Let’s face it: Stressing over money happens to the best of us. The thought of sacrifice, bargain shopping and budgeting can seem like drudgery. But when you take control over your finances and save, it can eliminate some of that worry.
The best news? Saving can be more enjoyable if you try new methods. That’s why we’ve put together this list of seven ways to save money without much effort at all.
1. Slash your monthly bills with free expert help
Are you getting ripped off for things like cable or internet? Don’t haggle with your cable company. Instead, let one of these companies monitor your charges and negotiate on your behalf.
These apps are all good at helping you get a complete picture of your finances, cancel old unwanted subscriptions and negotiate savings on your monthly bills. If they save you money, they get a portion of the savings. Check ’em out!
2. Find cheaper car insurance in just minutes
There’s a reason most of us are overpaying for car insurance: Comparing prices and coverage from multiple car insurance providers is tedious work. By the time you’re done filling out forms or talking to a sales rep, there’s no guarantee you’ll have a better rate.
But technology has changed all that. Now insurance comparison sites such as Gabi and The Zebra makes it easy to compare quotes in just a few minutes and find you the best rates. These tools are both free, quick and neither one will result in unwanted follow-up calls.
3. Switch to an online savings account
The national average annual percentage yield (APY) among savings accounts is a puny 0.09%, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp (FDIC). At that rate, a balance of $10,000 earns just $9 a year.
Why not ditch your low-earning savings account and open a high-interest one instead?
Enter CIT Bank, an online bank that offers an APY of up to 1.75% with its Savings Builder Account. That’s one of the highest interest rates available — and it’s a 100% risk-free return because deposit accounts like CIT Bank’s Savings Builder account are FDIC-insured.
4. Ditch cable and still watch live TV
Want to save a bunch without giving up your favorite shows? Philo offers a 59-channel subscription for just $20 per month. Plus, with Philo you can still watch live TV. You can also fast-forward through commercials in recorded content, depending on which device you use to access Philo.
To view the list of channels, visit Philo’s home page and scroll down. To learn more about how fast-forwarding works on a particular device, click on “Help” in the bottom left corner of Philo’s home page and then select a device.
Philo is currently offering a free seven-day trial period.
Check out this post for learn about other cool streaming services that can save you money: “4 TV Streaming Services That Cost $20 a Month or Less”
5. Get cash back when you shop — plus a free $10 gift card
Earn extra money on Rakuten -- which you may have known previously as Ebates — a site that gets you up to 40% cash back at more than 2,500 stores. Here’s how they make that possible: Retailers pay Rakuten a commission for sending shoppers to their websites. Then Rakuten shares that commission with you. So why not get cash back the next time you shop online at Amazon or Walmart by going through Rakuten first?
Signing up has become even more lucrative: As a bonus for being a new member, you’ll earn $10 when you spend at least $25 within the first 90 days of signing up.
Here’s how to claim your free $10 gift card:
- Sign up on Rakuten. It only takes a minute.
- Use the Rakuten portal to reach an online retailer, and spend at least $25 on your first purchase within 90 days.
- Your account will be rewarded points that you can then use to redeem your $10 gift card.
6. Keep your receipts and earn cash
Ibotta is a free app that gets you real cash back — not points — on items you already buy online or in a store, such as groceries.
Here’s how it works:
- Before you go shopping, add the items you’ll buy to your shopping list within the Ibotta app.
- Shop for the items on your list at participating stores, and don’t forget to save the receipt!
- Take a photo of your receipt within Ibotta and receive your cash within 24 hours.
To get started, download Ibotta and get a $10 bonus after uploading your first receipt.
7. Track your spending and build your savings — for good
Want a proven method for gaining full control over your finances? Track your expenses using a service like You Need A Budget (YNAB).
Does it work? YNAB says on their website:
“On average, new budgeters save $600 by month two and more than $6,000 the first year.”
You tell this handy app where your money is, and it automatically tracks your expenses and measures your progress. And unlike other budgeting apps, YNAB helps you allocate your money according to your priorities.
We’ve tried and tested a bunch of budgeting apps like YNAB, and it’s the one we like best and personally use.
Bottom line? You Need A Budget can really help get you get organized, stay in control, manage your expenses and make you richer.
Try it free for 34 days, then decide for yourself.
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Do you have a money-saving idea to add to this list? Share with us in comments below or on our Facebook page.
Kari Huus contributed to this post.