When you need to trim the fat off your monthly budget, sometimes you have to think outside the box. These interesting, creative ways to save money will help you reach your savings goals. But before you get started, make sure you know how much you truly need to cover your expenses for the month and exactly how much you’re bringing in from your job and your side hustle, if you have one.
If you don’t have a solid grasp on that information, you won’t be able to track how well you’re doing with your cost-saving measures. If you’re looking for an easy and quick tool to help you track your information, check out Mint – it’s a free app that tracks your expenses from all your open accounts and it’s an easy way to spot extra expenses to cut out of your budget.
Negotiate Your Cable Bill
Cable and television viewing companies know how to lure in customers. They entice you with a too good to be true, low promotional offer. And for a year or so, everything is going great – you’re in the honeymoon phase. But once that promotional rate goes up, you’re going to be paying a much higher bill unnecessarily.
The problem is, the cable company knows many of their customers will pay that bill rather than go through the hassle of switching providers again. Even if switching providers is the last thing you want to do and you have no intention of dropping your service, call your provider and let them know you are considering switching because of the high bill.
In most cases, you will be immediately transferred to an internal retention department. Just don’t ask them to transfer you to that department directly. Employees in the retention department have the ability to switch you into a new promotional plan or offer you other incentives to stay with your current provider.
This won’t work every time you call, but I’ve been successful more times than not. Typically you can receive a 20% to 25% discount with a new promo plan for another 12 months. After you’ve paid the full rate again for a month or two, call again and repeat the process for more savings. You can easily save $100 to $200 per year. On top of that, you are also improving your negotiating skills which will benefit you when dealing with other service providers.
Make Use of Price Matching
Many people overlook price matching policies at retailers. You might be surprised to find out that some of the largest retailers like Walmart, Best Buy, Target, Kohl’s, and Staples all have price match guarantees, many of which will match to Amazon.
We all have busy lives, so who really has time to check for price changes of purchases you have already made. That’s where Paribus comes in. Paribus is a free app that will keep track of your purchases and will automatically request a price match when it finds a lower price. Paribus is one of my favorites, but there are many other apps that pay money available on your smartphone.
Combine Multiple Coupons when Shopping for Groceries
Coupon doubling increases your savings while shopping. Some big stores, including Shop Rite, Giant, Wegmans, and Acme, allow coupon doubling. Many other stores allow you to double coupons, so just check on your store’s web site.
In the past, tracking coupons was time-consuming and required tracking down local newspapers and spending a few hours search and cutting coupons. Thankfully, this process has been made much easier with phone apps.
Start by signing up for your grocery store’s loyalty program and use their online app to load coupons to your card. Then look for an app called SavingStar and link your store’s loyalty card by keying in the necessary information.
The final step is to look for the Ibotta app. Don’t link the Ibotta app to your store loyalty card. Just plan to take pictures of your receipt with Ibotta and manually send the receipt to Ibotta. It’s actually very quick and easy.
Coupons from your grocery store loyalty program will be deducted directly on your receipt. The coupons from Saving Star and Ibotta can be redeemed as cash through your Venmo or Paypal account. There are many other apps that let you earn Paypal money.
The reason you do those extra steps is that frequently you will see the same or similar coupons on all three apps. If the grocery store allows doubling, you can use the grocery store coupon and the coupon from Saving Star. Sometimes it’s possible to earn the coupon for a third time if you manually submit it with the Ibotta app.
Even if you can’t earn the coupon for a third time, the three apps provide a quick and easy source of coupons before you leave for your grocery trip. It will just take 10 minutes to check for any coupons from those three sources before you leave for the grocery store. It’s a very easy way to save an extra 5% to 15% on your grocery trip.
Cancel Old Subscriptions
Procrastination is a reason many of us part with money that should stay in our bank accounts. We get complacent or lazy, and just keep paying our bills. You might have old subscriptions you no longer need, and canceling them could potentially save you money. Depending upon how many subscriptions you have, it might only be a few dollars a year you’ll save, or it could be in the hundreds.
The problem is it’s sometimes hard to see these various subscriptions because they are under recurring payment plans. Even if you use Mint to track your expenses, it can be hard to discern what some ambiguous charges represent when you see a $9.99 or $19.99 charge show up from a company with an odd-sounding name.
A simple way to cut these hidden expenses is by using Trim. Trim is a free service that works similar to Mint. Rather than track expenses, Trim actively searches for your recurring subscription charges and will automatically cancel them for you.
If you’re not a fan of negotiating with your cable provider, Trim will even negotiate with your cable, internet, and phone providers on your behalf. The service is free to use, but Trim does take 33% of any negotiated savings you receive from your service providers.
Use CashBack Sites
If you are planning to make some online purchases this month, you should consider signing up for a free cash-back site like Rakuten. Cashback sites like Rakuten offer cash back rebates for shopping at different retailers.
The rates can range from anywhere from 3% to 10%. Occasionally, Rakuten offers even higher promotional rates. The cashback rates change daily, so it’s a good idea to check their rates before you make your shopping decisions.
If you’re curious how they can provide you free money for shopping online, it’s actually very simple. Online retailers will pay for traffic. Rakuten will negotiate a rate directly with the retailer and then will split a portion of that fee with the customer.
For example, Target might pay Rakuten a 10% commission on any purchases made on their site. Rather than keep the full 10%, Rakuten will split that commission with the customer.
You can increase your savings even more by shifting more of your monthly purchases online and using a cash-back site rather than buying it at a store. You can find good deals on household staples like toilet paper and paper towels online and get free shipping. Plus, you’ll save on gas money, too, because you won’t have to drive to the store as often.
Find the Best Cash Back Rate
Rakuten may be the most popular cashback site, but there are many other options out there like TopCashBack, Befrugal, Swagbucks, etc. All of these sites change their cashback rates on a daily basis, so it’s really difficult to figure out who offers the highest cashback rate for any given retailer each day.
That’s where Cash Back Monitor comes in. Rather than wasting time trying to find the highest rate for a certain retailer, you can just go directly to Cash Back Monitor. Cash Back Monitor provides an easy comparison of the daily cashback rates by retailer. So if you want to shop at Walmart or Target, you just search that retailer and you can instantly see which cashback site offers the highest rate for that store today.
Check Online Coupons Before You Purchase
There are so many online coupons and promo codes floating around online, but half of them are expired or don’t work. It would be really nice if there was a quick way to find out what coupons were available at a particular online retailer before you check out.
The Honey browser extension is a simple way to automatically check if there are any coupons for the online retailer you’re currently shopping at. With a simple click of a button, Honey will scan all the available coupons and provide you with a list of options for any active coupons that you can use before completing your purchase.
This is an easy way to save an additional 5% or 15% on your regular monthly purchases.
Don’t Always Shop at Amazon
It’s understandable – when you want something, you immediately go to Amazon. It seems to have anything you could ever want and features some low prices. What you might not realize is that Amazon doesn’t always have the lowest prices. The other thing you might not consider is that Amazon tends to have the lowest cashback rates from sites like Rakuten.
Always make sure to double-check the cashback rates for other stores like Target and Best Buy. If you combine a higher cashback rate from Rakuten with online coupons provided by Honey, you might find that Amazon’s price is actually higher. So always do a quick price comparison before making your purchases.
Buy Gift Cards at a Discount
Do you have a store where you routinely shop? If so, check to see if your credit card, such as American Express, Citi, and Chase, offers a discount for that retailer. Many credit cards will offer promotional discounts for certain retailers through their app or on their website.
For example, American Express Offers can be added from the American Express mobile app or after you log in to your account online. Many times that offers will be if you spend $100, you will get $20 back as a credit on your credit card statement. These offers will show up for home improvement stores, drug stores, and other large retailers.
The thing is you might not have any reason to spend $100 at Lowes this month. What you might not realize is that Lowes and many other large retailers often have large displays with 3rd party gift cards. So rather than spend $100 dollars for home improvement, you could buy a $100 Amazon or Target gift card for a 20% discount.
You can then use that gift card towards your regular shopping for the month and save an extra $20 in the process. Discounts through your credit card are one of the many ways to get free gift cards.
Keep in mind that the retailer discounts from credit card issuers don’t always activate when you buy a gift card, so you have to read the restrictions. Most offers from American Express will trigger with gift card purchases, but the offers from Citi and Chase are sometimes more restrictive.
Hopefully, you have learned a few easy and creative ways to save extra money each month. If you try a few of these ideas at a time, it’s easy to develop a habit of using them every month. Small sources of savings can quickly add up to more meaningful amounts.