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4 Ways to Save While You Spend

hand holding a mobile phone with app opened

After making your monthly car, rent, and student loan payments, then spending what you need for essentials, saving money can be tough. If what you are trying to save for is a home, the prospect of putting away enough for a down payment may seem daunting, but it's not impossible.

Here are four ways to squeeze a few extra dollars out of your budget each week by leveraging your expenses to create added savings.

1. Round Up

Back in the day, this low-tech strategy involved putting all the change you collected during the day in a "spare change" jar. If you really wanted to boost your saving efforts, you would add every five-dollar bill left in your wallet at day's end to the jar as well. This tactic remains a simplistic but effective way of saving money without missing it … if you pay in cash.

Fortunately, in today's world of mobile, debit, and credit card-based transactions, there is an app that recreates this strategy. Acorns will round up and electronically slough off your spare change for you. Not only does the app collect your dollars and cents in a virtual spare change jar, it automatically invests that money for you in exchange traded funds (ETFs). Acorns is not a substitute for saving, but the program can chip in to help you get to your goal faster.

2. Get Rewarded

Whether you make purchases with a credit card that you pay in full each month or a with debit card, you should be receiving cash-back rewards, preferably with no annual fees or limits. Using a rewards card in general—whether you get cash back or points for gift cards—makes every purchase a little more tolerable since this benefit puts you that much closer to your goal.

Loyalty programs—whether they deliver points or special discounts—can also shave dollars off purchases you planned to make anyway. When this happens, try to keep the amount you saved in an account, rather than buying more.

3. Clip Virtual Savings

Another way to nickel and dime into additional savings is by using a coupon app like Ibotta After a trip to one of the stores covered by this program—which includes most large grocery and drug stores, as well as several big-box and national clothing retailers—you can electronically clip coupons for what you actually bought. You then provide proof of purchase by scanning the bar codes and sending a photo of your store receipt. This can all be done from the comfort of your home and away from the glaring eyes of the people behind you in line.

The cash you accumulate is credited to an electronic account and paid to you through your PayPal or Venmo accounts or via gift cards. Consumers who favor big brands, buy liquor, or purchase disposable diapers regularly will find the app more lucrative than other types of shoppers.

4. Save on the Dips

Digit is a savings app that uses an algorithm to determine whether or not you have excess cash in your checking account. Digit essentially removes the need to make a decision about what and how much to put aside each week. It quietly works in the background sweeping the excess change in your checking account into savings.

These shortcuts can complement your regular savings and get you into down payment territory faster. None require much sacrifice in terms of your time or spending, and they can help you chip away at your savings goals, on transaction at a time.

How low will your payment be?