I am no Suze Orman, but I know how to save a penny. I have always been credit card debt free, and we manage to live comfortably to meet our needs, and splurge on the things we really want (like nice family vacations, super fancy Vosges chocolate and having a personal image consultant)! Here are my tried and true tips to save money that really work!
9 Tips to Save You Money (life-tested)
1. Look at your utility bills and shop around for better rates
The internet makes it incredibly easy to compare companies and prices – don’t be afraid to make a change, or ask your current company to match the lower rates you found with another company (you can tell them you will cancel your service and switch to the other company unless they can offer you something similar or better). This actually works and you have nothing to lose.
2. Always get quotes on car insurance, when it’s time to renew
I have received quotes with major differences in price and saved $400 by going with a new company. No one company always offers the best rates, I’ve typically found the best rates with Esurance, Geico and Progessive. Still, I get quotes every 6 months when it’s time to sign up again. Good news, the internet makes it super easy to get quotes and switch online. I usually get this done in one night while sitting on the couch and watching junky reality TV (love me some Bachelor!).
3. Make a shopping list and try to stick to it
I am making this a guideline and not a rule because I would otherwise always break this rule. I do not often shop at Target because they always have something cute on sale which magically lands in my cart and comes home with me. I have learned it’s just better for me to stay away because it’s too tempting.
Another time I go “off list” is at the grocery store when my girls see a fruit or veggie they want me to buy. I will oblige because I want to encourage good eating habits and if they are asking for $5 strawberries, I’ll spend the $5 to create a healthy food environment at home.
4. Only buy what you’ll use
The most expensive food is the food that spoils in your fridge, pantry, cupboard or countertop fruit bowl and must be thrown away. It breaks my heart to trash groceries. This applies to anything – just because something looks tempting or it’s on sale, or you THINK you’ll use it but deep down inside you know it’ll just gather dust in your house… it’s a waste of money.
5. Ask why a bill went up in price
It never hurts to ask why your bill went up, but first you need to pay attention to what you typically pay for your monthly services. Then you’ll know when to question when bills go up in price. Believe me, Time Warner and Verizon are not going to call me and say, “Oops! We made a mistake, here’s your money back.” I know not everyone keeps a budget, and a lot of people use automatic bill pay so you don’t have to worry about missing a payment etc. Even so, my husband and I are geeky and we track and budget what goes out of our bank accounts.
- We noticed our cell phone bill went up significantly. We learned we were being billed for a service we did not have. We called and got reimbursed $60 for incorrect charges.
- I noticed a $4 increase in our internet service bill. When I compared past statements to the new statement, we were getting charged more, but our services had not changed. I called customer service to understand why this was happening. The customer service rep said it was the end of a promotion, but since we have been loyal customers for 7 years, he refunded us the $4 and enrolled us in a new promotion giving us better service at a lower cost. The promotion will save us $72 a year which is equivalent to a nice dinner out on date night. I’ll take it!
6. Pay attention to coupons and use them for things you normally purchase
Coupons are a great way to save money, but only if it’s for stuff I plan to spend money on anyway! For example, Groupon is a great way to try out new things without a huge cost, but when I see Groupons for places we frequent anyway (usually the local froyo shop), I snatch them up. When out and about, I often find coupons at local shops, the local newspaper, and mailers. Pay attention, there are savings floating around! Also, you can easily google “coupon” + “brand” and find online coupons. It never hurts to look.
7. Take advantage of your local library because they have A LOT to offer
We can request music, newly released to DVD movies and books online. They have e-reader and online magazine capabilities too. Our library book sale offers so much! I found Disney DVDs (unopened and in the original packaging for $1-$2). Buying Cinderella, The Incredibles, Alice in Wonderland (wow, watching it as an adult – what a strange story?!), and Lady and the Tramp for a buck or two is unbeatable compared to the price of finding movies in the “Disney Vault.” At the library book sale, books are typically $0.25 each, so we come home with a lot for $10 or less.
8. Buy items second-hand
There are not a ton of things I would troll Craig’s List or eBay for, but when I realized there are second-hand stores and sales with stuff hardly used, or even new with tags… I am kicking myself for not taking advantage sooner. I participate in a Twin Club which holds two sales a year. Moms of multiples have A LOT of stuff, and not all of it gets used. Even though I am selling my stuff , I still buy a ton for my kids too because everything is in such good shape. At the suggestion of my neighbor, I bought my daughter’s first tricycle on Craig’s List for $8. My neighbor said kids outgrow bikes so quickly, there’s no point in buying something new. She made a great point! I looked up tricycle on Craig’s List and showed my daughter a bunch of options (pictures of different bikes for sale). She got to choose which one she wanted. Now this bike has been used by all three of my girls, so we’re really getting our money’s worth! I never considered purchasing used items, now it’s become a great way to save money!
9. Use reward points to make purchases
Use reward points to pay for things you would otherwise shell out cash to purchase. I have used my credit card points to buy items I wanted, but did not want to pay a pretty penny for. Examples: Dyson vacuum cleaner ($400) and cordless handheld vaccum ($200), Kitchenaid mixer ($245), Le Creuset dutch oven ($300), Citi Mini Double Jogger ($400) and less glamorous items like a leaf blower.