Let’s talk about money. Who doesn’t love to talk about money? Okay, maybe most of us. It’s a complicated part of life and we all wish we had more of it. No matter the level of financial security we have, we’d all be a little more comfortable with some extra padding in our bank account. When I was single, I paid off all my debt, built a savings account, and found my own ways to save/spend. When I got married, those ideas had to be tweaked. When I had a baby, those ideas had to be tweaked. Let’s just say our financial health is an ever-changing animal. Every dime we make and every dollar we spend impacts our lives in many fantastic and challenging ways.
So, to make all those dimes last a little longer, my family and I operate on these oddly perfect money-saving tips:
1. I may lose some of you from the start here, but my first tip is to save stuff that most people throw away. Maybe this makes us super cheap, but if we get extra ketchup at a fast-food restaurant, we take it home. We often reuse sandwich bags and takeout containers. We once rescued a whole sleeve of Chick-fil-A napkins a friend was tossing after her birthday party. We use clothes, shoes, dishes, etc. until they are so worn out they aren’t usable. You don’t have to be this extreme, but if you are looking to save money before you toss something, think of how you could reuse it
2. Have you ever ordered groceries online or through mobile pick-up apps? Believe it or not, this is a great way to save money on groceries. First of all, you get to make decisions based on the prices you see. They are there in the app; you can see what’s on sale or if a price has increased. This helps you make wise decisions immediately. Second of all, you buy what you need and nothing more. There is no impulse shopping to be had and you’re much more likely to be cautious of your total when it’s adding up at the bottom of your screen. Pro tip: you can do Aldi and Costco orders on Instacart and these two stores are known to have the best prices on groceries.
3. Another odd but popular way to save is cashback apps like Rakuten and ibotta. My lifetime cashback on Rakuten is just over $300. That’s a lot of dimes. It takes little time and a little effort to win with cashback apps. It’s kind of like free money. You are spending the money already, so you might as well get a little money back. Plus, websites like these often show you promotions and stores where you’d get a little better deal.
4. Get a job. Okay, so you may already have a job or a lot of other things on your plate, but have you ever considered driving for DoorDash, UberEats, or shopping for people on Instacart? These gigs gained major popularity during the pandemic, which is how I got involved. Now that I’m a mom and spend most of my day chasing my toddler, once or twice a week, I’ll pick up my Instacart app and do some shopping. When I do my own shopping, I’ll try to piggyback an Instacart batch onto my trip. And to be real moms, sometimes it’s kind of fun me time. I mean shopping is relaxing so if I can make some money while I do it, why not?
5. Creating and sticking to a budget is one of the best and most efficient ways to cut out excess spending in your life. Now I know it’s not groundbreaking advice, but the majority of us have never put it into practice, myself included. Since we’ve moved and started paying a mortgage, we’ve had to prioritize this. Our fixed costs aren’t changing, but what we spend on groceries, eating out, and pedicures each month can. Now we have a picture of what goes where and it’s fun to find creative ways to make it all work.
6. It may be an unpopular opinion, but saving money when you eat out is doable. We love to eat out and try new restaurants, which is an expensive hobby. To cut costs, we almost always drink water. Boring, sure, but it’s free and healthy. Our toddler doesn’t eat much yet, so we skip kids’ meals and just make sure we order entrees that he can share in. If you have multiple kids, maybe ordering one kids’ meal and sharing adult entrées is a way to cut back. My husband and I have at times ordered one entrée and an appetizer or a side to make it work for both of us. We also rarely order dessert, and if we want something sweet, we stop by the grocery store and get a half-gallon of ice cream, which is way smarter than the $6 DQ Blizzard I bought the other day.
7. Lastly, learn to say no. Think through every purchase you want to make, trip you wish to book, or meal you want to buy, and decide if it’s something you need or something that will make your life more joyful. Yes, all we need to survive are the basic necessities, but we live in a place and time where our wants are important. But we also live in a time when our wants rule our lives and budgets. So, next time you go to buy a want, ask yourself how much use you will get out of it and how much joy it will bring you. Saying no every now and then is empowering and great for your wallet!