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The save-more-money checklist: spring 2024

Key takeaways

  • Let your money goals bloom this spring with these handy money tips.
  • With every satisfying check mark, you’ll learn ways to help save money and prep for the future. Sense of accomplishment included.

Whether you want to save more, spend smarter, or give your investments some love, this list will help you spring into action with your finances.

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March

Spring-clean your inbox

You know how some retailers will send you a coupon if you sign up to get regular emails from them? Those messages—about outdoor furniture you don’t have space for ... but, 50% off!—could make you buy things you don’t need. That’s why it pays to sift through your inbox and unsubscribe. The more you reduce your exposure to sales and coupons, the less likely you are to spend. Post-purge, remember to unsubscribe from any new emails you agree to receive after that first discount arrives.

Check your tax withholding

Consider revisiting your tax withholding—aka the amount of federal tax your employer holds from your paycheck—each year. You may need to make updates if you got married, bought a house, had a job change, or welcomed a child. Try the IRS's Tax Withholding Estimator to get a pre-filled, downloadable form you can submit to your employer. This could help you accelerate any tax savings that you would normally receive at tax time.

Start a brag folder

Planning to ask for a raise? Be prepared to show the receipts. Create a folder in your email inbox, and drag in messages about finished projects, kudos notes from colleagues and your manager, and any hard numbers that show your impact. Even if your performance review isn’t for 6 months, keep track of how you’re killing it now to help make your case for more cash later. Need more inspo? Here are 5 methods millennials used to get pay bumps.

Get some sleep

Daylight Saving Time starts March 10. (Sigh.) You know what that means—less sleep. And being tired or sleep-deprived can make it harder to think clearly, leading to impulse buys and poor investments.1 For instance, you might be tempted by an ad for a jacket while mindlessly scrolling on social media. But your brain fog might stop you from comparison shopping—and finding the same coat for less. So sleep on it before you make a financial decision. That extra rest can sharpen your mind and potentially save you money.

Set a money date

Consider setting a monthly date to check in with your money goals. Setting a time to do something makes you more likely to do that thing. Think about it: Aren’t you more apt to work out or catch up with a friend when you’ve made plans? While a night out with your significant other sounds more fun, a date with your finances can pave the way to meeting savings goals, such as that big birthday party or family vacation. So save an hour on your calendar, or set an alarm on your phone, to review your savings progress. Then do it again next month and next quarter.

Prep your taxes

Tax Day is just around the corner on April 15, 2024. Here are some tips to get ready:

  • Consider using the IRS Free File if your adjusted gross income for 2023 is $79,000 or less. The guided software does the hard work for free for federal returns; some state prep and filing might be free too. Also check into Direct File, an IRS pilot program that will launch for 2023 tax returns in 13 states for eligible taxpayers.
  • Refer friends. A thankful tax preparer might give you cash back or a lower prep fee for new clients you send their way. Just ask them.
  • Find discounts online. Many tax-prep companies run promotions during tax season. In fact, Fidelity customers can get up to 20% off TurboTax®.

Save on spring break lodging

Hotel prices can be flexible. You may be able to negotiate the online price by calling a hotel directly, or asking if they have any discounts for students, government employees, or members of certain groups, such as AAA. You can also consider hotels that usually have cheaper rates, such as those that are close to airports, although you may pay a little extra on transportation for getting around town during your stay. You could also get discounted rates if you’re booking last-minute when hotels are concerned about filling vacancies. Some hotels that are under construction may rent rooms at a discount, which may be a nice option if you can deal with the noise. Or get a deal at a micro hotel, where rooms are normally less than 200 square feet. Try these other ways to save when going out of town.

April

Test out your negotiating skills

Feel like your cable or cell phone bill is too steep? It could be a good time to negotiate your rate. First, research your provider’s (and their competitors’) promotions. Then, call the company’s customer service line and ask for the retention or loyalty department—they may have more deal-making power to keep you as a customer. Mention the discounts you found, and ask the rep whether your current rate is the best they can do. Stay polite yet persistent to up your odds of a payoff.

Have fun for free

April showers bring ... boring Saturdays indoors? Maybe not if you sign up for a library card. Depending on where you live, it could entitle you to free museum admission, botanic garden access (for sunnier days), musical instrument rentals, or even tool rentals if you’d rather use a rainy day to tackle home-improvement projects.

Keep grub out of the garbage

We throw out between 30% and 40% of the US food supply each year.2 With food costs still pricey due to inflation, who can afford to trash that much? Celebrate Earth Day (April 22) every day with these 3 easy tips.

  • Buy ugly. Food doesn’t have to look great to taste great. Buying misshapen or bruised produce can cost less and spare them from the landfill.
  • Freeze away waste. If you don’t eat leftovers within 3 days, label and freeze them for later.
  • Keep fruit and veggies front and center. Out of sight, out of mind—and food buried in crisper drawers (aka the vegetable grave) is definitely out of sight.

Eating healthier this year? Here are 10 ways to save.

Set a shopping stopwatch

Spring sales have you adding to cart too much? Try setting a time limit on shopping or social media apps. Go to your smartphone’s screen time or digital wellbeing settings, select an app, and set a daily cap. While you’re at it, try these other hacks to spend more mindfully.

Decide what to do with your tax refund

Consider turning that fast cash into lasting savings. A few ideas:

  • Save it for emergencies.
  • Pay off high-interest debt.
  • Save more for retirement.
  • Splurge responsibly.

Learn more about putting your tax refund to work.

May

See a ball game for peanuts

It’s baseball season—try these secrets for saving at the stadium.

  • Score cheaper seats. Tuesdays and Wednesdays tend to have the best deals. And on average, fans spend 38% less when they buy major-league tickets the week of the game instead of a month or more ahead.3
  • BYO Snacks. One survey found that the average major league attendee spends $74 on concessions for themselves and their group.4 But most big parks let you bring your own food in single-serving bags—and a sealed drink too. Read your stadium’s rules.
  • Price out parking. Check out fan-written parking guides or spots you can book online farther away from the action. Compare costs with public transportation and ride-sharing options.
  • Make it minor. Don’t count out AAA or AA ball. Minor-league games mix small-town quirkiness with major fun at lower prices.

Cut your car insurance

Feel like auto insurance premiums are in overdrive? Rates are up 20% over last year according to the Consumer Price Index.5 You might be able to trim your bill by up to 30% if you sign up for a safe driver program through your insurer.6 Typically, this requires monitoring your driving habits through your smartphone or an in-car device. Also, check if your provider or state offers a defensive driving class. Spending a few hours brushing up on road rules could net you a discount.

Review your expenses

Trying to save up some extra cash for the summer? Take a magnifying glass to your spending. All those monthly fees for apps, subscriptions, and streaming services add up. First, grab a recent credit card statement and highlight recurring charges. Some banks flag these for you. (Psst ... Fidelity’s budgeting experience can help with this too.) Note which services you’re still using and cancel the rest. Tally up the money you saved, and then create an automatic monthly transfer for that amount to a savings account. Want to boost your budgeting knowledge? Try these 7 steps.

Make Mom happy

Your mom might deserve the world, but that’s probably over budget for Mother’s Day. Try these tips to bring on joy, not big bills.

  • Celebrate before Sunday. Take your mom out on a different day to avoid being stuck with expensive prix fixe Mother’s Day menus.
  • Buy local blooms. Order flowers from a florist near you, and you may save on fees that national chains tack on. Or pick a plant instead. Flower costs spike when demand rises, as it does for Mother’s Day.
  • Consider DIY. Turns out, thoughtfulness can be pretty cheap. Can you frame a favorite photo of you both? Sign up to do some yardwork for her? Make a memorable meal?

Don’t let your wallet get grilled

Planning a barbecue? Beef prices are up 8% over last year.7 Talk about high steaks. When you head to the grocery store you might see smaller packaged cuts to curb sticker shock or incentives for buying beef, such as free burger buns. You could save money on meat by opting for chicken or pork—their prices have barely budged. If steak is a non-negotiable, try swapping in a cheaper cut like chuck-eye steak rather than pricey rib-eye—you might not even know the difference if you take time to marinate.

June

Cool it

What’s cooler than being cool? Lower electric bills. Stay chill with these tips:

  • Block the rays. Most of the sunlight that hits your windows heats up your home. Insulated cellular shades and window blinds can help.
  • Pick a higher temp. Every degree of extra cooling ups your energy usage by 6% to 8%.8 Save by setting your thermostat to the hottest temp that’s still comfy.
  • Upgrade your central air unit. It’s a big investment, but the most efficient new AC units use 30% to 50% less energy than those from the mid-1970s.9 Replacing a 10-year-old unit could cut your cooling costs by 20% to 40%.10

Here are 7 more ways to chill your utility bill.

Check it out

It’s the start of moving season. Need to pay for an apartment security deposit or something else out of the ordinary with a check (ugh) but don’t have any? Ask your bank to print a “counter check.” A counter check has your account info on it and functions like a regular check, and usually only costs a few dollars. If you need a full checkbook, consider buying at a warehouse store, where they’re typically cheaper than at banks. Need help writing a check? Here’s how to do it in 6 easy steps.

Double-check med bills

Mistakes happen. Before you pay up, make sure your visit was billed through your health insurance. If you don’t have an itemized list of services you received, ask your doctor to provide one. Comb through it, checking the medical billing codes against any reputable third-party site that lists out what they represent, and make sure you actually got each test, medication, or service listed. Dispute any issues with your doctor’s office. Still can’t afford the bill? Ask if it’s negotiable. Some providers may reduce the cost because they’d rather get most of the money than none of it. If they won’t make a deal and you can’t pay all at once, ask for a payment plan.

Feel like your prescriptions are too pricey? Here are some ways to save.

Check on 401(k) contributions

You’re halfway through the year—how are your investments doing? Consider logging into your retirement accounts and checking your progress. Fidelity’s guideline is to save 15% of your income toward retirement savings, which includes your employer match. If you’re not there yet, try to inch up your contributions by 1% whenever you get a raise, bonus, or other windfall. Your employer might even offer an automatic increase program to do this for you each year. If you can, consider contributing at least enough to your 401(k) to get any match your company may offer, so you don’t leave any money on the table.

Looking to max out your accounts? Individual contribution limits went up in 2024 to $23,000 for 401(k)s and $7,000 for IRAs. And those 50 and older can contribute an additional $7,500 in 2024.

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More to explore

1. June J. Pilcher, Drew M. Morris, Janet Donnelly, and Hayley B. Feigl, “Interactions between sleep habits and self-control,” Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, May 11, 2015. 2. “Food Waste FAQs,” US Department of Agriculture. 3. “5 Tips: How to Save Money on MLB Tickets,” SeatGeek. 4. Josh Koebert, “The Spending Habits and Lockout Opinions of MLB Fans [2022 Survey],” FinanceBuzz, August 25, 2022. 5. "Table 2. Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U): U. S. city average, by detailed expenditure category," Consumer Price Index, February 13, 2024. 6. “Be rewarded with Drive Safe & SaveTM discounts,” StateFarm. 7. "Table 2. Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U): U. S. city average, by detailed expenditure category," Consumer Price Index, February 13, 2024. 8. “Hot Weather Energy-Saving Tips,” Public Utility Commission of Texas. 9. “Hot Weather Energy-Saving Tips,” Public Utility Commission of Texas. 10. “Hot Weather Energy-Saving Tips,” Public Utility Commission of Texas.

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