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Banking

The Best Ways to Send Money Online

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

Sending money online is no longer exotic. It’s actually a simple and hassle-free way to send dollars to that friend who bought you lunch yesterday, pay a freelance artist for designing your small business logo or purchase that robot-themed necklace on Etsy. And today, consumers have more options when they want to send money online, from well-known services, such as a PayPal and Google Pay Send, to newer options, such as Venmo and Zelle.

These services let you send money to friends, family members, businesses, contractors and freelancers — basically anyone who’s waiting for a payment from you. By sending money online, you eliminate the need to provide recipients with your credit card information, you don’t have to worry about writing checks and you won’t have to scramble to find an ATM to withdraw cash.

The big question: Which service should you use to send money online?

Not surprisingly, the answer varies depending on whom you are paying and what you are buying. Here’s a quick look at some of the more popular ways to send money online and the pros of each service.

Best to send money online to friends and family

Venmo

Send money online via Venmo
Image source: iTunes

You can use Venmo on your mobile device to pay for items on your own, or split up payments among your friends and family members. You can also use Venmo to deposit money in your bank account, make purchases through several apps and pay for items in physical stores.

To use the service, you’ll need to create an account with Venmo first, either through the Venmo’s app or on its website. You can then link your Venmo account with your bank account, and debit or credit cards. This way, you won’t have to add any money to your Venmo account to make purchases.

Features: Venmo’s biggest advantage is its flexibility. You can send money to people through Venmo by using the recipient’s email address or phone number. If these people already have Venmo accounts, the money will be transferred automatically. If a recipient does not have an account, they’ll first need to create a Venmo account to accept your payment.

Downside: It’s usually free to send money through Venmo. But if you use your credit card to send money to a recipient, you will pay a fee equal to 3% of the amount you send.

There are limits to how much money you can send through the service, too. Before Venmo verifies your identity, you can spend and send as much as $299.99 per week. Once Venmo verifies your identity, you can send a maximum of $2,999.99 each week in payments to recipients.

Zelle

Image source: iTunes

Zelle works much like Venmo, allowing you to send money to anyone whose email or phone number you know. However, you don’t have to download a separate app to use Zelle. Instead, many of the biggest banks across the country embed Zelle within their online banking platforms as a service to their consumers.

Some of the banks that already use Zelle include Associated Bank, Chase, Citi, Fifth Third Bank, Bank of America and SunTrust. If you bank with Chase, for example, then you simply send money through your Chase app. But if your bank does not offer Zelle, you still can use the service by downloading the Zelle app.

Features: If your bank or credit union offers Zelle, you can use the service to send money to anyone who has a bank account in the United States. If your bank does not offer Zelle, and you are using the Zelle app on your own, then the people you send money to must have Zelle through their bank or credit union.

Fees are a positive feature. Zelle does not charge consumers anything to send money. Zelle, though, does recommend that users check with their personal bank or credit union to make sure that these institutions don’t charge any fees.

Zelle is fast, too. If you send money to someone who already has access to Zelle, the money should show up in that person’s bank account in minutes. If you send money to someone who is not yet enrolled in Zelle, it will take from one to three business days for the money to show up.

Downside: You might be limited with Zelle according to your bank’s policies. As Zelle says, to determine how much money you can send each week through the service, you’ll need to check with your bank or credit union. If your financial institution doesn’t offer Zelle, you can send a maximum of just $500 a week with the service.

Zelle also doesn’t let you use a credit card to send money. You will need to connect the service with a bank account or debit card.

Google Pay Send

Image source: Google App Store

 

Like its competitors, Google Pay lets you send money to people by using their name, email address or phone number. You might remember this service as Google Pay. Last year, though, Google added the “Send” part of the name to signify that the service now combines the features of Google Wallet and Android Pay.

To send money online, you’ll need to link Google Pay Send to your bank account or debit card. Then, when you make a payment, the money is taken from these linked accounts. To get started with the service, you can sign in to pay.google.com on your computer or you can download the mobile app.

Features: Google Pay Send is completely free to use. The service is fast, too. Google says that linking Google Pay to a debit card results in the fastest transactions, usually within minutes. However, linking to a bank account can result in slower transactions. Google says it can take as long as five business days for the funds to be withdrawn from your account.

Downside: You are somewhat limited in how you can send money with Google Pay Send. You can use your debit card and bank account to send money through the service. You cannot, however, use credit cards or PayPal to send money through Google Pay Send.

There are limits, too, on how much you can send with Google Pay Send. You can send a maximum of only $10,000 in a single transaction, and as much as $10,000 altogether in a seven-day period. In addition, if you want to send someone more than $2,500 in a single transaction, then the recipient must add a bank account in order to receive the funds.

Cash App

Image source: iTunes

The Cash App is offered through Square. To use it, download the app onto your phone. To send money through the service, you’ll have to link it to either a debit card, credit card or the funds already available in your Cash App.

When you send the money, you’ll enter the recipient’s name or mobile phone number. The recipients receive an email or text telling them that they’ve received cash.

Features: It’s easy to send money through this app at no charge. You just can’t use a credit card. Sending money with your debit card or Cash App balance is always free. Sending money through a credit card, though, costs 3% of the amount of money you are sending.

Downside: There are limits to how much you can send through Cash App. If you send more than $250 in one week, Cash App will ask you to verify your name, date of birth and Social Security number. If you provide this information, you can then send as much as $2,500 in a week.

Best for business transactions or purchasing items online

PayPal

Image source: iTunes

PayPal might be the best known of all the platforms to send money online. And it’s easy to use via your computer or phone. You create a free account and then link it to your bank account, credit card or debit card. To send money online, you enter your recipient’s email address or mobile phone number.

PayPal then notifies recipients that they have received money. This money is directly deposited into their own PayPal accounts. If recipients don’t have an account, they are prompted to open one.

Features: You won’t have to pay to send money with PayPal as long the money is coming from your PayPal balance or bank account. However, you will be charged if your payment is funded by a credit card or debit card. PayPal has a particularly far reach, too. You can use PayPal to send money to recipients across the globe.

Downside: The biggest downside to using PayPal to send money online? It comes down to fees. If you fund your payment with a debit card or credit card, you’ll be charged a fee equal to 2.9% of the amount you are sending. You might also be charged a separate fixed fee depending on the currency of the transaction. If you are sending U.S. dollars, you’ll be charged an additional fee of $0.30.

The recipients of your funds also might need to pay fees. But, recipients won’t pay any fees when you send them money through PayPal’s friends or family option. However, if you send someone money for goods or services provided — which PayPal considers a commercial transaction — then that person must pay 3.4% plus $0.30 if you are making a domestic payment with PayPal’s standard rates. If you are sending an international payment, recipients from most countries must pay 3.9% plus $0.30 to receive the funds if you are sending in U.S. dollars.

Best for sending money abroad

TransferWise

TransferWise allows you to send international payments online, after you set up an account. To do this, you must first set up an actual payment through your account. When you do this, you enter how much you want to send and the recipient’s bank details. When it’s time to send your payment, you have the option of specifying how you want to pay.

Features: TransferWise allows you to pay in several ways. You can pay directly from your bank account, with a debit card or a credit card, or through an Automated Clearing House (ACH) service. Sending money internationally can get complicated when it comes to fees and exchange rates. But TransferWise will tell you the fees upfront when you set up your payment.

When it comes to exchange rates, TransferWise always charges the mid-market rate. It will also tell you the exchange rate it is charging when you set up your payment.

Downside: It’s not especially cheap to send money through TransferWise. TransferWise charges a fee of 0.6% of the amount you send plus $1.

Western Union

Western Union allows you to send money to more than 200 countries and territories. You can send this money online or by visiting a physical Western Union location. You can send money to recipients’ bank accounts directly online by using your credit card or debit card. You can also do this by transferring money from your bank account.

How long it takes for your money to arrive will vary according to your destination. Western Union says that you’ll be able to see these various arrival times as you enter your payment details.

Features: Western Union does make it easy to pay. You may download the Western Union app to start the payment process, or visit the company online to send payments. However, if you would like an agent to handle the transaction for you, then you can send money from more than 500,000 Western Union locations across the globe, and 43,000 in the U.S. alone.

Downside: You will have to pay to send money through Western Union. For instance, Western Union says it costs $5 to send a maximum of $500. You will, though, have to check what the fees might be for sending specific amounts to specific locations.

There are also limits on how much you can send through Western Union. When sending online, you can send a maximum of $2,999 per money transfer. If you are sending a transfer through Western Union’s mobile app, you can send as much as $500 per transfer.

MoneyGram

MoneyGram is another big player in the transfer business. This service also allows you to send money to overseas recipients either online or by visiting a MoneyGram location. With MoneyGram, you can send money directly to a recipient’s bank account or mobile wallet.

To send money online, you may pay with a credit card, debit card or directly from your bank account. You will need to tell MoneyGram to whom you are sending money and how this person wants to receive the funds.

Features: The biggest plus of MoneyGram is its flexibility. You can find in-person locations if you prefer to speak with a representative by visiting this page. MoneyGram offers you as many options to send money internationally as it does domestically.

Downside: You will have to pay fees to send funds through MoneyGram. How much depends on the amount you send and where you are sending it. For instance, if you want to send $1,000 to a recipient in Australia, it will cost you $32. If you want to send $500 directly to the bank account of someone in Great Britain, it will cost you $7.

You can estimate your fees before you send money here.

As with some of the other services, there are limits as to how much you can send online. MoneyGram says that you can send a maximum of $6,000 in most countries for every single online transfer. You can also send a maximum of $6,000 in most countries every 30 days.

How to send money online safely

Sending money online is convenient. But you do have to be careful. There are opportunities for scammers. The most common scams are when criminals try to trick you into sending them money online. Be sure to carefully read the fraud protection programs offered by these services. They do vary by provider.

MoneyGram provides a useful list of some of the most common scams criminals use to trick people into sending them money online. For example, scammers might call you, saying that they are from the Internal Revenue Service, and asking that you send them money to pay taxes that you owe. Others might say that they are from the Federal Trade Commission and they need you to send a payment so that they can refund you money from a legal settlement.

The bottom line? Don’t ever send money online to someone who calls you. And never send money online to someone you don’t know or trust adequately.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Dan Rafter
Dan Rafter |

Dan Rafter is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Dan here

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Banking

U.S. Bank vs. Chase: Which is Better?

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

Choosing the right bank for you means balancing different wants and needs. Folks who are intent on earning the highest interest rates possible might want to look toward online banks or credit unions, which tend to offer higher rates. On the other hand, big national banks like U.S. Bank and Chase offer more extensive services and a face-to-face banking experience.

When it comes to U.S. Bank vs. Chase, there’s no one right answer. However, by examining the most important factors — reputation, location, rates, account options and fees — we can help you decide whether U.S. Bank or Chase Bank will help you make the most of your money.

U.S. Bank vs. Chase: A brief overview

U.S. Bank and Chase are both large national banks with longstanding reputations; according to the Federal Reserve, Chase is the largest bank in the country, and U.S. Bank is the fifth largest.

In terms of accessibility, Chase has nearly twice as many branch locations as U.S. Bank and almost four times as many ATM locations. Both banks have middle-of-the-line customer reviews: U.S. Bank is ranked two-and-a-half stars out of five on DepositAccounts, another LendingTree subsidiary, while Chase has three stars out of five.

Finally, when it comes to comparing U.S. Bank vs. Chase rates and fees, the two banks are similar, though U.S. Bank tends to charge slightly lower fees.

U.S. Bank vs. Chase: How they compare on rates

Neither U.S. Bank nor Chase presents a clear advantage when it comes to rates. They have the same rates on their basic savings account, and their CD rates fluctuate, with the better deal depending on which CD product you’re after.

When compared to rates offered by online banks, both U.S. Bank and Chase fall far behind in this category.

 U.S. BankChaseNational Average***
Checking*NoneNone0.198% APY
Savings**0.01% APY0.01% APY0.281% APY
1-year CD0.10% APY0.02% APY on balances of $0.01 to $99,999.99

0.05% APY on balances of $100,000 or higher
1.324% APY
5-year CD0.75% APY1.40% APY on balances of $0.01 to $9,999.99

1.50% APY on balances of $10,000 to $99,999.99

1.55% APY on balances of $100,000 or higher
2.078% APY
*U.S. Bank Easy Checking Account and Chase Total Checking Account
**U.S. Bank Standard Savings Account and Chase Savings Account
***National bank averages are accurate as of the publish date of this article

U.S. Bank vs. Chase: What account options are available?

You’ll find most of the same account options at both U.S. Bank and Chase. Both banks offer non-interest bearing checking accounts and basic savings accounts, as well as a range of other checking and savings options, including premium accounts that earn higher rates and student accounts. U.S. Bank offers five different checking account options to choose from, while Chase has three choices.

You’ll also find a range of CD options at both banks, starting at 1-month CDs and including several CD specials with higher rates. However, U.S. Bank only offers up to 60-month CDs while Chase offers up to 120-month CDs. As of the date of publishing, Chase does have a $1,000 minimum opening deposit requirement on CDs, whereas U.S. Bank only requires $500.

The one major difference in product offerings is money market accounts, which are an option at U.S. Bank but not at Chase.

 U.S. BankChase

Checking account

Savings account

Certificates of deposit

Money market account

U.S. Bank vs. Chase: How they stack up on fees

The most important factor to consider when choosing a checking or savings account, according to Ken Tumin, founder of LendingTree-owed company DepositAccounts.com, is fees, and how easy it is to avoid them. He advised considering not only your present situation, but the future as well. “Sometimes you can afford a fee waiver with a direct deposit, but what if you lose your job?” he said.

Both U.S. Bank and Chase charge monthly service fees on their standard checking and savings accounts that can be waived. While U.S. Bank’s fees are slightly lower than Chase’s, you might have an easier time getting the monthly fees waived on Chase’s accounts (more on that below).

Another fee that Tumin recommends paying attention to is ATM fees. While both banks charge the same fee for out-of-network ATMs within the U.S., Chase charges more for ATM usage outside of the U.S. However, Tumin explains that it’s important to consider how big your bank’s ATM network is, because in-network ATMs are free. Chase has a much larger ATM network than U.S. Bank.

 U.S. BankChase
Standard checking account$6.95 monthly fee, waivable$12 monthly fee, waivable
Standard savings account$4 monthly fee, waivable$5 monthly fee, waivable
ATM fee$0 at U.S. Bank ATMs, $2.50 at non-U.S. Bank ATMs$0 at Chase Bank ATMs

$2.50 for inquiries, transfers, and withdrawals at non-Chase Bank ATMs within the U.S.

$5 for withdrawals and $2.50 for transfers and inquiries outside of the U.S.
Overdraft fee*$36 for each item of $5.01 or more

$0 for items of $5.00 or less
$34 for each item, not charged if item is $5 or less or if your balance at the end of the business day is overdrawn by $5 or less
*Rates apply to U.S. Bank Easy Checking and Chase Total Checking

Requirements for waiving basic checking account fees at both banks

To get the basic checking account fees waived at either bank, you must have either a certain amount of money direct deposited into your account each month or maintain a minimum balance. U.S. Bank also waives checking account monthly fees if you’re 65 years of age or older. The table below explains the exact requirements.

U.S. Bank checking account fee waiverChase checking account fee waiver
  • Receive monthly direct deposits totaling at least $1,000, OR

  • Keep an average daily balance of at least $1,500, OR

  • Be at least 65 years of age


  • Receive monthly direct deposits totaling at least $500, OR

  • Keep an average daily balance of at least $1,500, OR

  • Keep an average daily balance of at least $5,000 across your checking and other linked Chase accounts, such as deposit or investment accounts


Requirements for waiving basic savings account fees at both banks

It’s also possible to have the monthly service fees on each bank’s basic savings account waived by maintaining a minimum balance. Account holders under age 18 have their monthly fees waived automatically at both banks. Each bank also offers a third option for getting your fee waived.

U.S. Bank savings account fee waiverChase savings account fee waiver
  • Keep a $300 minimum daily balance, OR

  • Keep a $1,000 minimum monthly balance, OR

  • Be under 18 years of age


  • Keep a $300 minimum daily balance, OR

  • Set up at least $25 in monthly autosave or repeating automatic transfers into your savings account from your Chase checking account, OR

  • Have a linked Chase College Checking, Chase Better Banking Checking, Chase Premier Checking, Chase Premier Plus Checking, Chase Sapphire Checking, or Chase Private Client Checking account, OR

  • Be under 18 years of age


When to choose U.S. Bank

  • You’re not sure if you can consistently meet direct deposit or daily balance requirements.
  • You use international ATMs.
  • You’re 65 years of age or older.
  • You want to open a CD with less than $1,000.
  • You want a money market account.

If you’re not sure that you can meet any monthly direct deposit or daily balance requirements consistently — for example, if you have an unstable income or move money around frequently — you’ll probably end up paying monthly maintenance fees at least occasionally, regardless of which bank you choose. In this case, it’s best to go with U.S. Bank, as its monthly fees are slightly lower. This includes ATM fees for international travelers because, while both banks charge the same fee domestically, Chase will charge a higher ATM fee while you’re abroad.

Older customers might also want to go with U.S. Bank because fees are waived if you’re 65 or older.

When to choose Chase

  • You can consistently meet requirements to waive the monthly fee.
  • You want a bigger ATM network.
  • You travel often and need to access branch locations.
  • You already have investment or deposit accounts with Chase.
  • You’re looking for a 120-month CD.

If you think you can consistently meet requirements to waive monthly account fees, Chase would be a better option; its requirements are generally a bit easier to meet on both checking and savings accounts. If you already have deposit or investment accounts with Chase, your balance across all accounts can help you get monthly fees waived as well.

While Chase does charge more for international ATM usage, it also has far more branch locations and free in-network ATMs, so that’s worth considering. Frequent travelers who prefer having access to branch locations might want to consider this as well, as Chase’s footprint is almost twice the size of U.S. Bank’s, and the bank has a larger international presence.

U.S. Bank vs. Chase: Which is better?

Chase’s advantage is its large national and international footprint and, according to customer reviews, its slightly better customer service. However, U.S. Bank is still one of the country’s biggest banks, and it offers slightly lower fees on basic accounts.

Neither U.S. Bank or Chase come out on top in all categories. Assess your personal situation and determine which bank account will result in lower fees and higher rates. As with many financial decisions, the answer depends on your needs.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Elizabeth Aldrich
Elizabeth Aldrich |

Elizabeth Aldrich is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Elizabeth here

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Banking

How to Start Saving Money

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

Faced with an unexpected expense, like a car repair or leaky roof, many Americans might not have enough money in the bank to cover the bill. Just over half of U.S. households currently have a savings account, and 29% of households have less than $1,000 saved, according to a MagnifyMoney survey.

Whether putting money away for a rainy day or retirement, good savings habits can prepare you for emergencies and life changes. There are countless ways to build up your savings, from finding ways to cut back on spending to looking for areas where you might be overpaying. The time and discipline you invest implementing them will pay off — quite literally.

How can I start saving money?

If you’re just starting out on the path of building your savings, small changes can add up over time. A review of your budget should uncover items that can deliver larger, immediate gains. Here are more than two dozen money-saving strategies you can adopt for the short-term and the long-term.

Tips for saving money today

1. Set an intention
According to Sergio G. Garcia, associate planner for Quest Capital Management in Dallas, Texas, “saving money is tied to behavior and psychology, so it is important to find a personal focus to drive the savings behavior that works best for you.” Write down the reasons you want to save money, such as buying a house or retiring early, and put it in a place you’ll see every day.

2. Save your spare change
Collect your spare change at the end of the day and put it into a jar — you’ll be surprised at how quickly it can add up. If you use a debit card, some banks, like Bank of America, offer round-up savings plans, automatically moving the change into your savings account. For example, if you spend $19.50, the program will round-up your purchase to $20 and move $0.50 into your savings account.

3. Get a micro-saving app
Similar to saving spare change, you can also link your bank account to a money-saving app that does the savings for you. For example, Acorns automatically rounds up your purchase and moves the change into an investment account.

4. Cut the excess
To save money, you need to know where you’re currently spending it, suggested Matthew Gaffey, senior wealth manager for Corbett Road Investment Management in McLean, Va.: “List and monitor all of your expenses to get a full picture of how much you’re spending and where.” Money management habits will typically shed some light on a few areas that you could reduce or cut, such as unused magazine subscriptions or gym memberships.

5. Adopt a waiting period
The ease of online shopping can be brutal to your budget. Instead of falling for the impulse to make a purchase on the spot, implement a wait policy, such as 24 or 48 hours. You might realize you can live without that item you’re craving.

6. Don’t fall for a “great deal”
It’s hard to resist the lure of a good bargain. But saving 50%, 75% or even 90% isn’t a good deal if you don’t really need it. Instead of focusing on the discount, consider the amount you’re spending and how much you’ll really use the item.

7. Use a cash-back credit card
Some credit cards offer as much as 5% cash back in certain categories, which can add up. For example, the Chase Freedom® card offers bonus categories each quarter that give 5% cash back on up to $1,500 qualified spending, with unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases. If you spend the full $1,500 each quarter in the bonus categories — which can include gas stations or grocery stores — you could earn $300 cash back a year. If you were going to make these purchases anyway, this is a good way to save money.

8. Find rebates
Before making an online purchase, check cash-back sites like Mr. Rebates or Ibotta and see if the store offers a rebate if you click through the site. You could earn a set cash-back amount or a percentage on a purchase.

Ways to start saving money every month

1. Automate monthly savings
Sign up for automatic savings withdrawals. “Direct deposit from a paycheck is great because then it happens automatically and you don’t even have to think about it,” said Amy Shepard, financial planning analyst at Sensible Money in Phoenix. In addition, she advised, “set reminders to increase your savings periodically, such as every six months or every time you get a raise.”

2. Create specific savings goals
Save for big things, like a vacation or kitchen renovation, by using a bank that allows you to set up separate savings accounts for different goals, said Bethany Griffith, senior financial advisor and partner at Abacus Planning Group in Columbia, S.C. “It can be a great way to jump start savings,” Griffith said. “The visual check-in each time you look at your accounts is a powerful driver for changing behavior.”

3. Do a 52-week money challenge
With the 52-week money challenge, you save more every week, and see clearly how savings can add up over the course of a year. Create a weekly savings challenge by saving $1 on the first week, $2 on the second week and continue until you’re saving $52 on the final week of the challenge. In a year you’ll have saved $1,378, not including interest.

4. Create a weekly meal plan
The average American household spends more than $3,400 a year on meals away from home. You’ll be less likely to eat out or order in if you’ve planned your meals for the week. Having a meal plan also helps you create a grocery list to avoid impulse purchases or food that goes uneaten.

5. Review your monthly bills
It’s irritating when your cable or cell phone bill goes up, but that extra $5 or $10 a month can add up to $60 or $120 over the course of a year. Pay attention to your monthly bills. If you see an increase, call and ask why. If you’ve been a customer for a long time, companies will often lower the rate instead of risk losing you.

6. Pay down debt
Americans pay $113 billion in credit card interest each year. If you’re among those that carry a balance, you can get an immediate return on your money by paying it down and eliminating it.

7. Adjust the thermostat
Save as much as 10% a year on heating and cooling by adjusting your thermostat seven to 10 degrees from its normal setting for eight hours a day. This can be while you’re at work or while you’re sleeping — or both, for even more savings. A programmable thermostat can do the work for you, easily paying for itself.

8. Use a price-drop refund app
Several retailers will give you money back if an item you bought goes on sale, but tracking that can be a chore. Use an app like Earny to do the tracking for you automatically. The app also takes care of the claim — Earny claims it saves the average user $75 each year.

Start saving money over the long term

1. Annualize your spending
A latte or vending machine habit might seem harmless, but when you multiply that daily expenditure by five days a week and 50 weeks a year (assuming you take a two-week vacation), it can add up to a substantial sum — one that might not seem worth it when you annualize your spending. Try this with your regular discretionary spending and see what you could do without.

2. Review your insurance
Make a habit to review your property and auto insurance each year. Jeffrey N. Tomaneng, director of financial planning for Sapers & Wallack in Newton, Mass., recently had an agent audit his policies and made changes to save $2,100 a year in premiums — “within a few days we were off to some much needed household savings,” he said.

3. Sell your stuff
The average American has 42 items in their home they no longer use worth an estimated $723. Sell them! Hold an annual garage sale, or list your items on eBay, Mercari or Facebook Marketplace. Someone else can use and enjoy them and you can pocket the money.

4. Shop around for higher interest rates
Your bank savings account may be conveniently attached to your checking, but if the interest rate is negligible you could be leaving money on the table. Look for higher interest-rate savings accounts that can help you build your balance.

5. Review your withholdings
Each year, review your benefits and withholdings and ensure you’re taking advantage of the benefits your company offers, such as flexible spending accounts or matching retirement. If you get a refund each year after tax season, consider adjusting your exemption amounts and stop giving the government an interest-free loan on your own money.

6. Look for discounts
If you’re a member of a professional or alumni association, you may get discounts on business services, insurance or travel. Make a point to review your benefits each year, and use them to find the best deals.

7. Review your credit card benefits
Before you buy that extended warranty or insurance on your rental car, check and see if the credit card you’re using offers it for free as a benefit of being a cardholder. You can save hundreds of dollars by knowing what you’re already offered.

8. Check your credit report
Each year you should order a copy of your credit report to make sure it’s accurate; you may find a discrepancy that could hurt your chances of getting better interest rates on a loan. You’re entitled to a free report each year from each of the reporting agencies, which you can obtain from AnnualCreditReport.com.

Bottom line

Developing any new habit requires behavior changes — changes that can be uncomfortable at first. But getting into the habit of saving money is worth it. Building a nest egg can provide peace of mind. Once you start seeing your balances grow, the numbers will give you the motivation you need to keep going and keep saving.

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Stephanie Vozza
Stephanie Vozza |

Stephanie Vozza is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Stephanie here