It is no secret that one of the top New Year’s resolutions is to save money. Sure, we all would like to spend less and save more, but it is much easier said than done. I have compiled a list of 20 random ways to save money in the new year — without drastically changing your day-to-day activities.
1. Take advantage of cheap grocery deals. It is no secret that I love unexpected grocery deals. (Who can forget when Walmart honored Publix’s BOGOs?!) A few years ago I wrote a post about discovering the wonderful world of cheap meat. While the cheap meat discoveries are not consistent, there are many meat deals that are in Jax. A few of our favorites are: Earth Fare’s $5 Rotisserie chickens on Mondays, Fresh Market’s $2.99/lb ground chuck and chicken breasts on Tuesdays, Local butchers like Carroll’s Meat Shoppe on the Westside have a monthly calendar of deals, just to name a few!
2. Commit to a no-spending day (or week)! The internet is full of stories about people attempting a no-spend week or month. I say start slow by picking one day a week. Commit to not buying that Starbucks or fancy $15 lunch. Have leftovers (or do a clean-out-the-freezer night) for dinner. Don’t give in to those sale emails from your favorite retailer. You will be surprised how much money you save over time by starting with one day a week without spending. Read more about this idea here.
3. Get to know your Kid’s Eat Free restaurants. Parents would be surprised how many Kids Eat Free places there are in Jax- and not just for dinner! For instance, did you realize there are Kids Eat Free breakfast spots, as well? One of my favorite places, Jax Beach Brunch Haus, offers Kids Eat Free Monday through Thursday for breakfast or lunch. Keep that in mind the next time your playgroup meets up after the park!
4. Fill your car up with gas at the same place. This might sound simple enough, but for some people, it is difficult to anticipate when we will need to fill up. When you commit to a gas station (or gas station brand for that matter) you will earn rewards faster and more consistently. Before you know it, you will have an app full of gas, drink and snack coupons. (Looking for a gas station loyalty program? I love RaceTrac!)
5. Take advantage of Taco Tuesdays. Let’s face it, no one can resist a taco. What makes them even more appealing is when they are cheap! We love Tijuana Flat’s Tuesday deal: Two (big!) tacos, chips and a drink for $5.99. Taco Libre and Salsa’s Mexican, along with many other local Mexican restaurants have Tuesday specials.
6. Visit the dry cleaners on Ladies’ Day. This may not be a big savings to everyone, but my hubby wears dress pants and shirts every day. The dry cleaning bill adds up, so I try to visit on Ladies’ Day, when it is 20% off. Usually, Ladies’ Day specials are posted on the dry cleaner’s front door, but make sure you ask them to confirm.
7. Cancel any non-essential subscriptions. True story, my husband had a monthly subscription to Apple Music and Pandora. That is $20/month or ($240/year)! The best part, he didn’t even realize he had these subscriptions! It is easy to find (and cancel) Apple subscriptions. From your iPhone, go the App Store, click on your face on the top right of the screen, then subscriptions, and from here you can view (and cancel) your superfluous subscriptions.
8. Skip the grocery delivery service, use (free) store pickup instead! I will admit that when a certain grocery delivery service came on the scene a few years ago, I eagerly signed up. It really came in handy when I was unable to leave the house (flu season, anyone?), but I discovered that I wasn’t saving any money. When Target began their Drive-Up services, I jumped at the chance to try it. And now I am addicted. No additional cost, no tipping, and most orders are ready within the hour! (Walmart offers a similar service as well.)
9. Take those receipt surveys! It is tempting to toss those receipts after we get them. I mean, do we really need to revisit our Chick-fil-A order? No, probably not. But when that receipt has a coupon on it for a free chicken sandwich, keep it! Usually, the surveys on our retail and dining receipts take only a few minutes to fill out but can yield percent-off coupons, free appetizers, and yes, free chicken sandwiches.
10. Don’t buy gift cards just anywhere! Do you need to pick up a gift card? Don’t do it just anywhere! If you are a member of Costco or BJs, buy discounted gift cards there. Or, if you are a Winn-Dixie shopper, earn 3x the SE Grocer rewards when buying gift cards there. Or, check out Target’s selection of gift cards. When using your RedCard, you save 5% on your purchase.
11. Skip the sodas when dining out. (Ordering fast food takeout? Skip the drink altogether.) This is one of my favorite money-saving tips. Restaurants have slowly raised the price of tea and soda over the last 10 years. Drinks seemed to be $.99 cents forever — but now, most restaurants charge anywhere from $1.99 to $2.99 for a drink. For a family of four, that could be as much as $11+. Commit to drinking water at dinner. Don’t completely deprive yourself — maybe start small by challenging yourself to drink water the next three times you dine out. You’ll be surprised how much you can save.
12. Learn the BOGO cycle of your favorite grocery stores. Believe it or not, my husband is the one who got me started in what I would call “Extreme Couponing.” When he was Mr. Mom when our kids were little, he would study the sale ads and scour the internet for coupons. He got very familiar with Publix’s BOGO (buy one, get one free) cycle. What are you talking about, Jessica?! Publix seemed to rotate the BOGO items in a 4-6 week cycle, meaning (for example): Honey Nut Cheerios would be BOGO starting the week of January 30th, so they would not be BOGO again until at least March 5th. Learning this cycle meant we could stock up on the items we know we will always need and will not spoil. This kept us from paying full price for the items we needed. I didn’t have to buy like a dooms-day prepper, because I knew I would see it on sale again in 4-6 weeks.
13. Save money (and time!) by using dry shampoo. (You had to guess I would include this one!) I have sung the praises of dry shampoo for years now. Don’t know how to get started? Check out my blog post here. Think dry shampoo is too expensive? My current favorite is OGX Refresh & Restore + Coconut Miracle Oil Dry Shampoo for under $7!
14. Invest in a few veggie saver containers. I know, this post is about saving money, not spending money. But, if one of your resolutions is to eat healthier, chances are that involves buying fresh fruits and vegetables. I’m so frustrated when I buy lettuce and raspberries, only for them to last only a few days. Throwing them away is painful because it is throwing away money! That’s why I opted for a set of food-saving containers.
15. Buying on Amazon? Delay the shipping, and earn credits! I used this a lot during the holidays. If I was ordering a present for under the tree, I didn’t need it overnight on December 10. I opted for the no-rush shipping option. I can use the digital credits I earned on eBooks, digital music, videos, and apps. Also, if you ever have a shipment where Amazon guarantees a delivery date and the package arrives late, be sure to contact them (it is easy to do an online or in-app chat). Many times, they will extend the length of your Prime membership by a month for your troubles. SCORE!
16. Compare prices online while shopping in the store and price match! This is one of my favorite hobbies (LOL, I wish I was kidding but I am serious). You would be very surprised with the difference in price for items online vs. in the same store. Most stores price match, but I love Target for this — their app is so very easy to use! I hand my smartphone to my 11-year-old and have her scan the items in my cart. If an item shows up less expensive in the app, Target will honor that price, right at the register! For instance, we bought protein powder that was on the shelf for $19.99 but $15.99 on the app. I showed the associate at self-checkout and POOF I only paid $15.99. I saved $4 for about 60 seconds of research. (I call that a win-win!)
17. Signup for free Shutterfly and Tiny Prints accounts and say hello to the freebies! This is the easiest trick because the deals come straight to your email when you sign up for a free Shutterfly and Tiny Prints account. Every few months, freebies will show up in your inbox! I’ve created so many stationery cards, personalized books, Christmas ornaments and more while just paying for shipping. Did you get a deal for 10 free cards? Think outside the box! Many designs can be personalized into blank or cards with just a person’s name listed (think creative Valentine’s cards, teachers’ gifts — the possibilities are endless!) I love making 20-page, 8×8 books on Shutterfly. These make great year-end gifts for teachers, ABC books for children — I could go on and on! Here’s a link to a free Shutterfly book. (Jess Pro-Tip: Register more than one email with Shutterfly, as sometimes their freebie offers are different, so this way, you can pick your favorite.)
18. Use your library card to rent free movies, ebooks, and videos online. If you have a Jax Library card, then you have access to tons of online content! Just visit this link to browse the Jacksonville Public Library’s e-content providers. Hoopla is my current favorite. Download the Hoopla app and link it to your library card and that’s it! Start enjoying FREE content. I love this for book clubs — so much more affordable than purchasing on Amazon. One of my New Year’s resolutions is to read more, but I am in the car for hours a day. I stream one of my Hoopla audiobooks through my van’s Bluetooth and I can “read” a book in a few days!
19. Keep your electric bill down with these money-saving hacks. Vampire power is the electricity consumed by an electronic device while it is turned off or in standby mode, so go ahead and unplug your toaster, phone chargers, printers and more. They are using electricity, even when not “on.” Also, toss a tennis ball into the dryer to speed up drying your clothes — trust me, it works! Check out JEA’s website for more simple ways to save on your energy bill.
20. And finally, unsubscribe. This is the solution to two common New Year’s resolutions: de-cluttering and saving money. I am so tempted to click on an email promising a deeply discounted item, even if I don’t really need it. Go ahead and remove the temptation and unsubscribe. What’s the worst that could happen? You can miss a sale. I promise you it will come back around. And, you can always subscribe again! Take a few minutes while lying in bed tonight and unsubscribe away.
(21. BONUS MONEY SAVING TIP: Get your Publix Sub with toppings on the side. Now I had heard of this before, but tonight I actually witnessed someone doing this very thing. He placed his order and had the delightful Publix employee put all the toppings in a bag. His bread was plain and in a separate bag. What a genius idea- especially if you aren’t planning on eating your sub all at once. You receive the same amount (if not more) toppings. Save money by having two meals instead of one- and no soggy bread. As if we could love Publix anymore than we already do…)