SAVE MONEY IN THE NEW YEAR

The new year gives us all the opportunity to reflect on things that we would like to change about ourselves and our lifestyle. Perhaps you are opening your credit card bills in January and realize that maybe you went a little overboard with the holiday spirit and you vow not to do it again next year! Enter your New Year’s resolution: Save More Money This Year!

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For me, it was about six years ago when I was pregnant with my first child that I realized we needed to make some adjustments to afford a child and all the expenses that come with it, plus still do fun things like travel. I started couponing because I thought it was crazy that a pack of diapers cost $10 and I happened to come across some blogs and groups where all these people were getting things for free or super cheap, and I decided I wanted to give it a shot. Couponing has saved us a ton of money over the years that we can instead put toward fun family vacations, but I know couponing takes more work than some people want to do, so luckily there are lots of ways that you can begin saving some money in the new year!

1) Plan Ahead and Buy Ahead

Now, this one might take a little storage room, but it’s probably how I’ve saved the most money over the years so it’s worth finding that extra space.

  • Shop clearance after the holidays to get 50-90% off: I buy Halloween costumes and decor for the next year off regular price. 
All our costumes this year were greatly reduced in price. My husband's Darth Vader costume cost $5 after Halloween last year (minus the cape).

I didn’t pay full price for anything here. My husband’s Darth Vader costume cost $5 after Halloween last year (minus the cape).

  • Buy wrapping paper, gift bags, and other holiday items after Christmas and save it. Bonus: look for things that aren’t really holiday themed to use for other occasions, like the items I just bought after Christmas for 50% off! 
I can use the red items for Fourth of July, the wrapping paper for birthdays, and the bath items any time!

I can use the red items for Fourth of July, the wrapping paper for birthdays, and the bath items any time!

  • Start a gift closet (or storage container): Think about all those people in your life that you buy for annually for birthdays or Christmas. Buy items far in advance when you see them on sale or clearance and just store them. I keep two tubs in our storage closet: one labelled Gifts for the Boys and one labelled Gifts for Others. If I see something I know someone in my life will like at a good deal, I buy it and put it away. If I see something cute or fun that I know anyone would like, I buy it and put it away for when an occasion arises, like when your kid gets invited to a birthday party by a child you do not know well, and you just don’t have the time to run to the store for a gift, so you can “shop” from your Gifts for Others tub!

2) Save Over $1300 this Year with a Savings Challenge!

A group of couponing friends and I tried this a couple years ago and plan to do it again this year. The concept is simple: each week you save the money based on what week it is. In week 1, save $1; week 2, save $2, and so on until week 52, and you save $52. Add all that up to save $1378 by the end of December. We had a file on our Facebook group page to hold each other accountable. Some people chose to do it backward (save $52 in week 1 and $1 in week 52) so they would have more money around the holidays. Or, save $26.50 every week to end up with the same total. Try to keep a separate savings account that you just deposit money into and forget about it! Bonus: Open a new account with a bank that is offering a promotion to start an account (and pick one with higher interest to earn more money)!

Use a spreadsheet to keep track of your own Savings Challenge.

Use a spreadsheet to keep track of your own Savings Challenge.

3) Use Apps to Get Cash Back or Save Money

So, you like the idea of saving money on shopping, but don’t want to clip coupons? Use apps to save money! It might take a little extra work, but it’s easier than couponing, and so worth it! Bonus: You can deposit your cash back into your savings account! A few of my favorites:

  • Ibotta and Checkout 51: Simply check the apps for your favorite grocery stores or pharmacies and see what offers they have, select the ones you want, take pictures of the product barcodes if needed, and upload your receipt. Both apps also offer bonus deals as well. Once you get to a certain amount, you can withdraw from your account. I have earned almost $400 cashback in these two apps alone since I started using them, and honestly, I sometimes forget to use it myself, but have still saved that much!
  • Ebates: If you are a big online shopper and haven’t started using Ebates yet, you need to! Once you get on the app (or website!), type in the store you want to shop at, and see what they offer for cash back and just click SHOP. It’s literally that easy. You can even get cashback for travel deals through some websites! Every 3 months, they send a Big Fat Check or Paypal. I have earned almost $350 cashback for online shopping and booking travel that I would have been doing anyway! They also just started cashback for in-store shopping as well at select stores if you link your credit card to the site!
  • Cartwheel for Target: If you’re anything like me, you go into Target to get some toilet paper and milk, and somehow walk out spending $100! Luckily, Target started the Cartwheel app to save people money, if you are willing to take a little more time with their app. You simply add things to your List that you are buying and have the cashier scan your barcode. You can even scan the barcode of products to see if there is a deal for it. I pretty much scan everything to make sure I don’t miss any deals! I have saved over $700 with this app, which should tell you how much I shop at Target!
    The Target Cartwheel app

    The Target Cartwheel app

This is really just a small list of the things I do to save money throughout the year. I didn’t try to change everything at once. Start small to find ways that work for you to change some habits in the new year! You can do it!

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