In my blog, through my personal Facebook account, and in my day-to-day life I share a lot of little tips for saving money. After all, what’s a good tip if you don’t share it with others who could benefit?
One of the things I hear a lot is, “Well, that’s great, but how do you save the most money?” I get it. Not everyone has the time, energy, or desire to make use of every money saving tip out there. I don’t even use all the tips I share, just the ones that make sense for my family.
So with all the ways to save money here and there, which ones give me the most bang for my buck?
Here are my top 6 – I was going to make it 5, but all of these are just too good!
Shop the sales and stock up. Stocking up may cost a little more initially, but this is one of those time that spending more can actually save you money. My usual stock up price is half off or buy 1 get 1 free, but I also track prices and will stock up when something we use regularly hits its rock bottom price, whether it’s half off or not.
I ♥ Amazon Prime. Oh, Amazon, how do I love thee. Let me count the ways. We save about $20 a month with subscribe and save, which gives 15% off if you have 5 or more subscription items ship in that month. My list includes dog food (canned), shampoo, conditioner, dry shampoo, decaf British tea, and Miss O’s pull-ups and wipes, which my house will always be stocked with. Amazon Prime does cost $99 a year, but we easily make that back with the savings we see. You can try it free for 30 days to see if it’s right for you.
Coupon apps. More and more stores are jumping on the app bandwagon and offering sales, discounts, and coupons via your smartphone. My personal favorite is Cartwheel, since I’m most definitely a frequent Target shopper. In under 2 years my Cartwheel has saved me ~$300. Another of my favorites is Snip Snap. Just take a picture of those coupons to Kohls or Bed, Bath & Beyond that you always seem to forget when you go to the store. They’ll always be with you, and you can access what other users have uploaded, too! Other favorites include ibotta and my grocery store’s savings club, click 2 save card.
Customer perks. Many companies offer discounts at partner companies as incentives. Angie’s List offers member only discounts on movie tickets, travel, restaurants and more. Our grocery store card gets us discounts on gas, being a member of the teacher’s union gets me discounts on teaching and office supplies, and of course AAA has a number of member perks like travel services (and a lot more). Also, we’ve just discovered that our energy supplier offers substantial discounts on LED light bulbs, as much as 70% off.
Any company you patronize that you join as a member will generally have partnerships with other companies, so make sure you’re not leaving money on the table.
Go green. In our first year with solar power we saved ~$500! We’ve also switched from toxic, commercially made cleaners to a simple mix of water and vinegar. It saves us money, doesn’t tax our septic system, and I don’t feel dizzy after cleaning. We haven’t made it to laundry detergent yet, but I’m thinking I might give it a try this summer. And most recently I ditched expensive diaper cream and have started making a soothing mix of coconut, lavendar and melrose oil for Miss O’s sensitive skin. It worked so well I started using it on my face for my rosacea, too (I made a new batch), and no longer need my $300 tube of prescription cream.
Ask for discounts. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been granted discounts on things I buy simply by asking. I was able to negotiate deals on heating oil, cable, our cell phone bill, and our electric rate just by asking. My philosophy has become to always ask and see what happens. If you don’t ask, the answer is always no. I’ll be totally honest and tell you that this didn’t always come easily to me. I used to be afraid that people would think I was cheap or that I was devaluing their product. Once I got over it I realized that I’m not devaluing anything (except cable, which is way overpriced), but rather, as a consumer I’m expressing interest in a product while being true to my budget.
These are the ways that work best for my family. They may or may not be a good fit for you. Every family has to find their own path through the budget forest. This summer we’re going to add a fruit and veggie garden to our yard, which may be another source of savings… eventually.
What are the things your family does to save that have a big impact? Share in the comments.