Times are tough, but a little effort to save now will help you weather future emergencies and set yourself up for financial success down the road. Whether the money you save goes into a rainy day fund or your 401(k), it's always worth it to put a little extra aside. That said, it's hardly easy when there are so many demands on your pocketbook. Here are 10 easy ways to save money and get you on the path to financial fitness.
1. Enroll in automatic deductions
One of the easiest ways to save money is by enrolling in automatic contributions to your retirement account. As soon as your paycheck comes in, part of it will automatically go to your 401(k). If your employer doesn't offer retirement benefits (or if you just want to save even more), you can set up an automatic transfer from your checking account to a high-yield savings account, serving the same purpose.
2. Share everything
You've probably heard the term "share economy" bandied about more than you can bear, but taking part does have some merit. You don't necessarily have to rent out an extra room, but consider sharing nannies with another family, renting a friend's equipment instead of buying your own, or joining a grocery share group to buy in bulk.
3. Keep the change
As much as people don't like Bank of America, its old "Keep the Change" program was one of the best ways to get people to save automatically. Whenever you made a purchase with your enrolled account, B of A would round up to the nearest dollar and put the remainder in your savings account. For example, if you spent $1.45, the bank would charge you $2 and put $0.55 into savings.
You can approximate that yourself by paying in cash -- bills, specifically -- whenever possible, and keeping the change in a separate bag that you empty at the end of the day. It may seem small, but every little bit helps.
4. Get a better return on your savings
The great thing about interest is that compounding does the work for you: $1,000 invested when you're 20 with a 4% annual return grows to nearly $6,000 at retirement without you lifting a finger. But it's important to maximize your yields: Consider a series of high-yield checking accounts or a high-yield savings