Digging between your couch cushions for spare pennies and trimming your everyday expenses will only save you so much money. These 10 strategies will help you strengthen your savings habit and grow the pot of cash you’ve worked hard to set aside.
1. Send some of your paycheck directly to savings
If all of your earnings live in your checking account, it’s easier to spend them when you shouldn’t. Set up direct deposit so a portion of each paycheck goes straight to your savings account. Be sure to keep enough money in checking so you don’t incur overdraft fees.
2. Get your company’s 401(k) match
Almost three-quarters of employers surveyed by the Society for Human Resource Management in 2016 said they match contributions employees make to their 401(k) retirement plans. That means that when you save for retirement at work, your company puts money in your account, too. Take advantage of its generosity.
3. Don’t skimp on health or auto insurance
Insurance premiums are a monthly expense, but going without could mean crushing debt — even from just one accident or hospital stay. Two-thirds of respondents to a 2016 Kaiser Family Foundation survey who had trouble paying medical bills said a short-term expense was the culprit, not a chronic condition. You’ll also pay a penalty for not having health insurance; same with auto insurance, if you get caught driving without it in most of the U.S.
3. Make the most of credit card rewards
Consider applying for a rewards credit card that will earn you discounts on travel or cash back on everyday purchases — but only if you plan to pay off your balance every month to avoid interest charges.
5. Wait before making big purchases
When you want to drop $100 on a new pair of shoes for a friend’s wedding, sleep on it first. That’ll give you some time to consider whether you really need to make the purchase. Maybe you’ll decide you can wear something already in your closet, or you’d rather buy used or shop a sale.
6. Rent out your car or parking space
Owning a car might be unavoidable, but on days when you’re not using yours, you can rent it out on services such as Getaround or Turo. According to Turo’s website, listing a car worth $20,000 for 10 days each month could earn you $4,664 per year. If you don’t have a car but do have a desirable parking space, try renting it out through Craigslist or a parking app.
7. Sell stuff you don’t need
Take a look around: You probably see books you won’t read again and clothes that have hung untouched in your closet for a year. Sell your books to a used bookstore and list clothes, including old bridesmaid dresses, on websites like Tradesy. Post other items, like furniture or appliances, on Craigslist or local housing groups on Facebook.
8. Refinance your student loans
If your annual income is higher than your student loan balance and you have a credit score of 690 or higher — or access to a co-signer who does — consider refinancing your student loans to get a lower interest rate. You’ll lose certain benefits specific to federal student loans if you refinance them, so read up on the pros and cons first.
9. Use an app that saves money for you
The savings app Digit tracks your spending habits and plucks money you don’t need from your checking account every few days. The money goes into a separate Digit account, which doesn’t earn interest, but it’s a way to save money painlessly for, say, an upcoming trip.
10. Set goals you’ll feel good sticking to
Goals make saving money a game, not a chore. Try to have a mix of short-term objectives, such as buying a plane ticket to visit a friend or enrolling in a yoga retreat, and long-term objectives, such as making a down payment on a house. You can do both with one savings account that lets you create subaccounts, like the online option offered by Capital One 360.
With a little creativity and forward thinking, you can make your 20s both fun and thrifty.