I do a lot of different things in order to save money. Some of those ways take more effort than others, but these are my easy “go to” rules. They aren’t making me rich, but they are making me richer.
1. Use credit cards, but don’t pay interest. I love credit cards. I have a handful that I use on a regular basis. They consistently pay me 2-5% back on all of my purchases. I put almost all of my budgeted expenses on them; groceries, gas, insurance, heating oil, internet and more. I use them everywhere I can and I give them nothing in return, except for making my full monthly payment on time, every time. It’s really a one-sided relationship, but I don’t feel guilty at all.
2. Refuse to pay for shipping. The closest Target (among others) is over 150 miles away so I do a fair amount of online shopping. It’s just part of living off the beaten path, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to pay $10 or more for shipping. I hate spending money for invisible things. Most online retailers offer free shipping with a certain purchase, $50+ in a lot of cases and often times your order is within a small amount of hitting the threshold. I’d rather spend the extra money to actually get another item than to spend it for shipping.
3. Use online resources. I follow The Krazy Coupon Lady on Facebook and she gives me a heads up to sales and deals on everything from shampoo to candy bars. I use ebates.com every time I make an online purchase. Ebates is the middleman who guides you to your desired site and pays you a percentage of your purchase in cash back. Money for things I was buying anyway, yes please! Ebates also lets you know about current promo codes and deals that retailer is currently offering. Ibotta is an app that offers rebates on groceries, dining, and drug store purchases by scanning your receipts once you return from the store. You can get paid once you’ve earned $20, you get paid via PayPal or in gift cards. I use Coupons.com to print off just the coupons I need.
4. Ask yourself questions before you buy. Asking yourself questions can help you decide whether or not to buy something. I avoid talking to myself out loud (most of the time) to eliminate the awkwardness for other shoppers, but that’s up to you. I ask myself, “Is this something that you need? Is this something that you really want? If so, is this something that you can make yourself? Can you get it cheaper somewhere else? What will you do with it once you buy it?”. I’ve usually talked myself out of whatever it was with these questions. Because of this, I am able to look around my house and see many things that I love because these are the things that made the cut rather than something that I mindlessly bought and just ended up here.
5. Don’t buy things that are going to end up in the trash. You already know how I don’t want to pay for shipping because I hate spending money on invisible things, but even worse are things that are designed to have a single use and thrown away. I don’t buy paper plates, cups, or towels. I have a wonderful dishwasher and a cupboard full of dishes and glasses. My washing machine works fine as well, so I use wash cloths and cloth napkins to take the place of paper towels. Toilet paper, however that is one thing I’m not willing to give up.
6. Take the time to plan. Planning can save money in so many aspects from dinner to vacations. If you take the time to plan your meals around what is on sale each week and you buy all of your groceries at once, you avoid spending more money and more trips back and forth to the store. Sit down and figure out what you are having for meals by checking out the sale flyers, Ibotta, and coupons.com. You may notice that there is something on sale that also has an Ibotta rebate and a coupon to print off. That doesn’t happen often, but when it does it’s like the heavens open up and I hear angels singing. It’s the trifecta of savings! Part of my grocery plan involves using a junk mail envelope as my list, #1 because I get a bunch of the return envelopes for junk mail and I want to use them before I recycle them and, #2 I’m not going to use a brand new envelope for a grocery list, but an envelope works great for holding the coupons I have printed off that go with my list. When you are prepared, you are more successful.
Taking steps in the right direction, no matter how small can make a big impact!