How much money would you like to have saved for the holidays? Or your next vacation? Or your emergency fund? Whatever your goal, the number probably seems overwhelming.
Trying to figure out where several hundred or a few thousand dollars might come from is tough. Instead, break it down. Find ways to set aside just a little bit at a time — you’ll be surprised how quickly you can move toward your goal!
To help you get started with that first step, here is a 12-month strategy to save money and work your way up to $5,000 in savings a year!
Month 1: Open a New Bank Account and Set Aside $5
Open an online savings or checking account and deposit $5. Heck, roll your quarters if you have to.
There are a bunch of great online banks, but one of my favorites is Ally Bank because right now they’re offering an interest rate that is around 100 times what a normal bank offers and there’s no monthly fees.
You can open a savings account at your local bank, but my suggestion is to go with an online bank — you’ll be less likely to withdraw the money.
I know it doesn’t seem worth it to deposit only a few bucks, but getting started is an extremely important first step! Just trust me.
At the end of the, your balance is: $5
Month 2: Earn $100+ in Passive Income From These Websites
Wouldn’t it be cool to make money just for using a website or mobile app?
Some of these companies collect data to better understand web and mobile usage better — what times of day people browse, how long they stay on websites and use apps, and which types of sites and apps are popular (or not). Some others will pay you for interacting with advertisers, whether it’s by watching videos or just seeing actual advertisements.
Check out the following websites
+ Swagbucks – Did you know you could get paid to watch movie previews, celebrity videos, the latest news, along with dozens of other videos? It’s pretty passive work and this company will pay you via Paypal or Amazon gift card. Can you rack up an extra $50?
+ InboxDollars – Google may have become synonymous with “search,” but it’s not the only name in this game. If you’re feeling reluctant to look elsewhere, InboxDollars has a pretty convincing argument for branching out: They’ll pay you to search. They use Bing’s engine, so it’s the same thing you’re used to seeing and you can earn over $50/year.
+ Drop – As an exclusive Drop app user, all you have to do is link your credit and debit cards. When you make a Drop-qualified purchase, you’ll automatically earn points, whether you’re grocery shopping, hailing an Uber or ordering a pizza. The points will add up, and you can then exchange them for gift cards to popular retailers like Amazon and Starbucks.
+ Earny — Let this tool search your email for companies that owe you money. It’s free to sign up for Earny, and once you do, it will scan your email archives for any receipts. If it discovers you’ve purchased something from Amazon, Target, or one of the other 20+ retailers listed on its website, the tool tracks the item’s price and issues you a refund anytime there’s a price drop! You don’t have to do anything!
Your balance is: $105
Month 3: Consolidate Your Debt to Lower Your Bills
OK, so this one won’t necessarily help you make money to save. But it could substantially lower payments you’re already making on your debt and help you save more money each month.
If you’re being crushed by credit card interest rates that are north of 20%, it might be worth seeing if you can consolidate and refinance your debt.
A good resource is Even Financial, which can help you borrow up to $35,000 (with no collateral needed) and compare interest rates from several lenders.
If you do decide to consolidate your credit card debt, be sure you don’t close your old accounts. A huge part of your credit score revolves around the length of your credit history and closing active accounts can definitely hurt it.
Can you knock your monthly payment down $100?
Three months and you have: $205
Month 4: Let Someone Borrow Your Place for the Night
Have a spare room? Might as well use Airbnb to make some money by renting it out.
If you’re a good host with a desirable space, you could add hundreds — even thousands — of dollars to your savings account with Airbnb.
Taking a few simple steps can make the difference between a great experience and a less-than-satisfactory one.
Here are a few tips:
- Make your space available during high-demand times in your area. Think: concerts, conventions and sporting events in your area.
- Be a good host, and make sure your place is stocked with the toiletries you’d expect at a hotel — toilet paper, soap and towels.
- Be personable. A lot of travelers turn to Airbnb for the personal touch they won’t find at commercial properties.
If you can rent your place for $100/night just five times this year, you’ll bank a cool $500 this year.
And your balance will skyrocket to: $705
Month 5: Sell All Your Stuff With These Apps
Are your closets and shelves packed to the brim with stuff you never use — or even look at?
You can sell virtually anything on letgo This intuitive app lets you snap a photo and upload your item in less than 30 seconds. Not only does it remove a lot of the hassle of selling things online, it’s 100% free to use.
But there are also apps for selling more specific stuff to people who might actually be looking for it.
Have a bunch of movies or CDs collecting dust on a shelf? Decluttr will pay you for them!
Decluttr buys your old CDs, DVDs, Blu-rays and video games, plus hardware like cell phones, tablets, game consoles and iPods. Plus, enter PENNY10 at checkout to get an extra 10% for your trade-ins!
For old books from college, you can use Bookscouter. Just type your book’s ISBN into the search bar and the site will connect you with more than 25 of the best-paying and most reputable buyback companies online.
Set a goal to make an extra $100 decluttering your place this month, and add it to your bank account — every little bit helps!
Wow you have amased a balance: $805
Month 6: Lyft Your Way to an Extra $2,400
Need a fun, flexible way to earn money this month? Try driving with Lyft or uber!
Demand for ridesharing has been growing like crazy, and it shows no signs of slowing down. To be eligible, you’ll need to be at least 21 years old with a year of driving experience, pass a background check and own a car made in 2007 or later.
We talked to Paul Pruce, who’s been driving full-time with Lyft for over a year. He earns $750 a week as a driver.
Best of all, he does it on his own time. You can work days, nights or weekends — it’s up to you!
Work 40 hours a week for one month, and you could bank up to $2,400.
Now we are talking money with a balance: $3,205
Month 7: Earn an Extra $100 by Joining an Online Focus Group
We know you’re not going to get rich joining focus groups, but I’ve been able to pocket an extra $10-$20 a month this way, and that adds up.
Start in Month 6, and that be could up to $100 this year!
Two of our favorites are Ipsos Panel and Harris Poll (both rated A+ with the Better Business Bureau).
Your Balance: $3,305
Month 8: Earn a $100+ Bonus by Opening a New Credit Card
As long as you pay down your credit balance in full each month, rewards cards are a great way to make some extra money. We’re not advocating that you open 1,497 credit cards like this guy, but taking advantage of a sign-up bonus here or there can definitely help your bank account!
Check out this list of seven credit cards with no annual fee that offer a $100 bonus or more when you open a new account.
New Balance: $3,405
Month 9: Earn $250 By Opening Another Bank Account
Now that you’ve got some money saved, you could get paid just for putting a few bucks in another bank account.
Check out a list of banks that will pay you just to open one — some will pay you up to $250 for it!
There’s no harm in having multiple bank accounts. In fact, I often find it’s helpful to have multiple places to save (I’m less likely to touch the money), so I have savings accounts for my Christmas fund and my vacation fund.
The top bank bonus is $250 right now — head over to this list to see all of the banks in your area that are offering free cash.
And your Balance: $3,655
Month 10: Earn Cash Back on Everything You Buy
Anytime I shop online, I use a cash-back rewards site like MyPoints. It’s a smart way to earn cash for the shopping you’re doing anyway!
And it works at most of my favorite retailers. Once you sign up for a free account, you can get 2% cash back on purchases at Target and a whopping 4% at Walmart.
There are more than 1,000 stores on the list, so you can purchase nearly everything you need through the cash-back site.
Plus, when you spend your first $20 through the portal, MyPoints will give you a free $10 Amazon gift card.
Try to average at least $10 in cash back for the last three months of the year.
Keep working on Balance: $3,685
Month 11: Ditch Your Unused Subscriptions
We all sign up for stuff. Sometimes it’s easier to put subscriptions on a recurring payment and forget about it — looking at you Netflix.
These kinds of payments can be smart for paying bills and chopping down debt, but getting rid of the subscriptions you’re not using and socking away the savings could help you roll over the $5,000 mark this month.
If you can’t keep track of them all, check out an app called Trim. Once you sign up and connect your bank account and phone number, it analyzes your transaction history for recurring payments.
When it finds one, the app sends you a text and cancels any subscriptions you don’t want to keep.
Just make sure you actually save the savings. Can you save another $100?
Your Saving Balance: $3,785
Month 12: Sign Up for a Clinical Trial to Earn Up to $1,150
Do you live with a chronic condition like arthritis or migraines? They’re a serious pain in the neck… or wrists… or head…
But they may also make you eligible for clinical studies that can really pay off. These studies help medical professionals learn how to better treat chronic conditions.
Payment varies by study, but we found some that offer pretty killer compensation:
- Cluster Headaches — If a doctor has diagnosed you with a cluster headache, you could qualify for a variety of studies that pay up to $300, depending on the study and number of study visits. You may also receive no-cost study-related care for the length of the study. (Learn more here.)
- Osteoarthritis: If you’re suffering from osteoarthritis and qualify, depending on the study and the number of study visits, you may earn up to $1,000 for participating. (Read more here.)
- Crohn’s disease – Have you been diagnosed with this chronic gastrointestinal disease? If you’ve had Crohn’s for at least three months, you could qualify for one of the local studies that may offer payment that varies by study up to $750. Plus, you may receive no-cost study-related care from local doctors for the length of the study. (Learn more here)
- Sleep – The first step is filling out surveys with information about your sleep patterns and overall health. If you qualify, you’ll be required to complete both physical and psychological exams — and then it’s time to get down to snoozing, er, business. Though it might sound like a perfect gig, Shea notes “it’s not all comfy pillows and sweet dreams,” and cites challenges including isolation, unusual positions and needles or other medical devices. Interested in sleeping on the job? Follow this link to find sleep facilities near you.