Every day it feels like life gets more expensive. The bread that was $2 last week is $2.29 this week. Twenty nine cents might not seem like a whole lot, in the scheme of things, but if everything you buy goes up twenty cents every couple of months, think of how many more dollars you are actually spending. It would be fine if our incomes went up as quickly as prices for groceries and services, but it doesn’t. That means that we have to get creative.
Here are some of the best ways that I’ve found to save money on the things we use every day.
There are a lot of ways to save money on your electric bill, from turning off the lights to air drying your clothing during the warmer months. By now you’ve probably identified all sorts of ways to reduce the amount of power you use. Good job! Now, take it a step further. How? Go directly to the source of the bill.
There are a couple of ways to reduce your utility bills at their sources. If you live in a deregulated market, you can shop around for better energy prices from different companies. Sites like LocalElectricityCompanies.com will help you with comparison shopping among the providers available in your area. If you find a company willing to offer you a lower rate, you can either make the switch or you can contact your current company and ask them to match the other rates you’ve found.
If your state hasn’t yet deregulated it’s energy, you should still talk to your provider. Make sure that all of the taxes and fees they’re charging you are legit. Ask about assistance programs and other money saving options. You’ll be amazed at what you can get if you just ask.
Ditch the Cable and Landline Package
Almost every show that you will ever want to watch is available somewhere online and for a lot less than you’re spending on those 240 channels you never have time to watch. Switch to a more robust internet connection. And, seriously: it’s 2015. Why do you still have a landline? If you lose your cell, you can call it via Skype or using a free number from Google Voice.
Save Money on Groceries
Everybody knows that if you make food from scratch it costs less per serving than anything you could purchase processed or pre-made. But what if you need to save even more?
Sign up for mailing lists! We all have products and brands that we love and for which we reach, even when their generic counterparts and other brands are cheaper. Sign up for your favorite brands’ emails. Brand newsletters often contain coupons and special deals that you aren’t going to find elsewhere online or in the Sunday paper.
Go to a few stores. You have to do some math here, to make sure that the cost of gas to drive from shop to shop won’t counteract the money you’re trying to save. Start at the store with the lowest prices, like a Grocery Outlet or other overstock chain and then move to the next store, when you’ve exhausted all of the deals there.
Get a rewards card or join your favorite stores’ loyalty programs. There are often program-specific deals that will help you save money. The best programs will award points for every dollar spent and then, periodically, give you gift cards based on your point balance (typically one point = one penny) that you can use to reduce your purchase costs even further!
PRO TIP: There are non-grocers that have programs like this too. Check for them at your local movie theaters, clothing shops, etc.
Save Money on Supplies
Everybody knows that shopping online for non-perishables can save you a bunch of money. But the real way to save is to shop through sites like eBates, Swagbucks, etc. These sites partner with online retailers and award you points for the money you spend on these purchases. You can then, turn these points into gift cards that you can use to fund future purchases. Not all programs are created equal, do your research before sharing your information!
For supplies that you won’t use up, like clothing, toys, etc., you can save a lot of money by participating in freecycle and trading clubs. Pool together with friends and swap stuff. Check your city’s calendar for events like this that are on a larger scale. You’ll be surprised at how many opportunities you find!
The point is that there are more options out there than simply buying generic, buying used or going without. Have you found a creative way to save on the things you use regularly? Share them with the rest of the class!