The old saying still rings true: a penny saved is a penny earned. If your household budget is strained by a reduction in work hours or a new baby, you may be tempted to try to make more money by taking on a second job. However, saving money is often more lucrative than making more. This is especially true if more income would bump up your tax bracket or incur larger childcare costs. Here are some ideas for saving money on essentials like groceries, clothing and personal grooming items.
Clip Coupons Wisely
For the cost of a Sunday paper, you can clip hundreds of dollars worth of coupons. The trick is, coupons don’t always save you money compared to buying a store brand product at full price. Clip coupons only for items you need, then compare the discounted price of the items with the normal price of cheaper brands. Coupons can save you a ton, but only if you shop wisely.
Sign Up for Rewards Cards
If you do most of your shopping at the same few retailers week in and week out, sign up for their reward program cards. Some will earn you points towards discounted fuel, while others will give you lucrative coupons or a percent off your total at checkout. Some even allow you to download coupons directly to your card so they will be applied automatically at the cash register.
Register Online for More Savings
EarningStation offers online rewards programs that allow you to get gift cards or cash rewards for your everyday shopping. You can also sign up online with your preferred retailers to get alerts when favorite items go on sale or gain access to members-only pricing. Some will even email you awesome coupons that you can print out. Check and see what’s available, as you may be pleasantly surprised.
Don’t Shy Away from Secondhand
When it comes to items like clothing or furnishings, there’s little reason to pay full price. Vintage shops and secondhand stores offer up a large, ever-changing selection of goods at a fraction of retail prices. You could find everything from workout gear to dress clothes for pennies on the dollar. Properly cleaned, these items are every bit as good as new.
Find the Discount House
Nearly every city has a store that specializes in new items that are now discontinued or were made with minor flaws. For items you can’t or shouldn’t buy secondhand, such as shoes, underwear, bras and swimsuits, the discount house is the place to shop. You will have to inspect items carefully to ensure the flaw doesn’t affect functionality, but most ‘flawed’ items offered for sale are just like new. Perhaps you’ll find some minor flaw in the stitching or a loose button you can fix in two minutes with a needle and thread. Other items will be perfect and yet deeply discounted because it is no longer made or too many were manufactured.
Consider Bulk Options at Membership Retailers
Some items like toilet paper, razors, dry goods and seasonal clothing can be stored for years. If you are in love with a certain brand of shelf-stable good, consider buying it in bulk for huge savings over time. Warehouse and club stores often allow you to enter their facility to view their prices and wares without committing to a membership. If the prices are attractive, the cost of a membership may pay for itself. Other membership retailers allow members to bring along a friend, which is a great way to see what’s for sale without paying a fee.
Saving money on the essentials can really add up, if you’re smart and shop cleverly. By using these tips, you can keep more money in the bank and give yourself some financial breathing room.