Once you decide enough is enough and you want to take control of your financial situation, most people start with a savings goal. Maybe you have experienced some stress from not being able to predict the amount of money you would have left in your account after paying bills. If that is you, here are some of the best ways to save money fast.
Most financial plans suggest that once you are current on your bills, the first step is a bit of savings. Some financial experts recommend having one months expenses in savings to start, and some suggest a full emergency fund of several months of expenses right off the bat.
Dave Ramsey, CEO of Ramsey Solutions and author of the Total Money Makeover, says $1000–enough to cover a bit of a crisis without touching a credit card, but not enough to make you feel comfortable. The whole point is to feel uncomfortable with that amount so that you work harder than ever to get any and all debt paid off. At that point, you build up a full emergency fund of 3 to 6 months of expenses.
Maybe you already have a savings, but you’re looking for a quick way to boost it. Either way, here are some strategies you can try to get some quick cash to pad your savings account!
1. Evaluate Your Budget – Stop Wasting What You Have!
Your most important tool for saving money and building any sort of wealth is your income. Saving money from your paycheck is going to be the easiest place to get access to cash, and it will be one of the best ways to save money fast.
Take some time to evaluate your budget and see where you are spending money you don’t need to be spending. Here are some suggestions for finding extra money in the budget. Some of these sacrifices may be painful, but remember they are for a short period to help you reach a goal. Nobody meets their goals without sacrifice.
- Shop around for insurance, especially if it has been more than a year since you last shopped around. Find an independent insurance broker to help you compare prices on home, auto, and whatever other insurances you may have. If you are paying for a Whole Life insurance policy, get yourself a term policy and then cash out your Whole Life.
- Cut cable or satellite and opt for a streaming service. We use Hulu Live, but have also used Sling & DirectTV Now in the past. You could also just cut TV all together–that would be the cheapest route if you want to maximize every dollar!
- Have you been going out to eat very often? If eating out or grabbing take out is a struggle for you, challenge yourself to a full month of no restaurant food. You will be shocked at how much you save! You will probably feel better & healthier, too.
- Try a new grocery store and see if you can shave some money off your grocery bills. I absolutely love Aldi and Fresh Thyme–their prices are awesome! I go to Fresh Thyme for meat and produce, and then Aldi for basically everything else, then I get some staples at Costco.
- Shop only once a week, no exceptions. For an even greater challenge, try shopping only once every two weeks, or even once a month. The fewer times you set foot into a store, the less money you spend. Period.
- Look at your “miscellaneous” section in your budget. Come on, I know you have one. How much do you have budgeted for that? I’d argue that routinely budgeting (or spending without budgeting) anything over $100-$150 means that you are getting a little sloppy with your budgeting and a little loose with justifying random purchases. I know I am definitely prone to this!
- Try a spending freeze! Go 30, 60, or however many days without buying anything outside of absolute essentials. No, a new pair of cute flats is not essential. Doesn’t matter that they were on sale. 😉 Neither is a trip to Coldstone Creamery or some Chinese takeout.
- Evaluate memberships or subscriptions. What would you be willing to give up for a period to quickly reach a goal?
2. Sell Anything That Isn’t Nailed Down
As far as selling things goes, you can look into having a garage sale if you have enough items for that, it’s the right time of year for one, and you have the time to invest into it.
If a garage sale isn’t right for you, you can sell things in places like Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, eBay, or buy/sell/trade groups. It all depends on what the item is and what the value is. I probably am not going to take the time or eat the cost it takes to ship a $10 item to the UK or something. Selling locally on Facebook Marketplace is usually my go-to strategy.
- Look through your closet. Do you have any clothes in good condition you are willing to part with? There are all sorts of apps out there, such as Poshmark and ThreadUp, that can help you sell these.
- Look through your kitchen and sell any extra dishes, pots, pans, appliances, or gadgets.
- Sell any furniture that is cluttering your house or that you don’t use very often.
- If you have any recent textbooks you don’t need anymore, sell them.
Get creative! The more you’re willing to sacrifice and sell, the faster you will get to your goal. Eventually someday, you can repurchase these things if you really want them. But most likely you probably won’t miss anything you sold all that much! This is one of the best ways to save money fast–it gives you money AND a cleaner home!
3. Take On Extra Work
There’s never been a better time to take on extra work to meet your goals. Side hustles like delivering pizza or other food, Uber, Shipt, Instacart, VIPKid, in addition to any other type of part-time job, can really bring in a lot of extra money if you are willing to put in the time.
If your job has the ability to for you to pick up extra hours or extra duties with additional pay, now is a great time to do that.
The more you make, the more you earn. Period. If you have evaluated your budget and trimmed where you could and sold everything you’re willing or able to part with, then the next step it to work.
Everyone is looking for easy ways to make money online. The honest truth is that I’ve tried many of them, and none of them deliver. It’s tempting to spend all your time on the couch taking surveys because it seems easy. But the time it takes to earn any sort of money is much better spent doing something that makes REAL money…like a job. You will make 10x the amount of money (or more!) showing up to do a job than you ever will doing surveys or other time-wasting activities that promise a return.
4. Adjust Your Tax Withholding
This may not apply to everyone, but do you usually get a decently sized tax return?
While it’s really fun getting a big check once a year, what you’re really doing is robbing yourself of the ability to make progress on your goals the other 11 months of the year.
Many people say they will use their tax return responsibly–they’re going to pay off debt, save it, invest it…who knows. However, people have the best intentions but don’t always follow through.
“I’m going to pay off debt with my return!” turns into “I’m going to buy myself a TV and put whatever is left on debt!” Many people also use their returns to fund other big purchases like new appliances.
While some of these purchases could be necessary, you don’t need to receive the money through a tax return in order to do it. You should be getting this money in your paycheck every other week to responsibly save or use as necessary when you need it.
Some people like the “forced savings” feeling of a tax return, but you are better off budgeting this money toward your financial goals and creating your own savings that you are in control of.
Talk to a CPA about the best way to adjust your withholding, or visit the IRS website to try out the Withholding Calculator and see if you can figure out what you need to do. Then talk to your HR at work to fill out a new W4. You should see a difference hopefully by your next check!
Saving money is essential for creating financial security. It doesn’t happen by chance, though. Most people spend more than they make. If you want to save money, you need to be intentional, creative, and sacrificial.
What are some creative ways you have saved money? Let me know in the comments!