There are thousands of ways to save money and make more of it, but chasing after every single tip will likely just make you overwhelmed rather than rich.
That’s why it’s helpful to find out what the experts say are the best ways to save and earn more.
GOBankingRates put the question to 13 experts on everything personal finance, business, and entrepreneurship:
“In your opinion, what’s the easiest way to save money or to make money?”
From how to save with every paycheck to taking your career or business venture to the next level, here’s what the experts had to say.
1. Trick yourself into saving.
Stephen Dubner, who co-authored the New York Times best-selling book “Freakonomics” with economist Steven Levitt and is a co-host of the “Freakonomics Radio” podcast, said a lot of saving money comes down to how you mentally frame money management.
“I am a firm believer in tricking yourself into saving if need be, and taking advantage of what behavioral economists call mental accounting — i.e., treating different piles of money with different intentions (as much as a classical economist might scoff at that),” Dubner said. “Also, discipline really helps. Since I’m self-employed, the first thing I do when receiving any paycheck is divert the appropriate%age into a set-aside savings account for paying taxes.”
Dubner also advises skipping a commonly used bank product: “I’ve never owned a credit card — only a charge card. Too easy to spend money you don’t have, or don’t really need to spend.”
2. Follow your passion.
“Tapping into your passion is the best way to make money,” said Emma Johnson, who is a journalist, business owner, and founder of the popular blog, as well as her podcast, “Like a Mother with Emma Johnson.”
Johnson says passion and the drive that comes with it are what will separate you from the competition in your field. “The market is crowded with a lot of people doing similar things,” Johnson said. “Your spark, the thing you love to do most — that is the thing you can bring to the world that no one else can. Devise a business around that, and it’s solid gold.”
3. Start saving young and saving small.
Clark Howard, consumer expert and host of “The Clark Howard Show,” had advice especially for young people for whom the challenges of money management are still new: “Start off living on half of your paycheck.”
Howard points out that avoiding lifestyle inflation and continuing to live frugally beyond college can be relatively easy, but yield significant savings.
“If you’ve been used to being a student living on almost nothing, half of a paycheck from your first post-school job seems like a lot of money,” Howard said. “That other half saved will be a lot of money.” Those who are beyond that stage of life can still work toward building a savings habit by starting small, Howard said:
“If you are past that time in your life, start by saving a penny of each dollar that you make and step it up another penny every 6 months. In five years you will be saving 10 cents of every dollar you make, and in ten you will be saving 20 cents of every dollar you make.”
4. Automate your savings.
Farnoosh Torabi, best-selling author, personal finance expert and host of the podcast “So Money with Farnoosh Torabi,” has a simple approach to saving: “Set it and forget it.”
Torabi points out that saving with automatic transfers takes willpower and effort out of the equation. “Commit to a monthly percentage of your take-home pay that will be automatically transferred into its own account,” Torabi said. “I recommend at least 10%. Do this before any other financial step. Set the transfer amount, a consistent transfer date and boom — done. In a year, you’ll be shocked how much you managed to save — and with little effort!”
5. Find a need and meet it.
According to Pat Flynn, online businessman and host of “The Smart Passive Income Podcast,” your income comes down to how well you can provide solutions when they’re needed.
“The easiest way to make money is to provide value to others in need,” Flynn said. “Earnings are a byproduct of how well you serve your audience. That’s just really what it comes down to.” Flynn points to freelancing and entrepreneurship as good opportunities to do this. “Freelancing, for example, is using your skills as a service to help others who need that kind of work done, and it can be a win-win situation for everyone involved,” he said. “Building a brand or a company that creates solutions, both digital and physical, can be a fantastic way to create supplemental income and passive income as well.”
6. Maximize your market reach.
Robert Kiyosaki has built a following through his “Rich Dad” brand, which started with the best-selling book “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” and includes the “Rich Dad Radio Show.” Kiyosaki’s take on how to earn more money is to focus on a broader market or audience.
“For me, I make more money when I focus on serving more people,” Kiyosaki said. “For example, I write a book — rather than hold small meetings or talk with small groups — to serve more people. If I write a good book and it serves a lot of people, I make more money.”
7. Save your change.
Ric Edelman, chairman and CEO of Edelman Financial Services and host of “The Truth About Money with Ric Edelman,” offers a neat trick on how to find extra savings even on a tight budget:
“Never spend change; spend only paper currency on daily expenses like coffee and lunch. By using dollar bills — two dollars for an item costing $1.02, even though you have pennies in your pocket or purse — and collecting the coins, you’ll amass $30 to $40 every month, literally without even trying. This also means you need to stop using credit and debit cards so much.”
8. Invest in a 401(k) and then stocks.
Chris Hill, a financial analyst for Motley Fool and host of the brand’s radio show, “Motley Fool Money,” focuses his advice on investing wisely: “First, you should max out your 401(k) plan, especially if your employer has a matching program,” Hill said.
Once retirement investments are taken care of, savers can expand their money strategy to include stocks. “Remember that history has proven that investing in stocks is the best way to make money in the long run,” Hill said. “The longer you can buy and hold onto shares of great companies, the better your returns will be.”
9. Find your competitive edge.
Laura Adams, host of the “Money Girl” podcast, gave savings advice that echoes Torabi’s: “The easiest way to save money is to automate the process, preferably through an automatic payroll deduction.” When it comes to making money, however, Adams said that finding your competitive edge is key. “The easiest way to make money is to figure out what you do better than most people,” Adams said. “Then provide that value to an employer or to your own customers.”
10. Create a stream of money.
Matt Theriault, a real estate investor and host of podcast “Epic Real Estate Investing,” said that frugality is the wrong approach to take. “‘Saving’ money is a losing proposition,” Theriault said. “Don’t bother. And ‘making money’ is the wrong mindset. ‘Creating streams of money’ is where one’s attention should be focused.”
Theriault also provided a starting point for those looking to create a stream of money: “I would say an internet business has the lowest barrier to entry while offering the highest rewards. Supply a demand and charge a monthly fee for it. It isn’t easy, though. Simple. Not easy. No such thing as sustainable ‘easy money’ — of which ‘sustainable’ is the only type of money anyone should be interested in making.”
11. Provide value at a pain point.
John Lee Dumas is an entrepreneur and host of the podcast “Entrepreneur On Fire.” His advice for saving is simple: “Spend less then you make and save the difference.” Dumas’ business philosophy is also simple. “The easiest way to make money?” Dumas said. “Provide incredible value to a starving audience’s verified pain point.”
12. Practice financial discipline and balance.
Andrew Horowitz, a CFP, author and host of “The Disciplined Investor,” said it takes grit to really save money and build wealth. “There is no easy way,” Horowitz said. “It takes discipline and a realization that a balance between spending today and saving for the future has to be part of a lifestyle.”
13. Find what works for you.
When it comes to saving or making money, “there is always some ‘low hanging fruit’ in both categories, but I think it depends on the person,” said Brandon Turner, real estate investor and co-host of the “BiggerPockets Podcast.”
Turner admitted this was a bit of a cop-out answer, but the truth remains that there are very few one-size-fits-all rules to financial success. Knowing your strengths and weaknesses can help you decide where to spend your efforts. For instance, “if you are business-minded, making money is significantly easier,” Turner said. “But not everyone is this way.”