The premiere this past April of TLC’s “Extreme Couponing” has everyone watching their wallets. After seeing moms pay $6 for $600 worth of groceries, who wouldn’t want to try? One mom even received a $150 gift card from the store because she had so many coupons that covered more than the cost of her groceries (think: a $1-off coupon for a product that’s already on sale for 50 cents).
Going door to door collecting neighbor’s coupons may not be ideal for everyone, especially in a competitive world where all of your neighbors are trying to save money, too. If you’re living in a big city and don’t ever see the neighbors in your apartment building, then you’re even less likely to go begging for coupons. So, here are some tips for saving money without having to coupon like a suburban mom.
Be sure to save those random ads that come in the mail from various stores. A couple of them will likely have good deals on essentials that you can stock up on, like toilet paper and cleaning supplies. Also, if you’ve got roommates that read the newspaper but ditch the ads, grab ‘em before they get thrown on. They’re loaded with coupons.
The one thing you should be careful of is not spending money on things you don’t need. Just because there is a coupon for $1 off of some super expensive frozen pizza doesn’t mean it’s a good deal. There are plenty of other options that are already less expensive and don’t require a coupon
The key here is paying for what you really need. It only takes a few minutes to pop into an AT&T or Verizon store to ask about your cell phone plan and if there may be a better option. If you’re still hanging on to a family plan, then this might not be a big concern, but saving your parents some money now may mean they’ll return the favor with something else in the future.
Also, when it comes to iPads, iPods, and more, don’t overdo it. If you have an iPhone, then you don’t need an MP3 player or iPod. If you have a laptop, then do you really need an iPad? If it’s just a convenience thing, then don’t do it. When you’re dealing with expensive toys, buy on an absolutely as-need basis, and be sure to sell older products when you’re upgrading. (Side note: Did you know that when you take your old iPod to the Apple store, you receive a credit towards a new one? Awesome.)
We all know that alcohol is expensive. Even if you’re long graduated from college, chase specials. When you do that, more friends and coworkers are likely to follow.
When your friend receives a promotion or a new job, your first though may be “Shots for everyone!” But don’t go there. Instead, buy your friend a congratulatory drink or two, but don’t advertise to the whole bar that drinks are on you.
Last but not least, and you’ve probably heard this (and tried it) many times before, don’t take that much money out with you at night and don’t open a tab. Planning for those few beers and late night slice of pizza won’t seem like such a hassle when it means you’re keeping money in the bank.
The obvious one here is to use RentShare to split rent and other expenses online. When you’re living with others and on a budget, the last thing you want to do is keep track of who owes who exactly how much money and later learning you’ve overpaid your share. With RentShare, everything is calculated for you, and everyone can see who owes what when, so you won’t be paying any extra money and can budget accordingly.
Make sure you’re not spending any more money than you have to with your bank. Chances are you can find either a national bank or local credit union where you can open free checking and savings accounts. Many times, you’ll need to have a certain amount of money saved with that particular bank to alleviate other costs (like for debit cards, etc.), but that’s just an even bigger incentive to keep saving.
Additionally, do your absolute best to pay everything on time. It may suck to have a little less spending money here and there, but this way you’re not spending any more money than you have to. With how high interest rates can be today, it’s important to avoid throwing that money into a giant black hole.