Whether you’re paying down student loan debt, growing your emergency fund, or learning how to wisely invest, knowing how to manage your money is the key to being able to live a life you love. Though it might seem impossible to cut costs or save cash without sacrificing your favorite things, there are a ton of tiny tweaks that can help make a major difference. Read on for our cheat sheet, which details seven smart secrets and a few savvy tools to try.
1. Cancel the subscriptions you don’t use. With cool companies such as Stitchfix, Netflix, Classpass, and others, it’s easy to find yourself in a subscription frenzy — and the recurring costs can really add up at the end of the month. Not sure which ones you can or should do without? Use the Hiatus app (iOS-only for now) to help you see what you’re paying for and how much you’re using each subscription (or even to get help canceling them).
2. Use an online tool to get automatic refunds when an item price drops. Did you know that there are digital tools that can act as a personal assistant in charge of getting you cash each time something you’ve bought recently drops in price? Earny monitors prices and uses a bot to contact the company you shopped with to get your money back on your behalf — there’s nothing more you need to do.
3. Put your credit card perks to work. Oded Vakrat, the CEO and co-founder at Earny, tells us that while many stores do offer price protection for a short amount of time, the credit card you already have might offer an extended window. “This could be as many as 120 days and cover Amazon purchases,” he shares. This is extra valuable intel when you consider that Amazon itself actually doesn’t offer price adjustments at all.
4. Grab discounted gift cards. Download the Raise app and you’ll be able to search for discounted gift cards in seconds, which will help you stretch your dollar even further. The cool company tells us that shoppers save an average of 12 percent while using the discounted gift cards, which are valid with nearly 4,000 stores and retailers. On the flip side, you can also sell a gift card you don’t want on the app for some extra cash. Cha-ching!
5. Do your homework before buying. Raise money-saving expert Meghan Fox says that educating yourself before you buy can be a big help. “To get the best deal, search online to see which websites offer the best prices, and look for discount codes that you may be able to use on your purchase,” she advises. “Don’t be afraid to ask for a price match, either; stores such as Best Buy, Target, and Nordstrom will all price match if you find and can show a lower price online or through a competitor.” Talk about time well spent.
6. Use your social media skills to save money. Ever beat yourself up for spending time scrolling through your social feeds? Turns out, following your favorite companies and brands online is a smart way to save cash. Follow along for flash sales, exclusive coupons, or special sales. Not sure you want to clutter your inbox with newsletters? Fox suggests using a separate email for promos and reminds us that you can always unsubscribe.
7. Automatically invest some money each month. Just like saving money, investing your cash calls for smart thinking that’ll help you meet your financial goals. Do yourself a favor and set up an automatic monthly payment — even if it’s minimal — just as you would with any other bill. Aspiration’s Redwood Fund, an eco-friendly online bank, makes digital transfers super easy and has regularly been in the top 1-2 percent of returns of all large-cap funds in the United States. Even more, we especially love that it focuses on fossil fuel-free, sustainable investments.