We’ve all heard the old adage, “the best time to start saving is right now.”
While it might seem like great advice at first, it doesn’t come with a roadmap that magically makes the process easier. For many of us, the excitement of finally getting our finances in order ends about the same time we have to start crunching numbers into a spreadsheet. Thankfully, creating a budget is only one piece of a larger puzzle that comes with an unlimited number of creative ways to better your situation.
To help you start on the right foot, we’ve outlined our 22 favorite ways to save, earn, and do more with your money so you can build an emergency fund, achieve your financial goals, invest toward your future, and even think about retiring comfortably.
Let’s dive in!
Cut the Cord
Cable is expensive. According to DecisionData, the average cable package in 2020 was more than $217. Internet is a necessary cost these days, but streaming services are a lower-cost option offering as much bang for your buck as a cable plan.
Compare and Save
The next time you want to make a big purchase, take a few minutes to look around for the best price. A simple online search will likely land you a dozen or more retailers all selling the item you want, with some locations selling it for less than others.
Eat at Home
We all love to get out and enjoy a night on the town at a classy restaurant, but cutting back a little bit can pay dividends. Learn to cook and explore your culinary surroundings in the comfort of your own home. Not to mention, cooking can be a great date night activity!
Use Mobile Banking Apps
Many people have their smartphones on them at all times. Install your banking, investment, and finance apps onto your phone to keep track of your finances and adjust your spending on the fly if you see your spending start to creep up.
Find a Side Hustle
Everyone has skills they can put to use to make a quick buck. From freelance writing and graphic design to driving for a ride-sharing service or delivering pizzas, there is no shortage of people looking for a little extra help right now.
Reduce Credit Card Usage
Credit cards are ubiquitous in modern society, but you have control over how you use your plastic to pay. Credit utilization is a major factor in your credit score, so it pays to keep an eye on it. View the 30% rule as a good guideline, but be aware that using less of your available credit is better for your score.
Keep an Eye on Your Credit Score
Speaking of credit scores… This one isn’t about limiting spend or changing habits, but it’s arguably one of the most important. Having a high credit score opens up an entirely new world of opportunities for you beyond better mortgage and loan interest rates. With a good credit score, you can get approved for higher credit limits, reduce deposits required when moving, and it could even help you land a new employer.
Aim to be Healthier
Taking small steps toward living a healthier lifestyle could end up helping you save money in the long run. Healthier people tend to pay less for insurance and spend less on medications and doctor’s visits. Best yet, you don’t have to make any major changes to start feeling better. Getting a solid night’s sleep, drinking water, and light exercise could be enough to start seeing results.
Think About a Staycation
Taking a trip to the Maldives and staying in one of those over-the-water thatched roof huts might sound like a great vacation, but it also comes with a pretty hefty price tag. When was the last time you looked around at all of the great vacation spots closer to home. Consider a series of weekend trips to nearby cities to take in some local cuisine, sites, and meet new people. Who knows, you might find your new favorite place close to home!
Learn to Love the Outdoors
Hiking, biking, snowshoeing, skiing, snowboarding, and camping are all great ways to get outside, see the world around you, explore nature, and limit your spending. There may be some initial costs involved (snowboards and sleeping bags aren’t cheap), but they’ll quickly pay for themselves the more you get out and use them!
Pick Up a Hobby That Pays
Are you the crafty type? Can you paint, sew, crochet, or carve? Now is the time to put your skills to good use, make a few bucks, and share your passions with other people. Online retailers, like Etsy, are a great place to sell your homemade goods, and there is no shortage of craft and maker markets where you can set up and sell.
Slow Down. Stop the Fast Fashion Cycle
Trends are constantly changing, which means your wardrobe might be as well. Thrifting is a great way to avoid higher prices at fashion retailers while still stocking your wardrobe with clothing that fits your style.
Learn to Barter
You might be surprised what deals you can get when you think outside the box. You can trade services or items to get the things you want – just make sure the trader might be interested in what you have before trying to strike a deal.
Find a Fun Way to Fund Your Savings Account
Saving money doesn’t have to be a chore. Whether it’s holding onto every $5 you receive to trying out a 52-week coin-saving challenge, there are a ton of ways to save money without much pain.
Pick Up Some New Marketable Skills
The job market is HOT right now. If cutting costs won’t cut it, another option is to earn more. LinkedIn Learning has a variety of certificates and learning tracks to help you level up your knowledge and land the dream job (and salary) you want.
Learn to Invest
It takes money to make money. If you teach yourself to invest, you’ll have a better idea of how the stock market works, how it can help you make money, and how to avoid common pitfalls. Don’t want to spend hours reading the Wall Street Journal? Let Beanstox handle the investing for you!
Prepare for a Possible Market Downturn
If you’re investing, you likely know that the stock market goes through ebbs and flows. If you don’t yet, consider thinking about what might happen if the market hits a slump. Are you prepared to stay invested during tough times?
Make Sure Your Home is Winter (and Summer) Ready
Depending on where you live, winter typically means high heating costs and summer means high cooling costs. Consider getting a home energy audit to identify where you can improve your home’s efficiency and energy usage. If you can, make improvements to ensure your house is cozy in the winter and cool during the summer without breaking the bank.
Network for Your Net Worth
Remember the tip a few paragraphs ago about picking up a new marketable skill? This tip goes hand-in-hand with that. Popular sites like LinkedIn allow you to connect with future employers and coworkers, drum up freelance work, and see what people are talking about in your professional community. You never know, a good conversation with a connection today could turn into a new gig tomorrow!
Don’t Forget to Give Back
Bettering your finances isn’t all about hoarding as much money as possible. Sometimes, it means giving to those who need a hand. Volunteer your time to help others, give to charities that do great things for the community, and help make the world a slightly brighter place. Like the old saying goes, “you get what you give.” Your donation can likely benefit you during tax time as a deduction or write-off.
Set Aside Money for Fun
Take some time to treat yourself. Plan a vacation, buy something you really want, or go out to that brand new taqueria you heard about. Life is for living, so don’t forget to have a little fun every once in a while. If you plan, taking a vacation or making a big purchase won’t set you back financially.
Be Grateful for What You Have
It’s important to stop from time to time and look back on everything we’ve done so far. If you have a roof over your head, a phone or computer where you’re reading this post, and a job you enjoy, you’re doing pretty well! Keep things in perspective and you’ll be happier, no matter how well you’re doing financially.
The Final Word
Like a lot of things in life, small changes can eventually make a big difference.
The important thing to remember is that there is no time like the present to get started and no action is considered too small. No matter how you choose to get started with approaching your financial future, taking the first step is a huge deal! Stick with it, stay focused, and give yourself room to learn and grow.