As you may know from reading my blog posts, I’m always on the lookout for ways to earn or save money with minimal effort. Fortunately, I recently came across a few of those opportunities just in time to pay those annoying Christmas bills. Here are three immediate changes I’m making to kick off the New Year:

New Brokerage Account

I opened my current TD Ameritrade account about 6 months ago to take advantage of a cash bonus, which required me to keep the account for 6 months. Now that those 6 months are up, I started shopping around for a new brokerage firm and discovered WellsTrade by Wells Fargo. The neat thing is that they give you 100 commission-free trades per year (stocks, ETFs, or mutual funds) and waive all the account maintenance fees if you link your brokerage account to a Wells Fargo checking account and keep at least $25k in the checking account, $50k in the brokerage account, or $250k in a mortgage loan with them. If you can meet one of those requirements, it’s hard to beat free.

While I don’t trade very much, it would be nice not to have to factor in the cost of trading in my investment decisions. For example, I limit my investments into two particular funds to once a year to minimize the $50 transaction fee that TD Ameritrade charges to trade them. With the WellsTrade, I can invest in them every month and not pay anything. This would also encourage me to take tax losses on them more often. If you’d like to do the same thing, don’t wait too long because I read somewhere that the offer may not be available to accounts opened after sometime in April. You can learn more here: https://www.wellsfargo.com/investing/styles/wt/

Projected Annual Savings: $150

Lower Car Insurance Coverage

This same month, I also got my auto insurance renewal. I checked the Kelly Blue Book  value of my aging Beamer and discovered that the cost of my collision and comprehensive coverages just exceeded 10% of the value of my car, which is when experts generally say it’s worth dropping those coverages. I rarely drive it so the chances of needing that coverage is probably even less than average. (I’ll probably drive a little more carefully when I do though.) If you drive an older car as well, you might want to check and see if it makes sense for you to drop those coverages too. You can estimate your car’s value here: http://www.depositaccounts.com/checking/reward-checking-accounts.html

Projected Annual Savings: $340

New Rewards Checking Account

They say things tend to come in threes, so why not one more change? The last one to get the overhaul is my rewards checking account at Consumers Credit Union. While that account used to pay significantly more, it now only pays about 3% on my first $5k so I’m switching to an account at Lake Michigan Credit Union that pays 3% on up to $15k.

Changing checking accounts is normally a big hassle because you tend to have direct deposits, automatic debits, and pending checks to deal with. That’s why I like to keep a separate “permanent” checking account for all of those strings. This allows me to easily switch rewards checking accounts by simply moving the balance, changing one automatic transfer from the permanent checking account, and switching the debit/ATM card that I carry around. You can shop for the rewards checking account that best meets your needs here: http://www.depositaccounts.com/checking/reward-checking-accounts.html

Projected Additional Annual Interest: $300

This brings my total savings to about $790 a year. These steps aren’t going to make me rich but the savings more than cover my Christmas bills. That’s not bad for a few key strokes and mouse clicks. Are there any easy actions you’re taking to save or earn more money this year? If so, share them in the comments section below.