13 Ways to Save Money in 2013

13 Ways to Save Money in 2013

By Alicia Taylor

 

Why pass up savings?

It’s a new year and many of us are still feeling the holiday crunch.  Maybe that savings account is looking a little bleak.  Shaving a little off here and there can make the difference in the long term.  If you can afford to sock away your savings and put them into an interest bearing account, you can watch those savings grow.  Here is a list of 13 ways to save money in 2013 to help you tame that New Year’s budget resolution.

  1. Be coupon smart.  Yep.  I have a coupon pouch that I never leave home without.  However, coupons are not saving you money if you don’t use them wisely.  If you buy something you wouldn’t ordinarily use simply because you have a coupon, you haven’t saved money.  Combine coupons with sales.  Wait for your favorite items to go on sale and then stock up by buying multiples with coupons.  If you have a store in your area that doubles coupons, take advantage of it. Smart shoppers can sometimes get free items by combining double coupons with sales.
  2. Mind the scales.  Many times, bulk items are cheaper than the smaller items, but that’s not always the case.  Watch out for price per pounds.  For example, on my last shopping trip, a 6lb bag of my cat’s favorite food was marked at $7.98.  The 3.5lb bag of the same food was $4.38.  If you do the math and divide the price by the pound, you see that the 3.5 lb bag was a better deal at $1.25 a pound, as opposed to $1.33 for the larger size.  Also, don’t leave yourself at the mercy of the store’s math on the shelf labels.  I have seen money draining errors on more than one price card.  Additionally, I have seen one item be calculated at price per pound and another at price per ounce.  Do yourself a favor and carry a calculator so you don’t have to rely on the store’s accuracy.
  3. Don’t be penny wise and pound foolish.  The gas station down the street may be a few cents cheaper, but if you spend $1.00 in gas driving there, have you really saved any money?  Unless it’s on your normal path, do the math for your car and determine if it truly is a savings after driving round trip to save a few pennies.
  4. Use energy efficient options.  Make the switch from CFL to LED light bulbs.  LED bulbs are much more energy efficient.  They last between 30,000 and 50,000 hours as compared to 10,000 hours for a CFL.  Additionally, to get an equivalent amount of light of a 40 watt incandescent bulb (400-500 lumens of brightness), a CFL burns up 12 watts of electricity.  An LED bulb burns around 6-9 watts.  While both CFL and LED bulbs are clearly better options than a traditional incandescent, LED bulbs burn cooler, are less likely to break, contain no mercury and use 1/3 the energy of a CFL.  They are initially more expensive, but the price per hour is roughly the same (about .03).  However, when you add up the electricity savings, LED bulbs prove to be a much better deal in the long run.
  5. Shop around.  I have been eyeing an OXO food storage set for over a year.  I just couldn’t swallow the $100+ price tag on it.  Yesterday, while shopping at my favorite club warehouse store, I spotted it on sale for around $75.  I used my iPad and checked Amazon, eBay and a nearby home store that carried the set.  I wasn’t able to a find a better deal anywhere else.  Not only was this set $25 cheaper than the next closest price competitor, but it also had 12 pieces instead of only 10.  Had I just bought the OXO set when I first wanted it, I would have wasted $25 and had a smaller set.
  6. Switch brands or buy generic.  Brand loyalty can be costly.  If you see a competitive brand on sale, give it a try.  Generic brands or store labels can also be huge cost savers.  Sometimes, it doesn’t really have to be a name brand to make a difference.  Table salt is salt is salt.  Why pay $1 more for it just because it has a cute picture on the front? However, be smart about it.  Don’t buy something you aren’t going to use.  If you really can’t stand the store brand soda, don’t buy it just because it’s cheaper.  If you don’t use it, you haven’t saved money.
  7. Try samples and freebies.  Blogs abound that link to companies offering samples.  I have tried new products I would not have tried by receiving free samples.  Sometimes, I have discovered that it was a product I didn’t enjoy and was glad I didn’t spend money on it in the store.  Other times, I have found a new product I adore and it was cheaper than my primary brand.  In both instances, I saved money.  Additionally, many samples come with money-saving coupons.
  8. Get on mailing lists.  Most major brands have websites now.  They frequently have an email list you can sign up for to be notified of new coupons.  Contact your favorite manufacturers and ask to be put on their email lists.  I do suggest setting up a new email address on a free email service like Hotmail or Gmail for this purpose to ensure that your emails from companies don’t overwhelm your personal inbox.
  9. Join store loyalty programs.   Store loyalty programs reward loyal shoppers with additional discounts not available to other shoppers.  Sometimes, it’s a discount on items you regularly use.  Sometimes, it’s free items.
  10. Use rebates and refunds.  There is nothing more satisfying than going shopping and actually earning money on purchases.  Yep.  I said “earning” money and “shopping” in the same sentence.  Here’s a scenario.  A well-known home fragrance company recently offered a refund to try a new scent for free.  I found it at the store and it was buy 1 get 1 free.  Lucky day.  I had a coupon for $2 off one.  They were $5 apiece normally.  So, normally, 2 of the new candles would have been about $10, but with the sale they were only $5.  With the addition of the $2 coupon, that brought them down to $3 for 2.  However, I had a refund to get one free.  I mailed that in and received the original cost back in a check for $5.  So, I actually ended up getting paid to buy 2 candles.  Yes, deals like that are unusual, but they are not rare.  Refunds and rebates can really shave dollars off of spending, especially when combined with coupons and sales.
  11. Plan your shopping trips.  Go through the weekly sales fliers and see who has the best deal on items.  Plan your shopping trips accordingly.  Some stores will match prices if you have the sales flier.  Make notes on which store has what price on each item, go to your favorite store that matches prices armed with your sales fliers and ask them to match the prices according to their store policy.  Most stores won’t match % off or buy 1 get 1 free, so plan on making trips to those stores to get those savings.  However, be sure to remember not to be pound foolish.  Do the math and make sure it’s worth the trip.
  12. Look for free and cheap alternatives to new. Use websites like FreeCycle.org to find household items and clothing in your area that people are giving away for free.  People frequently give away great used items.  Also check thrift stores and consignment shops.  I have four kids to keep in clothes.  They grow.  They damage clothing.  They seem to constantly need new clothes.  I can’t afford to buy them new every time.  FreeCycle and local consignment shops are great alternatives to new.
  13. Save for what you want.  Before you think of reaching for that credit card, think of the long term costs associated with revolving credit.  For example, you see a gotta-have-it item at your favorite store.  It costs $100.  Your credit card’s interest rate is 18% and the minimum payment is $15.  If you only make the minimum payment, that item will end up costing over $106.  In addition to those interest charges, many credit cards also have annual fees.  Not only would you have lost any savings from purchasing it at sale price, but it would likely cost you more than the original price.  Put aside a piggy bank and save for what you want.  Better yet, open a bank account just for that purpose so it also earns interest.  If you go shopping and save $15 with coupons, put that $15 into that bank account.

If you don’t have to use credit, don’t!

For more money saving tips, links to free items and coupons, be sure to visit Free N Clear.

 

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