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After a holiday season filled with gifts, travel and dining out, now is the time to start focusing on improving your financial situation in 2018 — and boosting your savings.
Here are four ways to save in the new year — with simple tips for every season — that can help you start stashing a significant sum right way.
Save $20 a week via automatic transfer from checking to savings.
This winter, focus on putting your savings strategy on autopilot. Save $20 a week automatically through an online transfer from checking to savings, ideally soon after you are paid. Almost all banking institutions will, on request, automatically transfer funds monthly from your checking account to a savings account. You can sign up for the weekly recurring transfer online; your bank can walk you through it. You can even have your employer make the automatic deposit to your savings account so you never even see the money. Many workers get paid twice a month, so you can do this every payday. If you're your own boss or you get paid on another schedule, make sure that when you get a check, you pay yourself first. What you don't see, you probably won't miss. These savings will provide funds for emergencies, home purchase, school tuition or even retirement.
Starting in January, if you deposit $20 a week for 52 weeks into your savings account, you’ll have $1,040 saved by the end of the year.
Ditch the bank fees (checking accounts, ATMs and overdraft).
Now that you have a strategy in place to move some money from checking to savings twice a month, let's do some spring cleaning in those bank accounts. Start by getting rid of excessive or unnecessary fees.
Checking account fees: Do you have a free checking account, no strings attached? The average fee on a noninterest bearing checking account was $5.84 in 2017. Switch to a free checking account and ditch that fee. Over the next nine months you'll save $52.56 on average.
ATM surcharge: The average cost of an out-of-network ATM withdrawal is $4.69, according to the 2017 Bankrate checking account survey. Assuming you do this once a month, if you stop now and only use your bank's ATMs, you'll save $42.21 on average this year.
Overdraft fees: The fee that banks charge you when your purchases exceed the amount of money available in your account set a record in 2017 — the average overdraft cost was $33.38. Even if it just happened once last year, make sure you don’t go into overdraft at all in 2018.
Start watching out for those extra charges starting in April. Make sure you never incur an overdraft fee, then ditch checking and ATM fees over nine months and you’ll save $128.
Get a side job.
Got a little downtime during the summer months? Then join more than 44 million American adults who have a side — job helping them earn a little extra money — according to another Bankrate.com report. Your side “job” can be taking care of a child or an elderly neighbor for several hours a week, tutoring or teaching an instrument to a willing student, walking a neighbor’s dog or renting your room or your house on Airbnb. Most people do it monthly and more than a third can earn more than $500 a month with the extra gig. Bankrate's survey found that younger millennials (ages 18 to 26) are the age group most likely to have a “side hustle,” and they make a median of $200 monthly from these gigs.
So get a side job for the summer and save that extra income. If you do this for three months — June, July and August — and save an average of $200 a month, you’ll have an extra $600 to add to your savings account.
Give yourself an insurance checkup.
Most major employers have what is known as "open enrollment" every fall for employees to review and re-evaluate their health insurance and sign up for next year's coverage. There's not much wiggle room in finding savings there, but you can take this as an opportunity to review other insurance policies you own, like your car insurance. A J.D. Power study finds that only about one-third of customers actually switch auto insurance carriers every year, but those who do can rack up some big savings. The firm’s latest study found customers who switched to a new car insurance carrier saved $351 on average on their annual premiums. Switch now and if you've already paid your premium for this year, many insurers will give you a refund or credit that amount to your new policy. Add money you saved by switching to a new insurance carrier — again, $351 on average — to your savings account.
Follow all of these steps and you’ll have saved more than $2,018 in 2018 — your grand total to add to savings will be $2,119!