Seven Painless Ways to Save Hundreds of Dollars This Year for Investments

Barbara Marquand | guest writer for GoTalkMoney

The old adage, "Watch the pennies and the dollars will take care of themselves," still holds true today.

The trick is finding the spare pennies to save, especially as the country limps out of the worst recession since the Great Depression.

Feb. 21-28 is America Saves Week, a nationwide effort by local and national groups to encourage Americans to save money. In honor of the week, here are seven ways, suggested by America Saves, to eke out small bits of money each month and save hundreds of dollars this year:

1. Put Spare Change To Work in a High Yield Savings Account

Those few coins jingling in your pocket every day don't seem like much, but over a year they can add up to big bucks. The U.S. Treasury estimates that Americans hold about $15 billion in loose change. Saving just 50 cents a day in coins will get you 40 percent of the way toward a $500 fund for emergencies, notes America Saves. And just $1.37 a day will add up to the full amount.

To save your change, use only bills when you pay for cash, and save all the coins. Then cash the coins in periodically and put the money in a savings account, money market account, or certificate of deposit to earn interest. Some community banks offer free use of machines to count your change, or you can enlist your kids' help to roll up the coins yourself.

2. Fewer Fancy Coffee Drinks Equals One $500 Certificate of Deposit.

Giving up fancy drinks can save hundreds of dollars a year, and you can still get your caffeine fix. Instead of lattes and cappuccinos every day, America Saves suggests switching to regular coffee without the frills. Over the course of the year, you'll have more than enough for a $500 certificate of deposit.

3. Reduce Restaurant Meals and Boost Savings Rate.

Eliminate one dinner out at a restaurant, or bring your lunch to work instead buying it. Do either of these, and you'll save hundreds. Do both, and you could save as much as $1,000.

4. Give up premium cable channels.

Rent films instead. Online rental services and over-night movie rental kiosks are far cheaper than the high-end channels.

5. Think Investments and Use the Library.

Get reacquainted with your library. Borrowing books and reading magazines in the library will cut down on money you spend at the book store. While you're there, you can read up on investing.

6. Tune Up Your Car, and Add to Savings Account.

Keeping your tires inflated to the right pressure, and your car engine tuned can save up to $100 a year in gas.

7. Get Better Insurance Rates

Shop around for auto and homeowners' insurance. Compare rates from competing companies before you renew, and consider raising the deductibles on your insurance policies. You can reduce annual premiums by hundreds of dollars by switching the deductible to $1,000 per claim versus a couple of hundred dollars per claim. (Just make sure you have money in emergency savings to pay for the deductible in case of an accident.)

Shop for Best Savings Rates

To make the most of the money you set aside, shop for the best savings rates online. A variety of online banks offer better rates on savings accounts and CDs than big-name brick-and-mortar banks. Also consider an online interest checking account. Many online checking accounts charge no fees and offer rates as good or better than some savings accounts.

Disclaimer:This content is not provided or commissioned by American Express. Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of American Express, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by American Express. This site may be compensated through American Express Affiliate Program.

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