I feel like part of my job and my duty to you as the sisterhood of savings is to give you tips on how to save money. Doing some of these things is how we got out of debt, how we stayed out of debt, how we've been able to cash flow things like cars and roofs and trips to Disney World.
1. Start meal planning.
Not only is this going to save you literally thousands of dollars because you're not throwing away food -- the average family in the US throws away $1,500 of food every year. Not with a meal plan -- but you also save time. Think about it.
If you come home on a Monday night and you're exhausted, you're going to spend at least 30 minutes wandering around your kitchen looking for something to eat. If you have taken 15 minutes on a Sunday afternoon to meal plan for the week, you just got hours of your life back. If you are spending 30 minutes every day or at least every week looking for something to eat, and you take 10-15 minutes to meal plan, you have saved hours every year.
2. Pack leftovers for lunch.
I have talked about this. You'll save at least $2,000 a year. Easy. A travel mug and take your own coffee. You can make coffee at home -- good coffee -- for 25 cents a cup. I love to use these pyrex containers for lunches.
3. Never run a movie without a Redbox code.
Even if it's not a completely free movie, get a Redbox code. I realized that Redbox is only like $1.50. I get it. And even if you rented a Redbox movie every weekend for the entire year, that would only cost you $78. But the point is, I really like saving money.
You can quickly find Redbox codes on Honey. If you are not using Honey, I highly recommend it. It is free.
Honey will run coupon codes for you. It's free. You can add it to Google Chrome as an extension and start flashing and alert you if there are coupon codes on any website. But I use it on Redbox. It will scan until it finds me the best code. (No, this is not sponsored by Honey or any of the other companies I'm talking about today but I am using some affiliate links you can read more about that here.)
4. Do two eat from the pantry challenges a year.
That means for one month, you're only going to buy a few basics of groceries and not your complete grocery haul for the month. You will end up saving between $200-500 depending on how much you spend on groceries.
The average US family spends $550 a month on groceries. But if you decide to go on a no-spend or a very limited grocery haul for the month, you're going to save $500. It's $1,000 a year.
5. Call your service providers, whether it be cell phone or internet, and see what kind of deals they can offer you.
We switched from Verizon to Straight Talk a few years ago. We noticed very little difference. It turns out, where I live, Straight Talk runs on the Verizon tower, so it's basically the same coverage for less than half the price.
There are also places like Cricket and Republic Wireless where you can get very discounted cell phone plans.
6. Use eBates when shopping from home.
I love eBates. I don't find that I spend more. It's just useful when I'm buying things that I'm going to be using. Like, we bought a new dishwasher and we were able to get 7% cash back on that. Same thing with our new fridge.
We bought all of our appliances through eBates, sometimes vacations, those types of things. And we get a little cash back for our efforts. And when you sign up you can get a $10 gift card to Target or Walmart.
7. Accept hand-me-downs for things that you need. Or borrow.
I have told this story before. A few years ago, my vacuum cleaner died and I had carpet in my home at the time. I told my mom, "My vacuum cleaner died. I’ve got to go buy a new one." And she said, "No, you don't. I have this one. You can use it." It was very old, like, it took a bag. I think she bought it the year I was born. It was so loud; it made so much noise. But it worked. It cleaned my floor and it didn't cost me anything.
So be willing to temporarily accept things from people, if they're willing to give them to you.
Don't take stuff that you don't need just to be nice. But if you need a vacuum cleaner and your mom's got one that's like 29 years old, take it.
8. Check Craigslist before you hit up the store.
When Isaac needed a little booster to sit at the table, I did a real quick look on Craigslist and found the exact same one that I was about to buy off Amazon on Craigslist for $10.