Here’s some personal experience on great ways to save an extra buck. I'd love to hear your tips! I hope you enjoy! 1) Car Insurance
1a) If you haven’t quoted your car insurance in over six months to a year it may be time to do so. People can often save $200-600 by switching companies. These savings can be greater if you have home insurance/ life insurance bundled. We switched from Farmers to Progressive and cut our car insurance by half! Also we get a discount by paying 6 months up front. 2) Save money on gas
You can do 2 things easily:
2a) Buy a Wal-Mart Gift Card and use it at the pump. (NOTE: Must be disciplined not to buy anything else.) I did this and saved 10 cents per gallon last week.
2b) Use Credit Card rewards. This is a bit tricky but doable as long as you pay off your bill every month. Otherwise you are paying 15% interest or more in most cases. You can earn up to 5% (about once a year Discover offers 5% rewards for 1-4 months. Also on groceries, travel, etc. I used this accumulation of rewards this year to buy my wife a $50 gift card which I used only $40 worth of Discover reward points) on rewards offered by various companies. I know CitiBank and others offer similar rewards programs with cash back. This assumes you are responsible with your spending habits, pay the bill off every month, and have a decent credit score to qualify for the card. 3) Cell Phones/Landline
3a) Are you using up all your minutes? Do you have 4000 rollover minutes? Do you need unlimited data or can you do with 200 texts? Is your contract about to expire? You can usually transfer a number to another cell phone provider for free. Time to see what the competition has to offer?
3b) Do you really, really need your landline? We got rid of ours. We were paying $70 a month on phone/internet. We got rid of those 2 services and signed up for less than half the cost for just internet through a promotion for a year. Update: The promo ran out. I called and threatened to discontinue my service and was given a 6 month 50% off discount. (Note: We also have plenty of rollover minutes on our cell phone plan.)
3c) Check out alternatives to a landline or even cell phone. You can get Skype via your computer and actually see the other person. All for free! MagicJack is a landline hooked up to your computer using your internet connection. MagicJack is only $30 a year I believe. There is also MagicJack phone service that plugs into your telephone line now. You can get a local number and use it as much as you’d like! 4) Go Out to Eat or Make it Yourself?
4a) We realized that going out to eat once a week is a lot more special. We also save a lot of money this way. Currently I bring my meals from home to work. I brown bag it, eat leftovers, or bring a frozen meal. (An occasional meal out is not bad though for variety.)
4b) Of course now I’m married so life is even better! I make some mean egg/omelets and of course my wife is a fantastic cook! We save a ton by eating in.
4c) However, if you do go eat out check these three websites:
restaurant.com sells $25 restaurant gift cards for $2 to $10 to thousands of restaurants around the country. These are great gifts as well!
On groupon.com you can get discounts on a variety of things. We have gotten Groupons for 50% off or more at local restaurants. In fact restaurants are just one thing you can get discounts on. I’ve found massage offers, jet ski offers, family photo shoots, and more!
EntertainmentBook.com sells restaurants, shopping, attractions, and travel booklets for discounts! 5) Clip Coupons
5a) Last month I saved $25 on groceries and I’m not even that serious about it. Buy the Sunday paper! It is easy to save upwards of $50 a month if you enjoy it. Sometimes things can be bought for pennies or even free! 6) Groceries
6a) Write a list before you go shopping – and stick to it. There are people hired just to make sure the milk and eggs are in a section of the store… Or that you will have to go from groceries in the middle of all these clothes to get to your home goods or toiletries.
6b) Never shop while hungry! Don’t fall for it! Also don’t buy things at the checkout aisle. They are marked up usually and are impulse buys.
6c) Buy in bulk at wholesale box stores such as Sam’s Club or Costco. If buying in bulk for a smaller family or even singles makes wholesale unaffordable then get a shopping buddy! You can split the cost and the product with your buying buddy. Or even split the cost of membership! I do this with a relative. You are allowed two membership cards per account.
6d) Make a comparison shopping list. I made an excel version of this and compared basic items we buy every week. Basically compare your major stores for the items you buy over about a two month period.
You might be surprised to know that where you think is the best prices may not be. Walmart for example in our area is usually more expensive in many every day grocery items than Kroger or even Target. If you don’t mind generic, store brands Aldi’s is a great option as well on a variety of items.
You can also see the local adds online and shop before you go to the store. 7) Drink More Water
7a) Water is not only incredibly healthier for you but will also help with the waistline. Soft drinks, juice, energy drinks, coffee, and such are fun but they don’t usually help your pocket book.
7b) Give up your Coke or Starbucks for a week and see how much you could save. Try it for a month or a year. Dave Ramsey talks about cutting back on smoking, Starbucks, etc. and putting the money instead in a mutual fund. 8) Shop Right After the Holidays
8a) Yes Black Friday is fantastic. If you can get up early enough that is and stand the lines. I’ve done it for the last 6 or 7 years. However, often the same deals are available online or are still on sale after the big day. Great time for good deals on appliances and electronics! Also keep in mind there are some great sales after Christmas. Save up your money throughout the year and buy on Holidays or the day after. 9) Save Energy
9a) Turn off the lights when you leave your home! Don’t leave lights on throughout the night unnecessarily. Replace your standard light bulbs with HE (high efficiency) bulbs. Turn down your thermostat when your away from home. Only run your dishwasher when it is full. 10) Keep an Idea Book in your pocket
10a) It is easy to waste time and money because we forget the ideas in our head. Also, making random to do lists that disappear makes it difficult to track tasks. One idea my Dad always gave me was to buy an agenda and keep tabs on tasks. Another idea is to use your smart phone to keep track of things. Whatever works for you.
10) Instead of using my memory I have a little book I put ideas down. I’ve used this for the past few months and seem to be a lot more productive. 11) Get RID of your Cable/Satellite Bill
11a) Yes, you pay too much for TV. I have friends and family that pay $140 a month for HDTV services. Try switching and getting promo's from your current providers competitors. In the summer especially guys get rid of your bill please. The only sports worth watching in the summer is baseball which many local games are televised on free TV. The news is too depressing and sitcoms are a bit of a waste of time. Try it at least for a couple of months to see how much you can save. If there is some final or championship game that is vital to watch try a local sports bar or watch it at a friends/family's place.12) Be Smart With Your Movie Rentals
(yes, the rates went up to $8 a month for 1 movie and $8 a month for streaming but this is still the best deal out there.) and we watch movies on occasion.
12b) If the need arises we can always get a movie at your local Redbox or Redbox.com. DVD movie rentals are about $1.00 or $1.20 so a night. It is only $1.50 for Bluray DVD’s. Also, come to find out if you sign up for the Redbox texts you get a free rental every week or two sent to your phone! We get to watch a movie for free at least 1-2 times per month!
is also a great option. Or if you sign up for Amazon Prime they also offer free streaming content.
12d) The local library has movie rentals for free! In our area you can check out 10 movies a week. Or your local church library might have a good family selection as well. 13) Buy a Deep Freezer
13a) After the initial investment this can be a great bargain. Buy all sorts of foods in bulk and store them. You can even store meals in advance. 14) Plan a Budget and Stick to it!
14a) Plan a budget. Spend all your income in your budget. Plan for tithing, saving, bills, and then for fun stuff. If you don’t have it don’t spend it! 15) Have an Emergency Fund
15a) My Dad always told me to “Save for a rainy day.” Well around where I live it rains at least a few times a year. The best thing to do is to have an umbrella on hand. An umbrella in finances is like an emergency fund. A good goal is to save up an emergency fund. This is not that hard once you get it going.
15b) If you make less than 24 thousand a year start with a goal of $500. If you make over 24 thousand a year your goal should be initially $1000 in your emergency fund. Emergencies always will happen. The frig will need to be replaced. The car will break down. The kids will need to go to the doctor. Credit cards are not a way to pay for an emergency! Be prepared ahead of time! 16) Pay Off Debt
16a) Save money by not paying interest on products and by becoming debt free. Make a list of all your debts. Pay off your smallest debt first. Pay the minimum payments on the rest. Then apply that payment to the next lowest. Keep doing this until all your debt is paid! This is called a debt snowball strategy.
16b) Be intentional
I know of a friend of ours who paid off $15,000 in just a few months. He and his wife spent about five or six months working their tails off. They sold some things. He got extra jobs and they pinched the pennies. The result is they were debt free! Dave Ramsey often says “You have to live like no one else (now), so that you can live like no one else (in the future).” It’s all about changing your mindset.
16c) Spend less than you earn! If you have two incomes try to live off of one. If you make $3000 a month don’t spend $4000. The three biggest stresses in marriage are money, sex, and in-laws. Having an emergency fund setup and paying off your debt will eliminate stress. Save money, tithe, give, and have money left over for fun stuff.
------------------- Edited & Added June 2, 2012 --------------------------
Also would like to add to the list:17) Buy a Used Car
17a) The value of vehicles depreciates the greatest during the first two years of ownership. Let someone else take the hit and buy a used vehicle. Always get the Carfax report for any vehicle you buy. 18) Go Out to the Movie Theatre for Matinees/Weekdays & Don’t Get Snacks.
18a) A Matinee can be anywhere from half the price or a couple bucks off the regular price. Avoid 3D (except on a rare occasion) especially for prime time. 2D is still great. Also always take your student ID for a student discount for movies during the week.
18b) Eat a good meal before you go to the movies and don’t buy any concessions.19) Amazon Mom (also for Dad’s)
19a) For people with newborns… We found that saving 20% extra (about $5 to $10 per box) on diapers saves a ton of money. You can sign up for a year and get free shipping as long as you purchase $25 worth of product every month. That’s like one purchase of 200 diapers a month – so easy to use and save!20) Free Babysitting
20a) If you have family that lives around you they often will jump at the suggestion of the opportunity to take the kids for an evening or weekend. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, brothers, & sisters are a good place to start.21) Don’t Own A Car
21a) If you live in cities like NYC, Boston, Washington D.C., etc. public transportation is often cheaper than gas/insurance/maintenance plus you don’t have to battle every time you need to find a parking space. 22) Cancel your Magazine Subscriptions/Newspaper
22a) Last year we made it a point to go to Barnes & Noble and the local library about twice a month. We were able to save a ton by getting our news online and reading free magazines at these locations. Not to mention getting a good book and reading at B&N is a great date night if you’re into that thing 23) Cancel Your Gym Membership For A Few Months
23a) There are lots of Fitness DVD’s out there. Amazon has plenty to choose from for $20 or less.
23b) Another option is to exercise outside. We tried it last spring for a couple of months. It was actually very romantic, fun, and saved us $70 a month on memberships.24) Christmas Gift Giving
24a) Assuming you celbrate this holiday save tissue paper & re-use gift bags. We stopped using wrapping paper a few years back. Tissue and bags are a lot easier (especially for us guys) to use. Plus they can be recycled/re-used as long as the bag is in good condition!
24b) Have a contest to see who can buy the nicest gifts (including brand name stuff) for the best (lowest) price. A friend of ours does this every year with his family. There is voting by each family member. The winner of the contest gets a great prize!25) Buy Gift Cards at discounts
25a) Times are tough. Often at the end of the year companies will have promotions: Subway had $5.00 off your next sub with the purchase of a gift card. We bought two gift cards ($25 each) and each had a free sub. Plus we had enough for going out on very inexpensive date for the next couple of months.26) Haircuts
26a) For guys a simple home hair cutting kit ($20-30 usually) can save a ton over time. I bought a kit last summer to buzz my hair and saved an average of $15 every two weeks for four months. We saved about $100 over the course of that time. Plus anytime I want an inexpensive haircut it can be convenient.
26b) For women try going to a cosmetology school (In the Dallas are there are several Ogle Beauty Schools). Instead of paying $30 you might pay $10 for a good (hopefully) haircut. Plan on spending double the time at the hair stylist as they are just learning! My wife did this our first year of marriage and we saved about $100 for the year.
------------------- Edited & Added June 15, 2012 --------------------------27) Live in a smaller home
27a) I have a (now single as his wife passed away) great uncle who recently moved from a 3 story home to a 1 story home. He saved on utility bills, maintenance, and cleaning. If the kids have moved out do you really need a four room three bathroom home?28) Use the Barter System
28a) Have a skill? Are you a great photographer and need a plumber? Why not exchange a family photo shoot for a couple of hours of plumbing work. Or how about music lessons in say piano or guitar?29) Start a Side Business or Get a Part-time Job
29a) Blogging is a good option or being a free-lance writer. Even perhaps starting up your own photography business or baking business might be a fun/good idea. 30) When you buy food, make sure to eat it!
30a) Wasting food can add up quick. If we don’t eat our fresh food and vegetables they can go to waste. 31) CashBack Rewards on Debit Cards?
31a) 1% or 2% back on all purchases. Check out http://www.perkstreet.com/
31b) Sounds too good to be true? I had questions here are some of the answers I found:
- They do not have physical branches
- Similar to ING Direct, to make a deposit you have to transfer the $ from another account or set up direct deposit.
- They do offer checkbooks (and the first one is free)
- They have live phone service 24/7
- Free online banking and bill pay
- According to their website they have the “Nation’s largest surcharge-free ATM network”
- No minimum balance requirement
- FDIC insured up to $250,000
31c) The Catch? There is a monthly inactivity fee of $4.50 if you don’t use your debit card or write a check that month.
------------------- Edited & Added To List June 20, 2012 --------------------------32) First Time Customers & Store Rewards
32a) Buy Buy Baby
(Owned in part by Bed, Bath, & Beyond) offers 20% off to first time customers via a text message. This is great for people with smart phones who find out about this at the store. Or sign up at home before you go and print of your coupon. You can also use Bed Bath & Beyond Coupons at Buy Buy Baby.
32b) At Lifeway
I asked for a discount and got a 10% discount through a text. You can also get discounts as you purchase 10 times there with a coupon the use a hole punch for.
32c) First time we opened a Khol’s
charge account (which we paid off the same month) we got an additional 30% off our purchases. I had just switched jobs and needed new clothes for work. My wife also was able to get a few things. I know it’s all about perspective but the items were already on sale 50% off. So we got an additional 30% off of that. The “value” of our products was in the $500 range and we paid only $170. The items were 4 pairs of men’s business casual pants, 8 men’s business casual shirts, 6 men’s pairs of socks, 2 men’s belts, 2 women’s blouses, 1 dress, 1 pair of women’s pants, and a few other things. We were tickled to death.
32d) At Target
you can get a Target Card and get 5% off on all purchases. Since we shopped there anyway that seemed to be a good offer. 33) Wedding & Gift Registration:
Registry is somewhat easy to use. Kiosks can be a bit of a pain at times as they are self-service. Keyboards often stick and logging in can be a pain. Guns are fun to use so don’t get carried away. Returns are relatively easy. They allow two returns for unlimited products without receipts. There is also a 10% discount on everything remaining on your registry mailed out 4-8 weeks before your Life Changing Happy Event.
33b) Bed Bath & Beyond ( & Buy Buy Baby)
Registry is really easy to use. The list is printed off by associates. They have consultants readily available for questions and a tour. This was by far the best experience. Returns are really easy and are done at the registry. They allow unlimited returns without receipts in most instances with the assistance of a manager. There is also a 10% discount coupon on everything remaining on your registry mailed out 4-8 weeks before your Life Changing Happy Event.
Registry is somewhat easy to use. The list is printed off by associates at a kiosk. They have consultants available for questions a majority of the time. While employees are cordial they weren’t always helpful. In fact many of them ignored us as we weren’t actually buying anything. This was somewhat of a disappointing experience. Returns were not always easy. You have to go a specific customer service department and there was often a wait. They allow returns with receipts. Refunds are in the same amount as the tender paid or as gift cards. There is also a 10% discount on everything remaining on your registry after your Life Changing Happy Event.
33d) My advice? Sign up for things you will use throughout the year not just what people would think of “traditional” wedding gifts (specifically at Target & BBB) and you can still get a 10% discount on items up to 1-2 years after your Life Changing Happy Event. Toilette Paper, Cleaning Supplies, Formula, Baby Food, Baby Wipes, or Diapers anyone? See store exclusions for details. 33e) I’d love to hear from people who have had experiences with registry’s with Sears, Macey’s, Walmart, JCPenney’s, etc. 34) OpenOffice
Why pay for Microsoft Office when you can get a similar set of programs for free? Try Openoffice.org it includes programs that are compatible with Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc. Did I mention this was FREE? Forget spending $100+ on Microsoft Office. Try it out for a few weeks at the very least.
------------------- Edited & Added To List June 25, 2012 -------------------------- 35) Negotiate Your Bills – Make the Call 35a) Call Cable/Satellite
If this is not something you can give up at least consider giving your local provider a call and ask for a better deal. “Do you have any deals or promotions at a better rate?” – Linda Sherry 35b) Call Disconnection Department
Call your phone, internet, TV service provider and tell them you’re considering closing your account. Ask to speak to the cancellation department. I did this for our internet provider, AT&T, and saved over half the bill for 6 months. Never hurts to ask. 35c) Call Your Insurance Company
When was the last time you got a quote? Call and ask for a better rate on your insurance. Consolidate from two car (assuming multiple vehicles in your family) insurance providers to one. 35d) Call and Demand Better Service from Your Bank
Sometimes you can get better interest from your bank just by asking. Also, ask about getting interest on your checking account. Remember the bank is getting your money and lending it out to people for 3-20% interest to other customers. It’s all about perspective. 35e) Call and Ask For A Fee To Be Waved
If you’re not a regular offender this can save money. I had a check someone wrote me bounce a few months back. I called and spoke to the branch manager. I explained my account never went below $X thousand dollars and requested the favor that the fee be waived. He was happy to comply.