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Has this ever happened to you?
Yesterday, I looked down at my hands (my fingernails, in particular) and realized that I have wasted over $6,000 on French manicures and pedicures over the last ten years.
Sometimes it takes a dose of cold reality to make you realize that it’s time to save money.
For the past decade, I’ve been spending upwards of $50 a month on my nails. And somehow I haven’t given it a second thought until now.
Fortunately, I’ve been working extra hard over the past year to fix my finances and make up for my not-so-awesome spending habits.
Here’s What I Did to Save Money ($6,000) in One Year
Whether you want to buy 10 years worth of manicures, save for a tropical vacation, or just put money away for retirement, these tips should help you save money. Something we can all do a bit better job of!
Here are my top 8 money making and saving tips that put that $6,000 back into my bank account within one year.
1. I made money whenever I was on a Netflix binge (so, often)
When I first heard of paid online surveys, I was skeptical. But then once I figured out that I could knock out a few while mindlessly watching Netflix, I was hooked.
Imagine getting paid cash to answer a few questions about yourself. Pretty cool, right? There are a lot of survey sites popping up, but my personal favorite right now is Inbox Dollars.
Some online survey companies give you points, but Inbox Dollars pays in cash. Plus, you can even get paid to videos, read your email, shop on Groupon or try free samples.
Yes, you read that right. Inbox Dollars will pay you to try free stuff! Mind. Blown.
Other DollarSprout recommended survey sites:
• Swagbucks ($5 Signup Bonus)
• Vindale Research ($2 Signup Bonus)
You won’t get rich from taking surveys, but they are a great way to make some extra cash in your downtime.
2. I started using this to save money every time I shop online
If you shop online at all (and who doesn’t?), you absolutely have to check out Ebates. One of my coworkers referred me to this site, and I feel like I must have been living under a rock my entire life because Ebates is the only way I shop now.
With Ebates, I’m able to earn up to 10% cash back on online purchases for things I was going to buy anyway. Best part is, signing up is free.
Here’s how Ebates works:
When you sit down to do some online shopping, sign into your Ebates account first. Once you are logged in, you just click which store you want to shop at. And then just shop like normal! After you make a purchase, you will see your cash back appear in your Ebates account.
Almost all the major brands I love participate in the program. Plus, Ebates often sponsors promotional events where they’ll double your cash back. My coworker gets over $100 cash back every quarter, and I’m proud to say that I’m catching up!
If a store I want to shop at happens to not be available through Ebates, I make sure to check and see if the store is on Swagbucks. I mostly use Swagbucks for the paid surveys and games, but their cash back program is pretty solid, too.
Between these two sites, I’m pretty much guaranteed to get money back on (almost) all of my online shopping. Win!
3. I opened up a new bank account to help me save money
As I got more serious in my quest to save money, I knew I needed a place other than my checking account to keep my hard earned dollars. I needed a new bank account.
But not just any bank account.
I knew I needed to open a high interest savings account so my money could grow.
I had heard from a friend that online savings accounts were the way to go, since the fees tend to be lower (and the interest rates higher) than traditional brick-and-mortar banks. So I decided to look into it a bit more.
That’s when I found Discover Bank, and saw that they actually pay more than 0.0001% interest (woohoo!). In fact, their annual percentage yield (APY) is several times higher than the national average. Finally, an incentive to keep money in the bank!
Plus, no minimum opening deposit and no monthly fees are two huge perks that were surprisingly hard to come by with other banks.
With my money out of arms reach and growing faster than if it were in a regular checking account, I was set.
December 2017 Update: The DollarSprout squad has recently started testing out a new tool called Rize that links up to our bank accounts and automates our savings. So far we’re digging it … you can read our full review here.
4. I put my extra money to good use
If you really want to speed up the effect of compound interest, beyond just a savings account, consider becoming an investor with Lending Club.
By investing with Lending Club, your money goes towards issuing different types of loans that help people get out of debt, start businesses, get auto loans and finance medical care.
And, of course, the more you can set aside for your fund, the more money you can potentially make.
When I first started my business I used Lending Club as a borrower, and now I’m enjoying the rewards (both spiritually and financially) of giving back.
5. I rented out a room in my condo with Airbnb
I first discovered the magic of Airbnb a few years ago when there was a huge convention in town and all the hotel rooms in my city were sold out. My next-door neighbor had been renting out her condo on a semi-regular basis, and when I finally noticed, I got the skinny on how the whole Airbnb thing works.
While it’s definitely not for the faint of heart (I had to get my leaky shower fixed before I felt comfortable leaving my condo unattended), I was shocked to find out that I could rent out my little 2-bedroom condo for over $200 per night. In peak times, that number could double or even triple.
Using what you already have to make extra money is a great way to save money!
Now I escape town during big events (and holidays) and turn my condo into cash. It’s a fun excuse to take road trips with friends, visit my family or take a much-needed vacation. All expenses paid!
6. I joined a weight loss challenge
Even if you only have a few pounds to shed, you can still earn money by losing weight. It’s a really fun exercise (ha, I made a pun!), and a good team building experience that promotes accountability.
Researchers say that financial incentives and games help people achieve their weight loss goals faster than using sheer individual willpower alone. Speaking from experience, I couldn’t agree more!
Be sure to check out our HealthyWage review if you are interested in giving it a go! They also offer individual weight loss bets if you don’t have a team.
7. I decluttered my house and sold a bunch of old stuff
If you look around your house, especially that crowded closet of yours, I can guarantee there are valuable items sitting around unused. Heck, even stuff that you think is junk is worth something to someone.
There are oodles of free apps you can download to expedite your decluttering process. In fact, one of them is even called Decluttr. My favorite thing about the Decluttr app is that you can simply scan any item that has a barcode using your smartphone and get an immediate offer.
Once you accept the offer, they’ll send you a prepaid postage envelope you can use to ship your items. One day after your items arrive, you’ll get paid. It really doesn’t get any easier than that!
Now let’s tackle that beautiful mess of material you call a closet. I’ve tried just about every online platform for selling my new and gently used clothes. My two favorites are Poshmark and eBay. The community aspect of Poshmark is nice, but eBay has a larger user base which means you can sell your clothes a lot faster.
8. I fired my personal trainer to save money
I found an app that will change your life and save you tons of dough. It’s called Aaptiv, and it’s basically an army of personal trainers that live on your smartphone. For $9.99 month, you have access to a giant library of workouts that are updated regularly.
There are guided workouts for everything from outdoor running, treadmill running, strength training, elliptical, yoga, meditation and more.
They’ve even divided workouts into categories of beginner, intermediate and advanced. I’ve definitely found a few favorite trainers who motivate me to do my best and make my workouts much more exciting.
And while I still technically have my gym membership, I did happily cancel that $120-a-month yoga studio fee.
Get access to Aaptiv’s extensive library of workouts free for 30 days.
There isn’t one simple trick to save money
The biggest thing I learned from saving so much money over the past year is that it isn’t just one thing that you need to do. For me, I was able to save over $6,000 by doing a lot of small things that added up over time.
Maybe you’re more likely to save money if it’s in the format of a challenge. If that’s the case, be sure to check out our 21 Day Money Saving Challenge.
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