks. If you spend $30 on an entree, you could probably prepare it yourself for $10.
- Buy whole vs. prepackaged fruit and vegetables.
Pre-cut fruits and vegetables have enormous premiums. Washed and trimmed kale has a 317% markup! Save money by spending a bit more time preparing your own produce.