I wouldn’t call myself cheap; I prefer the term conscientious. My family was not well off when I was a kid and so my mom would often cut coupons and look for sales in weekly flyers. Things did improve but mom kept clipping those coupons. My parents would hand me money without even my asking. I would receive it whenever I needed it…or not really needed it. I don’t think I was ever greedy or materialistic but I never thought twice about eating out with friends, going to the movies or buying a few new clothes every now and then. You could say I was definitely spoiled in that sense but I never felt like I was taking advantage of my parents, but I wasn’t careful either.
Later on, my parents paid for my college tuition (I did get a major scholarship though) so the $15 cost of Long Island’s at clubs never really bothered me. Ya, I probably ordered way too much Thai food too….BUT! I did eventually get a job in college and created a secret bank account I’d use to charge my drinks and cabs fares to so my parents would not be alarmed by my spending…if that’s even better…
But after my first real job after college, I knew that money is not something that should be spent to grant a second of happiness. I’ve lived at home and helped with some bills and bought some furniture for my parents because why shouldn’t I – they’ve done everything for me. I’ve worked really hard to save up and because of that and not having the burden of loans, my husband and I have been able to buy a home.
Being unemployed now and having to set up a new home has forced me to be more careful than I usually am about spending money. Also, I live with my husband instead of my parents where my mom would take care of the grocery shopping and I wouldn’t have to think twice about it. My husband and I are foodies too so there’s no way we’re skimping and living on Maruchan Ramen Noodles or Maggi.
So here are a few ways I’ve modified my money habits:
Look at Weekly Grocery Store Flyers:
I save 25-50% off my grocery bill this way. This is the best and easiest way to save money on groceries without having to deal with coupons. I’ll look at all the weekly grocery flyers to see where the best deals are and plan my meals around this. Living in a suburbs, I can do this because I have my choice of 3 different grocery stores. In the city, this wouldn’t be so feasible because of convenience – you’re going to go to the store within the shortest walking distance of your apartment.
What I also have noted is that items may be BOGO Free and people don’t take advantage of this – make sure you read the price signs. At the grocery store just last week, mushrooms were BOGO free. The man checking out behind me only had ONE package of mushrooms…JUST ONE! I told him they were BOGO free. He said “That’s ok.” I was like “Man, you all sorts of crazy!!!” I understand this if he knows it’ll go to waste, but otherwise, just eat some extra mushrooms instead – they’re good for you.
Generally, I try to purchase groceries from the outer rim of the store, leaving the inner aisles (all the preservative heavy foods) alone. So this leaves me with produce, dairy items, meat/seafood and bread – generally these items do not have coupons but may be on sale in the weekly flyer.
Also, living in Vermont, we MUST ALWAYS have Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream HEAVILY STOCKED in our freezer. At $5 a pint, it gets expensive but it tends to come on sale for $2.50 often so I stock up a bit during sales…or we end up buying it at regular price because we’re desperate.
Check Out Coupons.com or Grocery Store Specific Apps/Rewards Programs:
Coupons.com allows you to print coupons and bring them to the store. What I find easier than this is acquiring a member discount card, downloading the grocery store’s app (Hannaford, Price Chopper or Shaw’s to name a few), and clipping the coupons digitally. The coupons get loaded to your card or your phone number and are automatically applied when you checkout at the store. You’ll save some printer ink and kind of the earth by not wasting paper.
Don’t forget about the Gas Savings tied to your Grocery Store’s Rewards:
At PriceChopper, the Fuel AdvantEdge Card allows you to accumulate decent discounts towards gas. Price Chopper gives you 10 cents off per gallon for every $100 you spend along with some additional gas rewards when you buy certain items. Often, I’m able to accumulate a discount of 30-40 cents off per gallon. So say you need to fill up your 20 gallon tank, you’d save $6-$8 which is helpful. If you fill up your tank 2 times per month, that gives you $144-$192 in savings per year. Stop & Shop and Shaws will also give you 10 cents off per gallon for every $100 you spend. These discounts may only be redeemed at certain participating Sunoco Gas Stations.
Download the Ibotta App
Ibotta is a mobile coupon and cash back shopping app. I like to go through it before I head to the grocery store to see if I need of any of the products. They often will offer 25 cents to a dollar off certain items. Sometimes you will get a coupon for any brand milk, eggs, fruits or vegetables. Lately, I don’t find myself needing any of the products they have coupons for. BUT, Ibotta was amazing for Black Friday. Ibotta offers cash back on sites like Kohls, Macy’s, Ulta, Express and more. At Express, 20% cash back was offered to a limit of $20 which is pretty significant on top of everything already being 50% off. One caveat I found is if you use an additional coupon code, on top of navigating to say Express.com through the Ibotta app, you may not get any cash back through Ibotta. Every Wednesday throughout the day, new coupons are added if you don’t see anything you can use now.
I’ve saved about $100 in the last year using Ibotta. Use this link to join Ibotta and you’ll receive a $10 welcome bonus once you redeem your first receipt or make your first purchase.
Download Money-saving Browser Extensions
Honey. Honey is one browser extension I’ve been using to save me money by automatically applying coupon codes at checkout before completing an order. Going to RetailMeNot.com every time and trying out codes gets old so this is helpful. But lately, Honey hasn’t been coming through. It’s supposed to apply the best coupon that’ll get you the best deal, but sometimes it just doesn’t work right. I’m not sure why. Also, Honey will give you a cash-back reward at an unknown percentage of your purchase. It will display the percentage range when you’re checking out. The range is often 1-5% which is a wide range….which is why I’d like to try:
Ebates. Ebates is another browser extension that will do the same thing as Honey but will tell you the exact percentage you will get back which is much better. A friend suggested I try Ebates so I literally just downloaded it an hour ago.
^ Click here and you’ll earn $10 once you spend your first $25 with Ebates.
Either way, it’s easy to save just a little money with these browser extensions. You just click and the extension does everything for you. I’ve received $35 in gift cards from Honey and saved at least $300 just using the coupon codes in the last year.
Hopefully this was helpful! If it wasn’t, let me know in the comments!