“Little Money” Saving + Earning Ideas: Easily Stash $1000+ Every Year

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Years ago I belonged to a frugal group where we often discussed the “little money” method of saving money. I discovered that I could easily set aside at least $1000/year without even noticing or really making much extra effort in my daily activities. With the increasing number of online opportunities now available to help you save and earn, the possibilities are even greater!

Some of these ideas require effort on your part. I understand that some of you will say, “It’s not worth my time. I can work one extra hour at my job and earn more than I ever would doing something like returning cans or hanging laundry.” Sure, I get that.

But for those of you who have more time and no significant regular income sources, here are some perfect ways to begin working toward your financial goals. Even if you do have a good regular income, some of these ideas are just plain smart.

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Set a Goal

Speaking of goals, you will never get anywhere if you don’t have one. You might do a few of these things for a few weeks, but then you will blow what you’ve saved on going out to eat. Don’t do that.

Set a specific goal in writing for exactly what you want to do with this money. Some ideas would include:

  • Paying down debt
  • Stashing cash in an emergency fund (you need one)
  • Saving for an event like a special party
  • Saving for home improvements or decorating
  • An annual gift fund (yep, you need one of those too)

If you feel like you need to start somewhere to find extra money for your goals, then set your mind to trying at least one of these suggestions. They won’t all work for everyone, but you should be able to find something here that sparks the thought, “Sure, I can do that!”



Save and Earn


Checkbook rounding

This is my favorite way to stash money in savings! Round every deposit down to the nearest $5 and every expenditure up to the nearest $5. It takes almost no time and for me it adds up to about $45 every month that goes straight into savings. (Your amount will vary.) I spend about 5 minutes a month with a calculator and the checkbook, including the time online to transfer the money from checking to savings. (More on my favorite online bank toward the end of the post.) If you use a debit card for frequent purchases, your savings could be significantly more.

Yes, there are are some online programs that claim to do this or something similar for you. Acorns and Digit are two that come to mind. (I have NOT personally used these programs.) But I’m old-school. I like to keep control of my money and I don’t like to pay fees. If you are interested in something automated, check them out. You need to do what works for you. 🙂


Have a big financial goal? Need to start saving extra money? Try these tips! #moneytips Click To Tweet


Picking up & returning cans

With Michigan’s 10¢ deposit law, cans & bottles are pretty valuable. We live on country roads where a lot of people toss empty cans out of their car windows. A short walk can yield quite a few cans.

There are also a lot of people who simply hate returning cans and just don’t do it. Our neighbor is one of those people, and our boys have benefited greatly from this over the years. Seriously, they have been given hundreds’ of dollars worth of cans. If you live in a bottle-deposit state and have friends who hate returning cans, offer to take them. You’ll both benefit – they’ll be happy to have one less chore, and you’ll make some money.


Hanging laundry

Admittedly I don’t do this one much these days. We have a propane dryer & propane is seriously cheap right now. Plus I found that after a few times of line-drying, our towels and clothes would get stinky — likely due to our poor water quality, but still an issue to consider. 

Some people do like hanging laundry, loving the decreased wear and tear on their clothing and the positivity of using fewer resources. If you’re one of those people, kudos to you! *high five* I’m not, and using my dryer is something I was crazy-happy to do when propane prices decreased. But when I did hang laundry, I paid myself .25/load, which came out to about $10/month.


Rolling coins

When you pay with cash, never use your coins, only paper money. Stash those coins & roll them when you have enough. (My bank gives out free coin roll papers on request.) I have heard some banks charge you a fee to deposit rolled coins, which is ridiculous. If your bank does this, find a new one.

I avoid Coinstar kiosks because of the fee to get cash, but they have some gift card options now which eliminate the fee. This could be worth checking out if you were going to shop at the brands offered. Then, instead of spending that money out of your checking account, transfer it to savings.

Depending on how often I get out of the house and pay cash for things, my rolled coin savings averages about $60/year. Nope, not a lot. But it’s nice to see it going into savings a chunk at a time rather than disappearing throughout the year. To take it a step further, you could save all of your $1 — maybe even $5 — bills. That really amps up the savings rate!


Coupon savings

When you use a coupon for something that you would buy anyway, transfer the money you would have spent into savings. Do not fall into the trap of using coupons on things you would never normally purchase and then pretend you are saving money. (If you don’t want to think about using coupons, shop at Aldi. They have great prices and don’t accept coupons. Easy!)


Shopping apps

So maybe you’re not into using physical coupons. Neither am I. (And I used to be a coupon queen! You can read more about what changed HERE.) Instead, shopping apps may be more up your alley. What I like about these is that they usually pay out through PayPal, and then it’s easy to transfer that chunk right into savings when you meet the payout minimum. That means no keeping track of 50 or 75 cents here and there.

I think shopping apps work best if you shop often. Since I really only shop once a month — and even then it’s mostly at Aldi — I don’t earn that much.

A few apps to try:

  • Ibotta (Get $10 when you join and redeem a rebate!)
  • Checkout 51
  • ReceiptHog (This is one of my favorites, just snap receipts of almost any shopping trip.)
  • SavingStar
  • Ebates (Get a $10 bonus when you join and make a qualifying purchase. This is a great program if you shop online; you can also connect a credit card to earn from select in-person shopping locations.)


Rewards credit card

Not everyone uses credit cards, but we do have one. It’s a rewards card that gives us a percentage back on all of our purchases. We use it for gas, groceries, recurring bill payments, and planned purchases. Even though we are fairly conservative shoppers, we still earn at least $250/yr from our card.

If you’ve read my post on taking one main step to reach your financial goals, then you know I’m a huge Dave Ramsey fan. Trust me, I know this point goes against his recommendations — but that’s why personal finance is personal. 😉 We always pay off the card every month and there is no annual fee, so it works for us. If you or your spouse have a spending issue, then I do not recommend this earning method.


Pennies make dollars, and dollars make a difference! #moneytips #personalfinance Click To Tweet


Track the Money

To make this effort worthwhile, you need to track the money. One way is to write everything down in a notebook. Another — my personal choice — is to use a spreadsheet page. I made a simple spreadsheet in Google Sheets for you — access it HERE. Then, click “File > Download as > your preferred format” to save a copy for yourself. From there you can personalize the spreadsheet to fit your own style.

The first page is for people who like to track every single thing and make notes. More scrolling, but more detailed.

little money p1 image (1)


The second page is for people who only want to do a few things and see how they are progressing for the year at a glance.

little money p2 image (1)

Even if you send the money toward debt payoff every month, tracking the amounts will help you feel good about the progress you are making.


Keep the Money Separate

If your goal is savings, the best way to keep your money accessible but separate is to create an online account. I use Capital One 360 and love it! I’ve been with them for about 15 years — since they were called ING and nobody had a clue about this “online banking” thing. In all that time, I have never once had an issue or negative experience with them.

The main thing I like about having an account there is that I can set up multiple savings accounts for different things — emergency fund, little money savings, vehicle savings, etc. I think they now limit to 15 accounts, but that’s usually sufficient. Also, any information you need about your account is easily accessible — like routing numbers for moving your money, etc. 

“Little Money” Saving + Earning Ideas: Easily Stash $1000+ Every Year | {Free Tracking Spreadsheet Download} Click through to find out how to use Little Money saving & earning ideas as tools to reach your financial goals. | www.fillingthejars.com

“Little Money” Saving + Earning Ideas: Easily Stash $1000+ Every Year | {Free Tracking Spreadsheet Download} Click through to find out how to use Little Money saving & earning ideas as tools to reach your financial goals. | www.fillingthejars.com

Set that financial goal and then work for it! Don’t ever think that Little Money amounts are too small to make a difference in your financial picture. It all starts with attitude. Pennies make dollars, and dollars make a difference!

“Little Money” Saving + Earning Ideas: Easily Stash $1000+ Every Year | {Free Tracking Spreadsheet Download} Click through to find out how to use Little Money saving & earning ideas as tools to reach your financial goals. | www.fillingthejars.com
“Little Money” Saving + Earning Ideas: Easily Stash $1000+ Every Year | {Free Tracking Spreadsheet Download} Click through to find out how to use Little Money saving & earning ideas as tools to reach your financial goals. | www.fillingthejars.com


14 thoughts on ““Little Money” Saving + Earning Ideas: Easily Stash $1000+ Every Year”

    1. Well, I had to laugh a little bit when my dryer quit the day after I published this post! It’s back to hanging laundry until I have time to go buy another dryer. Baking soda definitely helps! Thanks, Kathleen!

  1. I love to save change, my husband makes fun of me for it, but he isn’t laughing when I am putting 2-4 hundred dollars a year in our savings account!! Great post, Pinned it!

  2. Love these tips! I think the one that has helped me the most is tracking my spending. In the world of debt/charge cards it is so easy to lose track of how much we spend.

  3. Hey! I love this post! Even though I am in England so many of the tips are transferable! I’ve tweeted it as I think so many people can benefit. And thanks to your reader about the bicarb tip. Do I just put some in the washing machine? Wish you could find that out, lol.
    But thanks for a great useful post

    1. Hi Jo & Leisa! You can add 1/2-cup of baking soda directly to the washing machine when beginning the wash cycle. I actually find it less expensive to run my dryer than to use that much baking soda with every load, but I do use it when I’m doing a “refresh” of towels and washcloths. But I also use hot water when I do that, the baking soda MAY not be as effective in cooler water? I have a top-loader, not sure if it’s different for front-loaders.

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