Whether you’re saving money for a wedding, house down payment, or just taking part in a TikTok money-saving challenge, you’ve decided to save $10,000 in a year. Depending on your income, monthly expenses, and spending habits, this might be a lofty goal.
But just because it’s difficult doesn’t mean it’s impossible, nor does it mean it’s not worth it.
Today, I’m going to walk you through several strategies to help you save $10,000 in a year. The methods below will not only help you start saving money faster—they’ll also put you on a path of more responsible money management down the road, and possibly set you up for financial freedom for the rest of your life.
Let’s get started.
Table of Contents
9 Ways to Save $10,000 in a Year
As you adopt more and more strategies, you’ll be able to meet your goal faster and faster. Now, we’ll cover several tried-and-true methods that could help accumulate yourself $10,000 (or more) in a year through a combination of reduced spending, higher earning, or both.
1. Reduce Spending
If you don’t already have a budget, now is the time to create one. This is a personal finance skill everybody needs to learn.
To set up a budget, start with your income. Note how much money you have coming in every month. You might have paychecks from one or more jobs, passive income from an investment, alimony, or other income sources. Add all of these up.
Next, make a list of all of your essential expenses, such as your car payment, rent, utilities, and more. Check your bank statements to make sure you aren’t missing anything.
Once you’ve done that, consider one or more of the following strategies to reduce your spending:
Way to Reduce Spending #1: Cancel or Negotiate Services
Do you have every movie streaming service available? If you don’t use them all regularly, consider canceling the ones you use less frequently—after all, you can always sign up for them again.
You might have some costs that you don’t want/need to cancel but are worth trying to negotiate lower. For example, if you switched from an in-person job to remote one and aren’t driving nearly as much, you might be able to get a cheaper rate for your car insurance because you’re not putting as many miles on your car. Or you could switch to a pay-per-mile car insurer.
Internet and cell phone providers are notorious for providing an affordable introduction price, then significantly raising prices later. Sometimes, all it takes is a phone call to convince them to extend a lower rate.
For every recurring expense, ask yourself, “Can I cancel this?” If you can’t, ask yourself, “Can I negotiate this lower or find a cheaper alternative?”
Way to Reduce Spending #2: Join a “Buy Nothing” Group
Facebook is filled with “Buy Nothing” groups for various cities. If your city has one, consider joining it. Sometimes people give away large items, such as furniture they no longer need. Other times, items are smaller, such as individually wrapped food items that they tried and discovered they dislike. You can also post and ask for items you need.
Obtaining items you need from someone who’s just giving them away is a good (albeit not very consistent) way to reduce spending. But an etiquette tip: Don’t be greedy and take every available item.
Also, when the opportunity presents itself in the future, you might want to return the favor and offer something of your own free to the community, rather than donating it.
Way to Reduce Spending #3: Try a Spending Freeze
Some people save money by choosing a day, a week, or even a month when they plan not to spend any money on luxuries, big or small. When they get the urge to spend money, they transfer the amount they would have spent on coffee or a movie ticket into their savings account.
Believe it or not, many people actually enjoy these types of personal challenges.
You don’t necessarily need to dive headfirst into a full no-spend month—just start with a week or even a day. Not only can a spending freeze help you save more, but it can also give you insights into just how often you indulge in non-necessities.
Way to Reduce Spending #4: Use the 30-Day Savings Rule
If you struggle with impulse purchases, the 30-day savings rule is for you. According to the 30-day rule, you should wait 30 days after deciding you want a non-essential item or service before you buy it.
The idea? With that much time to think, you’ll make a better decision about whether you actually want or need the item. Maybe it’s a sweater you actually need before winter. But maybe it’s another video game when you haven’t even logged two hours in Starfield yet. In general, though, if you prevent some impulse buys, you can save more money than you would otherwise.
One last tip for if you try out the 30-day savings rule: When you consider a purchase, put an amount of cash equal to the purchase price in savings—that way, if you don’t end up making the purchase, the money is already tucked away. (And if you do, just move the money back over from savings.)
2. Create a Savings Plan
You already have a specific savings goal to save $10,000 in a year. Now you need to create a plan to achieve that goal.
To save $10,000 in a year, you need to save about $833.33 per month, or about $416.67 per pay period if you’re paid twice per month.
That might seem easy, challenging, or downright impossible—it depends on how much money you make and how much your essential monthly expenses are.
If you do make enough money, consider using a “pay yourself first” reverse budgeting strategy instead of a traditional budgeting plan. A “pay yourself first” budget puts money into your savings account before funding your discretionary spending. And considering $10,000 is a large amount of money to save in a year, you’ll probably only get there by prioritizing saving—not just putting aside whatever money is left over after recreational spending.
While you can manually transfer your money between accounts, we recommend automating your savings. Automated savings plans take willpower out of the equation—money just piles up over time. (You might need to make adjustments as your income and expenses change, but you’d have to do that with a manual plan, too.)
3. Pay Off High-Interest Debt
While paying off high-interest debt means you’ll temporarily have less money, in the long run, it can help you save more money.
Interest on debt accumulates until you pay the debt off. High-interest debt accumulates much more quickly, meaning you’ll rapidly owe increasingly more the longer you wait to knock it out. So, letting high-interest debt fester can quickly derail your savings goals.
Here’s an example that should drive the point home.
Kaycee has a credit card balance of $5,000, and his card’s annual percentage rate (APR) is 24.99%. Let’s take a look at how much Kaycee would save the more aggressive he is about paying off the bill:
— If Kaycee paid the minimum monthly payment of $105, he would take 233 months to clear the debt, and pay an extra $19,389 in interest, for a total payoff amount of $24,389.
— If Kaycee paid $150 per month, he would take 58 months to clear the debt, and pay an extra $3,622 in interest, for a total payoff amount of $8,622.
— If Kaycee paid $300 per month, he would take 21 months to clear the debt, and pay an extra $1,205 in interest, for a total payoff amount of $5,205.
— If Kaycee paid $500 per month, he would take 12 months to clear the debt, and pay an extra $665 in interest, for a total payoff amount of $5,665.
This is all a way of saying that quickly paying off high-interest debt can save you literally tens of thousands of dollars—dollars that could be going toward your savings.
4. Use the Best Account for Your Savings Goal
Different savings goals work best with different types of accounts. When choosing where to store your savings, consider whether it’s a short-, medium-, or long-term goal.
Your checking account should be reserved for money you are likely to spend very soon—between one day and two months. This account likely experiences a lot of transactions. It is not an ideal account for saving money as it’s too easy to spend money earmarked for savings. You need a separate savings account.
High-Yield Savings Account
High-yield savings accounts are an excellent place to save money you might need in the short or medium term—anywhere from one day to a year. The money in a high-yield savings account earns a significantly higher APY than money in traditional savings accounts; but, like with regular savings accounts, the rate will change over time.
You’re allowed a limited number of transactions each month, so it’s not as “liquid” as a checking account, but you can still easily access the money should you need it.
A high-yield savings account is a popular place to store an emergency fund, as well as save for short- and medium-term goals. Other accounts are more ideal for longer-term goals.
Save With Step Banking
Step, made popular by its unique “hybrid” Step Visa Card, has expanded its offerings to include a powerful high-yield savings tool.
Users earn 5% annually—compounded and paid monthly—on up to $250,000 saved in their Savings Goals, calculated using the average daily balance in your Savings Goals. Like with your average savings account, Step’s savings yield can change depending on movements in the Federal Funds Rate, but if that happens, Step will give you 30 days’ notice before it happens.
To qualify, the user must have a direct deposit of at least $500 per month, and the benefit extends for as long as the direct deposits continue. (Other perks of making qualifying direct deposits? Bonus points on dining, food delivery, charitable donations, specific merchants—and you can get paid up to two days early.)
And remember: When you sign up with Step, you also get their Step Visa Card—a spending card that functions like a debit card, but also boasts some of the features of a Visa credit card—including the ability to build your (or your child’s) credit history. You can’t spend money you don’t have, eliminating the fear of overdrafting. The card can be used to withdraw money fee-free at more than 30,000 ATMs, and it’s protected by Visa’s Fraud Protection and Zero Liability guarantee.
Money Market Accounts
A money market account is similar to a high-yield savings account, but they’re not exactly the same.
Both are interest-bearing accounts with a variable interest rate. However, money market accounts typically come with a debit card and allow you to write checks, which are features usually not offered by high-yield savings accounts. On the flip side, high-yield savings accounts tend to pay a higher interest rate than money market accounts. Additionally, a money market account is more likely to have monthly fees, though there are plenty of fee-free options available today.
Certificates of Deposit
A certificate of deposit (CD) differs from a high-yield savings account and money market account in that its interest rate is fixed, rather than variable, and that rate tends to be higher than both HYSAs and money market accounts.
The trade-off? The money stored in a certificate of deposit is locked up for a predetermined amount of time—typically between three months and five years.
If your savings goal extends past the CD’s maturity date, it’s a great option for your savings.
However, CDs are poor for short-term savings goals and emergency funds, because you can’t access the money before maturity without paying a penalty.
You could, however, consider creating a CD ladder so you frequently have new money becoming available. A CD ladder is an investment strategy where you stagger your CDs depending on their maturity dates. As they mature, your money becomes unlocked—you can then reinvest it in another CD, put it into shorter-term savings, or use it for other purposes.
Investment accounts are best for long-term savings. If you need the money in less than five years, we don’t recommend this option.
However, if your plan is to save $10,000 toward a long-term goal, such as retirement savings, an investment account is a great place to stack your money. Investing in the stock market offers much higher earning potential than any of the other savings vehicles mentioned.
But they also have greater risk, especially in the short term, because markets don’t always head higher. In a bear market, you could very well lose money. But investors generally make money over the long term. What’s important to remember is that time in the market is more important than what the market is currently doing.
5. Get Your 401(k) Match
You can actually get free money to invest from your employer, too.
Many employers with a 401(k) plan offer some sort of company match.The amount contributed each year generally represents a percentage of your salary. For example, if you make $50,000 a year and your employer offers a 4% match, you would contribute 4% of your salary ($2,000) into a tax-advantaged 401(k) account, and your employer would match that amount ($2,000), representing a total contribution of $4,000 per year. This money gets to grow, tax-deferred, in the market until you hit retirement age and can start drawing down the balance.
Some great aspects of this free money:
1. You get a 100% return on your contributions instantly, offering a risk-free return on your contributions.
2. This match generally isn’t taxed in the year you contribute, only when you withdraw money in retirement.
3. Because you’re required to keep the money in your 401(k) for the long-term, your money has a higher likelihood of continuing to grow if invested in suitable investments for longer periods of time.
The final benefit to contributing to a traditional 401(k) plan? You can reduce your income subject to taxes in the year of contribution, providing you with a powerful way to reduce the taxes you pay today. For example, if you contributed $2,000 toward your 401(k) and you made $50,000, you’d save $440 on your $50,000 income as you’d be in the 22% tax bracket as a single filer (22% * $2,000).
Put simply: The 401(k) match (and contributing to a 401(k) in general) can help you make a lot of progress toward saving $10,000 per year.
6. Start a Side Hustle (or a few)
The more money you make, the more you have available to save, so if you have available time, consider starting a side hustle to earn more money.
Even if it’s just a few hours a week, a few hundred dollars more a month could make all the difference toward your goal. And oftentimes, side gigs can even be fun. You just need to find one that fits your personality, schedule, and time constraints.
Many side hustle options come with completely flexible hours, so you can fit in some work whenever you have a little free time. Plus, after some initial work, some side hustles can earn you passive income.
In-Person Side Hustles
I’m not going to go over a comprehensive list of in-person side hustles, but rather give you a few ideas to get you started. Within your neighborhood, you might offer cleaning services, landscaping, childcare, snow removal, and much more. Driving people around and making deliveries are two of the most popular side hustles if you have reliable transportation.
With the advent of app work and the gig economy, it’s even easier to find a flexible, in-person side hustle. All you need to do is download an app to get started.
Try to think of paid jobs you can do that don’t change up your routine too much. For example, if you love exercise, you could teach workout classes a few times a week at a local community center and earn money while you get fit. Or if you love watching local sports, you could occasionally work as a referee.
Online Side Hustles
Many people earn an extra income without even leaving their homes. Consider your skills and how much extra money you need to earn. If you’re just looking for a way to earn a little extra cash each month, you might consider taking online surveys, watching advertisements, or getting paid to play games.
Those who need to earn more substantial funds may consider doing transcription work, teaching English online, writing, or working as a virtual assistant. In general, freelance work lets you choose your own hours, which means you can easily fit in hours whenever you aren’t busy with your main job. You can get started with platforms like Fiverr and Upwork to get started, or ask your local network if they know of anyone in need of your services. Posting on LinkedIn can be another great way to find clients.
Some online side hustles can even earn you a passive income. For instance, you might create an online course or sell another digital item, like an Etsy printable. Just remember that it’ll take upfront work before you start receiving a passive income.
7. Automate Your Savings
Putting savings on autopilot makes it much easier to save. Transferring away your hard-earned money is mentally tough. Plus, if you’re forgetful, you may not set aside as much money as you want.
Fortunately, there are ways to automatically save. Once everything is set up, you’re saving without any extra thought or effort. One way to automate your savings is to set up recurring transfers from your checking account into a savings account.
8. Use Cash-Back & Roundup Apps
Cash-back apps give you money or other rewards every time you make an eligible purchase. Now, you shouldn’t spend extra money just to get more cash back. Remember: Your goal is to save $10,000 in a year—not to spend extra money. But if you use a cash-back app for your regular purchases, you’re passively saving money that could be put toward your goals. Also, some cash-back apps have generous sign-up bonuses.
Round-up apps can also help you save money every time you shop. When you’re using the associated card with a round-up app, the app rounds up every purchase you make to the next full dollar. Then, it sets that money aside into another account—usually a savings account that might or might not pay interest, though sometimes it’s an investment account.
I know it’s only a few cents for each transaction, but they can really add up.
Let’s say you use your roundup card at least twice a day, five days a week. And let’s say every transaction you make rounds up 50 cents on average. That’s $5 a week.
Well, multiply $5 a week by 52 weeks, and you’re saving roughly $260 a year.
Not bad, right?
9. Talk to a Tax Professional
Not everybody needs to discuss their taxes with a professional, but for many people, speaking to a tax professional could result in a larger tax refund or smaller tax burden. If you are self-employed, have a side hustle, own investments, or recently experienced a major life event, such as marriage or divorce, you may benefit from getting help on your taxes.
Through the IRS’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, you may even be able to get basic tax return preparation for free. All volunteers must pass tax law training that meets or exceeds IRS standards. To qualify for assistance, you need to fit one of the following criteria:
- Earn $60,000 or less
- Have a disability
- Be a limited English-speaking taxpayer
There’s also the free guided tax filing service available from the IRS. To qualify for this program, you’ll need an adjusted gross income of $73,000 or less.
In full transparency, I’d look silly not admitting that trying to save $10,000 on a salary of $60,000 (or even $73,000) or less is extremely difficult. Many people face circumstances—medical bills, dependents, and more—that make this goal nearly (if not completely) impossible. But anecdotally, some people can manage to scrape together $10,000 in annual savings from salaries of $60,000 (or $73,000) or less, and VITA can help reach this goal. At the very least, if you’re making less than $60,000, VITA can save you something.
On top of VITA and free guided tax filing, local organizations might offer free help as well.
If you don’t qualify for any free tax assistance, it still might be worth the price to consult with a tax professional. Many people end up saving money when they use a tax professional because their refunds increase substantially. Tax software cannot get as specific into your financial situation as a tax preparer can, and you might benefit from having a human look over your financial documents.
Is It Possible to Save $10,000 in a Year?
Whether you can save $10,000 in a year is largely dependent on your financial situation and obligations.
Whether this is a realistic goal for you partially depends on your income. Obviously, you can’t set aside $10,000 in a year if you don’t make that much annually or make just slightly more. In this situation, you could only save enough if you got a new job or started a side hustle (or two) to earn some extra income.
For people with high enough incomes, or those with minimal expenses, it’s definitely possible to save $10,000 in a year, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to save that much money. You may have to follow a strict monthly budget, curb spending, and use automatic savings tools to trick yourself into saving additional money to hit such a lofty goal.
What is the Fastest Way to Save $10,000?
At the risk of oversimplifying, the fastest way to save $10,000 is to increase your earnings and decrease your spending habits. As you make more money, you’ll be able to save more money. Likewise, the more you can curb your spending, the faster you can save money.
To save money quickly, most people need a carefully planned budget. Look at your monthly budget to see how much you can save and try to automate some of those savings. You may also take advantage of automatic savings apps that offer roundups, cash back, savings matches, and more to hit your goal.
How Long Does It Take to Save $10,000?
The amount of time it takes to save $10,000 varies vastly by person. Some people can save $10,000 in a year, while others may take significantly longer to save that same amount. Consider using reverse budgeting to determine how long it will take you to reach your savings goal. Reverse budgeting is another name for the “pay yourself first” strategy, where you prioritize saving ahead of any expenses and spending.
Why is Saving Money Hard to Do?
It can be difficult to save money for several reasons. Low-income earners, especially those with credit card debt or student loan debt, might not have enough money each pay period to pay monthly bills, pay down debt, and save money for the future.
Those without a budget might struggle saving money because they simply might not know how much money they have available. It’s important to have a budget and savings goals. Plus, it can be mentally challenging to part with fun money and turn it into savings money. And it’s easy to simply forget to save money if you don’t have a plan in place.
Should I Store $10,000 in a Checking Account or Savings Account?
A traditional bank account—whether that’s a checking account or a traditional savings account—is not a great place to store $10,000 unless you need that much money to be available for frequent transactions, or you want it easily accessible for emergencies.
Most checking accounts don’t earn any interest and traditional savings accounts only earn a small yield. Instead, store your $10,000 in more generous interest-bearing accounts, such as money market accounts or high-yield savings accounts. If the money is for long-term savings goals, such as retirement savings, consider investing it in the stock market.
Why Is It Important to Make an Emergency Fund Your First Priority?
Before saving for a vacation, luxury item, or even a home, you should create an emergency fund. You never know when your car will break down, you’ll have a medical emergency, you’ll lose your job, or another large, unexpected expense will pop up. Generally speaking, emergency funds should cover three to six months’ worth of expenses, although some people recommend having a year’s worth of expenses saved up.
When an emergency strikes, you need to have enough money on hand to cover it. If you don’t, you may have to use credit cards or take on other debt to pay for everything. Then, you need to pay back the debt along with the interest, which in the case of a credit card, is a high rate.
Having emergency funds can provide you with peace of mind. An event like getting laid off at work or needing medical intervention is stressful enough on its own. You don’t also want to be worried about how to pay for everything. Reducing your stress level is invaluable.