Best Ways to Save Money

The Best Ways to Save Money

It’s no secret that the savings habits in America are poor. The downturn in the economy has made it difficult just to get by, let alone save money for an emergency. One statistic quotes that the saving rate in America is 4.5 percent, when it was 5.6 percent the year before.

But it is possible to find the best ways to save money. Sometimes it’s just a matter of doing a bit of comparison-shopping. Maybe your “App IQ” needs a boost. Regardless of the method, we’ve found a few of the best ways we know to save money. And if these ideas don’t work for you, you might be inspired with a new plan of your own.

Make Saving Easier By Spending Smarter

Aside from participating in an all out spending freeze, it’s very difficult to not spend any money. So, why not trust the “experts” and get a debit card or app that rounds up your purchases and saves the “spare change” for you.

The Bank of America “Keep the Change” program is a debit card that rounds up your purchases and puts them in your savings account. Whether it’s one cent or ninety-nine cents, consider the savings that can accumulate in a month: A grande latte from Starbucks is $3.45. That means $0.55 would be put in your savings account. If you buy two per week, you’d save $4.40 by the end of the month and wouldn’t feel the pinch.

The Acorns app not only saves money for you, but invests it as well. You sync your spending accounts to Acorn then create a “funding account” for the money to be transferred.

As an estimate, if you make 20 debit purchases per month, you’ll save approximately $19 at the end of the month. The app is free, but there are annual fees.

Get Big Savings By Going Big

Even if you’re not feeding a brood of six, there are plenty of reasons why a membership to a “big box” store is one of the best ways to save money.

Using Costco (www.costco.com) as an example, the “Gold Star Membership” sets you back $55. So, let’s look at a few ways you can recoup that initial outlay:
Let’s say you’re a two-car family and each car has a 15-gallon tank. Gas prices at Costco are often $0.20 cheaper than gas stations. To fill up each car, you’re saving $3.00 each.

Buying a popular brand of paper towels (with the “pick a size” feature) at Costco runs $1.87/unit. Grocery store prices can be as high as $3.21. Purchase a dozen-pack of the Costco option and you save $16.08.

Each month members are mailed a coupon book that lists the various deals for home products, food, automotive, etc. You’ll often find coupons for such everyday products as mouthwash and liquid hand soap ($2.50 each); yogurt ($3.50), and coffee ($4.50).

You can even save on medications at the Costco pharmacy. A recent purchase of meds for the family pet garnered a savings of $15 (compared to buying them from the local vet).

Tallying up the savings listed – gas, groceries, and pet medication – your total savings comes to $37. That’s more than half of what your membership fee cost and proves to be one of the best ways to save money.

Smart Phone Apps That Help You Save

There is no shortage of apps for shopping and comparing prices. With a few savvy apps, you could cultivate a team of personal shopping experts on your phone or tablet.

Here are a few we thought noteworthy as some of the best ways to save money:

Consumer Reports has a reputation for being thorough and unbiased when rating products. Now it’s an app. The Consumer Reports Mobile Shopper allows you to view product ratings, compare prices, and use a barcode scanner to find the nearest deal. The service is for both online and local retailers.

With a price of $4.99 per year, it will easily be one of the best tools to help you save money.

To find the best retail bargains, download the RetailMeNot app and have access to “500,000 coupons for 50,000 stores.” For bargain-lovers, this is definitely one of the best ways to save money.

This free app offers coupons as well as daily deals. Stores include:

  • L.L. Bean
  • Coach
  • Footlocker
  • Kohl’s

Recent deals included up to $300 in savings from Southwest Vacations and 20 percent off your entire purchase from Macy’s.

If you’re looking for two of the best ways to save money on auto expenses, GasBuddy and RepairPal make quite the dynamic duo.

GasBuddy is great for road trips or long commutes and for $2.99 will give you a map to the gas station nearest you with the lowest prices. While you might not save as much on gas as with a Costco membership, it’s still a great tool for when you’re away from home or traveling the back roads.

Like the Consumer Reports Mobile App, RepairPal provides drivers the most accurate, unbiased car owner information and resources available.

RepairPal is free and the services include:

  • Locating roadside assistance
  • Advice from certified mechanics
  • An auto shop directory
  • Accurate estimates for car repairs

Users also get email reminders for oil changes and scheduled service appointments.

With so many tools and strategies, there are plenty of “best ways” to save money that can fit your family’s needs. We can also make it a much more positive activity by using a little creativity: From renting movies from your local libraries and researching coupons on your favorite food products, that “extra” savings can always be tallied and put into an account as well.

Use your next grocery receipt as a prompt. And when the cashier shows you how much money you saved at that visit, transfer the amount to your rainy day fund and watch your hard work accumulate for a richer future.

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