Who doesn’t like to save money?
Yesterday, “Good Morning America” brought you the story of two penny-pinching moms who cut corners and saved themselves thousands of dollars. Today, Amiyrah Martin and Joanie Demer appeared on “GMA” to share their own super-saving tips. They also shared a few more of their favorite strategies to help you save even more cash.
Martin, who blogs about her methods at 4hatsandfrugal.com, feeds her family of four on $64 dollars a week.
Martin’s Favorite Money-Saving Tips
Always use a meal plan. Whether you pick your dinners by looking at recipes online, or you use an affordable meal plan service like eMeals, having your dinners decided at the beginning of the week will save you money, and will help your family eat healthier in the new year. I love eMeals specifically because they not only create the plan for you, they provide the recipes and the shopping list. Plus, you can download their free app and the list will always be with you. No printing necessary.
Plan your spring and summer vacations in January. January is the prime time to get deep discounts on vacation packages. Large attractions like Walt Disney World are excited to offer sales in the dead of winter. It helps them see how well their sales will be in the coming year, and it gives those of us on a budget a chance to score a good deal on an otherwise expensive experience.
Stretch your beauty products with natural ingredients. Items like olive oil, coconut oil, coconut milk and baking soda are great beauty items if you are on a budget. Looking for a cheap but effective deep conditioner for your winter hair? Mix a quarter cup of your everyday conditioner with a quarter cup coconut milk and a tablespoon of olive oil. Baking soda mixed with a bit of water works well as a weekly microdermabrasion and it saves you hundreds of dollars.
Stretch your kids’ clothing budget by thrifting online. Yes, you can thrift online! Websites like ThredUp offer you the convenience of shopping slightly used and even new-with-tags clothing items right from your desk. To keep yourself from over-spending, even on an online thrift store, look for only one or two items that your kids really need at the time, like pairs of jeans, or winter coats.
Get paid to shop online. Whenever I have to make an online purchase I check out cash back sites to see if they will offer me some money back from my purchase. Ebates, ShopAtHome and other sites will give you a percentage of your purchase back if you click through their site to get to the website where you’ll be making your purchases. I even use this tip to book our hotel reservations so we get 3 percent to 6 percent of the amount we pay back in our own pockets.
Buy your staple grocery items at the drug store. Eggs, milk and even cheese are available at most drug stores for an even better deal than what box box stores and grocery stores offer. My favorite buys at the drug store are a dozen eggs and bags of shredded cheese, both for usually under a dollar.
Make your own mixes. Taco seasoning, pancake mix and even granola can be made right at home in less than five minutes and for pennies on the dollar. Plus, if you are looking to be more healthy in 2014, you’ll know that they are preservative free and made by your own hands. Talk about clean eating!
Keep a gift closet. Shopping for gifts all year round will keep you from scrambling to find gifts for family members at the last minute, causing you to break your budget. Utilize great sales and clearance at your favorite stores to buy heartfelt gifts, and store them right in your closet, or a designated “gift” storage container.
Buy floor models when making big purchases. When it comes to big electronics or household items, like TVs and washing machines, chat with the manager and find out if the floor model is for sale. Most of the time, they will offer you a discount if you are willing to take their floor models home. If they can’t offer the floor model, ask when the next sale on that product will be. They can call you when it’s on sale and you’ll end up getting it for a great deal without much work on your end.
Stockpile your staples. Did you know that eggs can last for up to six weeks at the back of the fridge? Don’t be afraid to stockpile on items that are used the most in your home, especially when you can get them for under a dollar. Bread and cheese can be frozen, as well as milk. Vegetables can be chopped and frozen as well. Stock up whenever you can so you’ll stay on budget each month.
Demer, of Boise, Idaho, has two young children. She blog about her frugal habits and tips at thekrazycouponlady.com, and is co-author of the book “Pick Another Checkout Lane, Honey: Save Big Money & Make the Grocery Aisle your Catwalk.”
On her favorite trip to the supermarket, she racked up a $600 bill but, using store sales, manufacturer coupons, apps and money-back gifts card, she ended paying only $2.
Demer’s Favorite Money-Saving Tips
Use Prepaid Visa to stick to your monthly budget! Every self-proclaimed financial guru can tell you to set a budget, but the ah-ha strategy that finally worked for me was loading my allotted budget onto a free, prepaid Visa, then leaving my credit cards at home. Now, whether it’s my monthly grocery budget, my holiday budget, or even vacation spending, I’m committed to avoid overspending with my prepaid debit card.
Save an extra 10 percent by paying with OLD Gift Cards! Visit sites like Cardpool.com, GiftCards.com, or GiftCardGranny.com to purchase old gift cards at a discounted rate! Users sell unwanted gift cards and buyers get a deal! Purchase a $100 Home Depot gift card for $90 or a $50 JCPenney gift card for $37.50—that’s over 25 percent off!
Time it right! Timing can make all the difference when it comes to saving money! For supermarket savings, shop on Wednesdays, when nearly 80 percent of the nation’s supermarkets start their sales! For supercenters and drugstores, shop Sundays for the best prices!
What about retail? Avoid Friday to Saturday trips to the mall and instead shop early in the week for fresh price cuts. Simply ask your sales associate what days the store does markdowns in the store. Gap stores generally mark down merchandise on Tuesdays, Anthropologie does mark downs on Mondays. Schedules may vary by store, just ask your associate to be sure!
Find free shipping! Get free two-day shipping from Amazon by becoming a member of Amazon Prime, an annual paid subscription service. Get the service at no cost by signing up for free loyalty programs Amazon Mom (for any guardian or caregiver of a child) or Amazon Student (with valid .edu address).
Buy paper products online! Consider purchasing paper products like toilet tissue, paper towels and diapers from Amazon.com. Click ‘subscribe and save’ at checkout to save an additional 10-15 percent by agreeing to purchase again at regular intervals. There is no obligation. Simply manage your ‘subscribe and save’ items under ‘my account’ to cancel at any time.
Rebating becomes hassle-free! Gone are the days of clipping UPCs and mailing in a rebate form. Give rebates a second glance with apps like Ibotta and Checkout51. Simply browse the app for offers, including $1 off any brand milk! Make your purchase, upload a picture of your receipt and receive payments via your Paypal account.
Name your own price! Found an item on Amazon but can’t pay the price? Visit camelcamelcamel.com, tell them the item you’re searching for and what you want to pay. Then, walk away and wait! If the cost drops to your designated price point, you’ll be alerted!
Find more coupons! Receive coupons and discount codes by signing up for retailers’ email lists. New email subscribers receive a 25 percent off coupon for Gap, 10 percent off for J. Crew or Bloomingdale’s, 15 percent off at Macy’s. But, before you sign up and subject your inbox to junk mail, create a separate email account just for your retail activity.
Get Rewarded. Though it may seem like a hassle, some store programs are worth signing up for! Get cash back to use on future purchases, big discounts during your birthday month and points that earn you free full-size products. Our favorite programs include those from: CVS, Sephora, Anthropology, Walgreens and Rite Aid.
Stack coupons! Most supermarkets will accept a manufacturer coupon and a store coupon on one product! So, grab a manufacturer coupon from the Sunday paper and tear a store coupon from the weekly circular and combine them to maximize savings! For online retailers, always try entering two coupon codes. Your best bet is to find one code that is purchase-based, such as $5 off a $50 apparel purchase. Stack that with a percent-off coupon such as 20 percent off your entire purchase.
Don’t overbuy! Ten for $10.00? Three for $5.00? Don’t be fooled. At the supermarket, you needn’t buy all ten items to get the $1.00 per unit price! Unless the sale states $2.50 each when you buy 4, you don’t need to buy multiple products.