Saving

60% of Americans now consider themselves savers ― these 4 tips can help you become one, too

Renegotiating your bills and planning out meals are just two things that can help you save money every month. Here are tips for those seeking new ways to save.

Twenty/20

The coronavirus pandemic has brought on tremendous financial hardship for millions of Americans. But even as they figure out how to weather the storm, many are taking control of their finances.

The number of people who classify themselves as "savers" rather than "spenders" has risen to 60% this year, up from 54% last year, according to an August 2020 CNBC + Acorns Invest in You survey of more than 5,400 adults. About half of respondents also said they've decreased their spending in the past 12 months.

That habit shift is showing up in rainy day funds. Just 21% of U.S. adults report having no emergency savings, down from 28% last year, according to a new Bankrate survey. It's the lowest figure recorded in the decade Bankrate has conducted the survey.

These four tips can help you adopt a "saver" mindset and improve your savings habits.

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Renegotiate your bills

"When was the last time you called your cable provider to see if there was any type of deal or trying to lower your plan?" says savings expert Andrea Woroch. "I do this every year. I notice that my bill is about to go up, so I get ahead of it. I call in and see how I can lower it."

Consider your various bills and see if your providers are offering any deals you can take up. Even if they're not, consider what you'd want to pay and give these companies a call to see if they'd be willing to work with you.

When you speak to a given company, the first thing to say is you want to cancel the account because it costs too much, Brian Keaney, COO and co-founder of bill negotiation company Billshark, previously told Grow. "You can continue to overpay and pay providers more every month, or you can fight for discounts," Keany said.

When was the last time you called your cable provider to see if there was any type of deal or trying to lower your plan? I do this every year.
Andrea Woroch
Savings expert

Shop with a list

When you do spend, it helps to go in prepared with a list. That helps you avoid impulse purchases and panic buying, which can lead to overspending.

"Let's say you shop three times a week and you spend an extra $20 each time," Woroch says. "That's an extra $60 a week. That's an extra $120 over two weeks," she says.

For grocery shopping in particular, meal planning is an important preparation for that list. "Meal planning is really great because that helps you reduce how much you throw away in the trash," she says. Woroch suggests going to the supermarket every other week and planning the meals you'll want to cook ahead of time. That way you only buy what you need instead of getting things impulsively where you could easily overspend. 

"Look for recipes that use overlapping ingredients," she says. "You really need to be careful here because if you're not, food could go bad and you're just throwing money away in the trash."

Cut back on your paid subscriptions

As people spend more time inside and social distance, it's easy to rack up entertainment subscriptions to services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime. But even if each of these is only $6 to $16 per month, altogether, they can add up to hundreds of dollars a month.

Look over your bank and credit card statements, or use a site like Truebill, to find all the subscriptions you're paying for each month. You might find a few you could easily cancel.

"You don't have to pay for all the subscriptions," says Woroch. "A lot of people don't realize that through their public library, they can actually borrow digital movies, videos, shows, documentaries, digital books, audio books." Sign up for a membership at your local library and start digging through its bounty.

You can choose from an assortment of other free options to get your entertainment like Project Gutenberg, which has a library of more than 60,000 free e-books for download, and streaming sites like Crackle and Pluto TV with an array of their own films and television.

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Set up automatic contributions to a savings account

One easy way to save money is to start making automatic contributions to a high-yield savings account. Set them up so that part of every paycheck gets pulled from your checking account into savings. "Paying yourself first," as this move is called, helps you commit to saving.

"Let's say you save $20 on your video streaming services," says Woroch. "Automate that monthly amount into a separate savings account" and let it add up.

Even small contributions can add up over time, helping you reach your financial goals and be more resilient in a financially challenging situation.

"We really don't know what's ahead for us," says Woroch. Putting money aside regularly will "just give you a little bit more peace of mind."

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