How to save money fast: 17 tips to grow your savings
Whether your financial goals are big or small, these life hacks will help you save money faster.
13 min read
These 17 tips on how to save money fast can help you reach your savings targets without breaking a sweat. Saving and budgeting can seem stressful at first, but having a fixed goal can actually be a source of calm. It can help you visualize an exciting future in which you’ve bought your first house, started a family or even just splurged on something nice for yourself.
So, if you’re wondering how to save money fast, here are our top suggestions on how to boost your bank balance quickly.
1. Learn to budget and understand your finances
Our most important tip for saving money fast is pretty simple: Learn to budget. If you’re in control of your budget, you’re in control of your finances. But where to start?
Before you can start saving money every month, you need to come to grips with your cash flow. This means understanding all of your incoming and outgoing revenue streams, including any debt repayments, monthly bills and savings contributions.
Keep track of all of your finances over a 30-day period. This includes all of your income and expenditures.
Compare your monthly income to your monthly expenditures to assess how much you’re currently managing to save, or how much you’re overspending each month.
Separate your expenditures into fixed and variable costs. Your fixed costs are expenses that are typically difficult to adjust, such as your rent and utility bills. Your variable costs include more readily-adjustable expenditures such as groceries, entertainment and subscription services.
Identify any variable costs that you can start cutting back on to increase how much you can put towards your savings goals each month.
Assess your progress regularly and make adjustments if necessary. If this seems a little overwhelming, there are plenty of budgeting apps available that can help make sticking to your budget easier.
Budgeting made simple
N26 Spaces sub-accounts make it easy to set money aside for your goals in just a few taps.
Before you start saving, you’ll likely want to pay off any outstanding balances on your existing debts. The longer you delay paying off a debt, the larger it becomes. That’s because interest — the price you pay for borrowing money — continues to add up over time. If you put off paying your debts, the interest that accrues can wipe out any money you manage to save up.
To get out of debt quickly, consider using a budgeting method such as the 50/30/20 budget. Created by US senator Elizabeth Warren when she was a Harvard bankruptcy specialist, the 50/30/20 rule offers a simplified approach to getting out of debt. It works as follows:
Use 50% of your income on your needs, i.e. your fixed costs such as rent and utility bills.
Use 30% of your income on your wants, i.e. your variable costs such as dining out and subscription services.
Save 20% of your income. So, if you make €2500 a month after tax, this would mean you can put aside €500 a month. In just a year, you’ll have paid off €6000 worth of debt.
3. Create a designated savings account
To save money fast, you need to separate the money you spend on your daily needs from the money you intend to save. This means setting up a designated savings account.
By doing so, you minimize the risk of you dipping into your savings funds to cover daily expenses. Instead, it encourages you to stick within your day-to-day budget while keeping your savings safe from temptation!
4. Automate your savings
If you have a fixed monthly income, consider automating your savings contributions each month. This means setting up an automated transfer from your daily spending account to your savings account each month. By automating your savings, you further reduce your chance of using these funds to cover your daily expenses.
To make saving a little easier, consider creating your own Rules on N26 Spaces. Rules is an in-app feature that lets you automatically move money between your main account and your Spaces. It’s a great “hands-off” way to kickstart your savings.
5. Automate your bills
While we’re on the topic, it might also be worth automating your bill repayments. Companies frequently charge you late fees if you don’t pay them on time, so paying them before the due date will help you avoid any additional charges.
6. Put a spending limit on your card
A great tip for saving money fast? Set a limit to how much you can spend on your credit or debit cards. This stops you from overspending and encourages you to reassess your daily expenditures in advance. Many banks offer this service.
At N26, you can set your daily spending limits and choose whether to allow yourself ATM withdrawals—all in a matter of seconds, right from your N26 app.
7. Use the envelope budgeting system
Another great life hack to help you save money fast is to use Dave Ramsey’s envelope budgeting system. This means taking your monthly income out of the bank in physical cash (yes, all of it!) at the beginning of each month and allocating it into separate envelopes.
Each of these envelopes should represent one of your budgeting goals. So, you’ll have envelopes for your fixed costs (e.g., rent, utility bills), and envelopes for your variable costs (e.g., clothes shopping, eating out, groceries). By paying for everything with a fixed amount of physical cash, you’ll ensure that you stay within a certain budget for each expense type.
Budgeting made easy
Visualize your daily expenses and savings to help you make the most out of your money.
Cutting back on rent is one of the quickest ways to start saving a sizeable sum of money each month. If you currently live alone, one of the easiest ways to do this is to choose to live with a roommate. This immediately halves your rent, and if you choose to live with two additional roommates, you’ll pay roughly a third of what you’re currently paying.
So, if you’re currently paying €1300 a month for a three-bedroom apartment and you get an additional roommate, you’d save €650 a month. If you decided to live with two people, you’d save around €870 a month. That’s nearly €10,500 a year!
If you already live in a shared apartment, consider swapping to a smaller room. Rent rates are usually calculated in accordance with the size of the room being rented, so you could make some significant savings each month. What’s more, it may also encourage you to downsize, which could mean making a bit of extra cash by selling your unused items.
9. Cut back on your utility bills
Another great tip to save money fast is to cut back on your utility bills. Your electric bill and gas bill contribute to a significant chunk of your monthly fixed costs, so if you can reduce them, you can find yourself pocketing a fair bit of extra cash. Here’s how to do it:
Change your energy provider. By making sure you’re on the cheapest tariffs on the market, you could save yourself hundreds of euros each month.
Swap your light bulbs for LED light bulbs. Not only is an LED bulb 75–85% more energy efficient than a standard lightbulb, but it also lasts 15–25 times longer.
Invest in a smart thermostat. This will adjust your central heating intelligently, potentially saving you a great deal of money.
Seal up any air leaks. Air gaps around your windows and doors can increase your electricity bill as your heaters will have to run longer to keep the room warm. Instead, seal these gaps with pressure-sensitive weather strips to keep any warm air from escaping.
10. Take up a side hustle
If you want to seriously boost your monthly savings, it’s worth considering taking up a side hustle. This could mean anything from working a few evening shifts at a bar or restaurant after your office job, securing a few freelance gigs, becoming a virtual assistant or perhaps even pet sitting.
If you can afford to do so, it can be particularly motivating to put all the money generated from your side hustles straight into your savings account. However, be wary of burning out. Your mental health is more important than trying to achieve any savings goal!
11. Cancel any unused subscriptions
Subscriptions are a money-making dream for a lot of companies. This is because once a customer subscribes to their service, they’re more reluctant to cancel their subscription—even if they hardly ever use it.
This, in large part, is due to the sunk-cost fallacy. When applied to a subscription service, the sunk-cost fallacy means that cancelling a rarely used subscription is hard, as you’ve already paid so much money for it. Therefore, canceling the subscription would mean accepting that all the money spent on it up until that point has been wasted. But, by delaying canceling the subscription, it still feels like there’s a chance the service might eventually be used.
In general, though, few of us ever fully use our subscription services to their fullest. So, it’s more cost-effective to cancel any unused subscriptions now, rather than hold out for a time when you may hypothetically use it.
12. Try to fix things yourself
A great way to make some significant savings is to try to fix anything that breaks yourself. Thanks to YouTube and the internet at large, you can now find out how to fix pretty much anything online. From leaky pipes to the zipper on your jeans, it’s always more cost-efficient to fix these things yourself rather than pay someone else to do it, or replace them entirely.
13. Think before you splurge
Succumbing to instant gratification is one of the biggest opponents of saving money fast. Before you make a significant expenditure, give yourself at least three to four days to think it over. This prevents the impulsive part of your brain — the part that wants to get that quick serotonin hit from a splashy new purchase — from taking over.
If you really want to test yourself, consider only making significant purchases after 30 days have passed. This is a sure-fire way to keep your impulse-buying in check. It also gives you enough time to suss out if there’s a better deal elsewhere.
14. Buy your car at the end of a financial quarter
If you want to get a good deal on a car, the best time to buy is usually at the end of March, June, September and December. Why? Because most car dealers are given specific sales targets to reach so that they can claim their financial bonuses. While these targets are set weekly and monthly, the big bonuses are given out quarterly. This means that you’re more likely to be given a better deal on a car at the end of each financial quarter as the car dealer will be keen to hit their quarterly sales target.
15. Cut down on your grocery spending
If you can cut back on your grocery spend each week, you’ll be amazed by how much you can save over the course of a few months. One of the best ways to do this is to plan all of your meals in advance. This means that you can calculate precisely how much you’re going to spend before you go shopping and reduce your chances of going over budget.
An additional tip is to consider going meat-free once a week. As meat is generally more expensive than vegetables and vegetable-based products, it’s worth choosing at least one day a week where you go without it. This small weekly saving will add up over time.
On top of that, make sure you look at the products being sold on the lower-level shelves. Supermarkets often put their most expensive produce at eye-level, encouraging you to spend more, while their cheaper products are closer to the ground, making them harder to spot.
16. Designate a no-spend day once a month
To help make money-saving a habit, nominate one day each month where, aside from your fixed costs, you’ll spend absolutely nothing. This could mean making all of your meals from the ingredients you have at home, opting to socialize in the park or at home, and having a relaxing evening reading or watching the TV.
Once you’ve gotten used to this, you could increase this to two days a month, and perhaps even one day a week to really increase your monthly savings amount.
17. Sell your unused items
If you want to start saving money for your vacation fast, it’s worth doing an audit of all your unused possessions and selling them on an online marketplace such as eBay or Nextdoor. Not only does this help declutter your home, but it can also mean earning quite a good amount of extra money which you can put towards your holiday savings goal!
How to save money for goals and life events
As we mentioned earlier, it can be helpful to have a specific goal in mind when you’re setting up a plan to save money fast. Sometimes this goal can be as big as getting married or buying a house; other times, it can be smaller in scope.
Wherever your savings journey may lead you, we’ve got a guide to help you along the way. Check out some of our resources on how to save for different life events, such as:
Buying a car — To save money fast for a car, there are several options available to you. As you usually won’t need to save as much as you would for a down payment on a new house, saving for a car should prove to be a little easier.
Buying a house — Saving up for a down payment on a new home can seem like an impossible target, but there are a few smart tips you can use to make some big savings in next to no time.
Getting married — Wondering what the average wedding costs? Take a look at our pricing breakdown and follow our simple tips for staying within your wedding budget.
Having a baby— If having children is part of your life plan, it’s important to understand the costs involved.
Changing jobs— A career change can be a thrilling challenge, and it doesn’t need to come at the expense of your savings plan.
Going on a sabbatical— If you’re thinking of taking a sabbatical from work, you’ll want to plan ahead and know how much you need to save. Planning ahead can make it all the more rewarding to focus on yourself.
Moving to a new country— Moving to a new country can seem daunting, and the costs of moving play a big role. Check out our guide to making your next international move easier on your mind and wallet.
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