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12 Saving Money Ideas for Young Adults in 2020

12 Saving Money Ideas for Young Adults in 2020
Jennifer Leach Feb 24, 2019
Want to Earn Some Extra Money?

saving money ideas for young adultsAre you looking for ways to save money as a young adult?

There are a number of ways that you can make room in your budget to save for the important stuff, like:

  • Your emergency fund
  • Your “buy a house” fund
  • Vacation
  • A big purchase
  • Holiday shopping and events

Saving money doesn’t have to feel out of reach. Check out these 12 genius save money ideas for young adults to start testing out today.

1. Use Cashback Apps

Cashback apps are golden.

This is how they work:

You do your everyday shopping like normal and earn cashback on your purchases.

That’s it!

You join these apps for free, on your computer or cell phone and get cash back, automatically (from some apps). Here is a quick roundup of some favorites you will enjoy:


Ibotta is a free app to help you save money on your groceries.

This app is multifaceted and allows you to save money in multiple ways including searching the best deals, scanning your receipts for instant cash back and more.

The best part? You get a $10 bonus when you sign-up using our link and claim your first offer. You need a minimum of $20 to cash out, so this gets you halfway there.

Read Our Full Ibotta Review


Dosh is a mobile app that you connect your debit/credit card for automatic cashback. You download the app on your cell phone for free.

Then, link your debit or credit card (or both) and shop partner retailers using that linked card. After completing your purchase, you’ll get cashback automatically, right to your Dosh balance.

Now, that’s passive income!

Once you reach $25, you can cash out via PayPal, direct deposit to your bank account and other options.

Read Our Full Dosh Review

2. Spend Less Eating Out

There’s nothing wrong with eating out but cutting back on this budget buster can help you save an extra $100/month or more. It can be hard sometimes, especially as a young adult.  Eating out is all around you:

  • Client lunches
  • Coffee on the go
  • Dinner with friends
  • Grabbing fast food on your way to work

Be mindful of your eating-out budget and put yourself on a plan to cut back. Try cutting back 50% if you can.

That means, instead of grabbing a morning coffee at Starbucks everyday, do it twice a week instead or have pizza night once a month instead of twice a month.

These small changes can make a big difference and you’ll see the change happen almost instantly, upon reflecting on your bank account.

Need more pointers?

Take a look at these 10 easy ways to spend less money eating out, to help.

3. Keep a Money Mindset

It’s all about spending less than you earn. Keep this in mind always. It is helpful to have a plan in place, which is usually a budget.

You can create a short-term or long-term budget and life plan, checking back often to make sure you stay on track.

As time passes, your budget will evolve. Your income will increase, your spending will decrease, expenses will change and so, your budget will always be changing.

Be mindful of money and lifestyle as a young adult and you’ll be on your way to saving money and building wealth.

4. Use Budgeting Apps

Budget apps or money management apps are a neat way to keep your spending on track. You can add your expenses, link your bank account, add your income and other features to help get a custom budget just for you.


Mint is an app to help give you a clearer picture of finances. You can see all your transactions and balances together in one place making it super simple to balance your budget.

You can easily track spending patterns, uncover what budget categories need the most attention and other cool features.

Get the full review of Mint to learn more.


You Need a Budget, or YNAB is a money management app that offers a ton of money management features to keep you busy. The app provides simple rules for budgeting.

Here are some examples:

  • Give Every Dollar a Job
  • Embrace Your True Expenses
  • Roll with the Punches

They offer web workshops and a 34-day free trial to test out all the features. You can read more about the YNAB iPhone and Android apps.

5. Live a Frugal Lifestyle

This goes beyond just budgeting and encompasses your entire lifestyle. You’ll start practicing these frugal tactics and soon it will become second nature.

Here are some ways to practice frugality:

Do Less

When you do stuff, it costs money, right? So, do less.

This means cutting out extravagances like your annual road trip, twice a year vacations, weekends out with friends, or your quarterly shopping haul.

You will still get to spend money on fun stuff but the focus will shift to spending on doing things that matter the most.

Don’t be Brand Loyal

Consider getting off name brands completely and going with off-brand or store brand items. You can save up to 50% on everyday expenses with this simple switch, alone.

Run a Simple Home

Live in cheap housing to save on rent, learn skills to do home repairs yourself, and practice living minimally. For inspiration check out these 40 cheap housing options.

Go for Freebies

They are all around you and you don’t even know it, like those reward points you racked up on your credit card or gift card to a local restaurant, sitting in your wallet. Not to mention all the freebies available for downloading retailer apps to your cell phone.

This is just the tip of the iceberg.  Learn more about living the frugal life.  Check out The Lazy Person’s Guide to Frugality.

6. Get Freebies

We touched on this a bit in the previous section about frugal living but this deserves a space all it’s own. There are freebies available everywhere.  Here are some examples you’re probably missing:

There are even high value freebies like a free college education with tuition reimbursement from your employer, or free entertainment like night at the museum, matinee marathon at your local movie theater and more.


Here are a dozen high-value freebies you probably didn’t know about.

7.  Negotiate Your Expenses

You have your core fixed monthly expenses like rent, utilities, car payment, etc.  You also have your essentials like food, transportation, and extras like entertainment expenses, car maintenance, etc.

There are ways to cut your expenses using the power of negotiation.

I used to do this with my cable provider twice a year. I would call the company and ask for a lower price. That’s it! It was actually pretty easy.  No explanation, no plea, just a simple ask and they would deliver 100% of the time.


Did you know it costs far more for companies to get new customers than it does for them to keep their existing customers?

So, what does that translate to?

It means that they will go above and beyond to make their customers happy, which might mean lowering your cable bill.

You can do this with all your bills, actually. What’s more? There is a success script that you can use that works just about every time! It can save you thousands of dollars in about ten minutes. Try it out and comment below to let us know how it went.

8. Start an Emergency Fund

Once you get into the rhythm of saving, it’s important to start an emergency fund right away. An emergency fund is a stockpile of savings equal to 6 to 12 months of your salary, in a bank account. This rainy day fund is there for emergencies, like:

  • Emergency travel
  • Funeral expenses
  • Car repairs
  • Home repairs
  • Medical expenses

Save 1/3 of your paycheck, if possible, to start rapidly growing your emergency fund starting now.

When I was getting ready for the birth of my first child, I did not expect to have a rough pregnancy. The last 3 weeks prior to giving birth, I was unable to work.

My emergency fund saved me during that time. I was not working and not earning an income but my emergency savings helped me brave the storm and I didn’t have to worry about my finances while I was preparing for the addition to our family.

This is just one way an emergency fund can come in handy. There are many more scenarios, as shared in some of the examples above.

Get going on this and start building your emergency fund savings.

9. Tackle Debt

Paying off debt is a great way to save money as a young adult. Tackling your debt allows you to save money on interest and pay off debtors so in the future you’ll have more disposable income available from your budget.

Try the debt snowball method, which works by having you pay off the smallest debts first, keeping you motivated throughout the process. You pay off your debt from smallest to largest.

10. Establish a 401(k)

Setting up a 401(k) account is a great way to start establishing saving habits early on. You want to contribute at least up to company match, more if you can. Starting early as a young adult can help you secure your financial future.

It can even help you become a millionaire when you retire!

11. Move up the Career Ladder

As your career advances, your income will rise, which means..

  • Saving at a faster rate
  • Investing more money for the future
  • Increasing your emergency fund

Keep your eyes open for advancement opportunities and develop your skills so you will be a top candidate for advancement at your job.

12. Make More Money

One way you can save more money is to make more money. Aside from advancing your career, you can take advantage of money-making opportunities to grow your wealth and disposable income, allowing you to save more as a young adult.

Here are some ways to earn more without having to take a second job:

Online Surveys

You can earn an extra $600+ per month with online surveys. Enjoy the flexibility of survey-taking, getting paid to share your opinion from the comfort of your couch, any time 24/7.

Top survey takers can earn up to four figures per month. You’ll love the freedom of creating your schedule and being in control over how much you can potentially earn.

Here’s some of our favorites to get you started:

AirBNB Arbitrage

You can take advantage of rental arbitrage to make an extra $400 to $800 per month, or more!

What’s rental arbitrage?

You can sublet your rental with AirBNB to monetize the extra space in your home. This means you can monetize a spare bedroom, garage, or your entire place.

This is perfect for young adults. If you travel for the holidays, take vacation or spend the weekends with your partner at their place, you can take that time your place sits vacant and fill it with AirBNB renters.

You can even rent out extra space while you’re living there!  This is a unique way to make extra money, pay for your own rent, and earn passively.

Teach English Online

You can earn up to $25/hour teaching English to Chinese students online. Companies like GoGoKid are hiring people to work part time teaching online. Top ESL teachers make up to $4,000/month.

Get Paid to Drive

You can monetize your car by getting paid to drive in a number of different ways, like:

  • Becoming an Uber or Lyft driver
  • Delivering groceries with Instacart
  • Package delivery with Amazon Flex
  • Delivering food with UberEATS

There are more and more delivery driver opportunities popping up everyday. This is a neat way to work from the comfort of your car, set your own hours, and more. Check it out.

Rent out your car

Turo is like the AirBNB for car rentals. You can rent out your car to Turo customers, earning up to four figures per year in the process!

Who is this for?

Anybody who owns a car and meets other requirements, as determined by Turo.

Are you stuck at work all day for 8 hours?  Rent out your car during that time.

Do you spend weekends at your partner’s place?  Another opportunity to rent out your car.

Learn more about Turo and the process right here.

Start a Side Business

There are plenty of flexible side businesses you can start on the side, while keeping your 9 to 5. A side business will allow you to exercise your entrepreneurial spirit while making extra money in the process. You can even monetize your hobby!

Here are some examples of side businesses you can start from home:

  • Pet sitting
  • Dog walking
  • Selling handmade goods on Etsy
  • Freelance writing
  • Social media management
  • Photography
  • Candle making
  • Selling cookies or other baked goods
  • Knitting
  • Flipping everyday products
  • Domain flipping

Here are 12 unique side hustle ideas you’ll like, plus 39 more side jobs you can work from home.

Get a Second Job

You can also get a second job! This can be an evenings and weekends job at a local restaurant, retail store, or coffee shop.

Starting an e-commerce store and blogging are both ways to work a second job from home. These lucrative side hustles can be slow earners in the beginning but can quickly replace your day job income if you are successful in your industry.

You’ll want to read these 22 best second jobs for extra income.

Final Thoughts

Saving money as a young adult is within reach. Starting savings habits now will pave the way to building wealth into adulthood. Do you have some save money ideas that aren’t on the list? Comment below so we can hear your thoughts!

Jennifer Leach

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