The ways to save money fast

1. Ditch unnecessary subscription services

We use our payment cards for everything from Netflix to Amazon to free trials we signed up for but forgot about.

To be an effective saver, get rid of unnecessary subscriptions. Then, put the money you’re no longer spending into your savings.

It may seem like a chore to examine your credit and debit transactions to figure out which subscription services you pay for. Some banks offer digital features to make it easy. For instance, Wells Fargo showcases all of your recurring transactions in a digital hub it calls Control Tower. Bank of America’s virtual financial assistant, Erica, flags customers when a recurring charge or membership fee increases. Same with U.S. Bank’s mobile banking app.

You don’t have to have an account at a specific institution to get a helping hand. There are a number of fintech apps, like Trim, Truebill and Bill Slasher, that are designed to help you find ways to save on subscriptions and other bills.

2. Try an app that helps you save without thinking about it

If you often forget to put money into your savings account or struggle to know how much to sock away, consider using an app that does the work for you.

There are plenty of options. Consider trying an auto-savings app like Qapital or Digit or Fifth Third Bank’s Dobot. These automated savings apps are designed to move money on your behalf so that you’re building a savings habit while living your life.

You won’t earn the highest APY on your deposits (or sometimes any) with these apps, so once you’ve saved up a bundle, consider transferring the money into a high-yield account.

3. Set up automatic payments for bills if you make a steady salary

We’re busy. It’s all too easy to forget to pay all of our bills on time, especially if we travel a lot.

One of the easy ways to save money is to pay your bills when they’re due, assuming you can afford to do so.

Companies charge you late fees for any balances that are overdue. While this might amount to just $5 here or $10 there, those fees quickly add up — especially if you pay multiple bills late. Some billers might charge you steeper fees, too. If you’re late on your credit card bill for the first time, issuers can charge up to $28 for your first delinquency, for instance.

If you earn steady paychecks, set up automatic payments for bills to make sure they’re paid whether you’re home or traveling. It’s also important to keep an eye on your bank account balance to avoid overdraft fees.

If you have an irregular income, you may want to hold off automating your bill payments. Instead, consider trying a service like Steady. The app will help you boost your income by connecting you to side hustles when your payday and bill due dates are at odds. Then, add to your savings account whenever your paycheck hits. Potentially, you can automate this task.

Some banks let you set up a rule within your digital banking account. At JPMorgan Chase, digital bank customers can set up an auto-savings rule so that when they, say, receive a $1,000 deposit, the bank will automatically move $100 of it into a savings account.

4. Switch banks

Banks make a lot of money from account fees. In fact, big banks with at least $1 billion in assets made $11.68 billion in 2019 in overdraft and non-sufficient funds fees alone, according to an analysis of FDIC data by the Center for Responsible Lending.

If you pay monthly fees for a checking or savings account, it’s time to switch banks to save money. There are plenty of banks that offer free accounts. Some banks will give you a generous bonus just for opening an account.

For your savings account, look for one that pays a competitive yield. Many online banks and fintech companies pay 1 percent APY or more on savings. Compare savings accounts to find one that fits your needs.

5. Open a short-term CD

If you can afford to leave your savings in a certificate of deposit for up to a year, you may find value in opening a short-term CD. The best one-year CDs can help you earn a higher APY than a savings account. Make sure to shop around to find the highest yields.

If you’re just starting to build your savings, look for an account that requires no minimum deposit or a small one. You can compare rates and minimum deposits for CDs ranging from one-month terms to one-year terms on Bankrate.

One important caveat: If you think you might need the cash before the CD term ends, avoid CDs so you won’t have to pay early withdrawal penalties.

6. Sign up for rewards and loyalty programs

There’s a good chance you already have discount cards for grocery stores and drugstores in your area. If you don’t, sign up for them to get immediate savings on food, household supplies and other goods you use on a daily basis.

If you do, make sure you’re using the programs to their fullest. Sign up for emails and download the stores’ apps to receive additional savings. Use the cards regularly to help save money at checkout or to earn rewards for free items, discounts at the gas pump or even money off of future purchases.

Pay attention to the brands’ social media handles, too. The brands you buy from could promote specials among their tweets and Instagram photos.