I’ve been reading a lot on personal finance, lately, and I’m learning such awesome things!
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I graduated school (again, with another degree) two years ago, and was gifted the bounty of student loans. While landing a non-related job in my hometown that paid just enough to pay my bills, to landing a second job in my field out of town that pays even less, I have been becoming quite a master at managing my money.
Not entirely, but it’s been improving while reading money saving and growing tips from bloggers like Michelle, Rosemarie, Silace and Grace, Lena, and many more! If you haven’t checked out their amazing and helpful resources, do yourself a favor and get over there now.
Life can be tricky, with schooling, not going to school, debt, buying too many clothes or the latest electronics, and splurging a little too much on your weekend activities with the friends. Hey, not saying you can’t have these things, because let’s face it-these things can be the spice to some of y’all’s lives. But, why not manage your spending a little bit so you can pretty much have your cake and eat it too?
Without further ado, let’s get into my tips and tricks on saving money and budgeting your own finances so you can spend more time concentrating on the things that matter to you. Doing so may help you save for a bigger purchase or traveling, and may help you gain more financial freedom.
- ibotta – This app is something I use especially when I go to buy groceries. I love this tool! It allows you to search for coupons for a particular store in your area before getting there. It can be a grocery store, a clothing store, or anything, and even offers online deals! For instance, since I use ibotta mainly to grocery shop, I can search for coupons on items like $0.50 off fresh produce, to $0.25 to $3.00 and up on my regular purchases (and more depending on the price of the item), and allows you to view new items that you may want to try out and love with a discount! This tool routinely saves me anywhere from $5-10 a grocery tip. You can then choose to be rewarded with your savings via PayPal and Venmo (a $20.00 limit), or you can choose to take out a gift card from restaurants, to Amazon, to Starbucks, and even Sephora. It’s a win-win! Right now, I have a special deal for you all if you sign up through this link. One you get set up and redeem your first rebate through Ibotta, you can get $10 directly deposited into your account. Free money is free money! You can sign up through here (and any Ibotta link I have posted).
- TOTAL SAVINGS AND EARNINGS: $40 + month
- Digit Savings – This tool for saving money is by far one of the best money-saving tools I’ve ever used. Thanks to my hubby, we’ve saved over $2000 in the past six months, without missing a dime, seriously! It works like this: you set up an account, and make note of how much you’d like to save (a percentage, a certain dollar amount, or based on their own strategy). What it does is it takes note of what you spend daily, weekly, and monthly and analyzes your spending trends. When you set up your account you add your banking info, and this tool will automatically withdraw your own money for a safe-keeping from you. If you spend a lot of money per one day, it usually won’t save anything for you. If you don’t spend anything for a day or a minuscule amount based on your recent trends, it’ll take out a larger amount that you’d otherwise be spending of food, clothes, or impulse buys (who does that? I don’t do that…. *liar liar pants on fire*). You have the choice to micromanage it if you would rather keep the money they put away, or even a portion of it. What happened over the past 6 months when we initially set it up, was we saved over $2000, and we didn’t even notice! We can monitor the transactions in our banking info, and it just looks like we spent it on something we chose. Instead, we’ve been building a rather nice savings pillow for emergencies, spontaneous trips, or for our nest egg. You will get daily/weekly notifications of how much you’re saving. Pretty cool, huh???
- TOTAL SAVINGS: $2000 over the last 6 months
- Reward programs – I feel like most stores and companies offer a rewards program for their clients and customers, and this is something you MUST do to get discounts! If there is a rewards program, I’m signed up. Places like grocery stores, craft stores, and coffee shops like Starbucks all offer perks for their members such as a percentage off groceries for using generic-items in store, deals on random days of the week and are told exclusively to customers, and free drinks! (I like the free drink, option.) Of course, being mindful not to spend more money to get these perks is key. Starbucks has deals monthly where they will offer more stars per point earned on random days and will let you know the day before. I usually will wait for opportunities like this because grabbing a Starbucks is a sometimes treat for me, and will earn a free drink quicker and cheaper than if I buy them at random.
- TOTAL EARNINGS AND SAVINGS: $5-$30 + off and up to #2 free drinks/food at places like Starbucks and Panera
- Utilities on a budget – I used to spend up to $200 on our electric bill some months, and this was in a 1000 sq. ft. apartment!!! Not so savvy. I was young and had no idea that you could discuss utility bills and payment options. We usually spend more on our electric during January and the colder months, and mostly less in the summer. However, when we’d get these large bills in the mail, we’d have to budget our groceries and entertainment spending to almost nothing just to accommodate the spike in our utilities. If you’re not on a budget, do it now! I called our electric company and set up a monthly budget so we can pay the exact amount every month. It took only 5 minutes, and what they do is take the average amount you spend over the course of several months, and set you up with that amount to pay per month. Easy and you know what to expect each month.
- TOTAL SAVINGS: $50-$100 a month
- Receipt Pal – This app is also a cool tool to have to earn some extra money. What you do is upload photos of the receipts you have after a purchase at ANY store! You just need to include the store name, the items listed, the amount owed, and how you paid. If any of these things aren’t listed, they won’t count it, so make sure you don’t tear the receipt like I have. It can take 5 minutes to a few hours for them to approve your receipts but once you do it adds up in a little bank for you. Receipt Pal have different options for payment, usually a $20 limit. They offer restaurants.com deals where you choose a participating restaurant and dine there, amazon, straight out cash, and some other choices. I’ve cashed out a few times at $50 each!
- TOTAL EARNINGS: about $20 a month
- Receipt Hog – this app is very similar as the app I just mentioned, Receipt Pal and works almost exactly the same. I actually use both at the same time, using the same exact receipts and earn double the money for only spend a few extra minutes of my day. Free money is free money-no matter how small!
- TOTAL EARNINGS: about $20 a month
- Gym Pact – although I don’t use this as frequently as I used to before we moved (since we had a gym closer to our apartment), this is a cool app to help earn a few extra bucks per month. What you do is set a pact with yourself in how much you’ll workout for the week. It can be once or all 7 days, and you ether check in to a gym, or your phone tracks your movement for at least 30 minutes. If you complete your pact at the end of the week, you earn money from the pool that is collected from those who fall short! It’s community-based, which is cool because you can get support from other gym-pact-ers, and its fun how its set up-like a game or competition! Best part is, you earn money for getting healthy. What’s not to love? You can also set it up for eating fruits and vegetables.
- TOTAL EARNINGS: about $3-6 weekly
- Book Bub – Ok, so this doesn’t earn you money but it saves you money if you’re a bookworm like me! This site sends you emails daily on 4-5 books for a great deal; anywhere from FREE to $2.99 for books that are popular and best sellers! I’ve downloaded great recipe books, novels, nutrition-researched-based books, and more for such little money. I no longer have to spend $20 on a book. If I want it badly enough, I’ll read something else until I either find it for cheaper, and eventually I’ll see it in Book Hub and get it for free at times. You can also check out their categories for deals and bargains.
- TOTAL SAVINGS: around $30
Breaking it down monthly, I save up to $579 once I broke down the $2000 I saved over the past 6 months. This a pretty good chunk of change that doesn’t take much effort.
I hope these tools will be of use to you! I have found they save me a good amount of money, and I love saving a little extra. These tools are easy, and very helpful.
What are your favorite ways to save money or find deals?