5 Surprising (and Low-Effort) Ways to Save Money Fast
“Stop buying coffee.” “Pack your lunch.” “Don’t go out so much.”
You’re tired of hearing the same old tips for saving $2 here and $5 there. You want to know how to save real money, fast.
It’s simpler than you think. The secret is making changes to your spending that can save big money not just once, but every single month. Here are five easy savings strategies to try that each have the potential to save you $20, $30 or even $100 per month. If you do all five, that can add up to $220+ every month, or more than $2,600 per year, straight into your savings account.
1. Compare car insurance rates from different providers
Time invested: 10 minutes
Potential savings: $100+ per month.
If you’ve been wondering how to save money fast, the easiest thing you can do — with the least possible effort — is do some car insurance comparison shopping. That’s because car insurance rates vary dramatically from one company to the next, even though they all sell essentially the same thing.
Pull out your phone and hit Compare.com. In just a few minutes, you can see which companies will give you the best deal. As an example, we ran the numbers for a 40-year-old Richmond, VA woman who owns a 2016 Prius. Her rates for Plus-level insurance ranged from $79 to $279 per month. That’s not a typo: There was a $200 difference between the lowest offer and the most expensive.
2. Negotiate a lower cable/internet bill.
Time invested: 30 minutes
Potential savings: $30 or more per month
A lot of people settle for paying outrageous internet and cable bills because they assume there’s nothing they can do about it. It’s so easy to get a better deal — and you don’t have to haggle. All you have to do is ask. Here’s how to save money on TV and Internet, with minimal effort.
- Wait until your contract or promotional period is close to ending, then call customer service.
- Ask to speak to the retention department. Don’t act mad, or make any demands. Just say, “My bill is too high and I’m thinking about switching providers. What can you do about it?”
- Or tell them what the competing provider is offering, and ask if they can match it.
- If you don’t get a satisfactory response, tell them you’re going to cancel – and mean it.
If you live with someone else, whether a roommate, spouse or relative, you can take turns putting the bill in your name to keep the introductory rate. It makes a difference: The average promotional rate for internet service (without cable) is around $50 per month, and about $60 per month after the promotional period ends. Ask for a discount, and your rate could be much lower.
If you just can’t get your bill low enough, then it’s time to consider cutting the cable cord, and/or taking a hard look at your monthly streaming subscriptions:
- There’s no charge to cancel Hulu. You could save around $6 to $61 per month by getting rid of it, depending on the plan you have.
- There’s no charge to cancel Netflix, either. You could save $9 to $16 per month.
- You won’t get a refund for canceling Amazon Prime, unless you meet specific criteria. But did you know that you might qualify for a special rate of $5.99 per month if you have a Medicaid or EBT card?
3. Only rent from Redbox
Time invested: 10 minutes per rental
Potential savings: $20+ per month
Old-school? You bet. Less convenient? Sure. But if you often rent movies, you can save a lot by hitting the Redbox kiosk on your way home instead of renting online. Movie rentals from Amazon, for instance, are typically $2.99 to $5.99. Redbox charges $1.80-$2 for DVDs and Blu-Rays. That means you can save up to $4 for every new release you watch on disc instead of online. Not only that, but Redbox gives you free rentals when you accrue enough points and often offers specials, like dollar rentals. Just make sure you return the movie on time.
4. Switch to a pre-paid phone plan.
Time invested: 1 hour
Potential savings: $20+ per month.
Think adulting requires a cell-phone contract? It doesn’t! The big mobile-phone companies have spent hundreds of millions on advertising to convince you that they’re the only game in town. But if you have your own, unlocked phone, switching to a pre-paid plan can save you a lot. In most cases, you’ll get the same service quality. Options include:
- Mint Mobile, with plans starting at $15/month to start, then $25/month after that
- Ting Mobile, which only charges you for what you use — $30/month, on average
- Boost Mobile, with plans starting at $35 per month.
5. Go to the grocery store every day.
Time invested: 20 minutes per day
Potential savings: $50-plus per month.
That’s right: No more cartloads of food. Bring one bag and only purchase the ingredients you need for dinner, plus breakfast and lunch the next day. This totally goes against the advice you’ve heard before, which is to save money by planning your meals in advance and buying large quantities. But we all know that doesn’t work. Your lettuce goes bad. Your chicken expires. Leftovers get fuzzy in the fridge.
Shopping every day may sound like a pain, but it has advantages. It’s quick. You get great deals on marked-down meat and veggies because you know you’ll use them that night. And you never waste food!
Don’t delay! Even if you try just one of these tips, you’ll be a little richer next month. Start by comparing car insurance quotes on Compare.com.