I realized a while ago that I was not cut out to cut coupons (pun intended!)! One, I was a tad lazy for that; two, not organized enough to take the coupons or use them efficiently; and three, TBH, the stores we shop in most often do not take coupons (this includes Costco, the local Indian grocery stores, and Trader Joes). So I needed to find other ways to save money. Here are 5 hacks to save money that I use regularly.
This post contains affiliate/referral links. I have noted the referral links specifically in today’s post.
5 Hacks to Save Money
Make a Grocery Shopping List Before You Shop
Make a list before you shop (even online) and stick to it. It is ok to splurge on an item or two that is outside of the list every so often; but having a visible list is a huge help in ensuring you do not spend unnecessarily! And that is savings in itself.
How I Make My Shopping List
- First I plan my weekly menu using – a) what is still in my fridge and pantry that needs to be used up soon ; and b) check my rotating menu (later in this post) to see what we will enjoy eating next
- I check my pantry for any items that need replenishing (long shelf-life items like flours/lentils/rice and such). I try to maintain a spreadsheet for this so I know easily and don’t need to peek into the pantry often.
- With my menu planned out and my pantry check, I now know exactly what I need to buy for the week; the list is ready!
If you use coupons, then try to make your shopping list around the biggest discount coupons (but not simply because they are on sale; also because you do use and like those items). And those are additional savings for you…
A Basic Phone Plan
Use a just what we need phone plan from MintMobile (have you seen those Ryan Reynold’s ads? If he has not sold MintMobile to you, here is my sales pitch! We got the MintMobile plan for my now 17-yo when he first needed a phone a few years ago. Now, we have four MintMobile subscribers at home.
It is more than enough for our needs and oh-so-reasonably priced; starting at $15 a month, you can’t go wrong, right?! There are a few different levels available to fit each person’s needs so you can check those out.
And if you think this is for you, I would love it if you use my referral link below; we will both get some moola in addition to all we save.
Buy GiftCards at Discount Prices and then Shop!
Buy gift cards through sites like Coupon Cabin or Raise.com. Whenever I need to buy stuff, say from Home Depot (which was often these past few months), I check out both these (among a couple others) for gift cards; I pick the one with the best deal at the time and order my gift card (3.9 % back at the least). I could further my savings by ordering online (see next hack).
And of course, you can use those gift cards any which way you want
- to shop at the store (with coupons or deals at the store for further savings)
- online (next hack)
- give it to someone
Here are the links for those websites:
- Raise.com: This is my referral link; and if you choose to sign up and purchase a card within 30 days, we both get $5
- CouponCabin: Not a referral link and not an affiliate. But I do save using this! And they have exclusive offers that you will save huge on (though it is the luck of the click for those!)
Websites for Searches, Shopping, & Quick News Updates
I use these websites every once in a while (not as often as I used to earlier, but enough that I can refer them to others). You can do searches, shop, do surveys, watch videos, and more to earn points that you can use to get gift cards to your favorite stores.
- MyPoints : Search, surveys, shopping, videos and more. One of the oldest cash-back websites, and one I have had for years now. A referral link
- Swagbucks : Search, surveys, shopping, videos, challenges, and more. I have had this for many years as well. A referral link
- Rakuten (formerly eBates): This one is for online shopping only (cash back/gifts/deals and such). A referral link
- iBotta: I love the word play in this name! This is for both online shopping and in-store shopping. I have saved many a dollar using iBotta (when I remember to). A referral link
- Microsoft Rewards: Use Bing with a browser of your choice to earn points. Other ways include: active browsing with Microsoft Edge, fun and totally risk-free activities, and shopping at the Microsoft store (I buy games for my teenagers for their xBox using this). For me, I end up getting a quick snapshot of the day’s headlines by using Bing, do a few fun quizzes, and learn something in the process.
Pros and Cons
Note that none of these are get rich schemes, and none of them can replace a job.
Pros: Every penny counts and adds up to more. So even if you just do one or two things on these sites every once in a while, it will eventually add up. I have definitely saved a bit over time using these options. While I don’t spend a lot of time on any of these, like I said, it adds up.
Cons: The search engines (especially in MyPoints/Swagbucks) are not comparable to Google. So I just do searches for fun on these occasionally. Ads! Survey disqualifications (after working on them for a bit); ask for personal info. So I tend not to do those that ask for anything at all, and also do only the shortest ones now (rarer now than before, only if I have nothing else to do at the time).
Those Wonderful Things That Cost Nothing
I wrote a post a while ago about 10 little things that make me happy! Other than one of them about finding money in unexpected places (like within the pages of a book I had forgotten I had placed it earlier), none of those things listed cost a penny. So we can make ourselves happy without spending money, and thus automatically save money too..!!!
Bonus Hacks and etcs..
Books as Hacks to Save Money!
Of course, I had to include books! Clicking on the links in the below list of books will take you to my review for the book. These books are mostly children’s book to teach kids to be finance-savvy.
- How to Be a Person – 65 Hugely Useful, Super-Important Skills to Learn before You’re Grown Up
- The Money Mammals
- The Know-Nonsense Guide to Money: An Awesomely Fun Guide to the World of Finance! (Know Nonsense Series)
Title: Money Hacks: 275+ Ways to Decrease Spending, Increase Savings, and Make Your Money Work for You!
Author: Lisa Rowan
Pub Date: 22 Sep 2020
Genre: Business & Investing
Review coming soon.. Oh well, I will just post it below here!!
This is a treasure trove of hacks to save money!! As the title says, it has over 275 tips (there are 280 in this review copy). Each half to one page hack has a basic description of the hack with tips and examples on how to implement it. All these useful hacks are spread across six sections as below:
- Curb Mindless Spending
- Be a Savvy Saver
- Get Debt-free
- Make More Money
- Plan for the Future
- Protect Your Money
While many of these hacks are common sense, each of them will help save money (if they are applicable to you). Some hacks are simple – like checking your bank account regularly, others are cool – like making a wish list of those items you want (not need), and apply the 10/10 rule to it when actually shopping (wait 10 minutes; are you still thinking about it and unsure? if item < $10, get it; else put it back!), while still others give an overview of estate planning or talk about insurance plans.
As for me, we use many of these hacks already while a few others don’t really apply to us for various reasons. But I would still recommend this book; since no matter who you are — the beginner or an adept budgeter and saver already — this book has something for you. It is easy to read and understand, and most importantly a basic yet very useful guide. It would make a fantastic book to gift to those beginner budgeters and savers — kids off to college, to their first job, young families starting out, and the like.
Yes!! Recommended… Everyone can get something out of it.
Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for providing me a free copy of this book in exchange of an honest review.
Those Ingrained Life Hacks To Save Money
These life hacks are things we naturally do in our household; both because of how both the hubby and I were bought up, and our own lifestyles. Then there are others I picked up along the years. But I do know that these are major money-savers so I am listing them below:
- Be Your Own Barista and Chef! We rarely eat out or go out just for coffee (unless that is the best option for someone we are meeting). The only times we find ourselves very often at restaurants and coffee shops are when we are traveling; else, it is always home sweet home, for that cuppa joe or chai, that quick snack or hearty meal. After years of trying out different meals, I now have a rotating menu that keeps meals interesting and makes shopping simple. Of course, every now and then, I add something new; if the fam loves it well enough, then I add it to the rotating menu.
- Use a separate email to signup for all those rewards and memberships. While I did not create one initially and used an existing email, the spam overwhelmed pretty soon. So I now have a newer email for personal use, one for all those store rewards/memberships, one for subscribing to other blogs, and so on. That makes it easier for me to manage my inbox while not losing out on anything of importance, or even a good deal.
- Those 3 Rs: Reuse, Reduce, Recycle
And Now, the End of This Post
Dear reader, do you use any of these hacks? What are your hacks to save money? And don’t forget to check out that MintMobile phone plan!