Many of us struggle to save money, but without some cash reserves, we risk racking up serious debt when we're hit with unplanned expenses. Unfortunately, the state of Americans' savings is rather dire, with an estimated 40% of U.S. adults not having enough money in the bank to cover a mere $400 emergency. If your savings are in serious need of a boost, here are eight easy ways to accomplish that goal.
1. Sock cash away automatically
You can't spend money you don't know you have. If you're serious about saving more, arrange for a portion of each paycheck you receive to get transferred automatically to your savings account. It can be $25, $50, $100, or whatever amount you're comfortable with. The key is to make it automatic so you're not tempted to blow that sum on something frivolous just because it's there.
2. Bank your raises
If you're lucky, you'll see your income go up from year to year at your job. And that gives you a great opportunity to pad your bank account. From now on, pledge to stick whatever money you get in raise form in the bank. The logic is that you won't need that money to cover your expenses since you'll be used to living on your former salary. And if that's not the case -- say, your rent goes up once your raise kicks in -- you can access the amount needed from your raise to compensate, but put the rest of your raise into savings.
3. Eat at home
Restaurants are notorious for charging ridiculous markups on the items they serve so that a $40 meal can generally be made for just $10 in your own kitchen. If you're eager to increase your savings, pledge to eat at home the majority of the time, if not all the time. Doing so could end up being just as good for your waistline as it is for your wallet.
4. Stop taking rideshares
Rideshares are unquestionably convenient, but their cost can add up over time. If you're in the habit of summoning a car every time you're feeling tired, lazy, or cold, it could be seriously thwarting your savings efforts. A better bet? Delete those rideshare apps from your phone, and stick to lower-cost public transportation and your feet as a means of getting around town. Biking to and from places also works.
5. Get a second gig
The more money you earn, the more opportunities you'll have to save. That's where a side hustle can come in handy. Whether you decide to freelance or consult in your full-time field, or do something totally different, like walk dogs on weekends, the money you earn from that extra work will make a nice addition to your bank account.
6. Refinance your debt
If you've got a loan or credit card balance eating up a chunk of your monthly income, refinancing could lower your costs, thereby leaving you with more cash to bank. Refinancing means swapping one loan for another with a lower interest rate so that your associated payments go down. Transferring your credit card balance to a card with a lower interest rate will have a similar effect.
7. Stop outsourcing tasks you don't want to do
There are things in life that some of us find unpleasant, whether it's cleaning our homes, mowing our lawns, or grooming our beloved pets. But if you really want to save more money, you may need to get on board with the idea of doing more of that work yourself. Doing so might really reduce your monthly spending, and you know what that means -- more cash to put in the bank.
8. Hoard your change
Most purchases don't work out to be round numbers. An easy way to boost your savings is to get in the habit of accumulating change, whether in the form of a physical penny jar or by using an app that rounds up purchases and sends the difference into savings. Keep in mind that some apps charge a modest fee for this service, so it pays to see if your bank offers this option for free.
The more savings you accumulate, the more protection you'll have against unplanned bills and expenses -- and the more freedom you'll buy yourself to spend some of that money on more important things in the future. While all of the above tips will help you boost your savings, the most important thing you can do is actually commit to that goal. If you train your brain to make savings a priority, you'll see results before you know it.