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There are sooo many ways that I have learned to save money over the last 5 years or so. Some of them are programs that I discovered and use frequently, some are websites that I rely on for purchasing, some are lists or compilations that I have posted myself and refer back to ALL. THE. TIME. and some are just tips of the trade that I have learned along the way.
So, I decided to create a list of how I save money….it’s as easy as ABC….DEFG…..hijklmonp. You get the picture. Let’s get to it!
A is for AMAZON! If you have been around even the last few weeks while we were in the midst of Christmas Crazy, you know that the vast majority of the deals we post are from Amazon. They have fabulous deals and are usually honored in price matching at Walmart or Target. So, the app is a quick reference that I use when I wonder if a price is good or not.
FOR EXAMPLE – last week, I found a fabulous set of Christmas dishes at Marshalls. But, $7.99 per piece I thought was a bit steep. Seeing sets of 4 on Amazon for as much as $85+ made me realize that I should have JUMPED ON THAT! They are gone now, of course. Maybe B is for BOO HOO!
B is for BIRTHDAY FREEBIES! I have this list on the blog and I update it every year beginning in late August when my birthday freebies start to roll in. Now, don’t wait until your birthday to sign up for these because #1 – Some of them come early and you have to be enrolled before you actual birthday, and #2 – Many also offer a freebie upon sign-up. So, double up and sign up a few at a time! Most expire within a couple weeks, so don’t do them all at once. You will likely let several expire.
C is for Checkout 51 – Checkout 51 is a rebate program that you download to your mobile device. It is similar to some others that I will list further down the list, but the difference is that Checkout 51 is not store specific. They also offer some “any brand” items. So, it’s very easy to use regardless of your location or store availability. Simply buy the items, scan them and the receipt and you get a small rebate! Every little bit helps and this stuff will add up quicker than you think if you use them regularly.
D is for Debt Awareness – This is just a tip that I have learned over the years. You need to take a couple of hours and sit down with your bills and checkbook. Make a list of your bills, the monthly payment and the balance. While it may make you want to cry, eat/drink or throw things at first, it’s very gratifying to be able to scratch things off that list, or re-calculate every few months and see the progress that you are making. Not knowing that fateful number doesn’t make it not exist. So, put your big girl/boy panties on and figure it out.
I paid off about 7 or 8 bills since summer and it is such a great feeling to be able to scratch those lines off!
The perfect scenario for this was lined out for us just over a year ago in a guest post by Kate Lundquist and you can read that HERE.
E is for Ebates – Ebates is an online rebate site. Basically if you have something that you are buying online, you got to Ebates, find that store in their list, click SHOP NOW and it will redirect you to that store. As long as you stay there until you are done and checkout, you will get paid the designated percentage of what you spent within the next few days.
While it’s only a few % in most cases, my motto is “every little bit helps” and it will certainly add up on big ticket purchases such as appliances, travel, and Christmas! Read more about it here.
F is for FIFTY-TWO Week Saving Plan – I have done this for 3, going on 4 years now. It’s a simple, gimmicky way to save more than $1375 in a year! You barely even feel it most of the time! Read more about it here!
G is for Groupon – For those not familiar, or who are skeptical about such sites, Groupon is legit. They are a site where you can buy discounted vouchers for restaurants, massages, spa services, local attractions and more! They may be half price and then sometimes, there is a coupon code to take an additional savings off the half you pay! I search for these in my vacation destinations and use them to save on our trips!
It’s important to understand that these site are selling vouchers and not gift cards (unless specifically stated) so there are some conditions and expiration dates. Most will usually have to be used in one visit. Just read the fine print and know what you are buying.
H is for HUSBAND (fill in your significant other if applicable) – He has to be on board. If he is not aware of what you found out in D (debt awareness) and he isn’t willing to help out, then you may be fighting a losing battle. I mean, every little bit helps, but if he is spending every penny you have, and you have those pennies because YOU saved them, then you are spinning your wheels. Be excited about the savings and share them with him. If you sent him to the store, send the coupons, too! Download the savings apps on his phone, too! (You can even let him keep his rebates if you must). Bottom line is, if you are a team with anyone, then it would greatly benefit your efforts to make them TEAM EFFORTS.
I is for Ibotta – Ibotta is another mobile device program where you can redeem rebate offers and get cash back on your everyday grocery and drug store items. Simply choose the offers you want to redeem, complete the tasks on each (such as answer a poll, answer a question or share item to social media). Once you have purchased these items, and you are back home, you can scan your receipt, scan the barcodes on your items and upload to the program. They will verify the scans and put the money into your account, After the current minimum has accumulated, you can cash out into PayPal or gift cards! They are constantly expanding and now even include movie stubs, a few restaurants as well as Home Improvement and Electronics retailers. See!?! Get the hubbies in on this one! We saw Star Wars and we each earned $1 rebate on our tickets. It’s fabulous and getting more so all the time! Ibotta is a favorite of mine and I have earned more than $860 with it since 2013!
J is for JUMP ON THIS DEAL! – I post as many deals as I can find, but my veteran followers know that when I say RUN, you need to run. Many deals are limited in time and/or quality. Many deals will sell out. (Hello! Amazon Lightning Deals have broken many hearts in the last few months!) Many deals may be a glitch and they may find and fix it. So, if it is that super hot deal that you MUST have, you need to do it now. Don’t wait until the kids are in bed, or you get home tonight…..it may not be there then. And I do know that this is not always possible. But, just know that because I posted it this morning, doesn’t mean it will be there tonight. I hate seeing comments on my posts of “Boo. I missed it.” or “This didn’t work for me” posted three days later. I test EVERY deal before I post and in most cases post pics to prove that it worked. But, I can’t control the shelf life of those deals. So, be ready to jump if it’s something you want!
K is for Kicks! Shopkicks that is. Shopkick is another app that I constantly have open on my phone. I get points, or Kicks, just for walking in the door at Target, Walmart, BestBuy, JCPenney (when it works), American Eagle and more stores all the time. Plus, if I want to (or need to kill time), I can find items in the store and scan them to get more kicks. THEN, I cash those kicks in for free gift cards! This is one of my fabulous tips for saving on a Disney Trip, too! CLICK HERE to get this app. You can read my old post about how I use this for Disney HERE.
Living Social is just as legit as Groupon and is quite similar in concept. HOWEVER, they offer this little gem called ME+3=FREE. That means that you purchase your deal, (with or without a coupon code) and they give you a special link. You share that link and get 3 people to buy the same deal THROUGH YOUR LINK, and your deal is refunded entirely! Y’all – I can not tell you how I often I do this! If I post a deal to Living Social, you can bet that my special link is in that post until I get 3 people. So, because of that and that alone, Living Social is THE BOMB of discount deal sites.
Now, if you haven’t ever used Living Social, CLICK HERE to sign up and get $10 to spend toward your first $20 deal within your first 30 days. (I will get $10, too – just for sharing this awesome deal with you!)
M is for MY PERKS – Get My Perks to be exact. This is another site similar to Groupon and Living Social, but I like them because they tend to have more deals for local things like the zoo, the Aquarium, Global Wildlife, etc. Plus – they frequently have deals to a few restaurants in NOLA that we have grown to love. Click the link to join this one.
N is for – NORTHSHORE MAMA, of course! In one month, I will celebrate 5 years of writing this blog and I now have more than 15,000 mostly local mamas who read my ramblings! My team of assistant mamas and I bust our tails to bring you the best deals around and teach you all different ways to save money and get more out of life without busting your budget! So, always check out NorthshoreMama.com which is our home base and where you are reading this now. Also, we are on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram. So, you can find us on any of these channels!
O is for Out to Lunch List – I created this list a few months ago, but I check it frequently! This is a list of places on the Northshore that offer lunch specials under $10! I do not go out to lunch very often, but for those who go out every day, that can get really pricey! So, with the assistance of a long-time co-worker and fellow bargain lover, I compiled this list and it has some great deals on it! It will be an ongoing list that I will add to regularly. SEE IT HERE!
P is for PRIME – Amazon Prime! Sometimes you have to spend money to save money. Prime is $99 per year, but if you order from Amazon very much at all, it will save you time and money to have Prime. With Prime, you get 2-day free shipping and if you decide that you don’t need it in 2 days, many times they will offer you a free credit to choose slower shipping. So, that’s free money. Also, during the Christmas frenzy, we grab tons of Lightning deals, but in the past couple years, Prime members get these deals 30 minutes before everyone else! Because those deals are also limited in quantity, many times “everyone else” didn’t even get a shot at them. So, having Prime gave you access to better deals, thus saving you money. You may qualify to Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial. That will give you time to see if you like it, but set a reminder to turn it off on the 30th day if you don’t want it or they will charge you $99!
Q is for Quicken – You need to find a program to help you keep up with all of your spending. Quicken is what I use and I am able to create categories (dining, gas, entertainment, gifts , etc.) so I can see where my money is going. This helps out with the D-Debt awareness up there.
R is for RedCard – This is the card that Target offers. It gives you 5% off automatically at checkout. It doesn’t take 5% off if you buy a Target gift card, but just about anything else! Including Disney gift cards! That’s another of my tips to saving on Disney! Plus – it also takes 5% off on Target.com AND gives you free shipping! Also – it is a debit card, not credit. (Although, you can get it as credit). Mine is attached to my regular checking account and works just like a debit card, but only at Target and minus 5%. This 5% comes off on top of any other savings that you may receive (and I will get to that in “T”). The RedCard also gives you 30 extra days for returns and allows you to pull up to $40 off your card at checkout. If you shop at Target AT ALL, you need this card. GET IT HERE.
S is for Swagbucks – THIS! This is how I pay for Christmas every year, y’all! It’s just a website that pays you in Swagbucks (SB) for doing the things that you are already doing on the internet! Searching, playing games, watching videos, taking surverys, etc…..And in full disclosure, I have like a bazillion referrals. However, before I started this blog, I still was able to earn $25 in gift cards each month just by simply using it as my search engine.
Read more about Swagbucks HERE.
T is for TARGET! – Target is like one of the BEST places to save money. There are so many ways that you can save at Target that it is near ridiculous. First of all, their prices are not bad – they may be a smidge higher than Walmart, but the savings opportunities completely cancel that out. First of all, they have store coupons (Walmart does not) so that means that many times, you can use a manufacturer’s coupon AND a store coupon, thus doubling a little. Then, there is Cartwheel – which is another layer of savings that can be stacked with the coupons. AND then, when you check out with the RedCard, another 5% automatically comes off. Plus – you can use Ibotta and Checkout 51 and several other apps that I use after your purchase to get rebates on all that stuff that you barely paid for!
U is for Unit Price – You must know your unit price! If you have babies, you need to know how much you are paying per diaper and per wipe. If you take lots of viatmins, you need to know how much you pay per pill. If you have a Keurig, you need to know what a good price per cup is. If you have a stockpile of Diet coke or whatever your addiction is, you need to know unit price. Why? Because if you stumble upon that same item at say TJMaxx, or Sams, or even Goodwill and let’s say it’s an odd sized package, if you know your unit price, you will be able to determine if this odd pack is a good deal or not with a simple division problem. This is one of the points that I always stress in my savings class. If you buy a lot of ANYTHING, you need to know how much is normal, and when to grab all you can!
V is for VIP EVENT – My Facebook page is where I interact with my readers the most. However, Facebook wants me to pay on every post that goes out to Facebook. That is just not possible. So, I created an “event” page that is hosted by my main page. When you join that event, you will get a notification when we post in there. You can adjust your notifications, but you need to know that if you want to be able to “Jump on that deal”, then you need to know about it when I post it. If you are not in this event, you may not know. Also – Read this post for more info about how to make sure you get our posts in your newsfeed.
W is for WATER – Drink water at dinner! Do you realize that for a family of 4, ordering drinks can add at least $10-12 to your bill? Not to mention the unhealthy side of sodas, but $10-12, y’all! So, a super easy way to save $10 times however many meals your family eats out, order water! Add it up – it’s crazy! My kids know, if there isn’t a drink included with the kids meal, they are drinking water. It’s better for you and what a simple way to save a pile of money a week!
X is for X-Reference (Cross Reference….ok, that was a stretch, but what starts with x?) – If I am shopping and find an item that I am interested in, my instinct is to instantly see if it’s a good deal. So, I whip out my phone and I scan the barcode on my Walmart app, my Amazon app and my Target app and see what those 3 prices are. Those are the 3 main “best prices” that I would expect to find so I can quickly and easily compare and make the decision if I want to purchase or not.
Those dishes that I mentioned up in A, yeah, I was in a hurry and didn’t scan them right then. I searched for them later, when I was at home. I didn’t follow my own advice and I missed them.
However, I went into Dirt Cheap a few weeks ago and found a pack of Star Wars figures (I call them dolls, but my son insists they are action figures) marked $49.99 and then all toys were 50% 0ff. They were pretty cool and I thought $25 was a decent deal for 6 of these big dolls. Also – they had a Target sticker on them but it wasn’t in English. I scanned it on Walmart and it was not found. I scanned it on Target and it found it, but it was unavailable. I scanned it on Amazon and they were $70 on there! So, then, I knew that the $25 was a GREAT deal and it was one of his favorite gifts that he got this year.
So, using those apps, you can scan just about any barcode in any store and if that item is available, you will have the prices at your fingertips for comparison or even price matching!
Y is for YES – YES you can save money and still live! You have to put a little effort into this. Trust me, it’s my job. And it really can be a job. But if you change your mindset and
accept – make that ACKNOWLEDGE – your debt, take a little time to make some changes to your thought process when it comes to purchasing household items, taking a vacation, or even just a day outing with the kids, there ARE ways to do it cheaper and YOU CAN DO IT! I now have 3 mamas helping me on this blog and we are here to help YOU! So, don’t feel overwhelmed. Take it one thing at a time. It’s worth it! Trust me!
Z is for ZAYCON – Oh, my beloved Zaycon! This is how I have been buying my meat for almost 2 years now. Chicken, ground beef, pork chops, steak, bacon, sausage and more! All fresher, better quality and CHEAPER than in the grocery store! This is probably my most favorite discovery since I started this blog. I do not buy meat at the store anymore. AND – if you don’t believe me, know that more than 1,000 of my followers are doing it, too. AND know that Mandeville (which I got put on the Zaycon logistics map, thank you very much) is one of the largest delivery locations! How awesome is that! READ MORE HERE.
So that’s 26 of my very best tips, tricks and secrets to saving money, earning free gift cards and changing your overall outlook on your finances. I hope you use some of these and that you let me know what you think when you do!
So, if you like to shop at Target, and have not gotten a REDCard yet, I URGE you to do so. You’re missing out on another layer of savings, Free Shipping and extended return periods! It’s totally FREE and can be a debit card. You don’t have to have a credit card at Target! Click the box below to get yours and start saving more now!