It’s a common feeling. A recent study found almost half the people who don’t budget avoid doing so because it’s too complicated or stressful.
Thankfully, there are numerous ways to save money without tearing your hair out over a spreadsheet. You could start by calculating your monthly savings to reach goals and assist you with budgeting. Here are five simple tricks you can use.
1. Pay yourself first
Rather than budgeting during the month and then saving whatever’s left over, try paying yourself first.
As soon as you get a paycheck, set aside a fixed amount — $75 per check, for example — in an account that’s separate from where you keep your day-to-day money.
That way you can spend whatever you like from your regular account and not have to worry about scrimping during the month to meet your financial goals.
Make sure to keep the money you set aside in a high-yield savings account. That way whatever you save will actually earn decent interest and grow over time.
Some high-yield accounts, like CIT Bank’s Savings Builder Account, come with an auto-deposit option that allows you to easily connect your checking account, so the amount you want to save will automatically be deducted each payday. You won’t even have to think about it.
2. Save your spare change for the future
If setting aside a piece of every paycheck doesn’t seem doable right now, another option is to save using your spare change instead.
There’s an app called Acorns that will round up every purchase you make with your debit or credit card to the nearest dollar, then drop that spare change into an investment account.
So if you spend $2.75 on a coffee, Acorns will round up your purchase to $3.00 and put the extra $0.25 into the investment account.
That might not seem like a lot, but just $2.50 worth of daily round-ups will become $900 per year.
Acorns also offers a retirement account, so you can start saving for your golden years now without stressing about the future.
And if you sign up using this special link, Acorns will add $10 to your account as soon as you make your first investment.
3. Shave some money off your monthly bills
Another way to save without budgeting is to trim some of the fat from your monthly bills.
Check whether you’re paying for any streaming services that you barely use or magazines that you can read online for free. Subscriptions that auto-renew are easy to forget about and could be costing you a lot.
You should also look into whether you can get a better rate on the essentials, like insurance.
Most people just stick with whatever rate they’re offered when they sign up. But by shopping around for a better rate, you could save up to $1,127 a year on car insurance alone, according to a CarInsurance.com study.
Try using a comparison service to sift through a bunch of insurance companies at once. SmartFinancial allows you to shop for better homeowners insurance, health insurance and auto insurance all in one place and even tracks down discounts that might apply to you.
All you need to do is answer a few questions about yourself, so it’s worth trying even if you’re just curious about how much you could save.
Another simple way to save money is to install the free Capital One Shopping browser extension, which will automatically try to apply coupon codes to your order when you make purchases online.
4. Cut out your spending triggers
If you’ve got a tendency to impulse-buy nonessential items, you should try your best to eliminate the triggers that encourage you to spend.
A good place to start is deleting your saved payment information from any online stores you shop at regularly. That way you won’t be able to make those one-click purchases that often lead to buyer’s remorse.
It can also be helpful to unsubscribe from weekly emails that show you the latest deals from your favorite stores. Even if an offer looks too good to pass up, remember that you’ll be spending money on something you wouldn’t have bought otherwise and likely don’t need.
Your mood can also play a big role. If you make most of your impulse purchases when you’re sad or bored, try to do something healthy like go for a walk or meditate whenever you feel those emotions coming on.
5. Let a robot do your budget
If you’d like to use a budget but don’t have the time or patience to draw one up yourself, a number of free apps out there can handle the tricky parts for you.
Rocket Money is a handy option because it will track and categorize your monthly expenses and show you your cash, credit and investment balances all in one place.
The app will also check to make sure you’re not wasting money on any subscriptions you may have forgotten about, potentially saving you hundreds of dollars a year.
And if you feel like you’re paying too much for your monthly bills, Rocket Money can negotiate a better rate on them for you for a small fee.
Fine art as an investment
Stocks can be volatile, cryptos make big swings to either side, and even gold is not immune to the market’s ups and downs.
That’s why if you are looking for the ultimate hedge, it could be worthwhile to check out a real, but overlooked asset: fine art.
Contemporary artwork has outperformed the S&P 500 by a commanding 174% over the past 25 years, according to the Citi Global Art Market chart.
And it’s becoming a popular way to diversify because it’s a real physical asset with little correlation to the stock market.
On a scale of -1 to +1, with 0 representing no link at all, Citi found the correlation between contemporary art and the S&P 500 was just 0.12 during the past 25 years.
Earlier this year, Bank of America investment chief Michael Harnett singled out artwork as a sharp way to outperform over the next decade — due largely to the asset’s track record as an inflation hedge.
Investing in art by the likes of Banksy and Andy Warhol used to be an option only for the ultrarich. But with a new investing platform, you can invest in iconic artworks just like Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates do.