Thursday, February 9, 2017

Easy Ways to Save Money

Who doesn't like to save money?  It seems like it's everyone's New Year's Resolution every year to start saving more money.  It seems easy enough, but without making big lifestyle changes it can seem impossible and very intimidating!

For the past few years, I've started to make small adjustments in my life that don't seem to make a difference at first, but overtime can really save money.  I hope some of these tips will help all of you, and I hope you'll share more tips with me!


Buy in Bulk

A few months ago, I started to buy all of my nonperishable items in bulk and realized how much money I was saving.  I got a Sam's Club membership on Groupon, and every time we went I would calculate what the unit price was on common items we bought, and compare it to what we spent at regular stores.  Some items are WAY cheaper at a club (juice, tortilla wraps, canned foods, chips, and garbage bags are some of the biggest savings I've found).  Luckily at our house, we have space in our basement for shelving, so we bought a large storage rack and keep our bulk purchases down there.


If you don't have room for storage or don't want to get a membership at a club, you can still buy in bulk at a regular store.  I stopped buying canned beans and now buy dried beans in the bulk area at the store, and buy specialty spices that way as well.  This saves SO much money!  I store the dried beans in recycled plastic containers for a no-cost storage solution.




Join the Library

I know that I've mentioned this before, but joining the library and signing up for Overdrive has completely changed my life!  I stopped reading for a while after college, but if I was interested in a book I would purchase it.  Since books aren't exactly cheap, I wasn't reading much because I didn't want to spend the money.  After I signed up for the library, I started reading so much more, and can find any book that I want in the Overdrive app.  I get these sent directly to my Kindle, so I can read on the bus during my commute.

I also try new cookbooks this way.  I recently did this with the Eat Slow, Run Fast cookbook, and loved the fact that I could try out a few recipes but wasn't locked into buying the book.  There are some cookbooks that I just want to try out, but don't really want to buy and this is a great way to "test drive" it!



Find employee discounts

I've recently discovered a lot of small ways that I get discounts at work, and it's made a big difference overall.  One thing that most companies (at least larger ones) do is a commuter benefit.  At my company, I get a credit card which is filled once a month via direct deposit of my pre-tax paycheck.  This means that I'm saving about $100 a year in taxes for my commuting.

There are other small discounts that I get through work and I found out about just by asking around at work.  I save money on my gym membership, phone bill, and travel if I book through my work's website.  There are lot of stores that offer random discounts, so it never hurts to ask!



Reduce Utility Bills

There are so many ways that you can save money on your utility bill.  These savings might seem small at the time, but they really add up (and help you be more environmentally friendly)!   Here are some of my favorite tips:


-Unplug surge protectors at night and when going to work.  Even if nothing is plugged in or you aren't using something that is plugged in, it's still using energy!

-Shower at the gym.  I go to the gym pretty much every morning, even if I have an off day, just to use their showers.  This saves me a ton of water that I would use at home, and gives me an incentive to work out before work!  My gym also provides soap and shampoo, so I'm using a lot less products at home which saves even more money.

-Turn down the furnace and AC.  You don't have to turn it down to a frigid temperature or sweat all summer long, but think about turning it up or down a few degrees and you'll see the savings add up!




Make It Yourself

Lately, I've discovered the power (and money savings) involved with making something yourself.  This can cover so many areas of your life, from cooking to skin care products to cleaning products.  Pinterest is one of my biggest avenues for finding ideas..you can seriously find a recipe or idea for anything on there!  

One of my recent favorite things to make myself is vegetable stock.  It can be expensive and annoying to buy stock at the store.  If I want to make soup or use it to thin out a recipe, I have to run to the store and end up spending a few dollars on a single can of good stock.  Now, I make my own and it couldn't be easier.  I keep a bag in my freezer, and throw in all my veggie scraps in there.  Anytime I make a dish and have peels, ends of carrots, beet greens (basically anything) I throw it in the bag.  Once it's full, I just add it to a pot filled with water and boil it for two hours.  Homemade veggie stock for pretty much $0!  This is also a great way to use veggies that are about to go bad, and I don't feel like they're going to waste.  After I'm done making the stock, I just throw the vegetable scraps in my compost pile!



Simplify Your Makeup Routine

Before we moved, I had a pretty intense makeup routine.  Every morning I would put on primer, foundation, concealer, powder, blush, highlighter, bronzer, eye shadow, eyeliner, mascara, lip liner, lipstick, lip gloss, and setting spray (PHEW!).  It's not secret that makeup is expensive, even if you buy drugstore products, so using that much makeup was not cheap at all.  Putting that many products on my face also made me break out all the time, so it was pretty much adding insult to injury.

When Dan and I got married in Belize, I didn't bring any makeup products with me and let my skin breathe for the week we were there.  My skin instantly cleared up, and I haven't used foundation since.  Now, my makeup routine is much simpler- cream shadow, mascara, and lip balm.  Not only is this better for my skin, but it's also SO much cheaper!



Go Vegan (or try eating plant-based)

I have to mention this, because going vegan has saved me so much money.  I look back at my grocery bills from the past year, and I can see a dramatic difference ever since I switched my diet.  The majority of my diet is full of basic, inexpensive ingredients (beans, potatoes, grains, fresh vegetables).  People that think a vegan diet is expensive are mostly looking at the specialty products found at Whole Foods- think of the pretty packages with all the buzz words on them.  These foods aren't necessary for a delicious and healthy diet, so if you want to stick to a low grocery bill just keep it simple!  If you are interested in finding cheap and vegan meals, check out one of my favorite subreddits.  You don't have to go all out to reap the benefits- just adding more plant-based meals into your weekly meal plan and you'll start seeing the savings :)



I hope you liked my tips for saving money!  I've written a few other posts on this subject, so if you're looking for even more ways to save money, check out six tips here, and how to save money at the grocery store.

What are your money-saving tips?
Where do you do most of your shopping?  I'm an Aldi's girl now!

linking up with Amanda

33 comments:

  1. Such great tips! I've always wanted to do the buy in bulk thing, but we don't even have enough room for the regular amount (8 rolls or whatever) of paper towels... yeah....

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  2. Vegan meals are so much cheaper! And I totally agree that buying in bulk does really help; we have a Sam's Club and Costco membership, and things like eggs, almond milk, etc... are a lot cheaper there!

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  3. Love these tips! I'm going to consider some! :)

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  4. You shop at Aldi!!!! We love Aldi!!! That may be the biggest tip of all that I could give someone to save money.

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  5. Yessss! I totally agree on the makeup routine. I use more products than you do, but there are lots of products I *don't* use. For example, I put primer on half my face and never saw a difference, so I don't use it, even though it's a "must" for most people.

    I've also had great luck with Target's Cartwheel app. Yesterday I used it to get avocados for 35 cents each! Another big area where buying in bulk makes a HUGE difference: spices!! At my grocery store they have jars where you can just shake as much spice as you want into a bag. This way, you don't have to buy 10 years' worth of oregano like you would at Sam's, but it's a fraction of the price of buying one of those glass bottles. We go through a lot of spices so it really adds up!

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    1. Cartwheel is seriously amazing, but then again I also buy stuff I normally wouldn't just because it's on sale :-/ If I had better self control it would be great!

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  6. Great tips--I always enjoy your budget and money posts! Showering at the gym is a great idea. I very much agree with the make it yourself mentality--such a money saver! Also, when you do enjoy food out it feels a lot more special!

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    1. That's so true. It seems like more of a treat when you don't do it every day.

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  7. You know I love me some Aldi - so glad you finally saw the light! Haha

    I would be all for eating more meatless meals - but Mr. Sass would lose it. He's like a detective, if I try to use less meat in a meal, or soup or casserole or whatever, he's super sleuth trying to figure out how much I put in. -__-

    I don't purposely shower at the gym, and would never go out of my way to do so, but that's just sort of how it works out. I shower at home maybe once or twice a week.

    And our thermostat is at 65 for the winter. It was 64, but we agreed YOLO, so we kicked it up a notch. Haha.

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    1. I was so surprised when Dan went vegan and actually stuck to it. He used to be a meat-aholic and he's been loving what I'm making lately!

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  8. I love buying in bulk too, costco is my fav place ever! And such a good idea to eat more plant based! I have to do that more often to save money, thanks for the tips :)

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  9. I've always admired your spending habits! Your makeup routine reminded me that I meant to tell you that your winged eyeliner from Instagram stories the other day was PERFECT. It looked amazing! I need you to do mine!

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    1. Thank you!! I was so proud of myself and I got so many compliments on my makeup which never happens.

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  10. I love the veggie stock suggestion! I've heard that homemade chicken stock is so much more delicious than store-bought but it's also more expensive to make! But, the veggie stock idea is great - I can't wait to try it.

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    1. It's seriously SO easy and quick, and tastes delicious!

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  11. We've been debating a Cosco membership (by that I mean I've been trying to convince my husband it's worth it, haha), but it seems like you guys saved a lot on a few things with Sam's Club! The library has definitely saved me so much money, I never think to search for cookbooks, which is such a good idea though!

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    1. It's worth it for us, but I'm sure everyone is different!

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  12. I have to admit I got wide-eyed at your description of your previous makeup routine. Holy moly, girl! I hardly ever wear makeup anymore (I should, because I have awful sallow skin and look like a zombie this time of year), because I'm lazy, but you're right that even the cheap drugstore stuff gets so pricey!

    It sounds like a truism, but I still maintain the best way to save money is to not buy crap you don't need. I'm amazed at how easily people talk themselves into buying something they wouldn't have thought twice about just because it's BOGO free or something. You are not "saving" money if you wouldn't have bought the item in the first place! You'll save even more by just not buying it at all!

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    1. yeah...it was a lot. I was watching a lot of Youtube videos at the time so it seemed normal! There were definitely days where I skipped a lot of the steps, and for the most part it was just relaxing and fun for me to go through that process.

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  13. I had no idea about the veggie stock thing, did you find that on Pinterest?

    I did sign up for Overdrive at my library because I wanted to download audio books. Turns out they don't have a large selection.

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    1. It was in one of my cookbooks :) I wonder if my library uses a different version of Overdrive because every book that I rent also has an audio book version!

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  14. What a great post Gretchen. You have so many good ideas you'll be rich in no time. Hugs, mama

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  15. These are great tips. The gym shower is a great idea. I don't go to a gym, but if I did I would totally do that! :) I love eating veggie, but I haven't been to congnicent of it in the past few years. I hope to find some new favorite veggie recipes to incorporate into our menu plans this year. It really does make a different budget and health wise. :) XO - Alexandra

    Simply Alexandra: My Favorite Things

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  16. One of my biggest money saving tips is to shop the sales. The only thing I tend not to buy on sale is fruit and vegetables - but even then I shop seasonally so it tends to be cheaper anyway!

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    1. Definitely! I like to stock up on something if it's on sale.

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  17. i got my first cookbook from the library last week after you gave me the idea. can't wait to use it. and seriously, using the library for actually reading has saved me so much money it is kind of embarrassing. lol. i wear very little makeup during the week, mainly because i am lazy and want something quick and easy, but also because my skin freaks out if i wear too much too often, so i save the big makeup for the big nights out or whatever. bulk buying has saved us a ton of money as well! i keep meaning to make the switch to dried beans, i really should.. though canned are just SO convenient. one day!

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