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October 19, 2016

How to Save Money Fast: 7 Smart Ways

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Do you want to get out of debt and start saving money? Read on to learn how to take back control over your money.

Let’s face it. We Americans are not great at saving money. Almost half of us don’t even have $500 saved for emergencies.

Yikes.

We get it, really. With student loans, high bills, a mortgage, and the lingering effects of the recession, many of us are lucky to just stay in the black.

But wouldn’t you want to save if you could? We’re guessing a lot of people don’t save because they assume it’s impossible to do so on their tight budget and/or they’re not putting much effort into it.

But if you want to stop living paycheck to paycheck, it will require a bit of planning and dedication. Reading this step-by-step guide is a good first step.

And we'll show you how to start saving real money, without having to get a second job.

1. Cash Back Rewards

This is one of the easiest way to save money with very little effort. You’re throwing money out the window if you’re not taking advantage of cash back credit cards. Almost everyone uses credit cards, so why not get rewarded for your everyday spending?

Our favorite cash back card has no annual fee and a high cashback rewards structure:

  • Barclaycard CashForward
    Apply for Barclaycard CashForward World Mastercard
    Barclaycard CashForward offers a $200 cash rewards bonus if you spend $1,000 on purchases within the first 90 days of opening your new account. This card earns an unlimited 1.5% cash rewards on every purchase. Plus, every time you redeem, you get a 5% cash rewards redemption bonus to use toward your next redemption. You can redeem your cash rewards for a deposit into a U.S. checking or savings account, a statement credit, or gift cards. Redemptions start at $50. The cash rewards do not expire as long as you keep your account open, active, and in good standing. There is no annual fee.

    There is a 0% intro APR for the first 15 months on purchases. Plus, there is a 0% intro APR for 15 months for each balance transfer made within 45 days of account opening. After that, a variable APR applies, currently 15.99%, 20.99%, or 25.99% depending on your creditworthiness. There is a balance transfer fee.

    That's $200 to help kickstart your savings! And 1.5% cashback to help you save over the long run. For instance, if you spend $500/month on your credit card, that’s an extra $90 a year.

The catch, though, is that you'll need excellent credit to qualify. If you don't have great credit, keep reading. We’re going to show you other ways you can still save money.

To learn more about Barclaycard CashForward, including the online application, click here to visit Barclaycard's secure website.

2. Stop Paying High Interest Rates

Do you have credit card debt?

The nationwide average credit card interest rate is 13.51% (as of Q1 2016 for accounts that were assessed interest).

One of the FASTEST ways to get out of debt is to make a balance transfer. A balance transfer is moving your debt from one card to another card. You can even consolidate debt from multiple cards.

3. Save on Groceries with Free Coupons

Yes, flipping through catalogues and cutting coupons is a hassle. Save yourself the time and get savings delivered right to your inbox instead. Online coupons are a great way to help you save money on groceries and household items.

  • Betty Crocker: Betty Crocker’s FREE email delivers the best of Betty's 15,000 kitchen-tested recipes, how-tos and more - straight to your inbox! PLUS, get up to $250 per year in coupons savings and access to FREE samples (quantities limited, one per member).

  • Pillsbury: Sign up for Pillsbury.com emails to receive up to $250 in yearly coupons, access to free product samples (quantities limited, one per member) and the easiest recipes sent right to your inbox.

  • Tablespoon: Sign up for Tablespoon’s free email and score up to $250 per year in coupon savings. Plus, stay on top of your food game with free recipes for doable dinners, delish desserts, party snacks and more!

4. Take Surveys and Get Paid

Do you want to get paid for doing surveys?

Here's how it works. You register at a market research site such as Harris Poll, MySurvey, Springboard America, and Survey Junkie.

Then you login and start earning points when you do a survey.

Once you accumulated enough points, you can redeem them. For instance, on MySurvey, you can redeem points for PayPal and Amazon e-certificates.

It takes about a minute to sign up for each of these survey companies. But the important thing to remember is to regularly check in as they usually have different weekly promotions.

5. Stop Overpaying for Car Insurance

You hear the commercials all the time, but can you really save that much money by switching auto insurance?

You'd be surprised.

That's why we recommend you compare auto insurance quotes at least once a year. Auto insurance companies take advantage of the fact that most people won't bother comparing rates again once you’ve signed on with them.

But you aren't most people. Shop around for rates as a new customer with other insurance companies. If you haven’t had a ticket or accident in years, decreased the length of your commute, and/or have a good credit score, you’re in a good position to get a cheaper rate. Use a website like NetQuote to compare multiple insurance rates.

Tip: A quick way to reduce your monthly premium is to raise your deductible (the amount you have to pay before insurance kicks in). Raising the deductible to $500 from $100 could be considerable savings worth $200 a year.

But the downside of this is that if an accident does happen, you’ll be paying more. My friend had a $1,000 deductible and a really low premium. She had no accidents for over 5 years, and then in a chain of bad luck, she had 2 accidents within a month (one was her fault and one was a hit-and-run). Yep, she had to pay $1,000 each time. So if you choose this route, make sure you’re a careful driver and that you have enough to cover unfortunate incidents.

Of course, the best tip to save on auto insurance is to drive carefully. Accidents and tickets increase your premium.

6. Refinance Your Home

Refinance rates are still low, so now is the time to take advantage of it. If you have good credit, refinancing your home loan is a great way to get a better interest rate and term. Not only can you reduce the amount of interest you pay, you can also lower your monthly payments.

Use LendingTree to get an idea of what you could be saving.

7. Stop Paying for Expensive Vacations

Are you paying for your vacations out of your own pocket?

Instead, use travel rewards credit cards to get on the road to free travel. By using the cards for everyday purchases, you can earn airline miles without even flying, which can then be used towards flights or hotel stays. Many travel rewards cards are offering jaw-dropping sign-up promotions, which are often worth a free flight.

Our favorite travel rewards credit card has a huge sign-up bonus and flexible travel rewards:

  • Chase Sapphire Preferred
    Apply for Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
    Chase Sapphire Preferred lets you earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. You can earn 5,000 bonus points if you add your first authorized user and make a purchase within the first three months from account opening. This card lets you earn 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases worldwide. The points can be transferred 1:1 to leading frequent travel programs including airline transfer partners. The card has a $0 foreign transaction fee. The card also comes with premium travel and purchase protection benefits (including trip cancellation/trip interruption insurance and auto rental collision damage waiver). There is an Introductory Annual Fee of $0 the first year, then $95.

    Tip: To get an idea of how you can use points, we have gathered 23 of the world’s most vacation-worthy destinations and show you how many points it would take to reach them.

Take a look at some of the hottest bonus points offers. Keep in mind, you’ll need excellent credit to be approved for most travel rewards cards.

Bottom Line

We hope we gave you some good practical ideas for saving money. Our goal is to show you that everyone can do it without seriously depriving yourself or taking on a second job! Start putting some of these ideas into practice and you should see your savings add up in just a few months. Good luck!

Read more: 23 Times You Should Spend More to Save Money

Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer. This site may be compensated through the Advertiser's affiliate programs.

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