Let’s face it: You want to make more money. Everyone wants to but when it’s painful, we often fall off the saving wagon. Before you attempt uncomfortable methods to increase your bank account, consider these effortless ideas first.
1. Let Banks Pay You: Compare banks and only use high-yielding accounts. For savings, I use the ING Orange account. It’s at a variable 1.10% Annual Percentage Yield, has no fees, and no minimums. When I started this account, I had a measly $50 directly deposited from each paycheck every pay period (usually $100 a month)–and I didn’t even NOTICE the missing money. (Makes me wonder how many smaller purchases I had been making without even realizing…) It was a painless way to create an emergency fund.
If you’re saving for the long-term (rather than an emergency fund), consider an IRA instead. Automate your deposits.
You’ll also want to opt in to employer-contributing 401k programs. They usually pull the money directly from each check to automate your investments.
2. Effortlessly Track Spending: Automate how you track spending by using mint.com.
3. Trade Your Talents: If you have a particular talent, why not use it to trade for something you need? Trade your services: fix things, bake, or babysit. Trade your things: Media (books, CDs), electronics, or even your car.
4. Sell Your Stuff: Ebay & Craigslist will help you liquidate stuff you don’t need quickly. Just stop reading and look around your apartment. See stuff you don’t NEED? I thought so.
5. Identify Additional Income Opportunities: Love crafts? Quit pilling your mom’s house with 10 variations of your work and start making money on Etsy. Love cycling? Help others maintain and repair their bikes. Be creative, but start with what you love to do already.
6. Decrease Expenses. Not sure where to start? Consider these…
* Get rid of cable television. (Netflix, baby.)
* Re-evaluate your mobile phone plan. Are you really using all of those minutes/text messages/data packages?
* Use public wifi. The library is always a great option, with no purchasing obligation.
* Unplug all appliances. Use a power strip to make this easier.
* Drive less. Ride a bike. It’s also way easier (and cheaper!) to park.
* Buy generic. Not just prescriptions, but store brand products. (Compare ingredients if you’re skeptical; they’re most often exactly the same.)
* Don’t eat out. Cook from scratch.
* Drink only water–from the tap.
* Recycle. Never buy garbage bags; use plastic grocery bags instead.
* Minimize the use of heat and air conditioning. Adjust when not in use.
* Repair things, don’t replace them. Ask for help, if needed.
* Buy used. Better yet, see if a friend or family member has something you can use instead. (If not, try Craigslist.)
* Buy in bulk. Pricey to start, but pays off.
* Never pay interest. Pay as much on your debt as possible every month.
* Hang clothes to dry. This also saves ironing time!
* Don’t smoke or drink. Okay, so drinking might be a hard one to nix. I always opt for cheaper wines, because I frankly cannot taste the difference. But definitely avoid buying drinks in public. Drink at home instead–no driving needed!
* Use compact fluorescent bulbs.
* Consider growing your own vegetables.
* Eliminate memberships you aren’t using.
* Do your own manicures and pedicures. Or, better yet, get together with friends and do each other’s.
Interested in learning more? Check out Mint’s 30 Free eBooks To Learn Everything You Want to Know About Personal Finance