Here are a few tools to help you budget and save so you waste less of the money you’re working so hard to earn and save. No worries though — no envelopes of cash or long hours spent tracking receipts here!
Call it a personal banking hack if you want to. I mean, it’s not like you’re taking other people’s money! You’re simply maximizing your own. Here’s how:
1. Start investing with Clink for as little as $1 (but get $5 back!)
Feel intimidated by the thought of investing? Start with Clink!
Clink is a free, easy-to-use mobile app that provides a simple, straightforward way to invest and grow your savings. All you do is sign up, link your account, determine your monthly spend, pick you risk level and let them do the rest. You can literally watch your money grow while you eat! Plus, get a free $5 bonus just for downloading and setting up your account.
Even better, get another $5 for every friend you refer—up to $100. Just use code: KCL2017.
2. YNAB app tracks your spending for increased accountability.
Do you want to stop being stressed about money? You can save $200 the first month, and $3300 by month nine. YNAB is simple and makes it easy for you and your partner to budget together. Enter your receipts or download transactions from your bank, and everything syncs across devices in real-time, allowing you to be in control and ready to make better decisions together as a team. But it’s hard to change a lifetime of bad money habits, huh?! You can get support from YNAB through free online classes, podcasts and the YNAB YouTube channel. Sign up for a free 34-day trial. (Plus, YNAB is free for students!)
3. Bank of America’s Keep the Change program rounds up every purchase for your nest egg.
Let Bank of America make it easy for you to sock away pennies and dimes. Open a checking and savings account with Bank of America’s Keep the Change Program, and when you use your debit card, the bank will round every purchase you make up to the nearest dollar and transfer the difference to your savings account for you. This means if you buy a meal at Red Robin and spend $43.15, you’ll be charged $44, and the bank transfers the extra $0.85 from your checking account to your savings. Think of it like a virtual jar you toss your change into after every purchase.
4. Track where your money goes + refine your spending habits with Virtual Wallet.
Virtual Wallet is a checking account with an easy-to-use way to manage your money. Where YNAB is a straight budgeting tool you’d use with your existing bank account, Virtual Wallet is like a fresh spin on checking and savings.
It boasts features like the Calendar to get a big-picture view of where you need to spend and save for the month. Danger Day alerts are overdraft warnings that show up on your calendar when your budgeted spending is about to exceed your budgeted income. You can create a rule to have Virtual Wallet transfer a set amount from your paycheck to savings, and you can create saving goals.
You need $25 to open an account, and if you keep at least a $500 balance in your account or you have a direct deposit set up totaling $500 per month, there’s no monthly charge. Otherwise, it’s a $7/month charge. Earn between .05% and .1% interest per year, depending on your balance.
Use Virtual Wallet instead of your traditional checking account, and see if maybe you’re able to save a bit more than usual.
5. Invest for free with Stash.
Stash is another investment app for beginners. You can start an investment portfolio that would normally need thousands of dollars to begin. You can customize your portfolio based on your preferences and learn to invest as you go. Ultimately, getting started somewhere with investing is key. This is a great place to begin.
Normally it costs $5 to get started, but Stash gives Krazy Couponers that $5 back when you sign up through this link.
6. Citi Double Cash Credit Card pays you 2% cash back on every purchase you pay off in the same month!
If your credit can hang with applying for a credit card, consider getting a card like the Citi Double Cash Card, and then every time you earn cash rewards, put them in your savings! I’d never recommend a credit card unless you were planning to pay off the balance every single month without fail.
I like the Citi Double Cash Card because you get 1% back on purchases and then another 1% back for paying off your purchases. So you’re basically getting an added reward for doing what you’re already doing—paying that sucker off every month! Plus it doesn’t cost you money sitting in your wallet.
There’s a 0% annual fee and 0% APR (the kind of interest that costs you!) for 18 months. The APR doesn’t matter, though, because you’ll be paying your balance every month! There are a lot of great credit card rewards programs. Just remember to find one with terms you can live with and rewards you adore.
7. Business owners use PayPal Business Debit Mastercard to get 1% cash back without a credit card.
There used to be so many debit reward cards. Those were the days! (Moment of silence.)
Unfortunately, due to changing government regulations, they’re just not offered very much anymore. This debit card is available for business owners, which may not be you, but if so, I recommend you earn all you can with the PayPal Business Debit card.
Especially if you’re an independent contractor and looking for any break you can get in your business expenses. You can earn 1% cash back, and there’s no annual fee!
Love ya, Dave Ramsey, but I hate—nope, I loathe—using the cash envelope system for sticking to my budget.
The reason? I like to make online purchases! And it’s totally impossible to shop online deals with my cash envelope. Enter Bluebird and Rush Card. Honestly, prepaid debit cards have a bad reputation for fees, fees, and more fees.
So be very careful you read fine print if you sign up for one! Bluebird has no annual or monthly fees. The only thing they charge a fee for is to use an ATM, so if you do need cash often, this may not be the best way to go. Bluebird is an American Express card, so they may not be accepted at as many places as RushCard, which is by Visa. RushCard gets you your paycheck up to two days sooner, but the downside is so. many. fees.
9. Avoid nasty transfer fees when you use Square Cash to transfer money to loved ones.
Send and receive money immediately from your mobile phone. It’s honestly as easy as sending a text message.
I can think of so many scenarios where Square Cash is awesome. At the restaurant with friends and don’t want to mess with getting separate checks? One person pays and everyone else uses Square Cash to reimburse them.
Your daughter just moved away to college and found herself in a bind? Square Cash to the rescue. Or maybe you simply have a friend who owes you some money and keeps forgetting to pay you. Make it easy for them—send them a request to transfer the money to you through Square Cash.
Collect money people owe you without having to ask them face-to-face if that’s your preference. All for free. If you make a lot of transfers to other people or you drive to the bank to deposit money for others frequently, save yourself a few dollars per transaction using Square Cash.
10. Try out TurboTax’s W-4 Withholding Calculator to double check that you’re getting the most out of your paycheck.
This really just comes down to preference, but I’d rather get as much of my paycheck as possible than let the US government hold it and then return it to me.
This way, I get the chance to earn interest on it and then I pay my taxes like any other bill in the spring. In order to get this right, I use a W-4 withholding calculator to be sure I’m doing all I can to get that money in my paycheck. If you’d rather get a tax return than pay taxes, more power to you! But still check your withholding to be sure it’s correct.
11. Set up an automatic transfer from checking to savings on a monthly basis if you want more accountability to save.
I’ve done this for years—even when money was tighter than normal. My bank transfers $25 every month to my savings account. If certain months are super tight, you can usually transfer it back to checking. But think of how quickly that adds up when you don’t touch it!
12. Digit analyzes your spending habits and decides how much you can afford to set aside for savings.
What if things are just super tight for a few weeks one month and you’re nervous about that set amount being transferred from checking to savings? Enter Digit. The Digit app analyzes both your spending habits and your income in order to decide daily if there are a few dollars you won’t miss. The genius of Digit lies in its ability to choose to either sock away a few dollars for you when you have the cash in your checking account, or skip a day if you’re a bit tight. Plus, if you need to put money from your Digit account back into checking, it’s just a text message away.
13. Slice keeps track of all your online spending, tells you when to request price adjustments, and tracks your packages.
When it comes to price adjustments alone, I love and recommend Paribus, because I don’t actually have to request the adjustment–Paribus does it all. But Slice shines when it comes to tracking your online spending. You can tell where your money is going. It’s so easy to make impulse buys when all you do is click a few buttons online! Having the Slice app might help you stick to your budget. You’ll get an alert when it’s time to request a price adjustment. (Or go with Paribus to get price adjustments automatically.)
How do you make the most of the money you already have on hand? Share your “money hacks” in the “Comments”!
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