Saving money doesn’t have to be painful. Sometimes it’s just a matter of changing our perspective about what we really need and what we simply want. There are many rewards to living within our means, including developing the discipline needed to save for great life experiences and paying off debts that weigh us down.
Sign up for Ebates
If you haven’t heard of Ebates, then you’re missing out! It started as a way to earn a little bit of cash back when you shop popular online stores, but they’re now offering cash back from in-store purchases also. That’s great news for everyone who shops … which is, well, EVERYONE.
Ebates has paid out over $325 million in cash and counting, with absolutely no cost to its members. Go to their website, sign up, and tell them how you’d like to be paid. Every time you shop the stores you love through the Ebates website, you’ll get a percentage back in your Paypal account or a check in the mail.
The shopping opportunities are almost endless. Think Amazon, Old Navy, Groupon, Kohl’s, Petco, Macy’s, and AT&T to name a very small sample. And if you link your credit card with Ebates, you can get cash back on in-store purchases when you use that card. They also offer daily deals, promos, and coupon codes. Don’t miss out on this easy way to keep more money in your pocket.
ThredUp is the posh way to shop for top-quality used clothing online that will definitely fit your budget.
You won’t believe the prices for designer brands, clothing with tags still attached, and all kinds of accessories.
The site is fun to browse and has price points and categories to narrow down your search. I took a quick peek and found a J.Crew dress for $4.99 (originally $158), and a Gap skirt for $14.99 (originally $50). They also have shoes, maternity clothes, plus sizes, and lots of accessories.
The best part about ThredUp, besides the savings, is that you can sell them your unwanted, stylish clothes. Sign up on their site, and you can request a “clean out bag” in which you place classic and/or trendy pieces, and once they’re approved, you’ll earn cash to save or spend on a different wardrobe from the dozens of great things they offer.
Check out Project FI for a cell phone plan
Google’s new cell phone plan is all the rage for offering a budget-friendly cell phone experience. Their basic plan starts at just $20 per month, with any added lines for $15 each. This plan includes unlimited talk and text, unlimited international texting, and Wi-Fi hotspot capability.
They offer data in convenient blocks for $10 per GB. If you don’t use it all in one month, it is credited back to you. As with most cell phone services, there are limitations on the brand/types of phones they are compatible with. Project Fi offers only a few phone choices, but the offerings are nice phones with the same bells and whistles you’ve come to know and love.
Google’s newest phone is Pixel, which starts at $649 and comes in two sizes. Two other phone choices include the Nexus 6P starting at $399, and Nexus 5X for $249. Learn more about them here. Your tradeoff for not having dozens of phone choices is saving a bundle each month in cell phone bills.
Save big with Ting cellular service
If getting a different phone doesn’t appeal to you, there’s another low-cost cell phone service called Ting. Almost 80% of new customers with Ting can keep their own phones. Their website has a handy compatibility checker so you’ll know ahead of time if your phone qualifies.
Similar to Project Fi, Ting is also a pay-what-you-use provider. For example, the cost of each line is $6 and there is a chart on their site for various amounts of talk time, texting, and data usage. So for a family of four with 35 hours of talking time, 2000 text messages, and 2GB of data for the month, the total will be around $87.
Try sling TV instead of cable
Most people have heard of Netflix and Hulu by now, but Sling TV offers a way to watch live TV without breaking the bank. You get 30 channels with their basic package (orange) for $20 a month, or 45 channels (blue package) for $25 a month.
One of the best perks that Sling offers is that you can further tailor your TV package any way you like. They offer movie channels such as HBO and a huge variety of sports channels along with dozens of other cable channels that can be added a la carte style.
HBO will cost you an extra $15 a month, and Cinemax is $10 per month extra. Most regular cable channels are only $5 per channel extra per month. Or you can choose one of their bundle options for an extra $10 per month. This gives you 4 extra channels in the categories of kids, lifestyle, comedy, or news.
Check out our ultimate guide to saving money by cutting cable.
Shop at Aldi and save
If you want a little taste of European-style grocery shopping added to big savings, then keep reading. You’ll need a quarter to unlock your grocery cart, your own bags, and a desire to save versus having a million brand choices.
Aldi stores are mostly located in the Midwest and eastern parts of the country. They currently operate in 35 states, and if you’re lucky enough to live in one, you can save big time.
You may have to bag your own groceries, but Aldi now takes credit and debit cards for customer convenience. They don’t take coupons, but with their prices, you won’t need them.
Sign up for Walmart Saving Catcher
You can either go online to sign up or download this money saving Walmart App on your smartphone. It’s easy to use, and you get cash back if what you purchased shows up at a lower price among competitors.
After you’ve finished shopping, you can either scan your receipt with your phone app or go online and enter the TC number and date from your receipt. The savings catcher will then price compare for you. If any of the items that you bought have a lower price that week with any competitors, you’ll receive a credit for the difference that is put into an eGift card.
Or if you prefer Target, check out the Target Cartwheel app.
The good old cash envelope
This is an old tip, but a good one. If you want to control and track spending, and ultimately lower your grocery bill, get the cash equivalent of what you will spend for the month and put it in an envelope. There is something about being able to visualize your cash that will help you become very selective in how you spend at the store.
It can be very liberating when you practice buying just what you need. Knowing you’ll have no guilt at the end of the month about blowing your budget will become a great motivator. If your cash is running low by month’s end, you can get creative with what’s already in your pantry and fridge. Have a smorgasbord dinner and light some candles. In the end, if there’s money left in your envelope, reward yourself with a reasonable dinner out or add it to your money for next month and buy a treat you don’t get very often.
Use Acorns for painless investing
There’s a fabulous little app called Acorns that will round all of your purchases up to the next dollar and put it in an investment account for you. It won’t make you rich, but it could help you save for a little vacation, and it will certainly be money that you won’t even miss.
For the first 100 days, the Acorns savings app is free and then the fee is $1 per month after the trial period. There’s a simple sign-up process on their site, and all you have to do is link the credit/debit cards you use most often for purchases and start investing.
Acorns allows its members to invest larger sums of money as well. So you’re not limited to spare change. You can even set it on auto-invest with a chosen amount of money going in monthly. The newest offering from Acorns is their “found money” feature. If you purchase from partners such as Airbnb, Hulu, and Blue Apron, they will give you up to 10% cash back that goes straight into your account.
Try a healthcare sharing ministry instead of health insurance
If you don’t mind a religious-based alternative to healthcare, then this might be just the thing. Healthcare sharing ministries are NOT health insurance, but they can lower the pain of health insurance costs if you qualify.
The most inclusive health ministries are Liberty HealthShare and Medi-Share. Both have limitations on preexisting conditions, but they also offer to phase you in after a certain number of months as a member if those conditions become asymptomatic.
With Liberty, the annual amounts you’re personally responsible for (think deductibles here) with a single member is $500, for couples it’s $1,000, and for families it’s $1,500. Monthly costs range from $107 for individual memberships up to $449 for families. There are a few plans to choose from, so prices will vary.
If you go with Medi-Share, you can expect to be responsible for $1,200 up to $10,000 upfront, before your bills are paid for (again, like a deductible), depending on what you want to spend per month. The higher the number here, the lower your monthly payment will be. The monthly costs are also based on the number of people in the family and the age of the oldest member. There is a nice rate calculator on the site.
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