Finding more money to add to your budget for necessary self-care time like going to the gym, a dance class, activity, or simply getting an ice cream with the family one day a month can be freeing. But how do you do it? I have a few not-so-secret tips to how I add new things in my budget when needed (because something always comes up) that have been super helpful. Scroll down to discover a few money savers that will work for you!
1. Coupon Apps
The savings found in coupon apps alone is so important that I've written a post about some of the top ones I use. Click here to read 6 Shopping Apps That Save a Ton. Theses apps include both store loyalty savings with percentage discounts and apps that reward you in cash for certain purchases. Depending on what you purchase, you can save a chunk in your grocery or general bill by checking your shopping list with these apps first and remembering to use them in-store.
2. The Other BYOB
Bring your own bags, everywhere. Some stores, like Target and Whole Foods, will take 5 cents off your bill for each bag you bring, so it helps to offset the charges for buying beverages.
3. Selling Stuff
Find a local buy/sell/trade group on Facebook and list the baby/kids items that your family doesn't need or hasn't used in a long while. Sometimes kids items move faster when you take them to a local consignment store, but you don't get as much money in return, so try option one for a week then take what you can to a consignment or antique shop (some give you instant cash for worth, others pay you monthly after items sell). Alternative number three? Donate the items and use the write off in your taxes.
4. Cash Back Sites
I've written about using cash back sites before, and you might think this couldn't save much but it does! Whenever I'm about to buy a Groupon or anything online at all I go to ebates.com (referral link) first. Through this website I saved money on airfare to Kaua'i last August and got $200 back. Before I make a purchase on Amazon, Target or Groupon's website I always go here first to get some money back (and save even more when I combine this with a Groupon discount code of the day).
Whether it's from the newspaper or online, coupons help! If I'm shopping online I do a search for a coupon code before checking out, and if I'm headed to Target I print out their online coupons before I go to combine with the Cartwheel app and any mobile coupons I may have.
If you're really great at meal prep but not so much at fixing drains and you know someone who is a plummer that could use some meal prep in their life, trade services! Whether you're a business or individual the old barter system can come in handy and save some dough. Most of the advertising on my other more local family website is barter work, which has allowed me to afford getting my daughter horse riding and swim lessons when my monthly budget didn't allow for it. Yes, the cash itself would be great, but it's better to have the opportunity than none at all. A lot of people would rather trade than pay out of pocket.
Check out the clearance section any time your at the store to see if there's an item that might be great for someone's birthday or holiday gift then store it. This will save you the expense of a full-price gift and the frazzle that comes with realizing you may not have a gift for someone yet. Just try to keep it to two bins of gifts because it can become an added expense and take over a lot of space if you're not careful.
8. Rewards Programs
Depending on what you're into, there's probably a rewards program that offers either a deeper discount, freebie or money back as a thank you for your loyalty. I'm signed up with several restaurants and stores for birthday rewards (post coming soon), and also get free treats for using my Starbucks gold card, or any of my store rewards cards.
9. Mystery Shops
Becoming a mystery shopper is a great thing for going out to eat at a restaurant or picking up something new from a department store every once in a while. You get to pick which shops you apply for and they aren't too time consuming. They don't always pay much at all, but do compensate for whatever you need to buy.
How do you stretch your monthly budget? Share your tips in the comments below! (No links, please.) For ways to find the time to add your new hobby to your day, check out 4 Secrets to Making Time to De-Stress Before You Combust.