12 ways to save money every day

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Your savings goals may seem out of reach when you’re starting out. But a little here and there can quickly add up, and you can find yourself with more money at the end of the week, month and year.

Here are 12 ways to save money every day.

1. Join loyalty programs to reap rewards

Customer loyalty cards and programs can save you money on gas and groceries, or at other retailers. If you frequent certain stores or restaurants often, consider signing up for any programs they offer. Just be careful not to let the promise of earning another stamp on your loyalty card lure you into spending money you could otherwise save. Ultimately, earning that free cup of coffee or lunch with your 10th purchase won’t really save you money if it gets you to spend more than you planned in the first place.

You can find the cheapest gas using an app, such as Waze, GasBuddy or Gas Guru. Also, try to consolidate trips to save on gas usage. Cooking from scratch should be the most affordable route at the grocery store.

2. Shop with a cash-back credit card

Use a cash-back credit card to earn more for everyday purchases. There are cards that pay you a certain amount of cash back on any purchases, no matter where you shop. Other cash-back credit cards may reward you if you use them for certain purchases like gas, groceries, travel and dining. If you have one of these cards, make sure you’re using the one that gives you the most benefit at these venues and watch the cash back start to accumulate. Just be careful not to spend more than you can afford to pay off each month, because the money you’ll pay in additional interest will cost you more than you’re earning in cash back.

3. Cancel subscriptions you aren’t using

We’re turning into a nation of subscribers for everything from online streaming of music and movies, to clothing and online photo storage. A simple and quick way to save money is to cancel subscriptions you don’t use. There are helpful tools today like Trim that can help identify subscriptions that you might not need anymore, or you could use a budgeting tool to quickly identify subscriptions.

If you use certain services but feel like you’re paying too much, try making a phone call. You may be able to negotiate a new rate for cable TV or internet service, or for subscriptions to newspapers and magazines.

4. DIY when you can

There’s no question that convenience is sometimes worth the additional cost, especially if it helps you save the most precious asset of all: time. That being said, try to limit those extra expenses by opting for DIY options when you have the bandwidth.

For example, you could commit to making coffee at home a few days a week and treat yourself to a cup at your favorite coffee shop the other days. The same goes for eating out. Look up simple recipes you can cook in bulk during the week and treat yourself to a meal out once in a while.

5. Set up automatic bill payments

With busy lives and busy schedules, it’s easy to forget to pay some bills on time. Late fees can be costly. Set up automatic payments for bills to ensure they’re paid on time and avoid the late fees. Automatic payments also save you time. Be sure to keep an eye on your bank account balance to avoid overdraft fees.

6. Switch banking accounts

Banks make a lot of money from fees, and many of the fees hit people who struggle to pay their bills month to month. If you’re getting hit with overdraft fees and minimum balance requirements often, consider switching banks to take advantage of a fee-free account. Nearly half (47 percent) of non-interest checking accounts are free accounts, according to Bankrate’s 2020 checking account and ATM fee study. So it’s possible to find an account without a fee.

If you’re comfortable with your current bank, call them and ask for ways to avoid fees such as switching to a different version of a checking or savings account or maintaining a minimum balance.

7. Look for extra cash lying around in your budget

It’s difficult to save without knowing your income and what you’re spending. Budgeting can give you an idea of where your money is going. For those with a budget already in place, make sure your spending habits are current.  As pandemic restrictions ease your spending will likely change. Make sure your budget changes, too. You may find that you have more money left over after your essential expenses are covered that you could be contributing to savings or investing goals.

You can sign up for Bankrate’s myMoney to categorize your spending transactions, identify ways to cut back and improve your financial health.

8. Think about your spending

Which is more important: spending on lunch everyday or putting that money toward saving for your dream home? Making sure spending aligns with your goals will help you focus on saving for what’s important to you every day. Journaling every expense is another way to force you to really think about every purchase.

9. Make every cent matter

Never think that an amount of money is too insignificant to matter. Always make sure you’re charged the proper amount. Even a small coupon can make a difference over time. This will make saving a habit.

10. Do one inconvenient thing to save money

It could be eating cereal at home instead of going out to buy a breakfast sandwich. Whatever small sacrifices you can add up over time. Do something to go out of your way to save money everyday to build your savings.

11. Make your lunch ahead of time

Dining out for lunch, or getting delivery or carryout, is an expensive habit. Planning ahead by making your lunch the night before can help you save a lot of money.

12. Delay purchases

It’s not uncommon to have your eye on a certain product or item on your to-buy list every day. See whether you still want that item in a week or month. This will keep you from making bad spending decisions.

Summary: 12 ways to save money every day:

  • Join loyalty programs to reap rewards
  • Shop with a cash-back credit card
  • Cancel subscriptions you aren’t using
  • Stop paying for convenience
  • Set up automatic bill payments
  • Switch banking accounts
  • Start a budget/reevaluate your budget
  • Think about your spending
  • Make every cent matter
  • Do one inconvenient thing to save money
  • Make your lunch ahead of time
  • Delay purchases
Written by
Matthew Goldberg
Consumer banking reporter
Matthew Goldberg is a consumer banking reporter at Bankrate. Matthew has been in financial services for more than a decade, in banking and insurance.
Edited by
Senior editorial director
Reviewed by
Robert R. Johnson
Professor of finance, Creighton University