Sorry ya’ll for the delay in posting. My real world job got ahold of all my time and wouldn’t let go.
I wanted to post today about saving money. It is literally one of my least favorite topics and something I basically despise. However, since the hubby and I are hoping to buy a home sometime soon, it is a topic I have had on my mind.
As I talked to friends of mine, I realized everyone has their own version of buying a home. Maybe it’s paying off their student loans, or buying a new car, or even something smaller like getting a new, fancy TV. Whatever it is, saving money is on many people’s minds and everyone wants to figure out an easier way to do it.
Recently, I wrote about Getting Your Finances on Fleek. That is a great post for your overall finances – but today’s post is going to focus JUST on saving money.
(1) Apps That Save For You
The two most popular apps that I have found are Digit and Acorns. They work slightly differently, and I only have personal experience with Digit, but I am officially obsessed now.
This Wall Street Journal article and accompanying infographic go into great detail to explain the differences between the two apps. If you really want to research it up, feel free to read that article for a more in depth review. However, here are the basic differences:
Acorns – rounds up your purchase and puts the difference into savings. So say you purchase something that is $10.25 – Acorn will round that up to $11 and transfer $0.75 into savings automatically.
Digit – tracks your funds and follows your spending to transfer over what it thinks you can afford into a savings account. It has yet to cause me any problems or lead me to overdraft, so I think it’s worth it.
Personally, the reason I love Digit is because it also texts me every day to say, “Oh hey there, your current balance is $XXX.XX.” My biggest problem (I am somewhat ashamed to admit) is knowing exactly how much I have to spend in my checking account. Yes, I could check it every day and that would help. However, knowing that and actually DOING it are two different things. With this app, it tells me how much I have without me even trying, so it keeps me on track with how much money I have spent. My favorite description of the app is from that Wall Street Journal article where the other says, “[i]t operates like a benevolent pickpocket, yanking money out of your hands before you can spend it, then keeping it safe on your behalf.”
Download either or both – but definitely do at least one of them! They cannot make saving much easier. Also, if you download Digit through my link above, you get a bonus $5 to start your savings account.
(2) Walmart Savings Catcher
I know, I know. I shouldn’t shop at Wal-Mart because of how they treat their employees and skimp on taking care of them. (And technically I don’t shop there, my husband does – but close enough). Even though I know this, there are still times when we are required to purchase from there. One of the (only) good things to come out of Wally World is the Wal-Mart Savings Catcher.
You download the app on your phone and then scan the barcode on your receipts every time you make a purchase there. If Wal-Mart finds a lower advertised price anywhere around you (it checks 54 stores where we live, and we live in a pretty small town), you get the difference. We just cashed it out (they give you a giftcard to use) to get my hubby a new bike seat, but before that, we were up to $24.16 and we only began doing it this past spring.
Since all you have to do is scan your receipt – it is fairly painless and a great way to save money and not worry that you are getting gypped on prices.
(3) Get the Lowest Gas Price via Gas Buddy
We are VERY lucky to live in a state where the gas is almost always one of the cheapest in the country. Currently, the gas is $1.79. However, we have to travel to visit our families and I often have to travel for work. A fabulous tool to use when we are on those road trips is GasBuddy. This app will tell you which gas stations around you have the lowest gas prices. That way, you never pay more than you have to.
(4) If You Are Shopping Online and Not Using These Websites, You Are Throwing Away Money
First on the list is RetailMeNot. Always, always, always, always check them before making an online purchase. Even if you think it’s something that may not have a coupon (say, online printing from FedEx/Kinkos), just try a search. I was shocked to find out that there was a 30% off coupon for printing and used it for my job. You can also google whatever it is that you are looking for or the store and include the terms “coupon code” behind it. However, I have found that RetailMeNot has the most reliable discount codes and always search there first.
Second is Ebates. Seriously, Ebates was one of the best things that someone ever told me about. I started using it in October of 2010, and I have earned almost $800 back over these past 5 years.
How it works (image copyright of Ebates):
I know you’re probably reading that and thinking – there’s no way this can be true. This has to be a scam.
That’s what I thought when I first read it as well. However, I saw that it had been featured on CNN, USA Today, The Business Insider, Today Show, and Good Morning America, as well as the fact that it has an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau. Not to mention, almost every store you can think of is on there. Examples include: JCPenney, Bloomingdales, Old Navy, Sephora, Amazon, Nordstrom, Wal-Mart, Macy’s, Levi’s, and on and on and on. All of these things convinced me to give it a try – and I am SO glad I did!
One of the best ways to use it (and something I will highlight in my Holiday Shopping post later in October) is when they do the “Double Cash Back” promotions. One of my favorites is around the holidays, Magazines.com will run a 50% cash back promo. My mom LOVES People Magazine, and it can be expensive for a year-long subscription ($126, I believe). BUT – if you order it when they are doing 50% cash back, you will only end up paying $63 for a year (which is around $1.15 an issue). These kinds of deals are available for a wide variety of stores, and they usually go all out to promote them closer to Black Friday and Holiday Shopping time.
A final Ebates hack is also to use the Google Chrome extension:
Since you have to click through to the Ebates website to get the cash back, there were times I would forget to do that and would miss out on the money. Once I got the extension though, it pops down to remind me to activate it before purchasing. Since then, I haven’t missed a cash back opportunity!
There is also a similar company called ShopAtHome. While they are good – I have found Ebates to be better. They work almost the same way, so you can do your own investigation and decide which one you like better.
(5) Research Where You Can Cut Costs & Other Ways to Save Money – Lots of Links!
So now that I have shared MY ways to save – here are links to a variety of other apps and ideas on where you can cut expenses and save money:
– 27 Free Apps That Will Save You So Much Money (Buzzfeed)
– How to Trick Yourself Into Saving More Money (IISGROWNUP)
– How to Save Money: 100 Great Tips to Get You Started (The Simple Dollar)
– 94 Creative Ways to Save Money Today (The Greatist)
– 54 Ways to Save Money (America Saves)
– 8 Simple Ways to Save Money (Bank of America)
– 55 Painless Money Saving Tips (Dough Roller)
– The 7 Best Money Saving Tips for Millennials (Forbes)
Also, following couponing sites can end up saving you a TON. Here are a few of my favorites:
I hope these tips help you get your savings on! Let me know if they work or if you have any other tips to share in the comments below!
Until next time, my loves!