Learn The Proven Strategies To Save More Money In Your Life
The simple truth is, most people waste money in all areas of their life. But the real truth is, most people don't know where to start to optimize their spending.
I don't believe that you need to cut out everything and be miserable. Instead, spend money on what matters to you, stop wasting money on the stuff that doesn't matter, and earn more money to fill in the difference.
What I want you to do below is go through every category and look for a way to save. But it all starts with being organize. I share my strategy and tools here, but make sure that you're using my top tools below to get started.
Must Use Personal Finance Tools
The #1 factor that creates financial success is organization. How can you save money or improve your finances if you simply don't know where your money is going. As such, we insist that everyone use one of the following two free tools:
This free money management tool allows you to connect your accounts and see your net worth, spending, transactions, and investments.
We use it, and recommend it for anyone who invests because of it's great portfolio tracking features.
This free money management tool is designed for budgeting and cash flow management as well as net worth tracking and other great features.
It also allows you to connect all your accounts, monitor your spending, but isn't as robust when it comes to investment management.
Everyone needs a free checking and savings account. You should be doing the majority of your banking from your free checking account, and then using your free savings account to earn interest on your short term savings. Consider your savings account a short term investment.
Free Checking Accounts
We have two favorites for free checking. And I'm talking about truly free checking - free online banking, no fees, free ATM withdraws, etc.
We love USAA because they offer a truly free checking solution. It's what we use, and it's what we recommend. They have a great app and mobile banking, and no fees. Sign up for a USAA Checking Account here.
BBVA Compass Bank
BBVA is a new-comer for free checking, but we love that they offer truly free checking, no ATM fees, free mobile banking, and more with just a $25 minimum. Sign up for a BBVA Checking Account here.
Best Savings Accounts
We consider these some of the best savings accounts because they offer some of the highest yields (i.e. interest on your money), while charging no monthly fees.
Best CD Accounts
If you are looking to earn more interest, and are okay with "locking" up your money for a period of time, consider a Certificate of Deposit, or CD.
Credit cards are both great and horrible. They are great if used properly – they help build credit and provide rewards. They are horrible if you abuse them and get yourself into debt.
So, if you're planning on using your credit card responsibly, you can use them to save money and earn rewards. Here are our favorite credit cards for each scenario.
Best Credit Cards For Travelers
If you plan on traveling and using travel rewards, there are credit cards that can really maximize the value of your travel. The cards below do have annual fees, but the rewards you can get are definitely worth it.
The Platinum Card® from American Express
- Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
- Up to $200 Uber Savings Annually - just link your card as a payment method in the Uber app.
- 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
- As a Platinum Card Member, you can enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
- $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 a year in baggage fees and more at one airline.
Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card
- Enjoy a one-time bonus of 40,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $400 in travel
- Earn unlimited 2X miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
- Fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime
Best Student Credit Cards
If you're a student, you might not have great credit yet, or you might simply have a limited credit history. Check out this article for the full list of the best credit cards for students. Our top pick is:
- Get a dollar-for-dollar match of all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically.
- Earn 5% cash back in rotating categories each quarter like Amazon.com, restaurants, ground transportation and more, up to the quarterly maximum each time you activate. This can be awesome to get rewards for textbook shopping online.
- Good Grades Rewards: $20 cash back each school year your GPA is 3.0 or higher for up to the next 5 years.
Getting Out Of Debt
Debt is one of the most expensive things in most people's lives. Here is our top strategies to get out of debt, and our top tools to use.
First, you have to know where you stand with your debt. We recommend using a free tool like Credit Karma to track your debt and help you plan to pay it off.
Knowing Your Debt
I'm always surprised by how little people know about their debt. If you have Federal student loan debt, you can find your debt at the National Student Loan Data System.
If you have private student loans, you can check your credit report for free (once a year) at AnnualCreditReport.com. On the report, you can see all your debts listed - Federal loans, private loans, credit card debt, and more.
Once you know your debt and get organized, you can start to take action.
Lowering Your Debt Payments
There are a couple steps you can take to lower your debt payments.
Specifically, for Federal student loans, you can change your repayment plan. We break down the steps to lower your student loan payment here: 5 Ways To Lower Your Student Loan Payment.
For private loans or PLUS loans, you can potentially lower your payments by refinancing the debt. We break it down here, but you can check in 2 minutes or less to see if refinancing makes sense at Credible. Without doing a credit check, you can see what potential rates you'd qualify for, and see if it makes sense to proceed. As a bonus, College Investor readers can get $200 for refinancing with Credible!
For credit cards, there are two main options. First, you could look at getting a 0% balance transfer credit card and using the time at 0% to pay down as much debt as possible. This works well if you have less than about $5,000 in debt, and can pay it off before the 0% expires. We compare the best balance transfer credit cards here.
A second option would be to get a personal loan that you could use to consolidate and pay off the high interest credit card debt. Paying off debt is one of the best uses of a personal loan. Credible also has a great personal loan comparison tool here.
Insurance is another area that people waste money on every month. I'm not saying that insurance is a waste of money - I'm saying that most people don't shop around and get the best deal for their insurance.
If you haven't shopped around for insurance lately, take 5 minutes and shop around now.
Auto insurance prices change all the time. Use this quick comparison tool and see if you can save.
If you rent an apartment, live in the dorms, or even share a room, you need to have renters insurance. This protects your stuff should anything happen - and it's really cheap! Learn more about why college students need renters insurance.
We recommend comparing two options:
Allstate offers renters insurance for as low as $4 per month. Allstate also offers other insurance options like auto, which could potentially lower your renters insurance bill to essentially free. Get a free quote online here.
Liberty Mutual offers renters insurance options for less than $1 per day. You can choose various options to meet your needs. It's quick an easy to get a quote. Check them out online and get a quote here.
If you're a homeowner, your mortgage is probably your largest expense each month. And while a portion of that is going to build equity, unless you're at the end of your loan term, a larger chunk of money is going towards interest each month.
One of the best things you can do to save money on your mortgage is refinance. We break down if it makes sense to refinance your home here, but one of the biggest driving factors is simply the interest rate. If you can save on your interest rate, it usually makes sense to refinance.
Check out these rates here, or compare at LendingTree and see if you can get a great interest rate on a mortgage: