If you’re anything like me, you’re looking for a way to save a buck and stay on budget in the midst of the tight college and post-college lifestyle. It seems like life costs more than the resources we have to pay for it. However, over the past few months, I have discovered 5 ways to save money without grand amounts of effort. You may be thinking…really? Just 5?
I’ve read article after article with “50 Ways” to save money or “76 Surefire Methods” of making money on the side. And most of them don’t work. So here are my meager…yet effective suggestions for how to save.
It may sound old-fashioned, but I have found couponing to be one of the best ways to save money. Especially as a college or post-college student, we don’t have a lot of extra expenses. It is important to cut down on the few areas we can. Grocery shopping is one of those areas. I have discovered a few different ways to obtain coupons.
- Newspapers—Although I don’t subscribe to any newspapers myself (they cost money), my wonderful mother-in-law always saves her extra coupons for me to go through. The first week I used coupons I got from her, I saved $15 on a $75 purchase at Walmart. I was thrilled! Not every time will be that successful, but regardless of the amount, it’s money in the bank as long as you use them on products you would have bought anyways. Don’t fall into the trap of buying extra things just because you have a discount. Once you have the coupons, it’s handy to buy clear coupon sheets to display and keep track of what you have. I have done this and love it!
- Ibotta and Coupons.com—Both of these online resources are a great way to coupon electronically. They are pretty simple to use, and FREE! You add the “offer” or coupon to your account, scan the receipt, and reap the rewards. If you sign up for Ibotta using a referral code, you get a $10 bonus if you make $10 in the first month you have your account (which really isn’t that hard to do). Click this link and use my referral code to get the bonus: wapslls.
- Random offers—I have found it worth my time to google coupons or special offers for sites I’m ordering from online before I press “purchase.” You would be surprised how many times you can find a coupon to save you money. For example, I always look for coupon codes for my Walgreens Photo and Vistaprint orders. There are very few times I haven’t been able to get a discount that way. You can even get add-ons to your internet that pull up better offers and coupons automatically. Honey and Wikibuy are popular ones that I’ve used. One last note about special offers I will mention is about Walmart Pick-Up. Walmart offers customers $10 off their first three orders above $50 for their new Pick-Up. The incentive is to get you to use the new program (which I have nothing but great things to say about) AND you get $10 off groceries! It’s definitely worth using. The code is TRIPLE10.
Sell Unwanted Items
It has increasingly become a fad to sell old clothes or video games or jewelry or even household items for a profit. After all, what good are they doing sitting in your closet taking up space? These strategies require patience and learning to know what sells and doesn’t sell and how to list items, but if you have the time and energy to do so, I highly recommend this as a strategy to save money! There are so many different ways you can do this.
- eBay—Perhaps one of the most prominent and widely successful personal selling websites is eBay. It’s free to create an account and you get 10 listings a month for a personal account. Although eBay does take a portion of the profit, they expose you to a vast number of buyers from all over the world. I recently used eBay more rigorously to sell my husband’s old video games. Within the first few weeks, we had already made $87. It does take time and it’s not always successful, but it’s worth a shot for extra spending money.
- Poshmark—There are so many apps and websites where you can sell like-new or used clothing, but Poshmark is one I’ve had personal experience with. It was easy to use, easy to list, easy to sell, and I enjoyed seeing items purchased and money received. I invested time into my Poshmark account over Christmas break one year and recall making shy of $100. It may not seem like much, but each strategy adds up over time.
- Facebook Marketplace—Facebook has revolutionized the way we interact socially and now has transformed the way we sell on the web. It’s easy to create a listing and share it to Facebook where it has access to the people in your community. Although I haven’t personally used it, there is great power in using a global social networking system to sell goods.
Obtain a cash-back credit card and pay your bill on time.
This strategy comes with a couple disclaimers. First, I understand that not everyone has a credit card or is in favor of using credit cards. Second, you may disagree with my strategy or thoughts completely. I simply wanted to share the benefits I’ve reaped from using my credit card over the past year.
- Cash-Back Rewards—Before I got my Discover cash-back student card last year, I had a credit card through my bank to build credit. It had no benefits. After researching several options of companies I could get a card through as a student with little “credit” experience, I decided Discover was the right choice for me. I signed up using a friend’s referral code, which gave me $50 cashback automatically. Since then, I’ve racked up much more in cash-back rewards for good grades ($20 each semester), and all of it is matched at the end of my first year. If you do the math, even as a student who only spends $1,000 on their card for the entire first year, they get $100 in Cash-Back rewards in the first year. Double it for the Cash-Back Match and they’ve just pocketed $200. Oh, and did I mention that having a credit card will also build your credit score? How’s that for a saving tip? My husband and I both highly recommend Discover. Click this link to use our referral to sign up and get $50 Cash Back today!
- Pay Your Bill On Time—Maybe I’m naïve to think everyone knows to pay their credit card bill on time, but I’ve now heard too many college students pay only the “minimum payment,” not knowing that they’re forking over more in interest than all these saving techniques could earn them combined! If you are not responsible to pay your bill on time every month (or don’t have the funds to do so), don’t get a credit card. Credit cards have ruined many lives because of that. However, there is a way you can help avoid the pains of interest and instead reap the benefits of Cash-Back: automatic payment. Yes, you can hook your bank account up directly with your credit card so that you don’t have to worry about paying it on time. But don’t forget to keep the appropriate amount of money in the account it will be coming from.
This point may seem superfluous to all the other important techniques, but shopping secondhand, especially for clothing and home items, is ALWAYS a great way to save money. See my article 10 Tips For Decorating On A Budget for more information about how to do this for your dream home. Research your local Goodwill, thrift stores, consignment stores, or yard sales to satisfy both your shopping desires and your pocketbook.
Better yet, don’t shop at all!
All of this advice is helpful, but no advice is more helpful than contentment. Wherever and whenever you can, cut back, hold off, don’t spend. Most of the time, we can make do without the things we buy. I only hope that this advice can assist in the areas that are most vital.
Saving money is a journey that will never end, but we must never let the endeavor consume us. We “save” as an effort towards stewarding the time, energy, and resources God has given us. In prayerfully considering how God wants you to display contentment, generosity, and frugality, I hope these techniques will be helpful to you as they have been to me.