Today marks my first post on the “upgraded” site, and I’m super excited to share this with all of you! I’ve always been fairly practical with money, however, when I worked full-time, I could afford to be a little “looser” with my money. Yes, I still saved, but I also saw no problem in buying a $300 purse twice a year, or spending $100 on dinner and drinks after work– I earned it, right?
Now that I’m home (in fact, I just turned down a job…yikes!) I have to be much more mindful of where my money goes. Actually, since we’re married, it’s not just my money anymore, it is our money! I’m not a money-managing expert, but I have found a few simple ways that put cash back in our pockets every month. Anyone can do them, so why not share so more people can benefit. Everyone can use a little extra in the bank! 🙂
1. Stop Buying Bottled Water
It’s such a waste and it’s bad for the environment. But soooo many people have bottled water on their weekly grocery shopping list! I was guilty of being a “water snob” before. I justified always having bottle in my purse with a variety of excuses: I’mpregnant/ I’mbreastfeeding/ whatifthewaterwhereI’mgoingisgross/ it’sTexasandit’s100degrees…whatever! A former work colleague noticed how many plastic bottles I went through and gifted me with this cup:
I fill it with water from our filtered pitcher at home. Now I can still have water always at hand, I’m not contributing as much plastic waste, and I’m saving money! Win, win, win! Sure, bottled water is “cheap”, but add it up for an entire year: $4/case x 2 cases per week x 52 weeks = $416/year savings. That’s more money that you’d think!
2. Make Your Credit Card Pay YOU
Having a credit card is important for building your credit score, traveling, and emergencies. However, we want to earn interest on our money, not spend it! Make sure to pay off your credit card bill in full every month (unless you’ve had to make an emergency purchase) to avoid paying needless interest. Also, you can find a credit card that gives you points for every dollar spent that you can redeem for cash, travel expenses, airline miles, etc. That’s free money!
Hint: Read the fine print! Look for a card that does not have an annual fee, which can eat away at your rewards!
I use my credit card for all purchases (that I can’t make with cash) because a credit card is protected from fraudulent activity and I earn points for travel. Just recently I redeemed $600 in points for our upcoming vacation– $600 that the credit card company gave me for using their card! Not only did we not waste money on interest, we earned extra money by using our card responsibly. Win! Win!
3. Change Your Electric Provider
I change my electric company every year — or at least I threaten to! It never fails– once your contract is up, they try to be sneaky and raise the rates. If you’re not paying attention, you could end up paying a lot more than you should!
When it was time to renew this past fall, my electric company sent me a notice that my rate would be 12¢/kwh, which was a substantial increase. No way! I called and let them know if they couldn’t offer me a better deal I would be switching immediately. Wouldn’t you know, they could actually go as low as 9¢. Just by asking I got a 25% lower monthly rate. An estimate to illustrate what that means in dollars: if my bill average bill would have been $100, now it would only be $75. That’s a savings of $300 for the year!
4. Call ALL of Your Service Providers
The electric company is not the only one you can negotiate with– over the past few months I’ve called and gotten lower rates for satellite television, cell phone, and home security. You can even haggle your medical and dental bills– many doctors, dentists, and hospitals will accept a smaller fee if you pay in full or with cash.
5. Ask About Discounts While Shopping
Last week I was in a children’s store buying presents for a friend’s baby shower. I had received a store coupon in the mail, but was bummed out when I realized I had left it at home. At the checkout, I mentioned to the sales associate my forgotten coupon and asked if they kept any behind the register. She said they usually did, but since she couldn’t find one she would just give me 15% off my entire purchase– awesome! Save $5 here, $10 there, and it will really add up! You might not always get a discount, but you sure won’t if you don’t ask. It can’t hurt to try!
These are all incredibly easy ways that you can “get back” hundreds or thousands of dollars every year with hardly any effort! A lot of times you can simply save money just by asking.
Check out these other ways we save money so I can be home with the kids:
Couponing and grocery shopping tricks help too!
If you’re looking for ways to make a little extra money, check out the Penny Hoarder Blog for ideas!