Hello, everyone and Happy Sunday!
Due to the nature of my job, I don’t get paid time-off. This is particularly unfortunate around the holidays, as you can imagine. Now that the holidays are over and money is a bit tight, I’ve been thinking a lot about ways that we can save our money and maximize its spending potential. So, without further ado, I’ve compiled 10 ways that can help you to save money.
1. Budget, budget, budget.
This is really the most important tip I have. The other nine tips that I’m going to share with you in this post won’t be nearly as effective if you don’t have a clear idea of how much money you have and where it’s all going. I know budgeting can seem overwhelming but never fear: I have a solution. And trust me, if I can handle it, so can you.
Mint by Intuit: it’s a budgeting app that will save your life. At first, I tried budgeting with an Excel spreadsheet, but that didn’t last long. Then I tried a few different apps before I found Mint. I like it because it has a website as well, which makes setting up your budget super easy. You link Mint to your bank account and any other accounts that you have (school loans, internet provider, etc.), and then you can clearly see how much income vs. expense you have on a monthly basis. You can then edit your budget to more accurately reflect your monthly expenses and keep track of it on the app. Mint has seriously been a lifesaver in my house!
Even if you don’t use Mint, please use some tool to help you budget, even if you use the envelope budgeting system. Budgeting is crucial to money management.
2. Have a savings account and consistently add to it.
Most people have some sort of a savings account, but I think it’s important to remember to add to it or won’t grow. Sure, it’s smart to get a savings account with a high interest rate, but actually transferring money to it every month will make it grow even faster. Set aside a certain amount every month in your budget that you will transfer over to your savings account — think of it like just another bill. This is a good way to be sure that your hard-earned money is going somewhere where it won’t get spent immediately.
3. Save your spare change.
A lot of people don’t hang on to their spare change. Some people even seem to have something against it! Granted, it can be annoying and heavy, but it isn’t useless. I collect all my change in a jar and then when it gets full, I take it to the bank and exchange it for cash. It’s free there because I have an account with them, so do that if you can. A pile of change can add up to more than you think!
4. Cut down on subscriptions and memberships.
I know, I know, it’s just not realistic to do without your Netflix and Hulu subscriptions, but unnecessary subs and memberships can quickly get out of hand. I’m talking about the Planet Fitness membership that you have and don’t cancel because it’s only TEN DOLLARS a month, which is SO cheap, and after all, this is the year you’ll finally get fit! Get rid of that membership if you go to the gym less than three days a week. And you don’t really need the “No Commercials” upgrade on Hulu. Sure, it’s only an extra $4, but that adds up. That’s almost $50 a year you’ll be saving! Plus, commercials are good for you.
Side note: I’m a total hypocrite because I have a Canva for Work subscription, and I WON’T give up the ability to upload my own fonts. And you can’t make me!
5. Use money-saving and gift card apps.
There are so many great ways out there to save money on your smartphone these days, but some of my favorites are Shopkick, Walmart Savings Catcher, and Target Cartwheel.
Shopkick is probably one of the coolest gift card apps out there. I’ve redeemed six gift cards from Shopkick so far: three from Walmart, two from Target, and one from Marshall’s. That’s a grand total of $175 that I got from literally using my phone to scan item barcodes in stores I was already shopping in! It’s like going on a scavenger hunt that pays really well.
Walmart’s Savings Catcher app is another gift card app where you scan your Walmart receipts to find lower prices in other stores. If a lower price is found, the app gives you the difference in a Walmart gift card. I’ve gotten a total of $73 back that I can turn right back around and spend on something fun. Or, you know, groceries and stuff.
Target Cartwheel (now combined with the regular Target app) can be a bit confusing at first but is totally worth the learning curve. Basically, if you go to the “Cartwheel Offers” section of the Target app, you’ll find a bunch of coupons that you then add to your virtual wallet. Then you scan the barcode in your wallet at checkout and it applies the savings to your total. These sales aren’t ones that you can find around the store though; you have to use the Cartwheel offers to redeem them. I have saved $73 from all of my Target purchases so far!
6. Don’t be afraid to return items to the store.
I know some people have anxiety about doing this, but if you bought something and it just didn’t work out for you (or is broken), you shouldn’t feel weird about returning it. I’m not talking about half-eaten food or a pair of shoes that you’ve worn for a week (although, I’ve heard of these exact things being returned before). I’m talking about a shirt that didn’t fit the same way at home as it did in the store (isn’t that always the way?) or a phone charger that didn’t work. Always save your receipts until you’re 100% sure you want to keep the item and if you need to, return that bad boy! I will usually collect any returns I have in one shopping bag for a while if I’m too
busy lazy to return them right away. Then, I’ll go to the store and return several things at once. It’s surprising how much money that was just sitting around in the form of items that you completely forgot about.
7. Sell your old stuff online.
We all have a ton of junk that we don’t use anymore lying around our house, but here’s the thing — someone out there won’t think it’s junk! The old idiom is true: one man’s trash truly is another man’s treasure. There are a lot of places to sell your old things, but one that you might not really think of as being effective is Facebook Marketplace. My husband and I got really into selling on Facebook about a year ago, and we’ve made a good amount of money doing it. We’ve sold an old camera, a TV, a laptop, and a table, just to name a few. We like to put this cash in a jar so that we don’t accidentally spend it by putting it in our checking account. Then whenever we make a big purchase (something fun and extravagant or an unexpected bill), we can pull money out of the jar and voilà! It’s like FREE MONEY!
8. Do your homework before you buy.
In the same vein as selling your stuff online, it’s always a good idea to try to buy stuff online, too. Facebook Marketplace is another hidden gem when looking for things like furniture. We got a practically new recliner and a brand new Dyson vacuum on Facebook for less than $200 combined. But Amazon is always the primary go-to. They have basically EVERYTHING and it’s almost always cheaper there than in stores. So when you find something in-store that you want, scan the barcode with your Amazon app and see what price it is there! It’s also a good idea to check out Amazon reviews on the product, too.
9. Don’t order alcohol at restaurants.
I totally get it. It’s Friday night, you’re out eating at your favorite restaurant, and you just want to unwind with a nice, cold marg. We’ve all been there. But try to resist. Those drinks can be anywhere between $4-$10! Say no to the booze and wait until you get home to turn-up. And if you’re really hardcore, say no to sodas, too. But I’m not there yet.
10. Avoid beauty salons when you can.
Getting your nails done can cost anywhere between $10-$50 and in my experience, the manicures only last about a week or two. Okay, so let’s say you get your nails done every two weeks for $40. That’s $1,140 a year spent just on nail care! In my opinion, it’s definitely worth learning to do your own nails. I find that it can be fun and relaxing, too!
I don’t dye my hair, but if you do, I recommend dying it at home. There are so many great at-home hair dye kits out there that work well for a fraction of the cost of going to a salon. I’ve heard good things about this kit, and it’s only $8! Similarly, if you can cut your own hair, do it! I am too scared to cut my own hair, but I do trim my own bangs because they grow so fast and I only get the rest of my hair cut a few times a year.
What are some of your money-saving tips? I’d love to learn more!