How to save money fast

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You’ve been meaning to save more money. It’s been on your mind for a while. But now — right now — feels like the time to get serious. To save a big chunk of cash before you really need it. When it comes to saving money, small changes can add up quickly. Here are some of the best ways to save money right away.

How To Save Money on Groceries

Food and other essentials can take up a big portion of your budget, but there are many clever ways to save money on groceries.

1. Shop at Discount and Bulk Stores

Discount grocery stores and bulk stores like Aldi or Costco often have lower prices than traditional grocery stores. While these stores may have more limited selections, this can help you save time and money.

2. Meal Prep

Not only does meal prepping save you time during the week, but it also helps you avoid the temptation of eating out or ordering in—both of which eat into your bank account more than you might like. Plus, prepping your own meals makes it easier to meet your nutritional goals.

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3. Buy Generic Brands

Generic brands can be quite a bit cheaper than name brands. For example, a can of generic black beans may cost $0.78, while a can of name-brand beans might run you $1.28. That’s $0.50 saved on one item. Do that consistently, and you’ll notice the savings.

4. Shop in the Middle of the Week

Shopping on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday may help you find more discounts on groceries. Stores often run sales midweek and offer coupons or savings on specific weekdays. Try out a few different days and plan your trips according to when you find the best deals.

5. Use a Cashback Credit Card

Using a cash-back credit card is a great way to save money on purchases you would make anyway. Look for a card that offers cashback on your biggest spending categories, such as groceries, gas or dining. Pay off your entire balance each month to avoid interest charges.

How To Save Money on Your Electric Bill

Energy rates continue to rise every year, with many households paying hundreds each month to keep the lights on. If you’re feeling the drain, here are a few ways to lower your electricity bill.

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6. Unplug Those Vampires

Ever heard of energy vampires? Your electronics keep drawing power even when they’re not in use. Unplug your device chargers, game consoles and TVs when you’re not using them—it’s a small effort that can make a big difference in the long run.

7. Use Energy-Efficient Light Bulbs

LED bulbs use around 70% less energy than traditional bulbs, and they can last up to 25 times as long too. This means you save money on your electric bill and on replacement bulbs by switching to LED. Dimmer switches also work well with LED bulbs to stretch your energy.

8. Do Your Chores During Off-Peak Hours

Use your appliances during off-peak hours to cut your monthly bill. Power companies often charge lower rates during times of day when demand is lower, such as before 3 p.m. and after 7 p.m. Try doing your laundry at night or running the dishwasher in the morning to start.

9. Tweak Your Thermostat Settings

The Department of Energy estimates that you can reduce electricity costs by up to 10% annually by adjusting your thermostat seven to 10 degrees from its normal setting for eight hours each day. With a programmable thermostat, you can easily schedule temperature changes to use a little less energy when you don’t need it.

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10. Leak-Proof Your Home

Air leaks can cause your heating and cooling system to work harder and use more energy. Check your doors, windows and vents for leaks to make sure you’re not paying for more electricity than you need. Sealing these with caulk is an easy, low-budget solution.

How To Save Money for a House

Saving money for a house takes time and discipline no matter how you slice it, but there are ways to make the process a little easier on yourself.

11. Open a High-Yield Savings Account

To give your savings a boost, open a high-yield savings account earning a competitive interest rate. Then, automate your saving by scheduling automatic transfers or sending a percentage of your paycheck straight to this account.

12. Temporarily Cut Down on Rent

If you’re renting, consider moving to a smaller apartment or sharing a living space with a friend or family member to reduce your rent and free up more money for a while. You may also be able to negotiate with your landlord to lower your rent.

13. Save on Transportation

Transportation costs can add up quickly. Consider carpooling, taking public transportation or biking to work to spend less on gas and ride-sharing services.

14. Round Up Your Spending

Saving in the background, or without thinking about it, is a smart solution for anyone who has trouble remembering to save. Many money-saving apps offer round-up transfer options to automatically send a portion of every checking account transaction to your savings account.

15. Cancel Subscriptions

Cancel any services you have but don’t need including streaming, gym memberships and food delivery services. Take that extra money and move it to your savings account each month. Try an app like Rocket Money to organize your subscriptions and see which ones you might be able to cut.

How To Save Money for a Wedding

Who said you can’t have your dream wedding without breaking the bank? Here are some fun and creative ways to save money for a wedding.

16. Pick an Off-Peak Date

You’d be surprised by how much you can save just by choosing a date that’s not in high demand. Get married on a weekday or pick a weekend in an off-season month to take advantage of lower average costs.

17. DIY Decorations

You can save a lot of money by making your own decorations. Get creative and make your own centerpieces, flower arrangements and wedding favors. You can also borrow decorations from friends and family or rent them from your local party rental companies.

18. Choose a Non-Traditional Venue

Dedicated wedding venues grow costlier every year. Go the non-traditional route and have a breathtaking ceremony at a park, the beach or in your backyard. You’ll often save money at non-traditional venues, and many places allow weddings even if they don’t specialize in them.

19. Limit the Guest List

One of the most straightforward ways to save money on a wedding is to trim your guest list. You often pay for drinks and food at a per-person rate, and larger venues charge higher prices. Consider limiting your guest list to your closest friends and family members. Or, invite everyone to the ceremony and a select number of guests to the reception.

20. Buy a Pre-Owned Dress

Wedding dresses tend to be very expensive, but you can save money by buying a pre-owned dress. Companies like Pre Owned Wedding Dresses and Stillwhite make it easy to shop secondhand from a variety of styles and designers.

What Is the Best Way To Save Money?

The best way to save money is whatever way will work for you. The easier it is for you to commit to saving, the more regularly you’ll do it and the faster you will be able to reach your goals.

The first step to saving is to make it a habit. Here are some tips for getting into a habit of saving.

  • Set goals. Set savings goals that motivate you, like saving up for a house or going on a dream vacation, and give yourself timelines for reaching them.
  • Budget. Make a budget and make saving a necessary expense. Try out different budgeting methods until you find one you can stick to.
  • Cut down on spending. Use budgeting apps to find out where you’re money is going and look for places where you can cut back.
  • Automate your saving. Automate your saving by setting up a direct deposit from your paycheck into a high-yield savings account or money market account.
  • Pay off debt. Work on paying off your debt, starting with high-interest debt, to free up more money for savings and improve your financial situation.
  • Earn more. Look for ways to increase your income or consider a side hustle to bring more money in.
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15 Ways to Make Money Online, Offline and at Home

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The sting of inflation may have you pondering how to make some extra income. If you have the time and energy, you can put your skills and passions to work with a side hustle.

NerdWallet rounded up 14 real ways to make money at home, online or out and about. For each potential side job, we list details like what it takes to get started, age requirements and how fast you can get paid. While most people want to make money fast, don’t discount the “slow” gigs, as they may pay more in the long run.

How to make money online

Making money online is the sweet spot people look for in the gig economy. Whether you aspire to be a six-figure social media influencer, or are just looking to supplement your regular income with some online side jobs, we’ve found some viable options.

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1. Pick up freelance work online

Make money online through websites such as Upwork, Fiverr and Freelancer.com. These sites offer opportunities to do a variety of freelance jobs, such as writing, programming, design, marketing, data entry and being a virtual assistant. Fluent in a second language? Check sites such as Gengo or Blend Express, or drum up business through a site of your own. No matter what freelancing you do, keep track of the going rate for the kind of work you provide so you know what to charge.

A recent report from Freelancer.com found that creative writing jobs had the fastest growth in listings on its site in the second quarter of 2023, up 58%. And although generative artificial intelligence (AI) is being used more for content creation, it can’t fully do the work of human writers. Companies are looking for writers who know how to edit AI content and who have at least a basic understanding of search engine optimization — learning or beefing up SEO skills could be a lucrative side hustle. Some freelancers are charging $100 an hour or more for their freelance writing services.

Total time: It can take a while to get your first gig.
Setup: 24-48 hours.
How easy to start: Easy, if you have the expertise.
How fast you’ll get paid: Varies by site.

2. Test websites and apps

Another way to make money from home is on sites like UserTesting.com. You get paid for your thoughts on how well — or not so well — certain websites and apps work. You’ll have to complete a short test to be accepted, then you’ll be paid depending on the test type.

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Total time: Approval time can vary.
Setup: Less than an hour.
How easy to start: Easy, if you have the tech gear and complete a sample test.
Age threshold: 18+.
How fast you’ll get paid: Seven days.

3. Learn to use AI tools

The use of generative artificial intelligence is on the rise. A recent report from PwC estimates that the North American economy will see a $3.7 trillion impact by 2030, thanks to the AI market.

So there’s no better time to learn how to make money by using AI tools. Some AI-related side hustles include:

  • Integrating AI tools as a freelancer, to help you create digital products or to edit AI content for a client.
  • Improving your advertising, marketing efforts and management of your existing small business.
  • Teaching others to use AI tools.

Total time: Depends on demand.
Setup: Around 24-48 hours if using a site like Upwork or Freelancer.com.
How easy to start: If you’re already familiar with AI tools, it will be easier to get started.
Age threshold: 16+ for Freelancer.com and 18 for Upwork.
How fast you’ll get paid: Varies by client or the number of products you sell and your chosen platform.

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4. Take surveys for money

You can make money from home by taking online surveys, but don’t expect to earn a lot. Survey sites don’t typically offer a big payoff, and many sites are more useful for earning gift cards than cash. Some of the more popular survey sites include Swagbucks and Survey Junkie.

Total time: It will take a while.
Setup: Just minutes.
How easy to start: Very. Just register and begin.
Age threshold: 13 to 18+.
How fast you’ll get paid: Varies by site.

5. Make money from your blog with affiliate links

If you’re a blogger who gets decent traffic, you could make money by joining an affiliate network. Affiliates (that’s you) get paid when someone clicks through from the website to the partner site and buys something there. Some bloggers make a lot of money this way, particularly those who do affiliate marketing full-time.

Total time: It can take quite a while to build an audience.
Setup: With blog templates, building a site is easy.
How easy to start: While getting started can be easy, creating regular content may be another matter.
Age threshold: Any.
How fast you’ll get paid: A month or two, on average.

How to make money from home

Some side hustles don’t even require you to leave the house. Or if they do, it might just be a short walk around the block with a furry friend. Working from home requires a little creativity and a stick-to-it spirit. Here are some excellent ideas for side gigs from home:

6. Become a dog walker with Rover or Wag

Love dogs? Choose dog walking as a beginner’s way to make money. Apps like Wag and Rover offer on-demand dog walking, so you can pick up walks when your schedule allows. If you have space (and your landlord’s permission, if you rent), you could offer overnight dog boarding. Read the fine print if you sign up for these services

Total time: Building a client base may take some time.
Setup: Can take a few weeks to be approved.
How easy to start: Love pets? You’re good to go.
Age threshold: 18+.
How fast you’ll get paid: Two days to a week.

7. Sell unused gift cards

Make extra money by selling unused or partially used gift cards on a site like CardCash or GiftCash. These websites say they will pay you up to 92% of the card’s value. On CardCash, you can also trade in your card for one you’ll use.

Total time: In minutes if your gift card is for a popular store.
Setup: Easy.
How easy to start: The more gift cards you have to sell, the better.
Age threshold: Old enough to have a credit card.
How fast you’ll get paid: At least 1-2 days.

8. List your spare bedroom on Airbnb

Renting out your home or spare bedroom on vacation rental sites is another way to make extra money. Be prepared to spend some money to clean and keep up the property, replace home goods and pay toward service fees. And scrutinize your rental agreement before you get started.

Total time: Demand drives success, and that depends on your location.
Setup: A listing can be created and live in hours.
How easy to start: If you have a place to rent, it’s a simple process.
Age threshold: 18+.
How fast you’ll get paid: About one day.

How to make money offline

There’s online and at-home ways to make extra money — and then there’s a third alternative: offline. This version of the gig economy may require more work, but the upside can be substantial. Since there’s no escaping the internet these days, some of these offline methods do have online components:

9. Sell your gently used clothes

Selling clothes you no longer wear is a quick way to make some money. Start with local consignment shops to make money quicker or use sites like ThredUp and Poshmark to find buyers. If you go the online route, be sure to take clear, well-lit photos of your pieces and research similar items to set competitive prices.

Total time: Varies by sales channel.
Setup: Easy and fast. You can simply go to a consignment shop or fill a box with clothes and send it in.
How easy to start: Easy. Cleaning out the closet may be the hardest part.
Age threshold: Any.
How fast you’ll get paid: Varies by sales channel.

10. Trade in old phones, electronics for cash

Have an old phone, iPad, laptop or gaming system lying around? Sell it on a site like Swappa or Gazelle. Check out Amazon’s trade-in program, which pays participants in Amazon gift cards — and eBay, too. If you’re in a rush, try an ecoATM kiosk, which offers cash on the spot for your device.

Total time: Lots of options, so your time spent will vary.
Setup: A breeze.
How easy to start: Easy, especially if your phone is in good shape.
Age threshold: Any.
How fast you’ll get paid: Varies by where you sell.

11. Get a babysitting gig

Everyone from college students to recent retirees can make money by watching other people’s children. Word-of-mouth referrals from friends and family are still a great way to get started, but you can also create a profile for free on Care.com or Sittercity to expand your reach. Note any specialized skills, such as CPR certifications, to make yourself more marketable.

Total time: Online setup takes minutes; neighborhood referrals may take a while.
Setup: Just minutes.
How easy to start: Getting the word out is the main thing.
Age threshold: Very young if you’re using referrals. 18+ online.
How fast you’ll get paid: When the parents come home.

12. Rent out your car

City-dwellers often don’t use their cars for days or weeks at a time. That idle time can translate to extra money with services like Getaround and Turo, which let you rent out your car by the hour or day. You take home the majority of those earnings, while Getaround or Turo takes a cut for protecting your car while it’s being rented.

Total time: Demand for your car will depend on the local market.
Setup: It takes about a half hour to set up an account.
How easy to start: With an appropriate vehicle, it’s easy.
Age threshold: A valid driver’s license and 21+.
How fast you’ll get paid: Varies by site.

13. Drive for Uber, Lyft

Join Uber or Lyft (or both) and make money by driving passengers around. Just don’t forget to factor in gas and maintenance costs. You need an eligible car in good condition and must agree to a background check and a review of your driving history.

Total time: Depends on your market demand.
Setup: A few weeks.
How easy to start: Not difficult, but you’ll need the right type of vehicle.
Age threshold: Licensed to drive in your locality with one year of licensed driving experience (or three years if you’re under age 25).
How fast you’ll get paid: Very fast. Either instantly or within days.

14. Make deliveries for Amazon, Uber Eats

Take advantage of the growing delivery trend and sign up for a service like Instacart, Uber Eats, Postmates, DoorDash or Amazon Flex. You get paid per delivery, in most cases, and can even earn tips. A car isn’t always required — Postmates and, in some cities, DoorDash, lets you use a bike or scooter to make deliveries. However, a background check is almost always part of the deal.

Total time: Depends on your market demand.
Setup: About a week.
How easy to start: Easy, if you have dependable transportation.
Age threshold: 21+.
How fast you’ll get paid: Varies by vendor.

15. Fiverr

This website is a bit different than the others on the list. It is a well-known freelancing site where you are your own master. People from different parts of the globe offer their services in any area they are good at.

Look at the screenshot below, you can see people are actually selling these kinds of services over there. If you look closely you can see they have reviews as well, which means people are actually buying their services.

If you too want to try out, go ahead and create your own ‘gig’ with the services you wish to offer. People who are interested in your service will directly contact you and pay you for the same.

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