Most of us would love to save more money in order to improve our overall financial situation. Starting a side hustle is common advice when it comes to making more and the ability to save more. While side hustles can be extremely effective, they’re not practical for everyone.
If you need to save more but you’re not able to work more hours (whether that means working overtime at your current job or starting a side hustle), there are still some practical and relatively painless ways to make it happen. Let’s take a look at ten possibilities.
1. Ask for a Raise
The best way to increase your income (and saving potential) without working more hours is to get paid more for the work you’re already doing. Depending on your job situation, you may be able to justify a raise.
This isn’t something that you’re going to want to do very frequently, so be prepared and have a clear explanation of why you deserve the raise, and ask for an amount that would make a noticeable difference.
If you’re a good employee and you have a solid basis for your request, you have a decent chance of getting the raise. This article can help you to increase your chances of success – Asking for a Raise: Tips to Help You Get the Money You Deserve.
2. Ask for Cash Instead of Gifts
At Christmas, birthdays, and other times throughout the year when you might receive gifts, consider asking friends and family to give you cash instead. The unfortunate reality is, most gifts go completely unused are not really necessary. Cash can be used any way you choose, including saving.
If you feel uncomfortable asking for cash, you could explain to friends and family why you would like the cash. Explain that you’re saving toward a particular goal (like a family vacation or a wedding) and that a cash gift would help you to reach that goal.
Another option would be to ask for gift cards to places where you regularly shop. The key here would be to use the gift card for something that you would need to buy anyway, and then save the cash that you would have spent if you didn’t have the gift card. If you buy necessities at Amazon or Walmart, ask for an Amazon or Walmart gift card.
3. Save Your Bonuses and Unexpected Income
What do you do when you get a bonus? If you’re like most people, you splurge with at least a portion of it, if not all of it.
That bonus money, or any other type of expected income, can be a huge help for boosting your savings. Resist the urge to spend that money just because it’s “extra” and instead use it to make quick progress toward your savings goals.
4. Save Your Tax Return
A tax return is sort of like a bonus. Most people view it as exra money, so they tend to splurge instead of saving it. Although it feels like extra money, it’s really not. A tax return just means that you paid more in taxes than necessary, so it’s still money that you worked hard to get.
Many people receive a significant tax refund each year, so this can be a great way to quickly set some money aside toward your savings goal.
5. Take Advantage of Free Money Offers
While your tax return isn’t “free money” because you worked hard for it, there are some ways to get free money that you can use to build up your savings. There are several different options, but a few of the best ones are:
There are websites like MissingMoney.com and Unclaimed.org that allow you to quickly check for missing money that belongs to you. It only takes a couple of minutes and you might get a pleasant surprise (I got more than $150 as a result of checking MissingMoney.com).
Bank Account Bonuses
Banks want your business and many of them are willing to pay a bonus to new account holders. The offers will vary by bank and by the type of account, but you may be able to get anywhere from $100 to a few hundred dollars just for opening up a new account and transferring some money.
Be sure to read the terms and qualifications to make sure that you’re eligible. Checking account bonus offers will often, although not always, require you to receive a direct deposit into the account before qualifying for the bonus.
Credit Card Signup Bonuses
Credit card signup bonuses are another way to earn easy, free money that you can use to build up your savings. Many credit cards will offer bonuses from $100 – $500, and sometimes more. In order to qualify for the bonus, you will need to spend a minimum amount of money on the credit card within a certain period of time. For example, you may need to spend $500 on the credit card within 3 months in order to get a $150 bonus.
Be sure to read the terms and only apply for cards that give you a bonus that you can reach simply with your normal spending. You don’t want to wind up spending more just to qualify for the bonus.
6. Sell Things You Don’t Use
Most of us have a lot of stuff that we don’t use just sitting around the house. Some of those things that you don’t use have value, and you could easily sell them and save the money that you make.
Take some time to go through your house, closets, basement, garage, shed, or anywhere else that you have storage. Pick out the things you can part with and then try to sell them. You can use the Facebook marketplace, Craigslist, eBay, Poshmark, and other sites/apps to quickly sell a lot of stuff.
Not only will you make some extra money that you can save, but you’ll also declutter your house and free up space. Plus, those things that you’re not using can be put to good use by people who want and need them.
7. Take a Savings Challenge
If you want to push yourself to save more money, a great option is to try a savings challenge. There are many different savings challenges that you can follow based on how much money you want to save, and how long you want the challenge to last.
A savings challenge can be a fun way to boost your savings and develop some good financial habits. They’re even more fun if you have a friend or family member taking the challenge at the same time.
If you’re a competitive person, you’ll probably find that you wind up saving more money without increasing your income, thanks to your desire to conquer the challenge.
8. Spend Less on Food
For most families, food is one of the bigger expenses each month, and it’s also a budget category that offers some potential for saving money. Here are a few specific ways that you can reduce the amount of money you spend on food each month.
Eat More Meals at Home
Meals from restaurants are far more expensive than meals prepared at home. We can feed our family of four all week by spending less than $100 at the grocery store, but a single meal at a restaurant for the four of us can easily cost $50+.
The most effective way to spend less on food is to minimize the number of meals that you eat out. If you typically go out for lunch, simply packing a lunch and taking it with you to work each day will make a huge difference in your budget
Buy Generic Groceries
An easy way to reduce the amount that you spend at the grocery store is to choose generic brands instead of name brands. In most cases, you won’t even notice the difference, and the price will be significantly less. Of course, there are probably a few products that you strongly prefer the name brand, and that’s fine. But make a habit of going with a generic brand for the other things that don’t matter as much to you.
Shop at Discount Grocery Stores
Grocery prices can vary drastically depending on where you shop. Discount stores like Aldi, Lidl, and others make it easy to reduce the amount you spend on groceries each week.
Plan Your Meals
How do you decide what to buy at the grocery store? Meal planning involves creating a shopping list based on the exact meals that you will be making for the week, and you only buy what’s needed. Meal planning will not only help you to be organized (and probably eat more healthy), but it will also save you money. Without a meal plan and a shopping list, you’ll probably buy a lot of extra stuff that you don’t need.
For more tips, see these frugal ideas to save money on groceries.
9. Lower Your Monthly Bills
Reducing your monthly recurring bills can have a big impact on your overall financial situation and allow you to save more money. Even if you only reduce a bill by $10 per month, that equals $120 in savings over the course of a year. Reduce just a few bills and you can see the savings start to pile up.
Depending on where you live, you may be able to choose your provider for electricity and natural gas. There is a lot of competition and this results in lower prices that make it possible for you to save money very easily.
You can also reduce other bills like cell phone service, cable and internet, insurance, and more. It will require a small amount of time to compare prices, but the savings will be well worth the small effort. And if you don’t have time for it, bill negotiation services like Trim can save you money with no effort on your part.
10. Use Cashback Apps
The last option that we’ll cover in this article is to use cashback apps to save money on the things you need to buy. You definitely don’t want to purchase things just because you can get cashback, but you can use apps that help you to get some rewards for the things you need to buy anyway. And best of all, these can be used in combination with cashback and rewards credit cards to stack multiple levels of rewards.
There are a lot of good cashback apps out there, but here are a few of the leaders:
Rakuten (formerly known as Ebates) can save you money on many of your online purchases, as well as some of your in-store purchases. They have thousands of partner websites and stores that offer cashback. The Rakuten browser extension will notify you of cashback options anytime you’re on a website that offers cashback, plus it will automatically look for coupon codes to save you money. All you need to do is click a button in that notification to earn cashback for your purchase.
Ibotta is a great app that can save you money on your grocery shopping. There are offers from other types of stores as well, but most Ibotta users get the majority of their savings from grocery offers. There are new offers each week and you’ll simply claim the offers that you want, and then scan your receipt after the purchase.
You’ll link your credit or debit card to Drop and choose a few of your favorite stores and restaurants where you want to earn cashback. When you make a purchase with your linked card at a participating merchant, you’ll automatically earn cashback.
As you can see, there are plenty of ways to save extra money even if you’re not able to work more hours. It may require a small amount of discipline, but the cumulative effect of implementing just a few of these changes can result in hundreds of dollars saved over the course of a year.
Author Bio: Marc Andre
Marc is a personal finance blogger at VitalDollar.com, where he writes about ways to save money, manage money, and make money. He lives in Pennsylvania with his wife and their two kids.
About the Author
Joseph Hogue is a financial expert and investment analyst. After serving in the Marine Corps, he started his career investing in real estate before becoming an investment analyst for some of the largest private investors. He's appeared on Bloomberg and on CNBC as an investment expert and has published ten books in personal finance. Now he helps investors reach their financial goals and invest in the stock market with some of the same advice he used when working for the rich.