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    17 Borderline Genius Money Tips You'll Wish You'd Known Sooner

    "Why haven't I tried this already?" —You after reading this post

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    Saving money can sometimes be a little daunting — especially when there are so many different methods and strategies that all feel overwhelming. But being money-wise doesn't have to be! Even small changes can have a huge impact in the long run.

    ABC / Via giphy.com

    So we devised a list of tips that'll pretty much make you feel like a whiz at saving money.

    Just keep in mind that what might work for one person may not work for another— no financial advice is one-size-fits-all. Be sure to take your personal circumstances and needs into consideration, and do what works for you.

    1. Keep your emergency fund in a high-yield savings account so your money can grow a lil faster.

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    Your current bank might be offering you a veeeeery low return on your savings. While the average interest rate is 0.05% for savings accounts, many offer even less — which means you're earning literal pennies as a "thank you" for keeping your hard-earned money in that account. But you can do better!

    Some banks offer high-yield savings accounts, which can earn you more than the national average interest rate. Keep in mind that these rates can absolutely change as the interest rates set by the Federal Reserve change.

    Another pro tip: Online banks usually offer higher interest rate than brick-and-mortar banks. This is because they typically have fewer overhead expenses, so they're able to offer more. Ally Bank and Marcus by Goldman Sachs currently offer 0.5% (that's 10 times the average, BTW) on their online savings accounts.

    2. Take a look at your checking account balance daily and move the dollar value of the last digit into your savings account. You'll have a nice lump sum of money saved after a year of doing this basically on autopilot.

    Video showing an estimate of how much someone could save in a year using this method
    @budgetbrospodcast / Via tiktok.com

    TikToker @budgetbrospodcast shared a video highlighting this clever money saving method. Their video shows that after one week of using this strategy, they've saved $24. But after a full year of saving about $24 per week, they'll have amassed $1,248. The point is to use a non-intimidating method to get into the habit of saving money regularly.

    Though you should take financial advice on social media with a grain of salt, here are some more great money tips I found on TikTok that you might want to check out.

    3. Or, use the Digit app to automatically save a little money every day — those small amounts can seriously add up over time!

    Screenshot from the app showing money saved in different categories including Christmas 2021 and grad school
    Jasmin Suknanan / BuzzFeed

    I have been using Digit for about six months now, in addition to saving a fixed amount each month manually. The app makes me feel like I'm really maximizing my savings by stashing away every dollar I can! The app connects to your bank account and lets you set up different goals (like saving for a rainy day or holiday shopping). You can specify the maximum daily amount you want saved for each goal, which makes the app super flexible for a variety of income levels. So let's say you don't have a lot of wiggle room or have too many surprise, variable costs — you can choose to save a max of just $3 a day toward any given goal.

    And, you can also manually add money toward any savings goal. This is super helpful if you want to beef things up a bit. It's actually kind of exciting to see how much progress you've made toward a specific goal!

    4. When grocery shopping, take advantage of as many rewards incentives as you can.

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    This helpful little trick known as ~reward stacking~ can help you maximize your savings, which means you can eventually have more room in your budget for other expenses! Stacking rewards could mean using a cash-back credit card responsibly to earn a little money back, using your store's rewards program to earn points toward major discounts, AND using a cash-back app like Ibotta to build a juicy balance that can boost your savings over time. You're basically ensuring that you get reward on top of reward on top of reward!

    It might take some consistent, dedicated use over time before you reaaally build enough rewards to save you a big chunk of cash, but it can be totally worth it in the long run! If you're new to stacking rewards and this sounds a little overwhelming, start by stacking just two rewards incentives and work your way up to even more.

    5. And avoid extra trips to the store by using these tools to find recipes you can cook with ingredients you already have at home.

    Screenshot of the Tasty app showing recipes that you can make with broccoli, chicken, and cheese
    Tasty

    As mom would say, "you have food at home!" Turns out, she's often right. Using up the ingredients you already have on hand can help you avoid extra trips to the grocery store (where you might end up impulse-buying things you don't need). It can be kinda hard sometimes to envision a delicious, filling meal with just a couple of ingredients, but the website My Fridge Food and the "What's in my kitchen?" feature in the Tasty app (on iOS and Google Play) can help you craft recipes using just what you have on hand. It just might help you avoid making a fifth trip to the grocery store in the same month.

    6. If you're in college, you can try to negotiate your tuition.

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    Yes, it is possible to negotiate your college tuition! In fact, some colleges offer full tuition waivers available to students with hardship/low-income status, Native status, adopted/fostered students, students with disabilities, and students working in the public sector. Be sure to ask your financial aid office if they offer such waivers! If you don't qualify for any full tuition waivers, you can negotiate for more financial aid. But you'll never know if you don't start by asking!

    7. And if you work for a company, see if your employer can help you make student loan payments.

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    Under the CARES Act, employers can contribute up to $5,250 per year toward an employee's student loan debt balance. This provision was originally slated to expire on Dec. 31, 2020, but it has been extended through Dec. 31, 2025 (so you still have about four years to get in on this!!). And, you can participate regardless of whether you have federal or private student loans — and you won't be taxed on the money. But why would an employer want to help you pay off your debt? Because they'll get a tax break for their generosity.

    Start by reaching out to your HR department to open up the conversation. Education Loan Finance provides an email template that you can use when reaching out (just scroll past the Employer Contribution Calculator).

    8. Negotiate your rent for a lower monthly payment or perks.

    a row of apartment buildings
    BusàPhotography / Getty Images

    Much like your tuition, negotiating your rent is actually possible. You might be able to talk your way into lower monthly payments, free months, paid-for utilities, or even perks like a free parking space or free storage.

    One thing to remember: negotiating is about having a conversation, not making a slew of demands. Maybe you don't get everything you want covered, but you might get some of the most important things and free up some money in your budget for other expenses and savings.

    9. Take advantage of streaming service bundles so you can watch more for less.

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    It's safe to say that each streaming service has its own unique array of appealing offerings that you can't get anywhere else. So if you want to get in on all the shows, you pretty much have no choice but to pay for them all — which might not make your wallet too happy. But if you're someone who watches a lot of TV, you might want to consider signing up for bundle offers. This way, you get at least two streaming services for less than it would cost for you to pay for them separately.

    Here are some current bundles that might suit your fancy:

    • Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+ ($12.99/month)

    • Hulu and HBO ($21/month; add on HBO through your Hulu account)

    • Spotify Premium, Hulu, and Showtime ($4.99/month with the 'student' plan)

    10. Use Rakuten to get cash back on online purchases — the money adds up quickly!

    Jasmin Suknanan / BuzzFeed

    Rakuten is my personal favorite secret weapon for saving money when I shop! They have hundreds of shops onboarded into their cash back database so you get a little money back for placing orders you were going to buy anyway. Some cash back percentages don't always seem too impressive, but they run lots of promos that help boost your cash back potential (some retailers will jump from 5% cash back to 10% this way!). The money adds up really quickly! I always think of it as paying less for my purchase even without a coupon code since I'll be getting that sweet cash back.

    You get your cash back deposited into your account every quarter. Plus, Rakuten will even notify you if they just so happen to stumble upon a coupon code you can use in addition to getting cash back for a website.

    11. Don't save your payment info on websites — especially not the ones where you tend to overspend.

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    Keeping your credit card or other payment info in autofill just makes it waaaay too easy for you to make spur-of-the-moment purchases. But when you have to actually get up and fish your credit card out of your cluttered handbag or go into another room to get it, you might think twice about whether or not the item is really worth getting up for.

    And if you can, try to sit on a purchase for at least a few days before you pull the trigger on ordering. This'll give you some extra time to figure out if you actually need it or if you just like the idea of having it.

    12. Start saving for holiday gifts at the beginning of the year.

    Person wrapping a gift
    Louise Beaumont / Getty Images

    Holiday shopping can leave you in a bit of a squeeze when you find that you ended up spending more money on gifts than you initially intended. Instead of waiting till November to budget for gifts, start saving your gift money throughout the year. Setting aside just $20 per month can boost your gifting fund to $200 by November. So when it comes time to shop, you can use what you saved instead of digging into your wallet.

    13. When shoe shopping, see if there's a kids size equivalent before moving to the adult section.

    Snow boots from The North Face
    Jasmin Suknanan / BuzzFeed

    Kids shoes are often cheaper than the adult equivalent, especially when it comes to big name brands. If you're shopping in stores, tell the associate your adult size and ask if they can help you find the kid's equivalent for a particular shoe. Or online, you can check a shoe size conversion chart — just see what your size works out to in inches and find the big kids size equivalent.

    I did this once when I needed snow boots for a trip. The boots were reaaally expensive, and I didn't have much hope that my adult size 9 would translate to a comfortable kids size — but it worked! I ended up saving around $70 by buying a kids style. Just keep in mind that the shoe designs and colors might be a little different, but if you don't mind, you could save yourself a significant amount of money.

    14. And remember that you only save money on a sale item if you were going to buy it anyway.

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    Few things are sweeter than the glorious sound of a sale. But even when you're getting 30% off cute shoes, a great jacket, or a new appliance for your kitchen, you're still spending unnecessarily if you didn't intend to buy it in the first place. It can be veeeery tempting to snatch it up, but if you've never really considered it for your lifestyle then you might wanna reevaluate the item before you purchase it.

    15. Sign up for a gym membership or fitness subscription as a last resort.

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    How many times have you signed up for a gym membership, attended diligently for the first two months, and then went in sparingly or not at all after that? Been there, done that! Sometimes, people fail to cancel their membership even long after they've stopped using it, and that means burning through money you don't need to spend every month. Some membership prices are affordable enough that many people don't miss that $15 each month. And, gyms often make it *such* a process to cancel the membership.

    But as the last year has certainly proved, there are plenty of free options — like exercising alongside YouTube videos or coming up with your own at-home training circuits — that you can consider before signing up for a local gym or online service. Over time, even investing in fitness equipment for your home can sometimes work out to be more affordable than a long-term gym membership.

    Of course, there may be instances where being at the gym is more effective for you — like if you don't have space in your home for the machines you need, or if you need the gym environment in order to stay motivated. Just be sure you weigh your needs and exhaust all other options before you decide to sign up for your next membership.

    16. Book a simple hair appointment at a beauty school for a discount.

    Person getting their hair styled
    Konstantin Tsevelev / Getty Images

    Some beauty schools offer what's called guest services. This is where people can book an appointment to receive a salon service operated by a student — usually at a discount. The students don't have licenses, however they perform the services under the supervision of a licensed professional. If you're going for a trim, blowout, or other simple 'do, being treated by a student might make sense for you. But for more complex or experimental services, you might consider going to a licensed professional with a deeper understanding of what needs to be done.

    17. And finally, make sure you're using all the perks and discounts you can get — whether it's from your job, being a student, or your insurance.

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    If you work for an employer, you might have access to some company discount programs that can give you some good deals. This can make a huge difference in your life financially if, for example, your company offers a higher education tuition reimbursement or a totally free gym membership. If you aren't sure where to look, reach out to your company's HR department or benefits team.

    If you have health insurance, you might also be able to get discounts on gym memberships, meditation apps, and more. Some providers even offer gift cards and incentives for meeting daily step goals. Look at your policy and make sure you're not missing an opportunity to save.

    And of course, if you're a student, you can get discounts on all kinds of things with your student ID card. Even if a business doesn't advertise student discounts, it never hurts to ask!

    What are some clever money-saving tips you've tried? Let us know in the comments below!

    If this sounds like music to your ears (and bank account), check out more of our personal finance posts.

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