My Best Advice (and now, not-so-secret tips) for the Beginning Saver
Truth be told, I found my love of couponing, saving money, etc about 15 years ago – which, if you know me, was at a pretty young age to care about a budget – I will thank my Dad for the frugal gene! Shopping, for less than full price, on a consistent basis was something that I started to enjoy right away. I looked forward to the adrenaline rush I would get by planning my shopping trip ahead, finding specific products in the store, gathering all my Sunday coupons, stumbling upon unexpected great deals that I had the coupon in my purse! There was so much I loved about deal shopping – and I still do, of course – and man how it has changed with technology! But as someone just starting out, there are a few things that you definitely need to know in this arena of couponing/deal-hunting that I can’t wait to share with you!
- Always plan ahead.
Don’t expect to save 50% or more on your shopping trip without mapping out your strategy and putting together your list in advance. This is an imperative step for even the seasoned coupon shopper like myself. Personally, I use the notes section on my phone (use whatever method works best for you, no shame in the good ‘ol pen and paper method) – and I make two lists. 1. Immediate items I need for the current week and 2. Things I am going to run out of soon (so I can keep an eye out for deals on these things in the near future). First step in making my list is taking a quick visual inventory of what I have in the fridge, pantry and cleaning closet.
- Set a budget. Grocery shopping, clothes shopping, household shopping, any type of shopping, you should have a budget that outlines specifically how much money you have for each category. Honestly, and speaking from experience, once you get the hang of coupon shopping, it can get addicting. You need to have that budgeted dollar amount in your mind as to how much you have allotted for that trip before you leave the house. It will keep the temptation of impulse shopping and possible buyers’ remorse to a minimum and help you stay on track. Promise!
- Don’t participate in every deal you find Once you figure out the best way to find your deals, whether it be following Krazy Coupon Lady (which I highly recommend). Hip2Save, CouponingWorks, you will end up finding TONS of deals that seem enticing, exciting and you may think that you need ALL of the. Just remember what we talked about in steps 1 and 2 (above) – you’ve made a list and a budget, do the items in that deal you’re chasing fall within those? Maybe…Maybe not! But having managing the discipline to stick with your list and budget will keep this a fun activity for a long time
- Find a Coupon Buddy Even if you find someone and you’re both new at coupon shopping/deal hunting, you will both have plenty of experiences to share and learn from that will help you both learn twice as fast, as you go – which is the best way to learn! Search for Coupon Groups in your local area on Facebook, put out a random Facebook post – you may be surprised who you already know that enjoys couponing or wants to learn! Talk to you family, friends at work or school – and don’t be afraid! This adventure is much more like a game than anything (with the full intent on saving money, of course) and is a bunch more fun to share with someone than to do alone!
- Take advantage of Money-Earning Apps Hopefully you own a Smartphone, or some type of device that can download apps, because there is A TON to be saved using apps, especially the money-earning kind. That being said, let me shamelessly plug a few that I LOVE that ONLY involve uploading receipts (taking a picture and sending within the app) that you would already have, not buying anything specific.
– Receipt Pal – Upload receipts, earn points, redeem points for cash or gift cards. I love saving all of my points to earn a $100 Amazon Gift Card every so often, how quickly that is just depends on how often and how many receipts you upload.
– Receipt Hog – a money-earning app turned into a fun, slot-machine style game where you earn coins and spins for your uploaded grocery, restaurant, convenient store, mall shopping receipts which you accumulate to redeem for cash or gift cards. Again my favorite is to save up for the $30 Amazon Gift Card (you can also cash out to paypal, if you prefer). – Yaarlo – this is a newer app but has the same concept up receipt uploading and earning cash for your receipts, which you then can redeem for gift cards (I usually cash this one out at $10 since they currently don’t have an incentive to wait for redemption like Receipt Hog and Receipt Pal.
Fair Warning: You will NOT get rich using these apps, or any apps for that matter. At first glance, maybe even the first few weeks, it make seem like you’re accumulating wealth with these apps at a snails pace – and that’s ok! Trust me! You will be surprised that given a few months of consistent effort, for example, you will be cashing out your first gift card from one app (SO EXCITING!!) while getting close to cashing out for a gift card with another app, then back around to getting close to cashing out a second gift card with the first app again, and so on. The point is, that this way of earning money requires only a few minutes of your time each week dedicated to uploading your receipts and a few seconds in advance of planning to make sure you put the receipt in a safe place right after you receive it (I ALWAYS ask to have the receipt given directly to me and put it right into my wallet). Also, to earn faster, don’t be afraid to ask your friends and family members to save their receipts for you (or better yet, after you download these apps, get credit for referring your them to use them as well!
6. Take advantage of new companies offering free trials There are SO many! For example Google Express, Boxed.Com, Jet.com, Instacart, just to name a few that I’ve used recently where I’ve taken advantage of their “first order” free trial period and scored a bunch of things for FREE (yes, FREE! ) that I actually needed, just for trying their service! And best of all – the order is shipped to your door, free (which is sometimes linked to the free trial) so take advantage!
My favorite one lately is Google Express (using the app or website) place your first order using referral code: UJZLY95Z3 and get $15 off your first order and free shipping. You can pick any item or combination of items from any participating store in your local area for free, up to $15! The free trial period is for free shipping for 90 days, so if you don’t want to continue after the 90-day trial period is over, then make sure set a calendar reminder for yourself to cancel around the 85th day, just to make sure you get it cancelled before the 90th day.
– Refer back to Step 1 for the 2nd list you made for items needed in the near future and cross a couple of those off your list by taking advantage of this free trial!
In short, these are the easiest, quickly things I can advise you to do is START TODAY, which following the items in this list will get you well on your way to be in the right frame of mind to start out like I did, 15 years ago! The only different is that you have technology in your favor to help you earn more money and make deal shopping MUCH easier and realistic for everyone! So have fun and enjoy!
And please comment below or email me directly with any questions