How to save money by hitting a switch. How to eat better and cheaper at the same time. And how you may be paying way too much for prescriptions. Here are a few ideas to consider if you want to cut back on your expenses:
1. Get a coupon app
If using coupons still conjures up cutting apart the Sunday paper, you’ll be happy to know that you can keep the scissors in the drawer. It’s never been easier to commit to coupons now that they’ve moved into the app era. There’s a good chance your grocery store already has an app that’ll clip and save the coupons to your rewards account. Next time you check out, the coupons will automatically be applied. And even if your preferred grocer doesn’t have their own, there’s plenty of third party coupon apps like SavingStar, Cellfire, and others.
2. Get cash back for everyday items
Items you buy every week may have a cashback reward you never knew existed. To get that cash for yourself: grab a smartphone app and start saving. Two of the more popular ones are Checkout51 and iBotta but there are lots of others. Plenty of major retailers participate in conjunction with national brands, so finding items you want shouldn’t be a challenge. And in case you’re wondering; You can use your coupons at the register and take advantage of a cashback app as well.
3. Save on your heating bill—with a fan
Who knew fans are useful in winter too? As we remember from science class: Hot air rises and cold air falls. So, during wintertime, the heat we pay so dearly for is literally going over our heads. The same ceiling fan that helps us beat the heat can push warm air back down and circulate it against the walls of the room. Just make sure the fan is set to push air down, not pull it up. Also, keep it on its lowest speed to avoid a “wind chill” effect. Not everyone will see the same benefit and don’t expect it to “slash” your heating bill. If it can help keep your thermostat set a little lower though, you’ve saved money all by hitting a switch. If you’re looking to cut your heating bill further here’s seven more ways to save.
4. Get the best price for gasoline
“Where did I see that cheap gas again?” Sure, we’ll make a mental note when we see gas at a great price. Yet chances are we’ve lost that note by the time we need to fill up. If that sounds like you, maybe it’s time to turn to a gas-saving app that can tell you in seconds who has the lowest price. We should point out that you don’t need a dedicated app; Looking up nearby gas prices can be as simple as typing “gas” into Google maps. But using a gasoline-dedicated app like GasBuddy can tell you nearby prices and earn you reward points or cash back.
5. Save on prescriptions at a warehouse club—no membership required
This may be the best-kept secret on this list. You don’t need a membership to fill your prescriptions for less, sometimes a lot less, at Costco, Sam’s, and other warehouse clubs. You can look up a specific drug’s availability and pricing online, or just call the nearest warehouse club pharmacy. Oh, and one more thing: you can get your prescription glasses from them too—no membership required.
6. Join a Shaving club
If you noticed the price of razors was getting out of hand, you’re far from alone. A few upstart companies thought the same and ushered in the subscription shaving club. Buying razor blades via a mail subscription saves you from paying for blades so expensive stores put them behind the counter. Blades from well-known shaving clubs like Dollar Shave Club, Harry’s and elsewhere perform well against the dominant blade makers while costing a lot less. Even though men’s shaving items get most of the attention, items for women can be had for cheaper as well.
7. Get a TV antenna
We’re so used to paying for TV we may have forgotten that truly free TV still exists. If you’re still looking to “cut the cord” on cable TV but holding back because you want access to local TV, especially for live events or major sports coverage—all you may need is a simple antenna. Antennas designed to work with digital TV (DTV) broadcasts are cheap—or you can even build one your self. You may have to experiment a bit to find the best placement, such as up high or near a window. But unlike those days of messing around with rabbit ears, today’s TVs can tell the signal strength and help you fine-tune it (just check in the TV’s menu settings). At the FCC’s website can find out how strong the coverage is in your area learn more about setting up an antenna.
8. Stock up and save
If you find yourself running to the cafe or minimart for the same things—soda, snacks, and certainly coffee— chances are you could save a bunch by buying the exact same items in bulk. We wouldn’t dare suggest going cold turkey on coffee runs—we know it’s ritual millions of us look forward to. But even if you can cut back a few trips a week over the course of a month that could pay for a dinner out. If you can really cut back on the lattes? Over a year, you’re talking about enough to cover a car payment.
9. Give frozen food a second chance
“Fresh not frozen” is great advice for eating healthy. And while there’s no argument against eating fresh, the reality is if you don’t use all those fruits and veggies before they spoil? It’s like watching your money rot with them. In the pursuit of eating better, buying frozen can get bumped from consideration, but a fresh rethink may be in order. Frozen meats and vegetables can be bought cheaper in bulk while sacrificing little in nutritional value. And they stand a way better chance of making it your plate while staying out of the trash.
10. Pre-cook your meals for the week
It helps to be handy in the kitchen for this one, but you don’t need to be a gourmet either, as the internet will have your back. There’s been a mini-movement to help you save and eat better: bulk cooking your meals. Once a week you cook a batch of meals for the upcoming week that are healthy, convenient, freezer-friendly, and most important here—cost less. At the end of a long day, when you don’t feel like cooking in or spending on takeout, a solid meal is already waiting for you. No worries if you don’t know any good recipes—there’s an entire community ready to suggest something. Here’s a beginner’s guide, or search online for “low-cost meal prep.” If you’re ready for a cookbook’s worth of options, check out Pinterest for more meal prep recipes. It’s possible you may wind up with too many options.
11. Rotate your streaming channels
“Cutting the cord” on cable TV in favor of streaming channels was supposed to save us a bundle. Or so we thought. With the proliferation of streaming options, with more on the way, we can easily end up paying as much as we ever did for cable. But unlike the cable company, you can switch streaming channels off and on without hassle. If you rarely watch some of them or are keeping others for when a specific show comes back, why pay while you wait? Consider canceling channels and letting content build back up while you watch something else. Then sign back up for what you missed and sign off others. Cable TV may have you locked into a contract, but the streaming channels don’t.