4 off-beat ways to save money (without your savings account)

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A saving strategy that doesnt feature a savings account might seem counterintuitive, like trying to get in shape without a gym membership. But you dont need elaborate equipment to break a sweat, and you dont have to depend on your savings account to boostyour nest egg.

With low interestrates, you wont see significantgrowth in your account, sothe following strategies could prove to be much more effective.

1. Use certificates of deposit to set aside cash

The benefits of certificates of depositmay not be obvious right away. To some people, CDsmight even sound like a borderline scam:Youre telling me my money islocked away for up to five years, and if I want to withdraw it early, Ill be charged a fee?

That is correct. But look at it this way: If you want to save $1,000 for an island getaway, its best to shove that money to the side and forget about it. If you keep that cash in a standard savings account, you might dip into it when your checking account is running low. Put it in a CD, and it will be there when you need it.

Plus, long-term certificates those with term lengths between three and five years typically have better annual percentage yields than even the best savings accounts. And short-term CDs will still help you achieve your more immediate savings goals, such asa vacation, even thoughtheir interest rates arent quite as strong.

Check out NerdWallets best CD rates tool to see whats available.

2. Control your spending with aprepaid card

Say you saved up for that vacation and are sunning yourself on some far-off beach.

Life is good: Your relaxation levels have reached a new peak, and youre close to becoming the human embodiment of an Enya song.

But youve also let your guard down, which can leave you prone to impulse purchases. New rainstick? Sure. Wildly overpriced banana boat ride? Why not?

Thats when a prepaid debit card can come in handy. This payment method doubles as a budgeting tool. Unlike with other plastic, you can limit your spending to only the cash loaded onto your prepaid card, so you wont have to raidyour savings to cover next months credit card bill.

The best prepaid debit cards have no monthly fees, and it doesnt cost much to load money onto them.

3. Set alerts on your checking account

Online banking has made it easier than ever to unleash your inner control freak, which can be helpfulwhen it comes to saving money.

At most banks, customers can choose to receive texts or emails when their checking account balance goes below a certain amount. Thats primarily toprotect you from overdraft fees, but can also help you monitor and rein in your spending, and, in turn, keep yoursavings intact.

You can set this limit as high as youdlike and change it over time. Like a prepaid debit card, alerts also can help you control your spending.

4. Find a no-fee account, trim other expenses

At $12 a month, it can be tempting to write off a banks maintenance fee as a minor inconvenience. But if you were to putthat cash in aretirement accountand give itsome time to grow, itwouldnt feel so insignificant.

Say that$12 went intoyour 401(k) plan each month and stayed there for 30 years. Assuming a 6.5% rate of return, youd be left with an additional$13,000 not enough to retire, but a solid addition to your post-work fund, and a good incentive to switch over toa no-fee savings account.

Next, re-evaluate your budget. Make cuts where possible. That doesnt mean resorting to DIY haircuts anda diet of SpaghettiOs and Pop-Tarts.

Using the extra dough to increaseyour monthly retirement contributions by a few percentage points will allow you to reap a nice reward down the road, thanks tocompound interest.

Alternatively, you could use that extra cash to pay down high-interest debt. Any kind of adjustment to your spending and savings habits, no matter how small, can make a big difference over time.

Tony Armstrong is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: tony@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @tonystrongarm.

This article originally published at NerdWallet here

Read more: http://mashable.com/2016/09/20/4-ways-to-save-without-savings-account/

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