1. Adopt a savings strategy

Dollars are taken out of the envelope or put in an envelope. Online donation. Donation concept. The Internet.
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Start putting away more money from each paycheck, so you won't spend it frivolously.

A saving strategy is as simple as making an automatic deposit from your checking to your savings account every payday.

It could be as little as $10 or even as much as $100, but the main thing is: Do it!

If you were to put away $20 from each biweekly paycheck, you'd be setting aside $520 a year that would not be spent on pricey mochas or other trivial stuff but instead could go toward your future.

Savings for 2019: $520

2. Cut your bank fees

Bank customer inserting a bank card into an ATM
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Stop spending so much on ATM surcharges and other bank fees.

If your checking account charges monthly fees, you're paying an average $13 per month, according to a report from the CO-OP Credit Unions, which also says the average out-of-network ATM fee is $2.71 and the average overdraft charge is $32.44.

Let's suppose you use other banks' ATMs twice a month and overdraw your account four times a year. The fees for your checking account — including the basic, monthly ones — would add up to a painful $350.80 a year.

So, avoid overdrafts by setting up an alert for when you have a low balance; switch to a free checking account; and make a small purchase with your debit card to get cash back at the register the next time you're tempted to use an ATM that's not in your network.

Savings for 2019: $350.80

3. Start planning out your meals

Woman shopping in supermarket from a list on her smartphone
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Plan out your meals and make a shopping list that you'll stick to.

When you head to the grocery store without a plan, you end up overbuying. Do you need all four of those peppers or the extra pound of ground beef? Probably not, but without a plan how would you know?

Planning out your meals before the start of each week — and before you go to the supermarket — allows you to see the big food-spending picture, create a shopping list that works and buy only what you need.

As you avoid throwing money away along with food that's gone bad, you might easily shave at least $15.75 a week off your family food bill.

Savings for 2019: $819

4. Just call and ask for savings

Young woman, with man at her side, talking on her smartphone with a service provider
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You need to call service providers and ask about ways to save.

Take a close look at all of your routine bills — including your insurance, your gas bill and your cellphone plan — because you might easily be paying too much.

Sometimes, all you need to do to cut those costs is pick up your phone. It can be that easy.

A call to your insurance agent might bring new discounts that cut your car insurance rate by $120 a year, a call to your gas company could reveal hidden rebates saving $5 a month, and a call to your cellphone provider could result in a cheaper plan costing $10 less per month.

Savings for 2019: $300

5. Get a cash-back credit card

Woman's hand holding credit card with shopping bags on her arm
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Get a credit card that rewards you with cash back every time you shop.

Credit card debt is something you'll want to avoid, but a credit card can make you money on day-to-day purchases.

Let's say you use a 1% cash-back credit card on $2,920 in basic monthly expenses throughout the year. That means $29.20 in cash will go back into your pocket just for using the card. And note that cash-back cards often have better returns on certain categories of spending.

We're assuming you'll pay off your balance in full every month and before the bill is due — because you won't want to lose any of that cash to interest or late fees.

Savings for 2019: At least $29.20

Total savings possible in 2019: $2,019!

About the Author

Scott Nordlund

Scott Nordlund

Freelance Contributor

Scott is a freelance contributor to MoneyWise.

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