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Eleven Genius, Creative Ways to Save Without Leaving Home

Eleven Genius, Creative Ways to Save Without Leaving Home

Let’s face it. You’re probably spending more money than you want to each and every month. With car payments, rent, mortgages, student loans, food costs, and dozens of other expenditures constantly draining your bank account, it’s a smart idea to save as much money as you can on the little things.

Plus, did you know that saving money can lower your stress level? It also opens the door for you to never have to say “no” to making a purchase that you really want or need.

Saving money is difficult, right? Surely only those who have mastered the art of self-control can possibly manage to create an aggressive budget that makes room for savings. You could make a budget and save some money but then you’d have to deprive yourself of all the things you like.

Actually, there are plenty of easy ways to save money right at home! That’s right! By making a few small changes to your habits you could start saving money right now. Check out these eleven great tips for saving money at home and add yours in the comments!

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1. Buy Gift Cards on eBay.

Love going out to eat? Do most of your shopping at a particular store? Do you know that you can shop eBay and find loads of people selling their old gift cards for a discount? In most cases you can save 10-20% off of the value of the gift card! In fact, I’ve got my eye on a few cards right now.

2. Use Coupon Websites.

If you’ve ever seen an episode of the TV show “Extreme Couponing,” you know just how incredible the savings can be when you shop with coupons. Tough work, you say? Coupon sites like Money Saving Mom can make saving with coupons a snap. There are also cash back sites like TopCashback, eBates, or Giving Assistant that can get you anywhere from 1% to 10% cash back on ordinary purchases that you make online. Not as hard as you thought, right?

3. Change Your Drinking Habits.

If your beverage of choice at home is a soda, you’re throwing money out the window every single time you open a can or bottle. Even more expensive than bottled soda is bottled water, which routinely costs 30% more than soda and about 20x as much as tap water. Do yourself a favor and stick with tap water. If you don’t trust your local drinking supply, a filter for your tap– or a filtered water pitcher– can still save you hundreds every year.

4. Use This Water-Saving Shower Trick.

We’ve all stood under the shower for what seems like an eternity, letting the warm water relax and soothe us. You just want to stay in the shower for hours. A money-saving technique I learned from One Good Thing by Jillee could cut your wasted water in half. Instead of standing under a running shower while you lather your hair and skin, simply use the water to wet and rinse yourself. By turning off the faucet while soaping up you can save gallons of water each time you shower.

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5. Set up Automatic Deposits into a Savings Account.

If you’ve looked at your bank account at the end of the month, you’ve probably asked yourself, “Where did all of my money go?” It’s easy to spend at the moment and leave nothing for later. If that’s true in your case you might need to “trick yourself” into saving money.

Try setting up automatic transfers to move $5, $10, or $20 at a time from your checking to your savings account throughout the month. In most cases, you won’t notice the money leaving your account until you see it begin to stack up in your savings at the end of the month! You could also try a service like Acorns, which rounds up each purchase you make and puts the extra money toward a stock portfolio of your choice.

6. Make Home Repairs.

You can save money by making small improvements to your home. Even simple changes like adding draft stoppers to your door or changing your furnace filter regularly can make a big difference, according to AC repair company Right Now Air. You should also consider installing low-flow faucets and/or toilets and adding more insulation to your home. The savings can add up big time throughout the year.

7. Unplug Appliances.

Are you familiar with the phrase “vampire power?” It’s your appliances using energy when they are not running but are left plugged in. Your television, phone charger, hair dryer, and laptop can all be unplugged when not in use, saving you money on your electric bill.

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8. Make Popcorn!

Have you ever noticed just how pricey your favorite brand of potato chips is? Despite the fact that potatoes are one of the cheapest commodities in the world, potato chips (and other salty snacks) can cost more money per pound than steak!

Instead of buying potato chips, try making popcorn at home. It’s cheap, simple, and can be flavored in dozens of different ways.

9. DIY Your Home Decor.

Buying expensive decorations at stores like Hobby Lobby or TJ Maxx (I love both but they’re pricey) can really hurt your bank account. Instead, find a great project on Pinterest and create these decorations yourself! You’ll cut the costs quite a bit and you will have a fun craft project to enjoy alone or with your family.

10. Ditch the Gym Membership.

An average gym membership can cost upward of $25 per month. That’s $300 in a year! Yowza. Save yourself a bundle by working out at home. YouTube is filled with an incredible number of workout guides that you can watch anytime, anywhere. My personal favorite is The Fitness Marshall.

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11. Cut the Cord.

If you’re still paying for a cable or satellite subscription, you’re missing out on huge savings. A membership to Netflix or Hulu will cost one-fifth the price of a satellite subscription and can provide just as many quality TV episodes and movies as your old dish or cable provider. Do yourself a favor and cut the cord.

Saving money doesn’t have to be boring, and it’s far from impossible. In fact, with these eleven simple tips you can start saving money right now without even leaving your house,

Leave a comment and let me know which tip you’re most excited to try!

Featured photo credit: 401(K) 2012/Flickr via flickr.com

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Jimmy Winskowski

Freelance Author

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Last Updated on January 2, 2019

How Personal Finance Software Helps You Get More Out of Your Money

How Personal Finance Software Helps You Get More Out of Your Money

Do you know what mental health experts point to as the biggest cause of stress in the United States today? If you said “money,” then ding, ding, we have a winner!

Three out of four adults today report feeling stressed out about money at least part of the time. People are either worried about not having enough money or whether they’re putting the money they do have to use in the best possible way.

Your money is either in charge of you or you’re in charge of it, there’s no middle ground. Using some type of personal finance software can help alleviate some of that money stress and better allow you to manage your money effectively. Without it, you may just be setting yourself up for constant financial worry. Life is already tough enough and there’s no need to make it more difficult by simply hoping your money issues will all work out in your favor. Hint: they won’t.

This guide will help you to understand how personal finance software can better assist with both accomplishing long term financial goals and managing day-to-day aspects of life.

Whether it’s tracking the savings plan for your child’s college fund or making sure you won’t be in the red with the month’s grocery budget, personal finance software keeps all this information in one convenient place.

What Exactly is Personal Finance Software?

Think of it like the dashboard in your car. You have a speedometer to tell you how fast you’re going, an odometer to tell you how far you’ve traveled, and then other gauges to tell you things like how much gas is in the tank and your engine temperature. Personal finance software is essentially the same thing for your money.

When you install this software on your computer, tablet, or smartphone, it helps to track your money — how much is going in, how much is going out, and its growth. Most personal finance software programs will display your budget, spending, investments, bills, savings accounts, and even retirement plans, levels of debt, and credit score.

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How It Leads to Financial Improvement

It shouldn’t come as a surprise, but people who regularly monitor their finances end up wealthier than those who don’t. When you were a kid, keeping track of all of your money in a porcelain piggy bank was pretty easy. As we get older, though, our money becomes spread out across things like car payments, mortgages, retirement funds, taxes, and other investments and debts. All of these things make keeping track of our money a lot more complicated.

Some types of personal finance software can help make things a little less complicated, setting you up to meet financial goals and taking away some of the stress associated with money.

Even if you already have a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) some type of personal finance software can be of great benefit. Whereas CFPs focus on the big picture of your money, they don’t handle the day-to-day aspects that determine your overall financial health.

It’s also not nearly as complicated as you might think and can take out a lot of the tedium that comes with doing everything on an Excel spreadsheet or with a pad and pencil.

Types of Personal Finance Software

When it comes to personal finance software, it generally fits into two categories: tax preparation and money management.

Tax preparation software such as Turbo Tax and H&R Block’s software can help with everything from filing income taxes to IRS rules and regulations and even estate plans. Plus, there’s the benefit of filing online and getting your refund check a lot faster than if you were to mail off your forms after waiting in line at the post office.

For the purpose of this article, however, will be focusing more on the personal finance software that aids with money management.

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Money management personal finance software will help you to see the health of your cash flow, pay down debt, forecast for expenses and savings, track investments, pay bills, and do a host of other things that 30 years ago would have practically required a team of accountants.

When to Use Personal Finance Software

So far we’ve gone over what exactly personal finance software is and how it can be a benefit to your money. The next logical step in this whole equation is determining when it should be used and how is the best way to go about getting started using it.

Below are four of the most common and practical ways to use personal finance software. If all or any of these apply to you and your money, then downloading some type of personal finance software is going to be a smart move.

1. You Have Multiple Accounts

There’s a good chance that when it comes to your money, it’s in more than one place. Sure, you probably have a checking account, but you may also have a savings account, money market account, and retirement accounts such as an IRA or 401k.

If you’re like the average American, you probably have two to three credit cards as well. Fifty percent of Americans also don’t have loyalty to just one bank and spread their money across multiple banks.

Rather than spending hours typing in every detail of every account you have into a spreadsheet, many programs allow you to easily import your account information. This will help to eliminate any mistakes and give you a bird’s eye view of everything at once.

2. You Want to Automate Some or All of Your Payments

Please don’t say that you’re still writing out paper checks and dropping each bill in the mailbox. While it’s noble that you’re doing your part to keep postal workers employed, we’re 18 years into the 21st century and you can literally pay every bill online now.

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There’s no need to log into every account you have and type in your routing number either.

With personal finance software you can schedule automatic payments and transfers between all of your imported accounts. Automatic transfers will help to make sure you have the necessary funds in the right account to ensure all bills are paid on the appropriate date. Late fees are annoying and do nothing but cost you money. It’s time that you said goodbye to them once and for all.

3. You Need to Streamline Your Budget

Perhaps the best feature of personal finance software is that it allows you track everything going in and out of your virtual wallet.

Nearly every brand of personal finance software out there has easy-to-read graphs and charts that allow you track every cent you spend or earn, should you choose. You might be pretty amazed when you see just how much you spent on eating out last month or if you splurged a little more than you should have on Christmas gifts last year.

Every successful business on the planet has a budget and using personal finance software can help you trim the fat on your spending in ways that affect your everyday life.

4. You Have Specific Goals to Meet

Maybe it’s paying off debt or saving for up something like a European vacation. Whatever your financial goal is, whether it’s long-term or short-term, personal finance software programs are one of the savviest ways to go about reaching those goals.

You can do everything from set spending alerts to notify you when you’re over budget to automating what percentage of your paycheck goes to things like retirement investments. The personal finance software that you choose should show you exactly how close you are to hitting those goals at any given time.

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How to Get Started

From AceMoney to Mint and Quicken, there ’s no shortage of personal finance software apps out there. Many of these programs are free to download and will allow you to pay bills, invest, monitor your net worth and credit profile, and even get a loan with the swipe of a finger.

Other programs may only offer you limited services and will require a one-time fee or subscription to unlock all that they offer. These fees can often vary from as little as two dollars to 50 bucks a month.

It’s best to start off with the free version and then gauge whether you’re able to accomplish everything you’d like or if it’s worth exploring one of the paid options. Often times the subscription programs come with assistance from financial planning and investment experts — so that can be a real benefit.

When deciding which personal finance software program to use, it’s also important to look at how many accounts you wish to monitor. Certain programs limit the number of accounts you can add. Be sure that if you have checking, credit card, and investment accounts to monitor, that you choose a service that can monitor them all.

Finally, when looking around for the right personal finance software that meets your needs, make sure that you’re comfortable with the program’s interface. It shouldn’t be expected that you recognize every single feature instantly, but if the features don’t seem readable and manageable to you, then you’re not as likely to use it and get the full benefits.

Final Thoughts

Personal finance software can go a long way in helping you to take control of your money and meeting your financial goals. It’s important to note, however, that some focus more on budgeting and expense tracking while others prioritize investing portfolios and income taxes. Explore several different programs and read reviews to find the one that’s right for you.

In this day and age, managing one’s personal finances in a secure manner that allows the user to have a real-time visual representation of their money is easier than ever before. With the numerous applications that are out there — both free and subscription-based — there’s no reason that every person can’t take control of their money and ensure they’re making smart money moves.

Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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