Did you know that about 78% of Americans are living paycheck-to-paycheck?!
When I became pregnant with our second child, I had been out of work about a year taking care of the first and our finances were starting to get tight. We were used to two incomes and living (and buying) how we pleased. It quickly became apparent that this tactic would not work for us. Soon, we became part of the percentage living paycheck-to-paycheck.
It was hard at first. Really hard. I did not want to go back to work because I love spending time at home with my kids, but I struggled daily with not having an income of my own. I like to feel like I’m contributing to the household. My husband insists that being a full-time homemaker is contribution enough but, lets be honest, it’s just not the same as bringing home your own cash. Don’t get me wrong, my kids give me joy beyond any paycheck or bonus…but finding my own sense of contribution was important for me.
One day we looked at our monthly spreadsheet and realized we needed to make a change in how we purchased things if we were going to make it work. I began looking into couponing…and immediately became overwhelmed. It seemed like you had to buy 5 of something just to get a good deal! Honestly, who needs 5 of anything at once and that costs more money then just buying one thing! Yes, it saves you money in the long run but we didn’t have the luxury of fronting a bunch of cash to buy unnecessary things.
Besides, I have two kids and not nearly enough free time for extreme couponing.
After a couple months of digging here and there to find ways to save, and constantly becoming discouraged and telling ourselves we “just couldn’t do it”, I took a new perspective. I realized, I could still use coupons, savings apps, and other benefits to get money back or save money…just on a smaller scale. Seems like a pretty silly thing to have not realized earlier!
So, if you want to save money but aren’t sure where to start, these tips are for you!
This is a great app that allows you to get cash back on many common products. You can get 10$ cash back just for signing up!
- It’s easy to use – app is very cell phone friendly.
- Applies to online shopping too and sometimes they have some seriously good deals (like up to 20% cash back!)
- There is almost always a .25¢ cash back “any item” for most grocery stores. Hey, free money is free money!
- You can use it for clothing purchases at stores like Charlotte Rousse, and PayLess and get 3%-15% back.
- You have to have $20 minimum to withdraw money.
- Their gift card selections for your money are usually limited, but there is a PayPal option.
- You are paying the money upfront, instead of having an instant savings like you would with coupons.
Amazon Prime/Subscribe & Save
We have been gifted Amazon Prime for the past two years and it has been wonderful to use. Click here to see if Amazon Prime is worth joining for you, everyone is different.
*If you are a student you can join Amazon Prime Student and do a 6 month free trial, then the Prime service is 50% off after that!*
Also, use the Amazon Video option within Prime to get lots of free streaming and get rid of your cable bill to cut some costs!
Amazon Subscribe & Save
- You will get a discounted rate (up to 15%) on the product (+free shipping if it’s Prime)
- No need to worry about reordering, you can personalize your quantity and schedules, skip shipments at any time, and cancel at any time.
- Always shop around, just because its free shipping doesn’t mean its the cheapest (although it’s usually pretty close).
Health Insurance Plan Rewards
Every insurance plan is different, but it is worth looking into you if your insurance has a healthy living rewards option. For example, my husband wears a step counter and just doing that alone gets us 10% off on “Great for You” items at Wal-Mart like fruits, vegetables, and some meats! He also gets gift cards and other rewards for reaching new levels within the program. Again, free money!
Well, this is a no brainer. But what I want to talk about is how to use coupons. So, if you don’t have time for any extreme couponing here is what I suggest. Use my free printout to plan your week of meals, then search for coupons based on what you NEED. You may have to switch to a different brand or buy 2 of something but you are saving money and not buying unnecessary things.
*Fun tip: You can double dip in Ibotta and coupons. Use coupons in the store then get cash back from Ibotta too!*
http://www.coupons.com is usually what we use, but check for manufacturers coupons on their websites for things link paper towels and toilet paper. There will often be coupons out for new products too!
Wal-Mart Savings Catcher
So, I’m not proud of the fact that we buy most of grocery items are Wal-Mart. But, for lack of other stores to shop at and low prices we tend to keep going back. The Wal-Mart Savings Catcher allows you to scan your receipt
- It’s easy as pie, the app does all the work for you.
- It automatically compares prices from select stores around you and gives you money back if it finds lower prices else ware.
- There is no minimum amount before you can use the money.
- You can only use the money you receive back at Wal-Mart through a shopping card or online.
- The app will not be able to recognize lower prices are smaller grocery stores, or stores outside the range.
- Again, you won’t save the money up front like with coupons until you use what is in your account to purchase something.
Overall its nice to have since we shop at Wal-Mart a lot. In our experience, our average receipt is 100$ and we usually get $1.00 – $3.00 back per receipt. We did get over $5.00 once though! (It’s the little things…)
Another no-brainer that we sometimes forget about. Think about it, you go to Wal-Mart to get groceries and never even see a clearance section. Yes, they do that on purpose. Most clearance sections are in the back of the store or on the far side to promote customers to walk through the entire store. Just keep walking past all those full price items until you see the yellow clearance signs!
A common one most people don’t know about. If you need to get a new water heater, thermostat, etc PLEASE check your electrical company for rebates! Georgia Power has rebates up to 600$ for certain clean energy improvements you add to your home.
Seasonal Purchasing / Best Months to Buy
If you didn’t know already that there are better times a year to make certain purchases, then your world is about to be shook.
- Seasonal produce will save you a little bit here in there. Just watch for spikes in prices, or check this list to see what is in season.
- There is a good time of the year to purchase anything, this list gives a good overview of when to buy what.
I hope some of these tips were helpful for you! What other things do you do to save money on necessities? I’d love to here it!
For more money saving tips, check out my blog post on the Beginners Guide to Reducing Waste and Saving Money. Every little thing counts!
If you do have some extra cash, I would love if you checked out my Etsy shop!
FREE Grocery List Organized Printout
Just click to download!