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The new year is a perfect time to make some changes in your life, whether that’s starting a new workout program or getting a new job. Whatever lifestyle changes you might want to make, don’t forget to include your finances in your new year’s overhaul. Saving more money in 2020 and beyond can help to improve your quality of life along with your other new year’s resolutions.
Here are seven ways to save more in 2020:
#1: Switch to an online savings account
The first (and easiest) thing you can do to save smarter this year is to open an online savings account. Online savings accounts consistently offer high interest rates, especially when compared to traditional brick-and-mortar banks and credit unions. It’s an easy way to set aside money and let it grow much more efficiently than with your local bank.
Let’s say you have $1,000 to stash away in savings. The average savings account APY rate (as of press time) at a brick-and-mortar bank was 0.26%. Without any additional deposits, that would yield a total of $2.60 in savings after a whole year. If you placed that same $1,000 in an online savings account, with the average APY rate of 1.52%, you’d end up with an extra $15.20 in a year.
There are a few drawbacks to online-only savings accounts to be aware of, but they’re pretty easy to get around. Online banks don’t have physical branches where you can seek assistance in person, but they still offer comprehensive customer service. Many online banks lack access to ATMs, although there are banks that will refund your ATM fees for using a third party ATM or give you access to surcharge-free ATM networks like Allpoint.
If you’re not sure where to start, check out our picks for the Best Online Savings Accounts.
#2: Automate your savings
Whether you switch to an online savings account or not, it’s also best to automate your savings. That way, you’re constantly saving money, even when you’re not thinking about it. This can especially come in handy when you get too busy to pay attention to your savings or in the event you go a little spending crazy. It also helps to budget in these savings as though they were just another necessary expense. That way, it becomes more natural and automatic in your mind as well.
To automate your savings, you simply need to set up automatic and recurring transfers from another account (like your checking account) or your paycheck to your savings account. While monthly payments are typical, you may be able to set the payments to be as frequent (or infrequent) as you’d like. You don’t need to set aside a huge amount each time; perhaps start with $25. Then you can increase the payments with each pay raise or decrease them if necessary.
#3: Explore CDs
When you have enough savings stashed away in a traditional savings account, consider certificates of deposit (CDs) as the next level to saving. Available in a variety of terms, typically from three months to five years, a CD doesn’t come with the flexibility of a standard savings account but can yield higher returns. Once you open a CD and make your initial deposit, you can’t make any withdrawals or additional deposits until the CD’s term is up, known as maturity. This makes CDs a better option for long-term savings goals, like buying a house. You can park your extra savings in the account now, locking in a high rate, and come back to your savings in a few months or years.
#4: Open an interest-bearing checking account
Your money grows while sitting in a savings account, so why shouldn’t it do the same in a checking account? Switching your money over to an interest-earning checking account is a smart and easy way to ensure you’re always growing your savings. You shouldn’t expect the high-reaching rates of savings accounts, but you can still earn some extra money over the months. You have plenty of options from both brick-and-mortar banks and online banks. You’ll still find that online banks’ checking accounts offer better rates and much lower fees, though.
#5: Create a $1 or $5 rule
In addition to opening the right accounts, consider adding this more old-school savings approach to your routine. It’s as simple as setting aside the dollar bills, or five dollar bills, that accumulate in your wallet. For starters, this tactic can prevent you from overspending your cash. But it also helps to slowly and steadily grow your savings over time. You can deposit this saved cash into a high-yield savings account at the end of each week, month or year. You could also use it to save it up towards a specific savings goal.
#6: Download handy savings apps
It’s true that there’s an app for just about everything nowadays and saving money is no different. Shopping apps like Ibotta and Ebates are a good place to start. They earn cash back on purchases you make, from your regular groceries to those new headphones you’ve been eyeing. That way, you can earn a little extra cash on money you were going to spend anyway.
You can also start saving little by little with one of the best money saving apps for the long term, Acorns. Acorns links to your bank account and rounds up your purchases to the nearest dollar, taking the spare change and investing it in a personalized portfolio of stocks and bonds. Not only does this set aside some savings automatically, but it allows your savings to grow. It’s also a good way to try your hand at investing if you’re not already familiar.
#7: Add 1% to your 401(k) savings
Saving for retirement should always be a part of your savings goals, and if you have a 401(k), it’s a great way to maintain your savings. The standard rule dictates that you save 10% of your pretax income towards retirement. However, that can be overwhelming and unattainable for many. In that case, it’s okay to start small even if that means saving 1% this year. Then you can boost your contributions by another 1% next year and so on. That way, you continue to save for your retirement in a way that’s more manageable for you and your finances.