Finances

How I Save Thousands In Six Months – And You Can Too!

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Save When You Need to Spend Money

Clip Coupons

Now this isn’t the top item on my list because it is my favorite.  In actuality it is my least favorite.  I find it to be very effective but it is also very time consuming to do it properly and consistently.  But it works and if you aren’t already working a full time job then it makes perfect sense.  I suggest starting with a guide if you have never done couponing before.

Coupon Apps

This one is different than cutting coupons.  Download store apps for the places you shop.  Almost always there are digital store coupons or even digital manufacturer coupons you can use.  Additionally, there are coupon apps such as Ibotta.

Competitor Coupons

You may not have a coupon for the store you are shopping at but you may have coupons for a competitor – perhaps they will accept them.  A good example is Michaels Crafts.  Their app has coupons.  But before I use their coupon I always check the apps for ACMoore and Joann’s Fabric first to see if those coupons are better.  I use the better of all three to get the best deals.

Price Matching

Some stores allow price matching.  I always did this practice at Walmart but they eliminated it when they transitioned to their Savings Catcher program – which they have since eliminated.  But there are other stores that price match and their rules vary so you may want to research their specific rules.  Some stores that price match are Bass Pro/Cabelas, Bed Bath & Beyond, Best Buy, Dicks Sporting Goods, Fry’s Electronics, Home Depot, JCPenney, Kohl’s, Lowes, Michaels, Office Depot, Petco, Sears, Staples, Target, Petsmart and more.

Cook Your Own Food

I hate going to the grocery store but I can easily cook a hearty dinner for 5-7 for a reasonable amount of money even if I am not watching my pennies.  But to try and feed 5-7 people at a restaurant would be three to five times as much.  Even if five of us got to McDonalds it can easily be $40 – at McDonalds for goodness sakes.  But a real sit down dining experience can will be $100 for 5 people.  That doesn’t even take into account the stress of trying to keep the kids entertained and behaving while we wait for food etc…

Shop in Bulk

Whether you are a member at a bulk warehouse or not, you can save a significant amount of money by buying in bulk and even more if you buy in bulk and on sale. For around $50 a year you can invest in a warehouse membership and save even more. Of course, you have to weigh the cost of the membership versus the actual savings you incur, but generally speaking, most warehouse memberships pay for themselves if you shop there regularly. Warehouse stores don’t just sell food either. You can also get a significant savings on TV’s and other electronics as well as household goods, office supplies, eye care and even cell phone plans. If you invest in a warehouse membership, always check prices there before shopping anywhere else.

Shop Your Cupboards

Most people already have cupboards full of food, but they just keep buying more. By inventorying whatever food you already have, you can plan meals around it and save a significant amount of money in addition to freeing up some precious cabinet space. In many cases, your cabinets may be full of “seasonal” food, such as canned pumpkin or cranberry relish. There are no laws that say you can only make pumpkin based foods in the fall or enjoy cranberry relish only at Thanksgiving or Christmas. In other cases, you may have one main ingredient for a dish but not the other. By inventorying what you already have, you can just buy the ingredient you actually need and use up the ingredient you have a surplus of.  My favorite site is SuperCook – I simply type in a list of ingredients I have on hand and voila – so many recipes appear that I can make by simply shopping my cupboards.

Order Online

Online stores do not have the same overhead that brick and mortar stores have, which is why you can get great deals. What’s true of almost everything else is also true of food. You can order fresh produce, organic food and even pet supplies online and not only save money, but save the time you spend going to the grocery store by having them delivered right to your door. In addition, when you shop online, you can also use a rebate service like Ebates that automatically gives you back a percentage of your purchase.  This is true for even dog food etc… For example I order dog food from Petco via Ebates.  I order enough to qualify for free shipping; I search for online coupons and usually find some to apply; then I get a rebate through Ebates.  In the end I pay less AND my very heavy huge bags of dog food are delivered right to my door.  Another option is Amazon Prime Pantry.  There is a fee to subscribe but well worth it.  I buy so many non-perishable items through that program and pay far less than I do in brick and mortar stores.  They always have coupons for some items, deals, special incentives etc…

Use a Cash Back Credit Card

Many credit cards offer a certain percentage of cash back on purchases. Some will only give a percentage of cash back on certain purchases, but gas and food tend to be two of the main categories that qualify for cash back.  This one is very convenient but it takes discipline to pay off that credit card at the end of the month.  It is all too easy to still see the money in your bank account and spend it.  But if you have the discipline – this is a great option.

Stack Your Savings

Each individual means of saving money is great, but where the really big savings come in is when you stack savings. For instance, Boxed is an online service that allows you to buy in bulk, so you are saving money both by buying online and buying in bulk. If you use Ebates to buy from Boxed, then you also get a percentage of your purchase back in addition to getting a discount for buying in bulk and buying online. If you use a credit or debit card that gives you cash back on purchases, you are saving even more money, not to mention if you also have a coupon or discount promo code.

There are only a few things we tend to spend our money on that are truly and legitimately necessities, but food is definitely one of them. That being said, we don’t always need to spend the amount of money on food that we might. Saving money on food doesn’t have to mean living on a diet of rice and beans, either. With some careful planning and strategizing, you can actually save money and eat like a king.

Get Out of Debt

Downsize

Downsizing is the “in” thing right now.  Everyone wants to go smaller – not bigger.  Let’s all declutter and make our lives easier.  Evaluate what you have – you can easily downsize, declutter and sell off some things to put directly towards paying off your debt. Nowadays it is so easy – you can sell in online forums like Ebay, Craigslist, Mercari, Facebook Marketplace and so much more. There are so many more options also available. Find the one that works best for you. Anyone you can do it!

Make Money While Watching Television

We all want to just take some time for us and hang out in front of the television at times.  Why not make money while you do it?  You won’t get rich but you can make enough spending money with minimal effort and from the comfort of your recliner.  I use Swagbucks – they set a goal for the number of Swagbucks for me to earn in a day and I meet that goal after the kids go to bed.  There are so many options for redeeming those Swagbucks you have earned but usually I apply them towards Amazon Gift Cards – I can never have enough of those…  There are even groups on Facebook dedicated to this program so you don’t miss a thing.

Save Without Trying

I seriously don’t know how people live without a smartphone. I use mine for everything. Is it possible to save without trying? Absolutely – I use apps such as:

  • Acorns – This is a round up and invest type of program.  I sign my debit card up as a round up account and I can choose to round up to $1, 2x, 3x etc… Then those funds are invested based on a level of risk I am willing to take.  I never even notice these funds leaving my account and they add up very quickly.
  • Digit – Every day, Digit checks your spending habits and moves money from your checking account to your Digit account, if you can afford it. Easily withdraw your money any time.  Digit doesn’t withdraw from my account every day and it has algorithms that work to not take too much from your account.  And if for other reasons your checking account goes below a certain amount you have the option of setting up low balance protection.  Your savings is referred to a Rainy Day funds.  If low balance protection is activated, Digit will automatically transfer some of your Rainy Day funds back to your checking to keep you above the threshold you have designated.
  • Stash Invest – This is another investment type account.  I have mine set up so it withdraws $50 from my checking account automatically every two weeks and invests it.  My investments are set up based on the level of risk I am willing to accept.  I started with a much smaller amount and believe me even $5 a week can quickly add up.

I have all three of these accounts and I never even notice the funds being removed from my checking account.  Therefore, when I need money I turn to these accounts and see how much has been saved and I am always pleasantly surprised.  These accounts have helped me more than a few times.

Cash is King

If I really want to focus extra hard on eliminating debt – I don’t allow myself to use a debit card. I go back to carrying cash and paying for everything in cash. I don’t own a checkbook – haven’t written a check in years. So it is either debit or cash. Using a debit card is very easy and a hard habit to control. Fast food restaurants, spur of the moment trips to the grocery store, giving in to children’s whining are all easier with a debit card. If you have to pay cash you automatically are forced to evaluate – do I really want to part with that tangible cash? Most often – NO!

Put Away The Small Stuff

Because I mostly use cash – I always seem to have change and no one wants to carry around change.  Every night I take my change and put it in a jar.  Every night I take my one dollar bills and put them in an envelope.  Occasionally, I will sneak a five out of my own wallet and put it in another envelope.  This also adds up quickly.  At one point I had so much saved I had to tell my husband that if he found my money – I wasn’t saving up to leave him… I was truly afraid he was going to think I was up to something.  In fact I was – I had enough for us to go to Florida for a Disney Vacation!

Give Your Kids an Allowance

I know this seems contradictory since we are talking about saving money.  But before I started giving my kids an allowance it seemed like I was always spending money on something for them.  I am not talking about the stuff for school or any essentials.  But that $5 request here and that $5 request there… Now they each get $10 (and my grandson gets $5) every week and they can spend it on whatever they want.  If they don’t have enough money for something they need to save just like I do.

Paying Down Debt

There are two methods here and I will tell you which one I use.  Actually I suppose there are more than two methods but I consider these to be the most effective.

  • Pay down smallest debt first – If I have five credit cards, I pay the one with the smallest balance down first.  If that is $50 per month – once it is paid off I move on to the next smallest but pay that amount due PLUS the $50 per month from the one I paid off.  That last credit card will get paid off pretty quickly because you are adding all previous monthly amounts paid to that monthly payment.
  • Pay the highest interest rate debt off first – This is the method I use.

Side Hustles

I would never survive if I was trying to do what I need to do with just my day job.  Side hustles (side jobs) allow me to do the things I want to do such as have horses.  Rather than for me to list the side hustles I do – I will refer you to Breaking The One Percent – who has put together a post with 113 Side Hustles… All of my side hustles are done right from the comfort of my own home.  I work around the needs of my children and family and really do not give up any family time or experiences to do them.  In fact, I would say my side hustles have offered my children and family more experiences than they would have had otherwise such as tickets to events, amusements parks, museums etc…

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I would love to hear any tips you have or would love to see added to this list.  Feel free to comment or PM me on Facebook

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