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Oh, Sweet Honey Iced Tea

Mittwoch, 1. Januar 2014

22 Ways to Save Money Now (that you may not have thought of already)

Is saving money on your list of New Year's resolutions? There are countless lists on the internet about saving money, but they all seem to say the same things. Here are twenty-two ways I save money that I don't often see on any of those other lists. I hope they'll help you save money too. And please, leave a comment with any other great money-saving tips you have. Let's help each other save some cash. 
  • If you know you're going to use it, pay for a membership a year at a time. It usually comes with a discount. For example, I've been subscribing to for several years, always paying month-by-month. I just got an email from Birchbox telling me that if I renew with the yearly plan, I'll get it at a $21 discount plus I'll get 99 bonus birchbox points good for shopping in their online store. It's an extra $30 in my pocket annually by paying up front. Same goes for my daughter's homeschool curriculum program. By paying up front, instead of using the convenient monthly billing program they offer, I'm saving substantially.
  • Women, consider making a single investment and switching to something like the Diva Cup or Lunette cup for your monthly needs. Not only is it cheaper in the long term, it's also, in my opinion, healthier for you all-around. Research it for yourself to decide if this is an option for you. I like that I'm not relying on bleached cotton/rayon with a wick that introduces all sorts of outside bacteria every month. For backup, consider cloth pads. Yes, there's an ick factor, but if you've given birth, been peed on by an infant, cleaned up explosive baby poo, wiped boogies, and all the other great things that go along with motherhood, I assume you'd be okay with your own vagina and its secretions. 
  • Keep the change. See if your bank offers a Keep the Change or a round-up feature which automatically rounds up your debit card purchases to the next dollar and transfers that amount into savings for you. It's mindless and it adds up quickly if you use debit cards. If the bank doesn't, or if you use cash, you can still apply the same principal by transferring the change yourself, or using a coin jar.
  • Bring your own bags. Okay, so this savings is minimal, usually five or ten cents, but think about it: Would you throw away ten cents on purpose? Bring reuseable shopping bags with you to the grocery store. You'll save a few cents, and you're doing the environment a favor. Don't worry about your "need" for plastic bags to reuse at home. Even here in Europe, where shopping bags are not free and everyone uses reuseables, those plastic bags still add up at home from other places.
  • Sign up for free samples and coupons...carefully. You have to use your head when you do this, but so many companies are dying to give you, yes, give you, free product to try. One site I check regularly when I live in the US is Arlana's Corner. Some of the "freebies" are spammy but they're fairly easy to detect. When I live stateside, I average four or five free samples per day, of anything from shampoo to pads to pens to dog treats. They're little, but they're free, and free things save money.
  • Get on your favorite stores' email subscibers list. They sometimes send out deal alerts that you wouldn't otherwise get. One of my favorite grocery stores is Earth Fare, and there are special deals they offer only for subscribers, like weekly free foods. Totally worth it.
  • Shop at consignment! Did you know they exist? Yep. One that I love is thredUP, and if you use this link, you'll get $10 to spend on your first order!
  • Ask for the doctor's office. If your doctor prescribes you a medication, and you have a copay at the pharmacy, ask if your doctor can give you some samples to get you started. I do this all the time. They don't always have samples, but many times, they do, and are willing to give you a month's worth of medication for no charge. The samples are provided by the pharmaceutical companies for the doctors' consideration. Take advantage of that.
  • If a home improvement project is on your to-do list, your first stop should be your local Habitat for Humanity ReStore. It's a thrift shop full of house stuff. Toilets, tubs, paint, wallpaper, carpet and padding, flooring, cabinets, doors, light fixtures, screws, nails, and more can all be found here. They're leftovers donated by companies which Habitat didn't use in their building projects, and you can get them for pennies on the dollar. We recarpeted and repainted a bedroom for under $100 total using Habitat for Humanity ReStore as our primary shopping spot.
  • Did you know that dental students, under the very, very close supervision of their dentist teachers, perform dental work for cheap? Next time you need work done, consider a dental school. Really, they do great work. You can find the school closest to you at the American Dental Association's website.
  • Along those same lines, beauty colleges provide full service for dirt cheap. Get a massage, a pedicure, a facial, a cut and color, or a keratin treatment for way less than you pay at your usual salon. Students are closely supervised and are ready to do the work they're doing. Don't be scared. Well, don't be any more scared than you usually are at the salon. I'm generally terrified anyway when someone comes at my hair with scissors. You can find a beauty college here.
  • Use half. It's a simple way to instantly cut your cost in half for anything you use. Cut your paper towel roll in half. Try using half a sheet and see if it'll do the job. Use half the recommended amount of laundry detergent. Use half the amount of sugar in your coffee you usually use. Other things that can be cut in half: dryer sheets, notebook paper (for lists and notes), the time you spend in the shower, the soda you drink, the errands you run. Cut them all in half.
  • Invest in a cooler. Get in the habit of packing it with snacks, drinks, and/or meals depending on how long you plan to be out of the house. You'll save money by avoiding the drive through and the convenience store. Bonus points: Buy the cooler at a thrift shop!
  • Go check out your local ethnic grocers. Don't be intimidated. The owners live in your town and will be thrilled to see you! I fell in love with Indian cuisine thanks to a tiny, dimly-lit Indian grocer in Columbus, Georgia. The family who ran the store always greeted me with big smiles, and were quick to help me and answer any of my questions. The prices were unbeatable. What big grocery stores see as an easy markup, you can get for reasonable, down-to-Earth costs at ethnic stores. Plus, you just might make a new friend.
  • Be on the lookout for hotel furniture sales. You can get super cheap furnishings. I got a Broyhill microfiber sofa in perfect condition for $5 a couple years ago. It's still going strong, though with our rough-and-tumble military life, it needs to be recovered. I'll be sharing that project with you soon. That $5 investment has really paid off!
  • Back to paint: If you want to paint something small, say a desk and chair, go buy just a paint sample from Lowe's or Home Depot. You don't need a gallon, so why buy a gallon?
  • If you have pets, check with your local animal care society for programs like free spay & neuter and low-cost annual vaccinations.
  • Have a car loan with a high interest rate? See if you can refinance it for a better rate. Then, with your much lower monthly payments, you can make double payments or better and pay it off early.
  • Tell companies what you think of their products or services. It doesn't happen every time, but usually, when I take the time to write a company and tell them what they're doing right (or wrong), they respond, and frequently, they include discounts or free product in return.
  • Before buying anything online, do a quick internet search for the store name + promo code. Example: Bed Bath & Beyond promo code. Chances are, there's an e-coupon out there somewhere in cyberland that will save you some money.
  • Enter giveaways. Someone has to win. It might as well be you. My kids say all the time that I win everything I enter. It's not true, but I do win things a lot. Why? Because I enter things a lot. It only takes a few seconds to enter a giveaway. Free stuff for a few seconds of my time? I'm down for that!
  • And finally: Ask for a discount. See if you qualify for a discount wherever you go. Student, senior citizen, military, AAA...the discounts are out there, but not always advertised. Ask. It never hurts to ask. 
Saving money is on my list of goals for 2014, so you can expect plenty of tips and tricks to be shared here. The twenty-two tips above all work for me. What other tips have worked for you? 

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