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Everyone wants to save money. Whether you’re a spend-conscious mama like me or someone who struggles to save, you can absolutely do it. It doesn’t have to be super hard or stressful and you don’t have to deny yourself everything good in life. Simply be a little more conscious and purposeful in your day-to-day or monthly spending. Here are some realistic ways you can begin to save money now. Pick one or two from the list that applies to you and your family and try them out this week. You can add one tip weekly or incorporate it into your lifestyle until you meet your savings goal. Hey, you may even keep some of them for good! I have broken them down into 4 categories for easy reference.
1. Visit money-saving websites or download applications on your phone.
There are several different apps you can use to get rebates and cash back on purchases. Visit websites of stores you frequent to see what they offer. Some of my favorites are:
- The ibotta app. When you use my referral code (hogthfl) you automatically get a $10 welcome bonus and I receive a $5 referral bonus. If you refer someone, the same applies. My husband and I each have our own accounts so we get twice as much opportunity to save. You can automatically cash out at $20 which isn’t hard to do.
- The Walmart savings catcher app compares prices of local competitors. If there is a lower price advertised elsewhere, Walmart will give you back the difference in the app.
- The Target app has special “Cartwheel” offers that help you save on most categories. You can also link your debit card to a Target store card to get 5% off of every purchase.
The top is what I’ve earned in Ibotta and the bottom is Walmart’s Savings Catcher.
2. Take the “Eat What I Have” challenge.
Instead of deciding what’s for dinner while at the supermarket, look through your cabinets and freezer first. See how many meals you can make from what you already have and plan accordingly. Not only will you save on your monthly grocery bill, but you will also prevent what you already have from spoiling and being a total waste.
3. Pack lunch at least 3 times a week.
I personally love this one whether I’m trying to save or not! There’s nothing like a home cooked meal when it comes to my lunch. I usually make a little more the night before or prepare mason jar meals for the week. This can easily save you $20-$40 per week!
Actual footage of how much French dressing I put in my chicken salad.
4. Cook in bulk and freeze.
Time is money, right? So double up on your recipes and freeze some food for a rainy day. It is so much cheaper to reheat food when you are tired or just don’t want to cook than going out to eat. Depending on your family size, it can also save you a hefty take-out bill. This is also great for when you get offered overtime because you don’t have to worry about running home to cook. Instead, you can make some extra cash. I also like to clean, cut, and season meats in bulk since family packs are cheaper. It also saves me some time on work days when I’m ready to cook it.
I love to freeze pasta dishes and stews for a rainy day!
5. Experiment with different off-brand items/foods.
Every time you go to the store, pick one item you will try that is cheaper than your usual brand. If you don’t like it, you would have only wasted a few dollars. But if you do like it, you will save much more in the long run.
FOCUS on your money
6. Use a free budgeting app such as Mint or Everydollar to track your spending.
Mint syncs up with your bank and credit accounts to streamline all your expenses. It notifies you when a bill is due or if there is any unusual activity on your account. It even offers savings options for you based on your accounts and gives you your credit score for free. Everydollar has a similar app for a cost but the free one is great, too. The free version requires you to input expenses. It takes more work but also helps me be more aware and attentive to my everyday spending.
7. Set up an automatic savings plan with your bank.
Some banks offer different savings options that round up your purchases and put the change in a savings account. Others have programs that deposit a certain amount of money into your savings each time you use your debit card. Those are great because you rarely even notice it but they do add up over time. Most banks, if not all, offer automatic savings plan that transfer a specific amount each month to your savings. You are in total control of how much you can afford to do but even $5 is a good place to start.
Don’t underestimate the power of saving little by little.
8. Reduce impulsive spending by only buying what’s on your list.
If you did not set out to buy it that day, go home and think it over for a day or two. Usually, after leaving the store you probably won’t even think about it or care enough to return for it. If it is a larger purchase, take more time to shop around and avoid buyers remorse.
Resist the urge to veer away from your predetermined list. All the extras will surely add up!
9. Make sure you are setting reminders to pay off credit cards.
Set a reminder a week before they are due each month to save on late payment fees and high-interest costs.
If you’re old school, you may use an actual calendar. Otherwise, set up notifications on your cell phone. (I like to do both!)
10. Set notifications on your checking account.
Set your notifications so that you can receive a text or email when your account falls under a certain threshold. This assures you are not bouncing checks/payments and paying overdraft fees on both ends.
11. Plan visits to the bank/ATM.
Budget your weekly or bi-weekly expenses and take out the cash you need all at once to avoid ATM fees. If your bank is farther than you’d like, use the cash back function at your local store.
Who wants to spend $3-$6 on bank fees? What a waste!
12. Trade in your cable package for a cheaper option.
With so many streaming options such as Netflix, Pureflix, Amazon Prime (you can get a 30-fay free trial or a 6-month free trial if you’re a college student), Hulu, Sling, etc., this is an easy one to do. You can also switch temporarily and cut your expenses for over a year. After a few months of no cable, you are usually eligible for a discounted price with your cable provider for at least another year.
Bye Felicia!! Jk, well not really. We turned in our cable box a very long time ago and haven’t looked back since.
13. Don’t be afraid to visit thrift stores.
Sure, all thrift stores are not created equal. Nor are the items donated. However, with a little patience, you can find valuable gems such as books, art pieces, board games, movies, and lots more. Many times, you can also find brand new items the previous owner just didn’t get around to using. I know I have personally taken many things to Goodwill with tags on it simply because I bought it on sale a few years prior and never wore it.
14. Invest in essential oils.
While the upfront cost may discourage you, the quality and pure concentration of essential oils will surely pay for themselves. You can get anything from household cleaners and dishwashing detergent to probiotics and other health supplements. Besides knowing where your product is coming from, you can rest assured that there are no chemicals involved which may wind up saving you on medical costs. And if you become passionate about sharing what you know, you can earn referral money and points. (Learn more about my EO journey here.)
I just can’t get enough Lavender.
15. Wash clothes more effectively.
Using less detergent actually cleans your laundry better because there’s not as much residue left on clothes. You can also look up DIY laundry detergent recipes, as well as other soaps in the house, to cut costs. Instead of using fabric softener sheets, you can invest in wool dryer balls. I like to put a couple drops of my favorite essential oil on each wool ball for a great smell. I usually use three balls per load.
16. Search for free resources online such as checklists, planners, worksheets, etc. before purchasing them.
There are many generous people who would love to share their resources with you for free! Many educational sites or blogger sites have a freebie section on their page to attract viewers, gain credibility, or simply share what they know. So, before buying expensive workbooks or planners, look up related sites and subscribe for the inside scoop.
17. Become familiar with your local library.
Borrow books and videos instead of paying rental fees or buying new ones. You can also do lots of research at your library before paying for basic intro courses on a topic of interest. Don’t forget to check out their calendar of events for free classes or things to do.
My kids have a blast playing (practicing their numbers, colors, and letters) on the children’s computers.
18. Plan occasions ahead of time where gift giving is in order.
Planning ahead gives you time to think of a gift that the person will actually like without breaking the bank. You can get creative with gift giving without the last minute run that usually costs much more than you wanted to spend. Most times, it truly is the thought that counts. Now, if I have no interest in art or butterflies and you gift me a picture you painted of a butterfly, I may not see that as thoughtful. However, if I’m a chocoholic and you take the time to bake me amazing brownies (hint, hint!) and wrap them in a pretty bow, I will love you forever! If you’re just not into all of that, it still gives you time to shop around for the best price and search for coupons that will save you even more.
Doesn’t this look yummy?
19. If you’re planning a party, utilize your resources!
If you are not the craftiest person, spend a few hours on Pinterest and I guarantee you’ll be ready to conquer the world. If you’re still not sold, I’m sure you have one amazing DIY friend. Seriously though, people really do love to help and be a part of something good. Gather a team and see who’s willing to contribute to what. Maybe someone will volunteer to cook or make finger foods, while another designs an e-vite to use instead of invitations.
20. Get creative with date night.
I saved the best for last because this is truly my favorite. Date nights are sooooooooooooooo (emphasis added) important! But, they don’t have to break the bank. There are several things you can do on a budget such as making a special meal together, exploring local parks, or playing board games. The point is just to have fun. You can also have game nights with fun snacks instead of taking the family out for expensive fun.
I hope you enjoyed this article. If you have any questions on any of the above, feel free to email me at [email protected] or comment below. I would also love to give you two free printables, one with a list of the 20 ways to save and another to help you keep track of your own ideas for saving. If you would find it helpful please send an email with the subject line: Save money printable.