If you’re one of the millions of Americans who took a pay cut or lost a job as the result of the recent crisis, then you’re probably looking for ways to save money ASAP. From your cellphone to your grocery bill, here’s a look at strategies for tightening your belt right now.
Negotiate with your service providers
This probably isn’t the time 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.
If you’re a healthcare worker, you may be able to negotiate even further. AT&T recently announced that they are offering three months of free service to physicians and nurses. If you’re nurse or physician but you’re not a AT&T customer, call and see if your provider will match their offer.
Since social distancing means most people are driving less, many auto insurers are offering rebates to their customers. For instance, Motley Fool reports that Nationwide is giving customers a one-time $50 refund for each policy, Geico is automatically applying a 15 percent discount at renewal on six or 12-month motorcycle and auto policies, among other rebates. If your auto insurer hasn’t announced any rebates, it’s worth a call to ask about getting a discount for driving less.
Some gyms stopped charging customers when they closed, others continued charging them so they could pay their employees or asked members to keep paying. If you can afford it and want to support gym staff, that’s one thing. If you can’t, then follow your gym’s instructions to stop payments until they reopen.
Mind your subscriptions
If you signed up for a free 30-day trial to a new streaming service or other app at the start of social distancing, then it’s likely your credit card was just charged or is about to be charged. 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, but you can also do this yourself by combing through old statements or making calendar reminders for yourself to cancel before you get charged.
You may not need a paid subscription, because many digital services are available for free. For instance, Audible is offering free stories for kids while schools are closed and Houston Public Library is issuing free e-cards to children under age 18 so they can access the library’s online resources. If your local library has the Libby app or other online resources, you can check out ebooks and audiobooks for free.
Use cashback portals.
If you’re ordering essential items online rather than venturing out the store, make sure you’re using a shopping portal such as TopCashback or Ratuken to earn cashback on those purchases. For instance, as of this writing TopCashback was offering 15 percent cashback at Sam’s Club and Ratuken was offering up to 11 percent cashback from Grubhub.
If you have a rewards credit card, the cashback you earn from a portal is in addition to any miles, points, or cashback you can get from your credit card. Airlines and hotels also have shopping portals but cashback may be more valuable to you right now than airline miles or hotel points.
Find mobile coupons
If you are venturing out to the grocery store, check for savings on mobile couponing apps like Ibotta or Checkout 51 before you go. (You can also earn cashback for mobile shopping through Ibotta.) Stores including Target and CVS 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 and these items may be harder to find right now, Checkout 51 has recently offered 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. Not everyone has time for cooking from scratch right now, but if you do 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.
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.
More articles at Living on the Cheap:
- 5 easy steps to sustainable living
- Strategies for $4 per day budget meal planning
- 10 ways to change your spending habits and save
- Work at home jobs you can do now
- Podcasts for the whole family