6 Ways to Get Paid for Saving Money


You can make money by saving money, apart from interest, dividends, and investment earnings. These methods deliver bonuses in ways you may not have recognized as getting paid to save. (See also: The 5 Best Online Savings Accounts)

1. Claim the Saver's Credit

This money comes from the federal government via the IRS. Through the Retirement Savings Contributions Credit (aka Saver's Credit), you can get up to $1,000 (or $2,000 if married filing jointly) if you contribute to a qualified retirement account and meet certain requirements, which most notably include income limits.

You can't make more than $28,750 in modified adjusted gross income ($43,125 if head of household or $57,500 if married filing jointly) to be eligible. At those income levels, you may not have a lot of extra cash to sock away for retirement, but if you do save, you'll get a nice bonus. Use Form 8880 to calculate and claim your credit.

2. Win Prizes and Rewards for Saving Money

You can earn rewards and may be able to win prizes by tracking your savings with a couple of online services.

  • SaveUp helps you to monitor savings and debt payoff, and gives you the opportunity to play for prizes that range from a $100 gift card to a $2 million jackpot. The site also dispenses rewards in the form of promotional offers.
  • SmartyPig gives you a place to save money for specific purposes such as a summer trip to the beach or new flooring for your house. When you have accumulated the dollars, you can redeem your savings by 1) transferring money to your checking account, 2) loading money to a prepaid debit card, or 3) receiving a gift card from certain retailers. While option #1 doesn't give you extra cash, you'll get 1% more if you take your savings on the debit card and a bonus of up to 11% if you choose a gift card.

3. Earn Bonuses for Setting Aside Money in Savings Accounts

Many banks and credit unions have cash incentives for customers who commit to saving. For example, BBVA Compass matches a percentage of transfers from a checking account to a savings account; you can earn up to $250 per year through the Build My Savings program. Bank of America also contributes up to $250 through its Keep the Change program. Citizens Bank has a CollegeSaver savings account that gives a one-time $1,000 bonus when your child reaches 18 if you make minimum monthly deposits.

4. Get Cash for Opening and Funding an Investment Account

Brokerage firms offer incentives for opening and funding an investment account. To get rewards, you typically have to make a hefty deposit. For example, to earn $200, you'll need to put $50,000 in a new account with Charles Schwab (but you can earn $100 on a deposit of just $10,000 if you are an AARP member).

However, your bank, credit union, or other financial institution may offer more accessible deals. For example, ShareBuilder is offering a $50 bonus to open and fund an IRA with $5,000.

5. Snag Your Company's Match

You can make extra money courtesy of your employer if you contribute to a qualified retirement plan and your employer matches contributions. Review plan documents to verify that a match is available. Set aside the percentage of your pay that harvests the maximum payout from your employer.

6. Take Tax Deductions

The federal government and most state governments give you a bonus (in the form or lower taxes) for your contributions to traditional retirement accounts (such as traditional 401ks or IRAs) and Health Savings Accounts (HSAs).

There are restrictions for tax deductions, generally based on earnings and the amount of deductible for the high-deductible health plan linked to the HSA. But if you qualify for tax deductions and put money in these accounts, you can lower your tax liability and increase your cash inflow, either from a larger refund or smaller tax payment.

Even though interest rates are low and rewards for saving are often small (even in a high-yield CD) or uncertain in investment accounts, there are ways to get cash bonuses that boost your bottom line.

How have you made money by saving money?

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Guest's picture

People don't save enough period. Your article points out some prudent things to do in that area. I like to focus attention on the emergency savings fund. In my tax preparation business I see what lack of such a savings plan can do. That's right, I'm talking about crazy 401k withdrawals or as I call it," the tax return from hell".
Keep saving and I'll see you at the top!!!

Julie Rains's picture

Thanks for commenting. With interest on regular savings accounts so low, it sometimes seems that there are few incentives to save so I thought I would highlight a few. You point out an inherent reason to save (not just to get the bonuses) -- to help with emergencies and large expenditures ...instead of withdrawing money from retirement accounts.

Guest's picture

Thanks for the ideas about getting $ up-front while saving. The other big piece of the puzzle is making a profit (interest, dividends, cap gains) AFTER you save the money. This year I began doing P2P lending. I first considered it after reading MMM's blog post (http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2012/09/24/the-lending-club-experiment/), and then did more research into it.

Julie Rains's picture

Thanks for sharing your story. Earning money via interest and investment returns can be more important than getting an incentive so it helps to do the math or try to make a projection. But if bonuses help you to save and encourage you to save when you might not otherwise, then definitely look into those avenues.

Julie Rains's picture

Thanks for sharing your story. Earning money via interest and investment returns can be more important than getting an incentive so it helps to do the math or try to make a projection. But if bonuses help you to save and encourage you to save when you might not otherwise, then definitely look into those avenues.

Guest's picture

Earn Bonuses for Setting Aside Money in Savings Accounts - I find that if you're willing to commit to putting money aside, many banks will regard you for doing that. I currently receive a market beating interest rate for the commitment of £250 per month.

Julie Rains's picture

Thanks for tipping us off to this money-making technique -- it's not as obvious as those that I mentioned but definitely a great way to encourage a personal savings habit.

Guest's picture

Savings accounts provide little incentive with rates being so poor. Whilst investing directly in equities can be risky, investment funds can provide a measured approach to risk.

A number of absolute return funds offer very little downside whilst aiming to produce 4-6% on top of cash rates per year, a great alternative to cash in my opinion and fairly accessible to the retail investor.

Julie Rains's picture

Thanks for your comment. You are right that interest rates on regular savings accounts provide little incentive for saving; so, I thought it would be fun to find ways to get those incentives that were not related directly to interest rates (or dividends or investment returns). Of course, some of these ways to make money involve setting aside money for investment accounts also. Whatever it takes to motivate yourself to save is worthwhile.

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