Maybe the month following the holiday’s spendy extravaganza felt like A Terrible Reckoning. Or maybe you’re saving up for that Special Something and it’s taking forever. Or maybe the dollar just doesn’t go as far as you need it to, generally speaking. Well, you’re definitely not alone. And good news: it’s downright trendy these days to find ways to economize. Let’s pool our best money-saving tricks…please add yours in the comments!
I’m not great at saving. I am, however, great at being cheap! I know my Mom (who is great at saving) has it set up that money is automatically transferred to her savings account as soon as that direct deposit hits! And my sister uses something called Ebates to get cash back when she shops online. As for me? I tend to buy in bulk. And I love love love to price compare on Amazon, Walmart, Target and Ebay, which is also great for buying in bulk! I also tend to wait for when my favorite stores have their semi-annual sales. I’m obsessed with Bath and Body Works candles but have never paid full price for one. Why? Because I know they tend to have half off sales fairly often. And then I…wait for it…buy tons at once. My other hint is to always do a search for a promo code right before you check out online. You normally can at least find a deal for free shipping on most sites.
It takes dedicated searching, but there are some great things to be found at TJMaxx, Marshall’s, and Nordstrom Rack (designer, even!) and eBay has a wide selection of things that you’d never find under one roof. Craigslist is our go-to place for things we can paint/refinish (tables, chairs, desks, etc.). And finally, if shopping at a store online (because I’ll do anything to avoid going to a mall), before paying, I always type the store name + the magic words “promo code” or “coupon” into Google to find discounts. Usually you can save a little something that way too. It might just be 10-20% but those add up…woohoo!
I’m probably the last person on the planet who should give advice on saving money. I am truly terrible at it. Yes, I’ve switched to cheaper coffee. And I love those contests at the grocery store where you collect a stamp toward a free item every time you spend ten bucks (after saving from late October, I cashed in for an absolutely FREE (make that $1300) Rachel Ray casserole dish, which I gave my daughter for Christmas. For a while I congratulated myself on selling items from my closet, but then I used the money to buy more (somebody STOP me!). I do use Hotel Tonight, a last-minute booking app similar to what Vickie mentioned. Not because I’m clever, like she is–but because I procrastinated until the prices went too high. I am trying to give up my printer and become less of a paper, ink, and toner-driven person. Oh, and I hand wash in Woolite to save on dry cleaning and I wait until my hair gets really long between cuts. (Do any of these count?)
One of the things that bonds my husband and me is how cheap, I mean frugal, we both are. We re-use every plastic bag we can get our hands on, as well as paper towels. We only light the rooms we’re in, and keep the house at 68 in the winter, 80 or more in the summer. My husband even collects our cans and bottles and exchanges them for cash. But here’s a recent example of economizing. We have a drip in one of our kitchen faucets. I hated seeing all that water – and money – literally going down the drain. So I put a plastic container under the drip. I collect the water and use it to fill the dogs’ bowls, water plants, even make my morning tea. Being that we live under the constant threat of drought here in L.A., this little trick helps the environment as well as our wallet.
My husband and I have lucked out on some extraordinary hotel deals by booking rooms online at the eleventh hour – literally. We’re on the road; it’s between 10 and 11 p.m.; we’re ready to stop for the night. I pull up booking sites on my cell phone and search for deals in nearby cities. Rooms that are going to go unbooked for the night are ripe for the taking. We’ve scored lots of rooms cheap ($80 or less), and at fancier hotels than where we’d usually stay. A year or so ago, we booked at the last minute. When we entered the room we discovered it was a two-story, two-bathroom suite with a spiral staircase! We promptly took pictures and posted them on Facebook to impress family and friends. Sometimes good things come to those who don’t plan ahead. Oh, I also I tear dryer sheets in half. So I get 80 laundry loads out of a 40-count box.
Continuing in the travel theme, I use Google Flights to find good prices on flights. When you do a search, it looks for the best prices on most of the major airlines. Then, it gives you the best three choices first — as well as suggestions on how to save. (“Save $79 if you fly two days earlier” or “Save $39 if you fly out of OAK instead of SFO.”) After that, I go check on Southwest Airlines to make sure they don’t have a better deal, because, depending on the route, they sure might. It sure saves me time on scouring all the deals! By the way, you can file this under bad ideas: I once saw a money-saving tip suggesting that you could make your own cookie cutters using pliers and a tin can. Yeah, even at upscale stores like Sur La Table they only cost $1.50 — and I’m not that handy at shaping tin into fanciful shapes with handheld tools.
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