Thursday, January 24, 2013

My Money Saving Tips

As a one income family, from time to time money can be tight around these parts. Over the past year or so I've been pretty conscious about saving money. I'm always interested in learning about different ways we can spend less, so I thought I'd share some of my tips with all of you.

Swag Bucks
Swag Bucks is an awesome website I discovered last year. You earn points for doing things around the web. Like watching short videos, answering daily polls, buying from participating retailers, playing games and taking surveys. Using the Swag Bucks search engine is the easiest way to earn. You use it just as you would Google (you can download a toolbar or search directly from the site). Not all searches result in points, but the ones that do typically "pay" 7-15 points a piece. Once I even earned 40 points for a totally random search.

Once you've banked some points, you can cash them in for different prizes. From what I've seen you get the most bang for your Swag Bucks by trading 450 points for a $5 Amazon gift card. I'm a pretty casual Swag Bucks user an last year I was able to earn three or four gift cards!

Click here to start earning Swag Bucks yourself! (I will get credit if you sign up through my link)

Coupons


I've talked about coupons a little in the past. They really can save you a lot of money if you put a little effort in each week. You can find coupons almost anywhere, here are the main places I get ours.

  • Websites. My favorite websites for finding coupons are Target.com and Swagbucks.com! Yes, the same Swag Bucks I mentioned above. You earn points for each coupon you use at the store. They usually have a pretty good selection to choose from. Last week I printed off over $15 worth of coupons. Another site to check is Coupon Network. Sometimes companies will have coupons available to print right from their website as well. So if you know exactly what brands you're looking to buy, hit their sites and social networks first.
  • Register coupons (catalinas). Don't discard the coupons cashiers hand you with your receipts! Target usually gives us really good catalinas based on what we've purchased in the past. A few weeks ago we got coupons for a free frozen pizza and a free box of granola bars! 
  • Manufacturers Checks. These were so helpful when we were buying baby formula for Harry. The trick with formula checks is to sign up with all three companies (Similac, Enfamil and Gerber) and trade with other moms for the brand you use! We didn't pay full price for a can of formula for at least the first 9 months. 
  • Package coupons. Probably the hardest ones to come by, but occasionally there are coupons in the packaging of items we buy. Usually they're not great and I don't end up using them, but if I find one I always stick it in our coupon drawer.
  • Mailers. I'm not signed up for a ton of mailing lists, but on occasion I'll get coupons sent to me from Target, Bed Bath & Beyond, Buy Buy Baby and Babies R Us. 
Target Red Card
We do 95% of our grocery shopping at Super Target. I love it. The store is clean, the staff is friendly and helpful and we can buy non-food items we might need in the same trip. Oh, and we save 5% at the register every time we shop! If you've ever shopped at Target, you've probably been asked if you want to sign up for a Target Red Card. DO IT. I think a lot of store cards are useless. I had a Kohl's card a while back and you only save money on your first purchase and then two or three other times a year. With the Target Red Card, we save every time. It works for online purchases too, and I'm pretty sure you automatically get free shipping. 

We signed up for the debit card about six months ago. Wish we would have done it sooner! The money comes right out of the checking account and like I said, we save 5% every time we use it. Which might not sound like much, but it added up to over $300 worth of savings for us last year! 

Generic 
Pretty much every item at the grocery store comes in generic. We both used to be brand snobs, but this past year we've switched to generic for a lot of things, and it saves a ton of money. Most of the generic products are just fine, and some I even prefer over their name brand counterparts (I love the Target's Up & Up paper towels!). There are certain things I'm not willing to switch though. Kraft Dinner, Lunchables (yes, I still eat those from time to time!), Tyson or Purdue chicken and Crest toothpaste are some of the brands I'm really loyal to.

Website Deals
Sites like GrouponLiving Social and Restaurant.com are great for finding local deals. We love using these sites for restaurants and sometimes buy other deals we see as well. 

I'm always looking for other ways to save money, so I'd love to hear what you guys do! Sound off in the comments below! 

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