9 Money Hacks To Try This Year

By Julia Califano · November 28, 2023 · 7 minute read

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9 Money Hacks To Try This Year

Financial wellness doesn’t have to be complicated. While you’ll eventually want to work up to a financial plan that includes a detailed budget, savings goals, and a retirement plan, there are small things you can do today to set you off on the right foot. What follows are nine hacks for money that can help you get organized, save more, knock down debt, and master the basics of personal finance.

9 Money Hacks to Help Save You Money

These simple moves can help you boost your financial health, reach your goals, and avoid financial pitfalls like impulsive spending and unmanageable debt spirals.

1. Use Multiple Savings Accounts

Having a different savings account for each one of your goals — whether it’s a new car, a down payment on a house, or even a big vacation — can be a great way to keep track of your progress. If you only have one account, it can be difficult to know what money is earmarked for which goal. For example, if you have $15,000 in your savings account, it may be hard to track that you have $5,000 saved for an emergency fund and $10,000 for a home purchase.

Separate savings accounts makes it easier to prioritize the goals you’re eager to reach, allowing you to fund those accounts first. It also decreases the chances you will raid the account to cover another expense. If an account is clearly labeled Emergency Fund, you may think twice about using it for a trip to Tulum.

And since many banks now offer savings accounts that feature the same interest rate, no matter how low your balance, you don’t need to put all your savings in the same account to get the highest yield.

💡 Quick Tip: Help your money earn more money! Opening a bank account online often gets you higher-than-average rates.

2. Ditch Your Low-Interest Savings Account

Is there anything better than money you don’t have to work for? The interest you’re paid for keeping money in a bank account is basically that. If you’re still using your first savings account, however, chances are you’re getting a low interest rate.

Right now, the best online savings account interest rates are around 5%. Traditional brick-and-mortar banks, on the other hand, generally offer rates that are close to the national average, which is currently 0.46%. If you have a $10,000 savings balance, choosing an account that pays 5% will earn you about $500 in a year. If it stays in a bank account that pays 0.40% APY, you would earn about $40. The difference increases the more you deposit and the longer you keep the money in the account.

Failing to open a high-interest savings account means you’re giving up free money.

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3. Put Saving on Autopilot

Automating your savings is a great way to separate your savings from your spending without any extra effort on your part. If you wait to see what you have left at the end of the month to make a manual transfer to savings, you may forget or, worse, you may have nothing left to move.

There are two ways to automate your savings: One is to split up your direct deposit and funnel part of it into a savings account; the other is to set up a recurring transfer from your checking account into a savings account for the same day each month (ideally right after you get paid). If you have different savings accounts for different goals, you can choose to have a set amount for each account.

4. Pay Down High-Interest Debts

Credit card annual percentage rates (APRs) are now averaging a record 28.93%, up from 26.72 percent in 2022. To whittle down high-interest debt, consider making at least one extra payment on your credit cards per month. If you have multiple balances, here are two ways to knock them down:

•   The snowball method With this approach, you make your extra payment on your smallest debt, while maintaining minimum payments on the others. When that debt is paid off, you focus on paying off the next-smallest debt, and so on.

•   The avalanche method Here, you put your extra payment towards the debt with the highest interest rate, while making minimum payments on the others. When that debt is paid off, you focus on the debt with the next-highest rate, and so on.
The money you save in interest payments can then go towards saving (and earning interest).

5. Audit Your Subscriptions

There’s a good chance you are paying monthly for things you no longer need or use. To find out, review your credit card or bank statement to see what subscriptions services you’re paying for each month. Do you have cable, but only watch streaming services like Netflix and Hulu? Are you paying for streaming services you never, or rarely, watch? You might also audit your music services — if you are paying for more than one, you might keep your fave and get rid of the others.

The monthly fee for each streaming service may seem small but, when you pay it every month, year after year, it can seriously add up.

Recommended: How to Track Your Monthly Expenses: Step-by-Step Guide

6. Put a Free Budgeting App on Your Phone

Keeping tabs on how much is going in and going out of your accounts is crucial to financial wellness. But who wants to spend hours coming through statements? A budgeting app does the work for you, and many are free (at least for the basic service).

Popular budgeting apps, like Goodbudget, EveryDollar, and PocketGuard, allow you to connect with your financial accounts (including bank accounts, credit cards, and investment accounts) and give you a bird’s eye view of your finances. Right from your phone, you can see what’s in your bank account, your current credit card balance, what you’re spending the most money on, how your spending compares to last month, and more. This can be eye-opening and help you make smarter financial decisions.

💡 Quick Tip: Want a simple way to save more everyday? When you turn on Roundups, all of your debit card purchases are automatically rounded up to the next dollar and deposited into your online savings account.

7. Practice the 3-Day Rule

Online shopping has made it easier than ever to impulse buy. You’re only one click away from a new jacket, blender, or television. So try this smart spending hack: Whenever you see something you want to buy, either online or in-person, DO NOT buy it that day. Put the purchase on pause for at least three days. Tell yourself that if, after three days, you still want the item, and you can afford it, you’ll buy it. This gives you time to reflect. You may well decide that you don’t need or want the item that badly. If you’re worried about missing a “one-day” or “flash” sale, don’t — retailers run sales all the time.

Recommended: How to Stop Spending Money: 7 Strategies to Curb Overspending

8. Use Cash

This may sound counterintuitive, but spending cash can actually help you save money. The reason: When you spend in cash, you actually have to physically give up your money when you spend it, unlike with a credit or debit card.

You might try taking out a set amount of money for discretionary spending for the week, and when the money is done, you’re done spending. Or, consider using the envelope budgeting system, where you take out a certain amount of cash for the week and divide it into envelopes for food, gas, etc. As you see the money go down in each envelope, you’ll have to think hard about every purchase.

9. Gradually Boost Retirement Savings

You may have heard that you “should” be putting 15% of your income into your 401(k) or other retirement fund each year. It’s a solid goal. But for many young people, it may not be remotely realistic. That said, you shouldn’t give up on the whole idea. Why not try baby steps? You might start by putting just 1% of each paycheck into your retirement fund, then increase it by 1% every three to six months.

While 1% is a small percentage of your annual earnings today, after 20 or 30 years it can make a big difference in your account balance when you retire. That’s because the longer you give your money a chance to grow, the better.

Recommended: When Should You Start Saving for Retirement?

The Takeaway

Getting a better handle on your finances may perennially be on your to-do list. The problem is that this goal can seem too vague and too overwhelming to even know where to begin. The good news is that you don’t have to overhaul your personal finances overnight. Simply adopting some smart money habits (or hacks) can snowball into long-term financial stability and wealth. And there’s no better time to start than today.

Interested in opening an online bank account? When you sign up for a SoFi Checking and Savings account with direct deposit, you’ll get a competitive annual percentage yield (APY), pay zero account fees, and enjoy an array of rewards, such as access to the Allpoint Network of 55,000+ fee-free ATMs globally. Qualifying accounts can even access their paycheck up to two days early.

Better banking is here with SoFi, NerdWallet’s 2024 winner for Best Checking Account Overall.* Enjoy up to 4.60% APY on SoFi Checking and Savings.

SoFi members with direct deposit activity can earn 4.60% annual percentage yield (APY) on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Direct Deposit means a recurring deposit of regular income to an account holder’s SoFi Checking or Savings account, including payroll, pension, or government benefit payments (e.g., Social Security), made by the account holder’s employer, payroll or benefits provider or government agency (“Direct Deposit”) via the Automated Clearing House (“ACH”) Network during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Deposits that are not from an employer or government agency, including but not limited to check deposits, peer-to-peer transfers (e.g., transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc.), merchant transactions (e.g., transactions from PayPal, Stripe, Square, etc.), and bank ACH funds transfers and wire transfers from external accounts, or are non-recurring in nature (e.g., IRS tax refunds), do not constitute Direct Deposit activity. There is no minimum Direct Deposit amount required to qualify for the stated interest rate.

As an alternative to direct deposit, SoFi members with Qualifying Deposits can earn 4.60% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Qualifying Deposits means one or more deposits that, in the aggregate, are equal to or greater than $5,000 to an account holder’s SoFi Checking and Savings account (“Qualifying Deposits”) during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Qualifying Deposits only include those deposits from the following eligible sources: (i) ACH transfers, (ii) inbound wire transfers, (iii) peer-to-peer transfers (i.e., external transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc. and internal peer-to-peer transfers from a SoFi account belonging to another account holder), (iv) check deposits, (v) instant funding to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, (vi) push payments to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, and (vii) cash deposits. Qualifying Deposits do not include: (i) transfers between an account holder’s Checking account, Savings account, and/or Vaults; (ii) interest payments; (iii) bonuses issued by SoFi Bank or its affiliates; or (iv) credits, reversals, and refunds from SoFi Bank, N.A. (“SoFi Bank”) or from a merchant.

SoFi Bank shall, in its sole discretion, assess each account holder’s Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits throughout each 30-Day Evaluation Period to determine the applicability of rates and may request additional documentation for verification of eligibility. The 30-Day Evaluation Period refers to the “Start Date” and “End Date” set forth on the APY Details page of your account, which comprises a period of 30 calendar days (the “30-Day Evaluation Period”). You can access the APY Details page at any time by logging into your SoFi account on the SoFi mobile app or SoFi website and selecting either (i) Banking > Savings > Current APY or (ii) Banking > Checking > Current APY. Upon receiving a Direct Deposit or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits to your account, you will begin earning 4.60% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% on checking balances on or before the following calendar day. You will continue to earn these APYs for (i) the remainder of the current 30-Day Evaluation Period and through the end of the subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period and (ii) any following 30-day Evaluation Periods during which SoFi Bank determines you to have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits without interruption.

SoFi Bank reserves the right to grant a grace period to account holders following a change in Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits activity before adjusting rates. If SoFi Bank grants you a grace period, the dates for such grace period will be reflected on the APY Details page of your account. If SoFi Bank determines that you did not have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits during the current 30-day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, then you will begin earning the rates earned by account holders without either Direct Deposit or Qualifying Deposits until you have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits in a subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period. For the avoidance of doubt, an account holder with both Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits will earn the rates earned by account holders with Direct Deposit.

Members without either Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits, as determined by SoFi Bank, during a 30-Day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, will earn 1.20% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances.

Interest rates are variable and subject to change at any time. These rates are current as of 10/24/2023. There is no minimum balance requirement. Additional information can be found at https://www.sofi.com/legal/banking-rate-sheet.

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