It seems to be the age of clever hacks, a time when we seek out the brilliant little brainstorms that can transform our lives in a series of aha moments. But sometimes it's okay skip the whimsical workarounds and just tackle a problem straight on, no bells or whistles required. Since there are an infinite number of super clever ways to save money, we're taking the other tack here — basic, maybe-not-so-exciting things you can do to fatten your wallet. Here's the best part: Not only are they proven to work well, but they are virtually painless.
1. Call in a favor
Are your credit card interest rates sky-high? Do late fees promise to be your undoing? A report from creditcards.com reveals that 65 percent of people who requested a reduction in interest rates received one. Similarly, 86 percent of those who asked to have a late fee waived were granted forgiveness.
2. Boost your credit score
Improving your credit score is arguably one of the easiest and most important ways to save money. “From home loans and car loans to credit cards and auto insurance, a good credit score can save you a small fortune,” writes U.S. News & Report. “Over a lifetime, the savings can easily reach tens of thousands of dollars.”
3. Milk the rewards
If you have decent credit and don’t already use a cash-back or other reward credit card, you are throwing money away. Some cards pay up to 5 percent cash on purchases; by using a card like that for all of your everyday expenses and monthly bills, you will get the equivalent of a 5 percent discount on said expenditures.
4. Whack some bank accounts
It may feel like spreading out your money among several bank accounts is a smart way to save money, but it turns out such is not the case. University of Kansas School of Business professor Promothesh Chatterjee says that people save more money and spend less when they have a single bank account rather than several. “When you have multiple accounts — especially if they are held at different financial institutions — it’s easier to lose track of your goals and stay on top of where your money is going,” says Mandi Woodruff on Yahoo!Finance.
5. Join your 401(k)
This may come as a surprise to exactly no-one, but we’re going to say it anyway: Enrolling in your 401(k) plan forces you to save money. How much? A study by the National Bureau of Economic Research of 200,000 employees across seven companies found the savings rates were double for those who were auto-enrolled compared to those who had to manually enroll. So even if auto enrollment isn't an option, just do it.
6. Seek support
Peer pressure proves to be a wonderful incentive for saving. In one study, researchers found that when people were put into saving-oriented self-help groups, the number of savings deposits grows 3.5-fold and the average savings balance almost doubled!