Saving money for the holidays doesn’t have to be difficult, but you will want to start now to maximize your bank balance. Start with these simple steps today, and you could be as much as $1,000 richer before the end of the year.
Wipe out bank fees
Many banks charge you $10 to $12 a month just to keep a checking account. If you are paying a similar amount, give yourself an instant bonus by changing to a bank that charges no monthly fee. It would be like pocketing $30 or more after three months. That may not make you rich, but it would get you started on saving. Target: $30
Sign up for a bonus
Some banks and credit unions offer sign-up bonuses of up to $300 for new customers. If you are seeking a new checking account — maybe because of Step 1 — look for an institution that offers a cash incentive for opening an account.
To qualify for a bonus, you probably will need to sign up for direct deposit or make a minimum number of transactions. Target: $300
Use a savings app
Automate your savings by linking an existing bank account to a mobile savings app that will stash away your extra change. Apps such as Acorns and Qapital track your everyday transactions and round them up to the nearest dollar, putting the difference in a special savings or investment account. A few transactions each day can add up. Target: $120
Cash in rewards
Have you joined a loyalty program with your local supermarket or clothing retailer? Are you earning points or miles on a credit card? You may already have a treasure-trove of points that you can redeem for gift cards, just in time for the holidays. If you don’t, you can start now by joining any programs offered by your favorite merchants. Target: $100
Set it and forget it
If your employer offers direct deposit, sign up for it. Then, set aside a portion of your paycheck to go directly into a special savings account for holiday spending. Say you get paid every two weeks and transfer $75 to a savings account each payday. If you don’t have direct deposit, you can set up an automated transfer from your checking account to savings. Target: $450