This article is sponsored by Wikibuy. The financial advice included in the article reflects the opinions and assessments of TFD.
Whether or not you’re working from home, you may be finding it much easier than ever to save money while we’re all practicing social distancing. After all, when it comes to saving, we tend to axe a few specific budget areas before anything else: restaurant spending, entertainment, and happy hours or other social spending. It’s easy to spend way less on these things when we don’t have the option to spend on them at all. But there are ways you can aim to save even more.
Saving money is often tied to spending, and just because you’re staying home and social distancing doesn’t mean you’re not spending any money. That’s why we’ve partnered with Wikibuy — a simple, seamless way to save money while you shop online — to talk about the many different ways you can save more even while spending the majority of your time at home. Here are 4 ways to save money on purchases, put your existing money to work, and other ways to increase your savings.
1. Put your savings in a high-yield savings account or CD.
With the uncertain state of the world, now is not the time to tie up your liquid assets in investments. Your emergency fund is likely more important than ever. If you’ve done the work of saving any sort of emergency fund before now, pat yourself on the back — that’s a huge step towards taking care of yourself and your future, and you should feel beyond proud that you had the foresight to do so.
But make sure you’re putting your emergency fund and other short-term savings to work, even if they’re not being invested. Look into an online high-yield savings account for any savings you need to keep liquid. These pay 20-25 times more interest on your money than a typical savings account (typically up to 2 percent), so you’ll be earning much more off your savings than if you simply keep it in your checking account.
You could look into other savings mechanisms for other short-term savings, like a certificate of deposit (CD). These are offered by many banks and credit unions, and they involve putting away a lump sum of money for a set amount of time (typically between 3 and 18 months). In exchange for setting your lump sum aside for the predetermined amount of time, you’ll earn premium interest on the sum, the rate of which will be determined by your financial service provider. But you won’t earn that interest unless you actually keep your money in the CD for the set amount of time, so this isn’t a great place for something you need totally liquid, like your emergency fund. However, a CD could be a great option for building on short-term savings that you won’t need to touch for a while, such as a house down payment fund.
Bonus, there’s no need to go to a brick-and-mortar store to open either of these accounts. Here is a list of just some of the many online banking options available. Of course, do your research and compare all your options before opening an account.
2. Use a browser button like Wikibuy to save on online purchases.
When you do the majority of your shopping online, it’s actually easier to make sure you’re getting as many discounts as possible. Now, coupons or sales should never be an excuse to spend more than is responsible for you — but if you’re buying things you need, or that you were already going to buy anyway, there’s no reason not to get the best price possible.
If you’re looking to save on your essential online purchases, Wikibuy makes it simple and seamless. Wikibuy is a free extension that instantly drops crowd-sourced promo codes into your cart across thousands of sites, and it’s available on several browsers. It offers loyalty credits at Amazon, Walmart.com, and thousands of other retailers, which can be redeemed for gift cards. While you’re browsing on Amazon, Home Depot, Target or Best Buy, the plugin will notify you with a friendly little pop-up if an item is available cheaper elsewhere before you check out. No need to waste your time scoping out coupon codes or comparing prices on different retail sites — Wikibuy will do that for you.
3. Cancel or suspend any recurring subscriptions you’re not using (or don’t need).
You might have found that some of your recurring expenses have already been suspended without you even having to do anything. For instance, a lot of gyms are automatically freezing membership payments until things return to normal. That’s great, but don’t count on your gym, yoga studio, movie theater membership, etc. to automatically freeze your account.
Look at your budget spreadsheet or last month’s credit card statement — are there any recurring expenses listed you know you won’t be using this month? Additionally, are there any that you might use, but really don’t need? (Lookin’ at you, wine delivery subscription.) Oftentimes, subscription services will let you skip a week or a month at a time very easily through their website. For other services, especially gym memberships, you may need to make a quick phone call to get your account canceled or suspended. Pro tip: be sure to mention you need to cancel or suspend your membership “because of the coronavirus” or “because of COVID-19,” as some customer service representatives have been told they need to hear those specific keywords in order to make an account adjustment.
4. Don’t touch your investments.
Seriously guys, don’t touch your face — and don’t touch your investments. You’ve most likely heard (or seen from your own 401k) about how much stocks have fallen due to the coronavirus epidemic. While that can be disheartening news for investors, it shouldn’t impact your long-term investment decisions. You will never have control over the market, and when it comes to your long-term goals (like retirement), the most important investing rule is to simply start as early as possible. That means leaving your invested assets alone, even if they’re going through a rough patch.
Now, this isn’t a tip for short-term savings, of course. But by simply not touching your investments and letting them continue to grow over time, you are doing a lot more for the long-term growth of your money than you would be if you took it out of the market. Here’s a bit more explanation from the New York Times:
We do know, however, that stocks can fall by 10 percent or 20 percent or more in relatively quick fashion. It’s what markets do, at least sometimes. We’ve seen it before, in 1987, in 2001 and in 2008. And we’ll see it again after this passes. There’s always a next time.
Few people had the “spreading virus spooks markets and threatens economy” square on their global meltdown bingo card. We don’t know what will cause the next drop, either. So predictions are mostly useless, today and always.
But there are a couple things we know: Stocks have delivered decent gains over long periods of time to people who persist, and successful investors do not buy when prices are high and sell when they are low.
Nothing that is happening today changes that.
At some point, of course, there comes a point of diminishing returns when it comes to saving — it’s impossible to save your income if you don’t have any to speak of during a certain time period. Earning more is the fastest and best way to save more, but that when earning more simply isn’t possible, don’t get down on yourself. The point is to try and save where you can, and keep implementing tips like these at every opportunity.
If you’ve started making most of your essential purchases online, you should check out Wikibuy. The Wikibuy extension is completely free to use,and will never show ads or slow down a shopping experience. Just add Wikibuy to your browser, and let the savings pile up on purchases you were already going to make.
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