We’re all looking for ways to save money

We are all (for the most part, across the board) in the same boat. No one has a money tree and even if you are pretty financially successful I can almost guarantee you didn’t get there by throwing away your money on frivolous purchases or spending mindlessly. We’re all looking for ways to save money – or at least we should be.

I personally love reading the “ways to save money” articles on pinterest because I have found (over and over again) USEFUL information in them, or at the very least, inspiration and resolve to spend more carefully and make my money go further.

And that is awesome.

So today I thought I would share a few things we’ve started doing over the past year that have saved us THOUSANDS. (Seriously, no exaggeration. I wish it were an exaggeration, because it’s frustrating to realize that if we had started doing these things earlier… well… literally thousands.)

Related: 3o Simple Ideas to Save Money and Live Frugally
Related: 10 things I quit buying to save money

Things we’ve been doing that’ve saved us thousands – this year alone

1 ) I made a quick phone call and asked nicely to pay less. I’m starting with this one because it blew my mind and it was so simple it almost made me laugh. We were paying $25/month for our landline phone, which we do need because we live rurally and cell reception can be spotty out here. I called up the phone company and asked them if they could do any better on the bill… and they said “Sure!” We now have a 10 dollar discount per month that expires after 6 months. Just gotta call and request it again when it expires.

Are there any companies you pay each month that could hit up for a discount?

Savings $10/ month = $120/ year

2 ) G (hubby) stopped buying lunch on the road. I know this is the # 1 suggestion everywhere you look, BUT our situation is a little unique in that G has a very restricted diet (not just gluten free, but GRAIN free, and limited even on things like raw fruit/veggies/dairy ect). We had to be very creative to make this work. Read here about how we finally won at cheap and healthy gluten free lunch on the road. 

Savings – (minimum) 7$/ day or $35/ week = $1750/ year

3 ) G started doing his own oil changes on his work truck. G realized that since he is on the road all day everyday, oil changes were quickly becoming an over the top expense. Necessary, but devastating all the same. Purchasing the supplies and DIYing saves us about 50 bucks every two months. (If you don’t know how… well, that’s what you-tube is for people.)

Think about services you pay for that you could do at home. Can you cut your kids hair, or do your own nails?

Savings – 50$/ two months = $300/ year 

4 ) I started meal planning and shopping only once per month. This is a BIG one. If you ignore every other suggestion on this list, this ONE thing has saved us countless $$$. When I took the time to look over our bank statements I saw the same thing over and over. Big bucks going out at Costco, Superstore, Walmart and Save-on-Foods.

Related: Meal Planning Made Easy

I now only go shopping once per month, and I pick up fresh veggies / fruit / coffee cream at a small local shop (with no other “fun” things to buy…) the rest of the month.

I still the spend big bucks when I’m in the big stores, but not any more than I ever did on a past visit. I think it boils down to being less tempted to spend because I am not in an environment where I can spend.

Removing the temptation (and opportunity) to “shop” solves half the problem. I have also become very aware, just by making this change, of what we have in the house, what we need in the house, and what we can do without all together.

The savings here are hard to calculate exactly, but I’d guess it’s somewhere in the neighborhood of $200 per month. (Totally not kidding, and I think I’m even being conservative.)

Savings – $200/ month = $2400/ year

5 ) I started putting ALL our expenses on ONE rewards credit card. Don’t misunderstand me here, we are absolutely not using credit. I buy the groceries, pay the bills ect with one credit card and then pay that card off from the bank account the same day. We are reaping the rewards from the credit card without doing any extra spending or borrowing money we don’t have. This year we used a travel rewards credit card and then used the rewards to pay for flights to Hawaii. (Flights we would have taken anyhow.)

Plus, we didn’t even use up all the “rewards” we had accumulated on the card. There’s more left over for the next holiday! I’m only including the savings we have already realized. 🙂

The card is not free, so the cost of the card has to be factored into what we saved. (If you are interested in learning more about how to save on travel with credit card rewards, read Travel Hacking for Beginners!)

Savings –  $950 (- $160.00 credit card fee) = $790.00/ year

6 ) I started using the Checkout 51 appIf you’ve been reading for a while, you’ll know that I am skeptical at best of coupons, apps, online surveys ect. I believe coupons are a great way for retailers to get you to spend money you wouldn’t have actually spent otherwise.

So I don’t generally like ’em. Checkout 51 is totally a coupon app. BUT it has the awesome redeeming quality of giving you “coupons” for things like “any strawberries”, or “milk”. You don’t need to buy a particular brand or amount of these things to be able to redeem these coupons! Which means sometimes I can save 50 cents just for buying celery. It’s like a “freebie”.

Not gonna make me rich, but I wouldn’t walk past two quarters on the street and not pick them up.

(Plus if you DO like coupons there is lots of other coupons available in the app. I absolutely do not use them to plan my shopping, but after I’m done shopping I scroll through it and if there’s something I can use, bonus! Get the Checkout 51 app here!)

Since I only use the “freebie” coupons, my savings has been smaller, but 40 bucks is still 40 bucks.

7 ) I started my flowers from seeds this year. I couldn’t let G have all the money saving fun! I’ve talked about doing this is the past but never actually gotten around to it. (And this year it happened because it was absolutely a joint venture between my mom and my gramma and myself). We saved seeds last year and got them all started in March. We put together our own planters for our decks rather than buying them at $20 – $60 apiece. (I still did buy a few plants, but nothing like usual.)

Savings – $300/ year (approx)

There are lots of other little ways that we save big bucks, but these are some pretty significant ways, so they got their own post 😉 What changes can you make to save money? Are there things you could be DIYing – like oil changes or bedding plants, that you’re paying a premium for? Could you pack a lunch? (Believe me, if sandwiches are an option for you… EMBRACE IT!)

Have you tried just asking for a lower bill?

7 tips for saving money - we saved $5000 in one year!