Looking for practical ways to save money in the year ahead? We’ve got the inside scoop on apps, digital coupons, rewards programs, and more for your everyday expenses.
We’re all familiar with the typical New Year’s financial resolutions: set a budget, save money, and pay down debt. While those are great goals, how exactly can you implement them in practical ways?
Not buying a new car or house is certainly an obvious way to stay within your budget, but what most people don’t realize is that their smaller monthly living expenses are the actual culprits when it comes to overspending.
Here are some practical tips on how to save hundreds of dollars a month on these four basic needs:
If you’re like most Americans, you probably shed a tear or two whenever you have to fill up the gas tank in your SUV. Your commute to work every day, running errands, and taking the kids to their various activities causes that bright orange ‘empty’ light to pierce right through you at least once a week.
There are two ways that you can make your regular trip to the pump a little less painful.
> Check the prices of various gas stations in your area.
Chances are, you have at least half a dozen gas stations within a five-mile radius from your home and/or workplace. If you’re rolling your eyes thinking, “I don’t have time to drive around to each gas station to compare prices,” we’ve got a modern solution!
Using apps or websites such as GasBuddy allows you to compare prices at the click of a button.
All you have to do is enter your zip code, and all of the gas stations in your immediate area are listed with their current gas prices for regular, mid-grade, premium, or diesel. While saving $0.10 a gallon may not seem worth the effort, it truly adds up!
> Take advantage of your grocery store rewards points.
If you regularly shop at grocery stores that offer gas rewards, you’ll gain even greater savings. For example, if you shop at a New Albany or Louisville Kroger, you can get a reduction of up to $1.00 per gallon just for buying groceries and using your Kroger card!
If you primarily buy your family groceries at a store like Kroger or Costco, you’ll definitely want to take advantage of their fuel rewards, as you could save up to $80 a month if you’re filling up your tank once a week.
Speaking of grocery store fuel points, another way that you can save money is to price shop at your local grocery stores. The best way to do that is to check weekly circulars for sales, use your rewards cards, and utilize coupons.
While all of these things used to take a lot of time and effort, everything is now at your fingertips in the digital world.
> Utilize grocery apps!
There are various apps and websites (similar to GasBuddy) that compare sale prices, provide coupons, and even create grocery lists! The Grocery Pal app does all of those things, and you don’t have to cut coupons or drive from store to store just to do price checks.
> Sign up for e-mail alerts.
If there are certain stores in Louisville where you buy your groceries and toiletries on a regular basis, sign up for their weekly online circulars. Seeing them in your Inbox is a good reminder to look for sales before you put your grocery list together.
You can meal plan based on what’s on sale that week, and even stock up on items that don’t require refrigeration.
Now that we live in a digital world, you don’t have to cut coupons or mail in rebates. Everything is at the tips of your fingers with apps, email subscriptions, and online discount codes.
If you have children, you know that they outgrow clothes and shoes in the blink of an eye, which is why shopping the sale rack is an absolute-must.
If you can obtain gently-used hand-me-downs from family or friends, that alone will save you hundreds (or even thousands) of dollars a year. If you need to buy, make sure that you check out clearance racks and use coupons on top of that.
> Combine your discounts for maximum savings.
At places like Kohl’s and other department stores, you can usually use coupons on sale and clearance items. For example, at Kohl’s, if you find a jacket that was originally $60, and it’s 70% off, you’re saving $42 right off the bat.
While a grand total of $18 is awesome, you can also apply a 20% off coupon for a final total of $14.40! A total savings of $46.40 on one item means that you can allocate your savings for other sale or clearance items. It’s a good feeling when you can walk out of the store with a jacket, a pair of tennis shoes, a pair of pants, and a shirt for under $50 total.
When you bargain shop and use coupons, it’s possible to get several new clothing items for the price of one!
> Shop end-of-season sales.
The best places to shop are the places that have amazing sales at the end of each season. Planning ahead can save a ton of money, especially when it comes to kids’ clothing. If you have a newborn in January and go to an end-of-winter sale in February, you can stock up on size 12-month winter clothes for the following year.
Many places offer up to 90% off when they really want to get rid of clothing that will be out of season in order to make room for the next weather-appropriate attire.
4.) Coffee (Yes, this is counted as a need.)
While coffee isn’t technically a necessity, for most of us, it keeps us going in the daily grind. While it would be nice to buy coffee every day on the way to work, that can easily add up to $15 a week (for just a large black coffee).
While making your own coffee at home isn’t nearly as exciting, it can save you $50 to $100 a month depending on what type of coffee drink you buy each day. If your taste is too sophisticated for Folgers made in a Mr. Coffee, here are some ways to get high-quality java and still save:
> Invest in a do-it-yourself coffee machine.
Just because you make your coffee at home, doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice on taste or convenience.
If you don’t mind doing a couple minutes of prep work, you can get a nice French press for under $20. If you want something that’s a little quicker, you can get a small Chemex and a box of filters for about $50.
> Find a Keurig machine on sale.
If the snooze button is your friend and you don’t have time to boil water and measure coffee grounds in the morning, a Keurig would be a wise investment. While these machines are pricier, looking for a sale and using a coupon makes it all worth it.
A Keurig that’s normally $79, is only $59 with a 25% off coupon. You would spend that much in one month on regular black coffee from your local shop!
Implementing all of these tips can add up to hundreds of dollars in savings each month, which means you’ll have a few thousand dollars annually that can be put into an emergency fund or be used to pay off consumer debt and student loans.
While broad New Year’s financial resolutions can be hard to keep, these specific steps can help you stay within budget. Before you know it, you’ll no longer need these ‘resolutions’ every year because these practical tips will become a way of life!
Are there other ways that you save money on everyday items? Share your ideas or the inside scoop on the best apps in the comments below!