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How to Save Money Fast

Your car’s on the fritz and when it comes out of the shop in a week, a big bill will follow. Or, maybe you’re moving in a month and will need to save every penny you have for closing costs. No matter what happens, there are things you can do to save money fast, whether you need extra cash in a week or a year.

Main Takeaways: How To Save Money Fast

  • Establish your timeline. How long do you have to save based on your future expense?
  • Map out your spending. Depending on how much time you have, track you expenses on a budget app to see where your paycheck is going.
  • Cut costs based on purchases. Based on your timeline and where you spend, you can follow our tips for what to cut down on for savings in a week, month, 6 months and year.

First, Understand Your Timeline

Establishing a timeline for saving is important. Are you saving for a bill due in two months? Or a vacation you’d like to take a year from now?

Maybe you want to buy a new car in 6 months. No matter your timeline, there are lots of tips and resources you can rely on. First things first: You need to set some specific savings goals.

Determine Your Savings Goals

The key to getting started is determining your immediate and long-term financial priorities. The most effective way to do this is simple. Write down your goals, then start saving.

If You’re Trying to Save by Next Week

Need cash fast? If so, you need to get real with your spending and cut extras out in order to achieve short-term goals. Here are our top tips for saving money in a week.

Tip 1: Track your budget

One way you can achieve instant savings is by downloading a budget app. Budget apps help you track your expenses so you can see where your paycheck goes. For example, your paycheck can show you how much you spend on groceries and rent each month.

Once you download a budget app, you’ll need to enter your salary and recurring expenses. You’ll easily be able to see where overspending occurs and how you can save. Downloading a budget app only takes a few minutes.

Money saved: $50 or more

Tip 2: Eliminate the extras

If you usually eat out for lunch several times a week, pack your lunch instead. Get in the habit of bringing in your own snacks from home.

Opt for a reusable water bottle instead of buying bottled water from the vending machine and skip the line at Starbucks and brew your own lattes at home.

Money saved: $35 or more

Tip 3: Buy cheaper staples

If you need basic staples like paper towel, cups and plates, shopping at the dollar store will save you money. Paper towels at a regular store can set you back $3 or more versus $1 at the dollar store.

If you need eggs, bread and milk, you could pay $10 or more at a traditional grocery store, but those same items at a discount supermarket chain will cost only $4.

Money saved: $10 or more

If You’re Trying to Save By Next Month

Decided to pitch more money toward your mortgage or throwing an expensive party at the end of the month? Let’s take a look at some ways to save in 30 days.

Tip 1: Turn down your water heater and thermostat

For every 10 degrees you lower your water heater’s temperature, you can save 3% to 5% on your heating costs.

It only takes a few seconds to do this, and while you’re at it, you can turn down your thermostat, too.

According to Energy.gov, you can save as much as 10% a year on your heating bill if you turn your thermostat down 7 to 10 degrees for 8 hours a day. If you’re not at home, why pay to heat your house?

Money saved: $10 or more

Tip 2: Cancel something

Never, ever go to the gym but pay for an expensive gym membership anyway? Have Pandora but never use it? The best way to save money is to live within your means.

If you cancel something you’ll never miss, you’re money ahead. Make a list of all the subscriptions and memberships you own and nix those you never use.

Money saved: $20 or more

Tip 3: Cut the cord

Now that Game of Thrones is over, maybe now you can cancel HBO. Think seriously about ditching cable. There are lots of subscription alternatives, inculding Netflix, Hulu and Sling TV, as well as Google Play Fire TV Stick and Roku Stick.

These are all streaming devices so you can watch some of your favorite programs.

Money saved: $100 or more

If You’re Trying to Save In 6 Months

If your property taxes are due in 6 months or your oldest child is starting college, it’s not too early to start saving so for those bills.

Tip 1: Open a second bank account

Many banks offer financial incentives up to $500 just for opening an account and making a deposit. It’s worth finding out how to set up direct deposit.

Often, these bank incentives require a one-time direct deposit of $500 or more, and once you do that, they’ll deposit $300 to $500 in your account within a few months.

That’s extra money in your pocket, and it can be a smart idea to open a bank account solely for saving money, especially if you take money out of your other savings account when you need it.

Money saved: Up to $500

Tip 2: Pay your bills online

Ever been late on your credit card bill and paid a late fee as a result? Pay your bills online.

Many credit card companies charge $35 or more if you’re even one day late on your payment. Consider signing up for automatic bill pay through your bank or download a bill paying app like Mint to help you track and pay your bills so you’re never late.

Some apps will even send you a notification a day or two before your bill is due so you won’t forget.

Money saved: $35 or more

Tip 3: Take on a side hustle

For a major boost to your wallet, why not take on a second gig? There are many online jobs on sites like Indeed.com or Upwork that can help you secure another source of income.

Also, consider your talents. Start a resume-writing service if you write well. If your cupcakes get rave reviews, start a small side business. You can score some serious cash that can come in handy in 6 months.

Money saved: Unlimited

Tip 4: Check out your insurance plan

If you have a health maintenance organization (HMO) health plan, there’s a good chance that it offers financial incentives or rewards just for completing an annual physical or maintaining a healthy BMI.

Log in to your plan’s website and search for rewards. Some will even reimburse your for exercise equipment or a gym membership. Read your plan’s explanation of benefits to learn more.

Money saved: $100 or more

If You’re Trying to Save in a Year

Got a whole year to save up for something big, like a family vacation? Here are several goal-achieving options.

Tip 1: Buy food on sale

Take advantage of your grocery store’s specials and repeatedly buy items such as meat and bread and freeze them for later.

Cook meals in batches and freeze them instead of ordering late night pizza or eating out. Finally, dust off your crock pot and make something delicious, like chili, which you can store in your deep freeze in anticipation of cooler months ahead.

Money saved: $100 or more

Tip 2: Open a savings account

If you don’t have a savings account now, open one. Find an online account that earns the highest interest possible.

You don’t have to stick with your current bank if you can find an online bank that can offer more of a return. Or consider CDs or the best ways to invest, depending on your risk tolerance.

Money earned: $200 or more

Tip 3: Follow the 24-hour rule

Impulse buying can wreak havoc on your savings goals, so before you buy an item you think you can’t live without, wait 24 hours first.

Chances are, you can live without it. Other ways to avoid impulse buying include:

  • Make a list and stick to it
  • Use cash more and leave your credit cards at home
  • Don’t shop when you’re hungry, emotional or bored

If you’re prone to buying stuff online, stay offline during sales or right after you get paid.

Money saved: $100 or more

Small Changes Add Up

Whether you need money now or a year from now, these tips don’t require a lot of effort. By making a few small changes, you can save money for the things you need.

You’ll also be ready whether you have an immediate emergency or need money in a year.  

Trying to learn more about saving? Check out Benzinga’s guides to the best savings accounts, best checking accounts, best budget spreadsheets and best budget apps.