It wasn’t that long ago that I was living the average American life. I worked more than I’d like, spent money frivolously, and paid only with plastic. In a recent attempt to increase my financial health, I now have a strict budget and almost always pay with cash. I have also spend an exuberant amount of time figuring out ways to save money. You can read the entire list, but here is my Top 10 easiest ways to save money:
Ebates is hands down my favorite and easiest way to save money online. I have been using Ebates for less than a year and have already made just short of $100. I hardly even shop online anymore.
Ebates works by giving you a cash back percentage ranging from 1% to 40%. They will even apply any coupons they have in their system saving you more money. I added the Chrome extension which makes using Ebates even easier. When I visit a cash back site, the icon blinks red. All I have to do is click it, and I am ready to start saving
Use this link to get $10 just for signing up! Usually the bonus is only $5, and memberships are completely free. I guarantee you'll be thrilled you did!
2. Thrive Market
For those of you that prefer to eat healthier or have specific diets, food expenses add up fast. Maybe you don’t have a local health food store, or the selection is minimal and prices high.
I’d like to introduce you to your new best friend, Thrive Market. Thrive is a amazing online healthy living superstore with everything from food to personal products, all of which are 25 to 50% off retail. Plus, it is delivered to your door, and that’s always a bonus.
Thrive almost always has coupons for free shipping, % off, or free products. Thrive Market is like Sam’s Club or Costco, there is a $59.95 annual membership. They guarantee your membership will pay for itself in savings within the year. If not, you’ll receive the difference in Thrive Market credit when you renew (I saved about $150 on my first order). As an extra feel good, for every membership, Thrive donates a membership to a low income family so they too can have access to quality food.
Bonus Tip: If you joined Ebates, you’ll also receive cash back.
3. Amazon Prime membership
I would guess that the large majority of readers already have an Amazon Prime membership. If you don’t, you are missing out. With a Prime membership you’ll receive: unlimited FREE two-day shipping with no minimum order size, instant access to over 40,000 movies and TV episodes with titles for everyone, and borrow books from the Kindle Owners' Lending Library. Amazon Mom members enjoy the same benefits of Prime, including 20% off diaper subscriptions. If you think about how much you pay in shipping fees for items that take several days to show up, the $99 annual membership pays for itself in only a few orders.
Try Amazon Prime free for 30 days. You can always cancel if it’s not for you (but it will be).
4. Walmart Savings Catcher
If you shop at Walmart, you need Walmart Savings Catcher. This is available as either an app for your phone or through their website. Within 7 days of your shopping trip, simply add your receipt to Savings Catcher. They will compare your purchases to local competitors. If they find a lower price, you’ll receive a credit. Basically they are the cutting coupons for you. I forget to scan every receipt, and since September 2014 (23 months) I have earned $139.96. For the two clicks it takes to open the app, I would say it’s worth while.
I have just started using Ibotta, but I can tell you the potential is there. In less than 10 purchases I have saved $29.25. There are three ways to save money with Ibotta: Submit a receipt, Link a loyalty account, or Mobile in-app purchases. Before you go shopping, use the app to unlock cash rewards on products. After your shopping trip all you need to do is submit a picture of your receipt. If you went shopping at Walmart you could potentially double your earnings by submitting the receipt to Ibotta and Savings Catcher. Linking a Loyalty account works much the same way.
Ibotta is free and definitely worth checking out. Here is a link to get $10 for signing up.
6. Checkout 51
Like Ibotta, Checkout 51 is a coupon savings app. I have not earned near as much with them, but a dedicated user certainly could. Every Thursday new offers are posted. Select the ones you want, and follow the instructions. Sometimes you’ll only need to submit the receipt, other times you’ll need to include a photo of a barcode. It varies with each product. Some offers can be used multiple times as well.
Bonus Tip: One Walmart receipt could be submitted to the Savings Catcher, Ibotta and Checkout 51.
7. Krazy Coupon Lady
Let me tell you... This woman is an angel. Just check out the website (or app) to see what I mean. You will find every amazing coupon known to man, ready to print. My favorite part is the “Brags” and “Deals” sections. You will find things like THIS where an individual went to CVS, purchased two laundry detergents, two iced teas, and a whitening kit and got paid. They not only got these items for free, the cashier actually gave them money. And you can do it too because all of the coupons used are listed there for you to print and cash in yourself. Visit the Krazy Coupon Lady site.
Bonus Tip: several of the deals on this site are accomplished, in part, courtesy of Ibotta, Checkout 51 and Ebates so make sure you already signed up.
Most people are familiar with Groupon, but I couldn't leave it out. Although there is a great section for tangible goods, I love Groupon for the local deals and services. I had a gorgeous photo book of our wedding made with a deal from Groupon. The book was only a few dollars. We have received discounted massages, free Cold Stone Ice Cream, and $20 family portraits we used for Christmas Cards. If you need a good idea for a weekend activity, check out Groupons local deals for a fun, inexpensive adventure. They also have fantastic deals on travel expenses, coupons, clearance and sales.
Sign up for Groupon today!
Bonus Tip: Groupon has partnered with Ebates for added cash back, so be sure to use both.
9. Programmable Thermostat
As mentioned previously, we went through our daily life to find where we could save money. One of the biggest shocks to me was how much we were spending on utility expenses. Our utility bill was almost $300 a month in the summer. We kept the central air running all day so that when we got home from work the house would be nice and cool. It was quickly apparent that something had to change. If we turned the air off during the day the house never really cooled off enough in the evening to sleep comfortably. Enter the Wifi programmable thermostat.
This 3M thermostat allows for workday and weekend programming, with 4 different custom temperature settings available. It has a heat mode, cool mode and away mode. If you leave on vacation and can’t remember if you set the thermostat, just login to your cell phone app and check or change it.
There are several options available, but here is the thermostat we use and love. It was relatively easy to install thanks to their youtube video and it is less expensive than other options.
You don’t know happiness until you’ve turned on the heat from your bed on a cold winter morning.
10. Negotiate your utilities
Did you know you can save a ton of money by negotiating some of your expenses? If you have cable TV, internet service, cell phone, trash service or satellite radio, give your providers a call. I reduced our Satellite radio bill from $16/month to $5. I was even able to have them waive the paper bill fee, and not save my billing information for automatic renewal. My cell phone bill was $10/month less after a short phone call and switching to a different plan. Be polite yet firm, let them know you can’t afford your current bill or you are considering canceling, and they will find ways to work with you. Better yet, cancel your cable TV service all together and use your Amazon Prime account for movies and TV, watch Netflix or Hulu, or read a good book!
I hope you enjoyed our list of the 10 easiest ways to save hundreds each month. If you would like to read our huge list of ways to save money, check out this Blog post (coming soon).