I hate spending money on boring adult things that I don’t care much about. Like seriously, I hate it. When it comes to shopping, my motto is basically “splurge on the things you care about and waste as little money as possible on everything else”. I’m definitely not one of those people you see on Extreme Cheapskates who reuses greeting cards and cuts their old clothes into strips for toilet paper, but I would definitely much rather spend my money on craft supplies, running gear, and musical instruments than on things I’m not actually buying to enjoy. That’s why I’ve compiled a list of five of my favorite ways to not waste money on things, complete with the pros and cons of each one.
Ibotta is an app that allows users to earn cash back off of their recent purchases by submitting rebates from grocery and personal care items. For mobile shoppers, it’s also a way to earn a percentage of cash back for online purchases from online retailers. Once you’ve earned at least $20, you can select a gift card to one of several stores, or have the money deposited directly into your PayPal or Venmo account. Usually I use this as a way to treat myself to things that I don’t need like fancy coffee drinks and Japanese face masks and prestige makeup.
Pros: It’s simple to use and there are a lot of opportunities to earn cash back. Most of the items that qualify for a rebate are often products that you might be purchasing anyway such as produce, cereal, juice, frozen dinners, alcohol, household items, and more. You can also earn cash by referring your friends to Ibotta, and there are often “bonuses” that can allow you to increase your earnings. Additionally, if you join through a referral link and/or invite friends to join, it’s easier to unlock some of the bonuses. To claim a rebate or a bonus, all you have to do is select the offers you’re interested in either before or during your shopping trip, then either link the app to your store loyalty card, or upload a photo of your receipt.
Cons: If you’re too lazy to look for rebates before or during your shopping trip, or to do your online shopping through the cash back links, you’ll probably get bored and stop using it.
If you’re interested in Ibotta and want to get some bonus cash just for signing up, click here. You’ll get a bonus for signing up through this link, and I’ll get a bonus for referring you.
Coupons, Sales, and Rewards, Oh My!
There are a lot of good blogs out there, but my all-time favorite blog about saving money is The Krazy Coupon Lady. Any idiot knows you can shop the sale racks to get “good deals”, but this lady knows so much more. Not only does she have a ton of helpful shopping tips, she also posts regularly about ways to combine store loyalty rewards, coupons, sales, rebates, and more in order to get the best deals on almost anything.
Pros: If you never want to have to pay full price for items you might need but don’t really care all that much about, this is a great way to not waste your hard earned cash.
Cons: You have to be willing to make the effort to clip coupons, shop the sales, and sometimes plan your shopping trips like a real adult. But hey, at least you’ll have something better to do in the bathroom than scrolling through political rants and pictures of peoples’ feet in the sand, right?
Mom and pop shops often have a reputation for being more expensive than larger chain stores, but that isn’t always the case. A few weeks ago, after realizing that my old running shoes were giving me blisters on my long runs, I headed over to my local brick and mortar running shop to get fitted for a new pair and actually got new shoes for $12 cheaper than I would have spent online. While it’s true that prices aren’t always lower at smaller stores, sometimes you might be surprised.
When it comes to produce, it’s always a good idea to take quality and freshness into consideration. There’s nothing more annoying than buying a bunch of fruits and vegetables that go unused, either because they never ripened properly or because you were pretty much only limited to items that were on the cusp of rotting to begin with. Even though some items might cost a little bit more, sometimes it’s worth shopping your local farmer’s market and supporting local farmers. You’re not really saving any money if you don’t eat what you buy, are you?
Pros: Smaller shops sometimes have unique or specialty items that you can’t always find at chain stores. Also, a more limited selection sometimes means you won’t be tempted to buy as many random items that you don’t actually need.
Cons: Sometimes selection is limited, and your purchases don’t always qualify for rebates or loyalty rewards programs.
Buy Used Stuff
This one is probably a no-brainer, but resale shops, garage sales, and estate sales can be a treasure trove of great finds. If you’re into antiques and vintage clothing like I am, then you’ve probably set foot in these types of places a time or two. Sure, you might have to dig through a bunch of stupid baby clothes, stacks of VHS tapes, and a rack of reindeer printed turtlenecks to get to anything good, but who knows, it just might be your lucky day!
Pros: You can find designer items, unique vintage pieces, and even expensive household items like tools for a small fraction of the price you would normally pay.
Cons: If the thought of owning other people’s stuff creeps you out, this option probably isn’t for you. Also, the selection is pretty much limited to the things other people are getting rid of, so thrifting is kind of like picking your nose: you kind of have to be willing to dig a little if you want to find any of the treasures.
Cash Back Programs
There are various websites, apps, and services that offer cash back rewards on purchases that you make. These types of programs often use special links that allow them to earn a commission for “refering” you, then pass on some of the savings to you. Some credit cards (for example Discover Card) also have cash back programs that allow you to earn a percentage back on certain types of purchases throughout the year.
Pros: If you’re making relatively big purchases, it can be pretty easy to rack up rewards.
Cons: If you want to earn anything you’re pretty much limited to the stores the site/app/credit card is affiliated with. Also, you have to remember to shop through their special link.
What are your favorite ways to save money?