Saving money can seem like a daunting task. There are books and podcasts and websites (like this one) and radio personalities who all have their advice on how to maximize your savings. Some are a bit extreme and some just don’t make any sense. But there are simple Strategies to Save Money that almost anyone can do without messing up your lifestyle too much.
And check out these other ideas on How To Save Money!
Check out these 9 Strategies to Save Money:
Sign Up for FREE Rewards Programs
I will never forget the day I was behind a man in line at CVS with a cart full of groceries. He was buying milk, cereal, pasta- basically grocery shopping at a drug store. I had my few items I was about to purchase with coupons and patiently waited while the cashier rang him up. When she finished she asked for his rewards card. He said he didn’t have one and not to worry about it.
I swear I stopped breathing for a second. She offered him a card and he declined. It was around $100 for the items in his cart- many of which I knew for sure were on sale. At that time a second cashier came up so I moved to her window. I sincerely hope that the cashier talked him into getting a card- he was overpaying so much for those items!
I know it can be a pain to sign up for rewards programs but there are significant savings involved. If you are worried about spam create a separate e-mail account for those e-mails. Then you only have to check it periodically- just enough to keep it active. Many of them often give you store credit for purchases or will send you valuable coupons via mail or e-mail.
Use Rebate Apps to Get Cash Back For Shopping
Even my friends who won’t use paper coupons will use rebate apps like Ibotta and MobiSave. They require very little planning and the payout is quick! You won’t forget them at home because they are on your phone- which you and I both know comes with us to the store.
Basically you open up the app and either choose the store you want to shop or the item you want to buy. Click on it and a rebate will be available. When you get home you just take a picture of the UPC code on the item and your receipt and submit through the app. Once it’s verified they will add the money to your balance.
When your account hits a certain threshold you can cash out the funds into a Paypal account! You can either use it for online shopping or transfer the cash to your bank account (preferably a savings account you only use for emergencies). It’s that simple.
Buy Used Not New
Thrift store shopping has lost some of it’s chicness for the world but not in my house. A few weeks ago I wanted a new sundress. Instead of heading to the store I ran to our local Goodwill. 30 minutes later I left with THREE for $21 and have gotten tons of compliments on each.
One of the newest developments that has helped the journey to buy used are online yard sale groups. Whether you are using Craigslist or a Facebook group the ability to sort through people’s junk online to find that perfect item has changed how we shop.
Search on Facebook for “yard sale” and the name of your city (or those nearby). You may be surprised to find many of them. Before you jump on google to look for something see if you can find it used!
Set Up Savings Account at a Different Bank
I cannot recommend this enough. It has been a GAME CHANGER for me.
My checking account and my savings account are at two different banks. While I have online access to my savings I don’t have a debit card for it and the bank is really inconvenient for me to visit. I have basically made the money difficult to get to.
I have money automatically transferred there every month, my Ibotta and MobiSave money and all my substitute teaching money goes into that account as well. It’s basically saving money for me without me having to pay attention to it. Every once in a while I will just log in and look at it. Having money in savings for emergencies and big purchases lowers my stress level just knowing it’s there.
Get Frugal Friends
This past weekend some friends and I got together for a cookout. Everyone bought a covered dish. We talked, let the kids (and some of the guys) run around the back yard like lunatics and took the chance to de-stress after a long week. The whole evening probably cost each person $5. It was nothing fancy but the conclusion was we need to do this about every other weekend. Everyone is broke and it gives us a chance to hang out without breaking the bank.
I am so thankful for frugal friends. I almost never have to explain to them why I don’t have a car with Bluetooth or why my phone is a few models old. They don’t question that the person who cuts my hair does so in her attic. They don’t blink when I pull out a coupon at a restaurant. Generally they want to know where I got it so they can use it next time.
Sit back and think about who your frugal friends are. The ones who stay in for game night instead of going out. The ones who go to the park and for walks rather than to bowling or the movies. Bond with these people. They are going to help you reach your savings goals. And rejoice with you.
Go Meatless One Night A Week
Americans eat so much meat. I don’t have to look up health articles to know that most doctors would probably prefer we eat a bit less of it. And replace it with vegetables. Meat is expensive and many other proteins are not.
Pick a night of the week to try to go meatless! Instead of meat use beans (Mexican food anyone?). Maybe try a pot of vegetarian chili. Make homemade pizzas and load them with vegetables. Or do italian!
Buy Meat in Bulk
When you do buy meat get it in bulk. You can find a local butcher or farm that will give you a deal. Or you can try Zaycon Fresh (since they are in all lower 48 states they are likely near you).
To use the example of a typical Zaycon Fresh order you get 40 pounds of chicken for let’s say $1.90 a pound (so the math is easy). That’s $76. You take them home, put them in the freezer and you have chicken for the next few months. No stopping at the store on the way home to grab meat. No wondering if you have enough. And when you plan your menu you know what you have.
I checked online at our local store and the same quality chicken was about $2.90 a pound. So let’s say you make the smaller commitment up front and buy 5 pounds. That’s $14.50. Sure it’s less but you and I both know if you go to the grocery store you aren’t just going to buy the chicken. So you grab other items and spend $50.
And then when you go back to the store two days later you spend another $50. And then Friday after work another $50 and it just keeps going.
Having your meat in bulk in your house saves you both money and time. And if buying in large quantities makes you nervous consider splitting your first order with a friend so you can try it out. I promise you will never go back!
Brown Bag Your Lunch
I have a friend whose husband won’t eat leftovers. Even if she reheats them in the oven, adds a new sauce or makes a fresh side. This baffles me. Some foods are BETTER the second day (chili anyone?). So they have to budget for him to eat out at work every single day. At $10 a day that is over $200 a month just to feed him lunch!
The world is a better place with a brown bag lunch. With all the new advancements in thermoses, lunch boxes and mason jars (who hasn’t made a Pinterest Mason Jar Salad?) we can make a huge variety of foods safe to keep in our desks until lunch. Most companies provide a microwave so things can be reheated. And you can be the envy of the office eating their nasty fast food when you walk by with homemade chicken and dumplings or grandma’s tuna casserole. Just don’t cook popcorn. No one wants to smell burnt popcorn in the office.
Cancel Your Unused Memberships
One of my dearest friends in the whole world has a gym membership he never uses. He has been to the gym exactly zero times in the last six months and yet paid $9.99 a month for his membership. It drives me absolutely MAD. He uses it to mock me.
At the end of the month pull out your bank statement and check those recurring debits. Are you paying for a membership you aren’t using? Maybe the meat of the month club seemed like a good idea last year but now you have a freezer full of possum and ostrich and no idea what to do with it. Maybe you really thought you would spend a lot of time at the club but discovered you prefer to sit at home after working an 8 hour day with a 2 hour commute. That $10 a month for the facebook accountability room seemed smart but you blocked the notifications after the first day and haven’t looked at it since.
Take the time to cancel these payments. My friend is paying $120 a year for a gym he doesn’t go to. That’s a cell phone bill. For me it’s two weeks worth of groceries. It’s a few haircuts or a new pair of pants. Or a deposit into your savings account that could make you happy when you stare at it.