1. Cut Back on Less Important Expenses
Pay for convenience where it matters to you, but not everywhere. Think about the things that you value most and are willing to pay a little extra for, and try to cut back on less important expenses.
2. Use Your Tax-Free Funds
Use tax-free dollars for as many expenses as possible. There are several types of accounts that allow you to use tax-free dollars for certain expenses, such as flexible spending accounts (FSAs), dependent care FSAs (DCFSAs), and health savings accounts (HSAs). And if you’re a business owner, you can deduct business expenses to reduce your tax bill.
3. Find Happiness for Cheaper
Use the cost-per-happy rule to find some places you can spend a little less so that you can save a little more. This rule suggests that you think about how much something costs in terms of how much happiness it brings you. If you can find ways to get the same level of happiness for a lower cost, you can save money.
4. Capitalize on Free Money
Get your employer match in your 401(k) or 403(b). If your employer offers a matching contribution in your retirement account, consider contributing enough to get the full match. This is essentially free money that you don't want to leave on the table.
5. Get Rewards and Pay Off Your Cards
If you don't have credit card debt, consider maximizing rewards by putting as much spending as possible on a credit card and paying it off in full monthly. However, if there's a chance you can't pay it off in full every single month or you're trying to spend less, it's not worth the points and it's better to use a debit card instead.
6. Identify and Cancel Unwanted Subscriptions
Cancel subscriptions that you don't use or can pretty easily live without. This includes things like streaming services, magazine subscriptions, and gym memberships. TIP: Monarch Money identifies your bills and subscriptions, displays them in a calendar and list view, and alerts you to upcoming charges. Stop paying for things you don't need with Monarch.
7. Autopay to Avoid Late Fees
Put your bills on autopay. This can help you avoid late fees and ensure that you don't forget to pay a bill. Just be sure to check your account balances regularly to make sure you have enough money to cover your bills.
8. Meal Plan to Lower Food Costs
Do meal planning. Start with one or two meals per week, whatever feels doable, and build the habit over time. Meal planning can help you save money by reducing food waste and avoiding the temptation to eat out or order in.
9. Save—Don't Spend—Any Bonuses or Cash Gifts
Commit to putting any tax refunds, bonuses, cash gifts, and other windfalls straight to savings. Alternatively, you could decide to spend and enjoy 10% of the amount and commit the remaining 90% to savings.
10. Check for Sneaky Bank Fees
Check if you're paying account fees at your bank and, if so, switch banks. Many banks charge fees for certain types of accounts or services, and switching to a bank that doesn't charge these fees can save you a significant amount of money over time.
11. Save Money on Medication
Get generic prescriptions when available. Generic medications are often just as effective as brand-name drugs, but they can be significantly cheaper.
12. Understand Your Investing Fees
Review investment expenses. If you're in mutual funds with an expense ratio above 0.5%, consider finding alternatives, but be mindful of taxable gains in non-retirement accounts before you sell any holdings. Expense ratios are the fees that mutual funds charge, and they can eat into your returns over time. By finding funds with lower expense ratios or switching to ETFs, you can keep more of your money.
13. BONUS: Try Monarch Money to Track Your Finances
Use Monarch Money to create a budget, track expenses, and gain control of your money. The all-in-one platform brings together everything you need to feel confident in your finances. Sign up for a free trial today.