5 Smart Ways to Save Money Fast

Trim your budget and increase your income with these quick tips.

Sometimes you need to come up with a chunk of change, pronto. There’s a phenomenal sale alert for airline tickets to London. An apartment opens up in a cool new building that’s biking distance from work. A favorite band suddenly adds your city to their tour schedule.

Savvy savers keep a little extra money tucked away in the bank so they can take advantage of both fun purchases and spontaneous decisions. However, if you don’t already have money in savings, don’t worry. Check out these 5 tips on how to save money fast.

1. Zap utility bills

Water, electricity and cell phone bills are fairly easy places to come up with money fast without feeling deprived.

For instance, a programmable thermostat can save up to 10% on heating and cooling costs. 10-minute (or shorter) showers using low-flow showerheads can save on the water bill. Sites like ENERGY STAR® and the U.S. Department of Energy offer dozens of good tips on how to save money on utilities, for both renters and homeowners. Pocketing these savings can help finance a splurge like concert tickets, a night away or the new bedroom set you’ve been eyeing.

Do you pay close to $100 monthly in cell phone bills? Consider switching to a no-contract plan that costs no more than $20-50 per line, excluding the cost of the phone. Use Wi-Fi as much as possible at work and home to save on smartphone data costs.

2. Put your food budget on a diet

Groceries and restaurant costs are low-hanging fruit (pun intended) when it comes to saving money fast. Food budgets can be an easy place to find extra savings, if you shop carefully.

Do you spend more than average on groceries? Here’s what other Americans spend on groceries each month:

  • A 30-year-old woman typically spends $164-$327 per month.1
  • A 30-year-old man typically spends $185-$369 monthly.
  • A family of 4 with young children typically spends $561-$1,095 each month.

Feel like you’re spending a bit more than the “typical” amount? Check out these tips to save money on food and the monthly grocery budget. If you eat out regularly, consider cutting back to just a couple times a week to save up money for your financial goal.

3. Streamline insurance costs

Look into getting multiple policies (i.e., renters, homeowners, car) with the same insurance company. According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), many insurers often offer discounts for “bundling” your insurance policies with them. These other tips can also help save money on insurance:

  • Pay premiums once a year: Premiums are the fees for having insurance. Customers who make monthly or quarterly installments may pay service charges.2 Paying on a yearly basis can save on those extra charges.

  • Increase deductibles: This is the out-of-pocket amount you pay before insurance begins paying for covered losses. Changing the homeowners insurance deductible from $500 to $1,000 can cut insurance premium costs by up to 25%,3 according to the III.

4. Trim those taxes

This is an easy but often-overlooked strategy for getting money fast: If you've got a tax refund coming, there’s no need to wait until April 15 to cash in. Instead, consider changing your tax-withholding status on your paycheck at work. Simply fill out a new W-4 form and ask to have less federal taxes taken out of your salary.

In 2016, the average federal tax refund was $3,050.4 Anyone who was eligible for that refund, but instead adjusted their tax withholding all year long, instantly had an extra $254 per month back in their pocket. Use a tax-withholding calculator to figure out how to fill out a new W-4. Check that the withholding amount isn’t too low, however, so you don’t end up paying a penalty.

By your next paycheck, a few hundred bucks could be automatically deposited to a high-yield savings account.

5. Increase your income

Are you due for a raise? If so, this might be a good time to put together a plan to talk to your boss. But that’s not the only way to increase income. Consider developing a side hustle to make extra money quickly. For instance, driving for a ride-sharing service could bring in an average of $370 per month. Other ideas on how to come up with money fast include:

  • Rent out a room in your home—or the home itself—via a vacation-rental site: $924/month average earnings
  • Sell handmade items online: $151/month
  • Deliver restaurant food: $229/month
  • Do tasks like cleaning and running errands for people (through an online service): $380/month5

However you decide to save money fast—by cutting nonessential spending, boosting income or both—consider keeping the extra funds in a separate online savings account. You don’t want to accidentally spend those bonus bucks before you’re ready. And thanks to interest, once you start saving, the money continues to grow. (For inspiration, try giving savings accounts with specific nicknames, like “New Apartment” or “Fun Fund.”)

Having a little extra in your savings can give you the confidence and security to enjoy life—to buy those concert tickets, upgrade your phone, or get away for a weekend. And every time you add money to the account, you’ll be one step closer to your goal.

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