20 Simple Money Moves to Get on the Right Path to Saving for the Future
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20 Simple Money Moves to Get on the Right Path to Saving for the Future

Anyone planning for their future – including you – is well served to try to set aside some of the resources that you earn today for tomorrow. At BestCashCow, we do not believe that there is anything to be gained by living an unnecessarily frugal lifestyle like many other websites advocate. Life is short, and living a frugal lifestyle is silly! But, we do believe that there are plenty of easy ways to save for the future, without going overboard. Here are 20 of our favorites:

1. Put your savings in a high interest savings account.

The trillions of dollars that Americans lose every year by keeping their money in a low interest savings account is just startling. The most amazing thing is that it can easily be avoided if everyone would just check the best online savings rates here. If you have never opened an online savings account, you should read this article to get started. If you are still not comfortable with online banking, you can still make more by carefully choosing between and among local banks or credit unions. This is the easiest and simplest thing you can do to put more money in your pocket if you have any savings. Bookmark these pages and be sure to check back often as rates are going up!

2. Set a plan to pay off all of your high interest debt.

You cannot even begin to save if you are one of the millions of Americans who carries high interest debt. Make a list of your high interest debts and then develop a strategy for paying them off. If you don’t have the resources available immediately to lower your debt right away, consider consolidating it in a home equity line of credit or a home equity loan.

3. Challenge every recurring expense.

Challenge every recurring expense you have. Consider whether you really need all of your cable channels and other services you may be paying for monthly. Many people have been paying for a service so long that it becomes second nature, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t cut it out. Challenge yourself by writing down every recurring expense you have, then look for expenses you can fully cut out, and then find ways to save money on the remaining expenses.

Could you spend less on your mortgage? Check remortgage rates where you live.

4. Compare insurance rates.

Insurance rates – for health insurance, home and auto insurance and life insurance - are always changing. New competitors enter markets and others change their offerings (becoming more competitive or less competitive). Review all of your policies annually and make sure that they are the best for you. The cheapest isn’t always the best, but you may find the same or better coverage for less money when you shop around.

5. Make a practice of delaying large purchases.

When you’re considering making a large purchase, refrain from buying it right away. Rather, spend some time researching the product, and commit not to buying it until some time – such as one month - has passed. When you are less spontaneous, you end up only with the things that you really need and really want.

6. Wait until the end of the month or quarter to make your largest purchases.

All sales reps have quotas to meet per month or quarter, so if you wait until the end of the month to make a big purchase, you can potentially save a lot. Car salespeople especially work with quarterly quotas and buyers can score the best deals if they can wait until the end of the quarter.

7. Use electronic coupons where possible for things you need.

In general, physical coupons aren’t worth the time you spend accumulating and managing them. However, you should be on the lookout for electronic coupons that save you a lot of money on things you need anyway.

8. Take advantage of loyalty programs offered by the travel industry.

My loyalty programs for Delta, United and American Airlines over the years have subsidized all of my personal travel for decades (including many trips to Hawaii, Europe and Asia). My loyalty to Starwood and Hyatt has been equally rewarded. Take advantage of these programs. You can boost your balance in these programs with the right credit cards.

See how we value airline miles and hotel points.

9. Give up expensive habits and addictions.

Your habits - good and bad – always work against you when you are trying to save money. Alcohol and smoking are obviously bad habits that are very costly (the cost of these habits should not be your main reason to quit). Vitamins, supplements and other so-called nutritional aides may seem like good habits, but they are, in fact, expensive habits designed to separate you from your money. Try eating well instead.

10. Reduce costs of your other habits (Brew your own coffee)

My most expensive habit is coffee and I can’t kick it, so I brew my own. Instead of spending $4 per cup at Starbucks or a real coffee shop, brewing my own coffee keeps the expense below 15 cents a cup.

11. Drink more tap water.

Water is better for your health and saves you a lot of money. Tap water is not only basically free, but it helps save the environment. Invest in a water filter for your home. The savings are especially great when you drink tap water instead of soda or beer when dining out (at least this works in New York City where the tap water is safe to drink even when it hasn’t been filtered).

12. Eat at home.

Eating at home is easier and healthier than eating out. It is also much cheaper. I routinely throw together a quick salad with all sorts of great and exotic fruits and vegetables from my local Whole Foods that I won’t find on any restaurant menu. If salads aren’t for you, try stir-frying or make homemade pizza with a ready-made bobboli crust.

13. Get paid to spend.

Maximize your credit card rewards by using the right card for your purchase. It is BestCashCow’s view that the most value can be extracted from travel rewards credit cards. Find the best travel rewards sign-up bonuses here and the best cards for your spend here. Those who don’t travel may prefer cash-back cards. Whichever you prefer, always be on the lookout for cards that might have multiples of the regular reward rate in certain categories.

14. Build your credit.

Whether you have good credit, fair credit, or bad credit, work on building it up. Your credit determines your eligibility for mortgages and home equity loans. It determines whether you can get the best credit cards. Potential employers will also routinely run credit checks on job applicants.

15. Save energy.

This one sounds so simple, yet is so often ignored by so many. Turn off the lights and the air conditioner when you aren’t around! Stop wasting energy. Preserve your resources as well as the earth’s. Maybe even adjust downward the brightness on your TV and computer screen.

16. Buy in bulk and buy generic when possible.

Costco can save you a ton. But, also think about name brand household products that carry the same ingredients as generic brands. Generics can often taste better or be healthier too. You can save thousands of dollars by simply buying the generic store brand instead of the well-known brand. Kirkland is Costco’s own generic brand.

17. Cancel catalogs and unsubscribe from email announcements from companies trying to sell you stuff.

Announcements of sales or cool new products make it very tempting to buy something you don’t need. Instead, stop the catalogs and emails from ever getting to you in the first place, and you will save time, money and the environment.

18. Exercise.

This is, in many ways, the most important piece of advice we can possibly give. Staying healthy is the best way to avoid costly medical bills later. Biking is also often the cheapest and fastest way to get around. Ask a Dutch person.

19. Clean Out Your Closets.

By getting rid of all the excess stuff in your home, you will make your life simpler and more peaceful. Let others benefit from stuff you don’t need any longer or that your kids have outgrown by giving it away.

20. Find happiness in life, not spending.

Psychologists have proven that people buy stuff because they subconsciously believe that it will bring them happiness. While you may really need an Iphone X, do you really need the iWatch and the latest Audi with Apple Carplay? This stuff will only make you happy for a day or two and then you will have buyer’s remorse. Try to find joy in nature, in exercise and in each other, instead of trying to get a kick from unnecessary purchases.

Now you’ve got 20 ways to save money. We hope you’ve read something here that will help with your finances and help you live a happier life.

Ari Socolow
Ari Socolow: Ari Socolow is the Chief Economist and Editor-in-Chief at BestCashCow. He is particularly interested in issues relating to bank transparency and the climate crisis. Since co-founding BestCashCow in 2005, Ari has been frequently cited in the media as an expert on local and national savings accounts, CD products, mortgage and loan products and credit card rewards products.


  • Elizabeth Marie

    January 13, 2020

    This is a wonderful article and very appreciated.

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