If you have taken a pay cut, lost a job or gotten hit with high bills, you’re probably looking for ways to save money ASAP. From your cellphone to your grocery bill, here are five strategies for tightening your belt right now.
Negotiate with your service providers
You don’t want to drop your internet or cell phone plan, but you may be able to lower your bill if you ask. Try these strategies to see if you can get a better deal.
Think about the other services you pay for monthly and see where you can cut back or renegotiate. If your trash is picked up by a private company, ask their competitor to offer you a better deal. Can you switch to a more basic cable or satellite TV plan, or might you save more by cutting the cable cord completely? Perhaps it’s time to cancel your gardening service and mow the lawn yourself, or say goodbye to your gym and start an at-home fitness routine instead.
Mind your subscriptions
You never want to pay for subscriptions you’re not using, especially when money is tight. Many people sign up for a free 30-day trial to a streaming service or other app, and forget to unsubscribe before getting hit with the next month’s fee. Stay on top of these subscriptions to avoid paying for something you’re not using or that you could get elsewhere for free.
Services like Trim can help you find your subscriptions and cancel the ones you don’t want. You can also do this yourself by combing through old statements or putting calendar reminders in your phone to cancel before you get charged.
Take advantage of the many free digital services instead. If your local library has the Libby app or other online resources, you can ditch your Audible subscription and check out ebooks and audiobooks for free. Look for free workout or meditation videos on YouTube, instead of paying the annual fee for an app.
Use cashback portals.
If you like to shop online, make sure you’re using a shopping portal such as TopCashback or Rakuten to earn cash back on those purchases. For instance, as of this writing, TopCashback was offering 10 percent cashback at JCPenney, 20 percent at GrubHub, 16 percent at Sam’s Club and 5 percent at Home Depot and Petco.
If you have a rewards credit card, the cash you earn from a portal is in addition to any miles, points or cash you can get from your credit card. Airlines and hotels also have shopping portals, but it may be more valuable to you right now to get cash back than airline miles or hotel points.
However, if you need to save money right now, you’d be better off cutting out all frivolous shopping and sticking to purchasing only necessities. Jumpstart your good savings habits with a no-spend month, and challenge yourself to spend as little as possible in the next month.
Find mobile coupons
When you head out to the grocery store, check for savings on mobile couponing apps like Ibotta or Checkout 51 before you go. (You can also earn cash back for mobile shopping through Ibotta.) Stores including Target and Walgreens have their own shopping apps where you can add mobile coupons, and these offers are typically stackable with offers from other apps.
While some mobile coupon offers require you to purchase a specific brand, Checkout 51 occasionally offers any-brand rebates on staples like eggs, bread and bananas. It’s not a huge rebate, but every bit helps.
Shop your cupboards first
Before you buy more food, get creative and use what you already have in your fridge or pantry. SuperCook allows you to enter the ingredients you have on hand and find recipes that match those ingredients. If you have extra time on your hands, it’s often cheaper to bake your own bread or slice up your own veggies versus buying prepared foods.
Learn how to feed your family on the cheap with our $4-a-day budget meal plan.
Similarly, before you buy more games or art supplies to keep the kids entertained, see if you can repurpose what you already have. Challenge kids to cut up brown paper bags to use as a canvas for art projects or make paper chains. Cut up old magazines for collages or show them how to regrow produce from table scraps. The latter doubles as a kid-friendly activity and an inexpensive food source, saving you money on two fronts.
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