The new year is the time to think about strategies for saving money.

Many people stress out about the big ongoing expenses they know like housing, transportation and insurance. But they’re not aware of the rest of their budget. They don’t know what they spend annually on food ($7,765/year for a 35-year-old woman like me), entertainment ($2,926), apparel ($2,227), alcohol ($840), and personal care ($736).

As the Krazy Coupon Lady, my mission is to make it easy to SHOP SMARTER. These secondary expenses equal nearly $15,000 per year, and I’ve got tips that can help you save approximately $5,000.

 

Food

Shop around sales, not Pinterest.

You probably thought I was gonna tell you to get a dozen Sunday papers and fill a bunker with macaroni and cheese purchased for pennies on the dollar, didn’t you?

Nope.

Couponing is a big commitment with low ROI for some busy people. I have one tip, however, that will save you more money than all the coupon clipping ever will. Shop around sales and stock up when you find the right price. So simple, but this change in your routine can be done with zero extra time, (it actually will save you time).

If you plan your menu around the 1.7 billion recipes on Pinterest and run to the supermarket a few times a week to buy all the ingredients, you’re going to pay out the nose. If instead, you watch for sales and then go to Pinterest and search based on an ingredient (say boneless skinless chicken breasts are $1.49/lb this week. Buy some, then get on Pinterest and search for chicken recipes), you gain control of your budget.

And the second part of the equation is to buy ahead. Don’t buy enough for this week’s dinners. Buy enough for the next 2-3 months or longer. Chicken breasts last in the freezer for 9-12 months.

This one strategy alone will save you 30% on your total food bill for the month.

 

 

Entertainment

Make discounted gift cards your new form of payment.

Do you like credit card rewards? Then you’re going to love this.

This month, I’ll spend about $500 on gift cards for myself. I select from my favorite restaurants and theaters and pre-buy gift cards for all the dates and girls’ nights to come this year. When I run out, I’ll buy more. But I’m not paying full price. I’ll pay around $400 for those gift cards worth $500.

I use an app called GiftCardGranny, because it aggregates all the new and used gift card vendors together in one place. I type in my restaurant, and it pulls in the most discounted gift cards whether from sites like Cardpool or marketplaces like eBay. I pay for the gift cards with my cash-back credit card, and I save an additional 10-20% with the gift card — it’s a double dip.

Another great place to buy discounted gift cards, especially for local restaurants, is at Costco.

You can also save on entertainment when you share accounts for services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu and more. Sure, these services do what they can to make that difficult, but there are plenty of extended families who save more than a hundred bucks a year this way. I know one: How One Extended Family Shares Amazon Prime, Netflix, and Hulu Accounts.

These strategies can save you up to 20% on your overall entertainment budget for the year.

 

Apparel

Shop online and stack promo codes.

Listen, Linda. If you shop exclusively online for apparel this year, you’ll save money. Why? Three reasons:

1. The ability to stack up to five promo codes per order
2. Reduction of impulse buys
3. Better purchase decisions based on reading online reviews

Did you know that almost all retailers allow you to use more promo codes online than in the store? At Gap or Kohl’s, you can use four or five coupons respectively when you check out online. In store, you can only use one like coupon per purchase.

Where do you find the coupons? Loads of options including toolbars like Honey, deal sites like TheKrazyCouponLady.com and coupon aggregators like RetailMeNot. But in 2018, I expect to see more retailers than ever before hosting promo codes on their own sites and even prompting customers to use them while checking out, rendering some of the third party sites less necessary.

Online shopping is still not as optimized for browsing as brick and mortar stores, which means it’s easier for shoppers to get in, get the deal, and get out before making unplanned purchases which blow the budget.

And I’ve saved loads of money by avoiding bad potential purchases from reading reviews: “The sweater pilled immediately” or “the button-up wrinkled incessantly.” Making smarter decisions helps me shop less, which (who am I kidding?) is the real secret to saving on apparel.

By shopping exclusively online and stacking coupon codes, you can cut your apparel bill by 50% without sacrificing what you’re buying or where you’re shopping.

 

Alcohol

Take advantage of rebates and bulk discounts.

How do you save on alcohol when marketing and promotion is so heavily regulated that discounts are sparse?

The Alcoholic Beverage Control Act prohibits a beer manufacturer or wholesaler from offering, funding, producing, sponsoring, promoting, furnishing, or redeeming any type of coupon. “Coupon” means any method by which a consumer receives an instant discount at the time of a purchase of any item if an alcoholic beverage purchase is required in connection with such purchase that is funded.
[source]

There are a few ways to save. Notice that a coupon is defined as an “instant discount.” That’s why we tend to see alcohol “rebates” because they’re circumventing the regulation. Luckily, today there are apps that process your rebates digitally, so you don’t have to hassle with the form, the envelope and the stamp. Try Ibotta for rebates on beer, wine and liquor both at the supermarket and at your local restaurants.

Another way to save is to take advantage of case discounts. Many supermarket chains discount wine or craft beer when you buy a case of six or more. Buy any six bottles of wine at Whole Foods, and save 10% on all six bottles. Stock up at the World Market case semi-annual case sale to save 30%. And shop discounted alcohol at Costco or Sam’s Club, even if you’re not a member! Laws prohibit Costco from restricting alcohol sales to just its members.

Case discounts and rebates can save an easy 30% on your total alcohol bill for the year.

 

RELATED: 12 Expert Tips to Help You Save Money on Wine

 

Personal Care

Join store loyalty programs and use digital coupons.

Savings of 20-30-40-50% are all fine and good. But this is the category that we can move the needle on the most! Personal care items are so promotion driven that there is huge opportunity to get these items at least 70% off their retail price by joining a store loyalty program and using printable or in-app coupons.

Pick a drugstore — CVS, Walgreens or Rite Aid — it doesn’t matter. Join the free loyalty program, and plan to shop 2-4 times per month. The free Krazy Coupon Lady app pairs coupons with rewards deals to save you time so all you have to do is run to the store and leave with your nearly free items.

It’s simple, and regardless of the store, it goes something like this:

  • Buy toothpaste A for $3
  • Store promotion says buy 1, get $2 off your next purchase
  • Use a coupon that says $1 off one Toothpaste A
  • You pay $2 and get $2 off your next purchase of anything in the store
  • It’s sort of like getting the toothpaste for free

Because it’s such a competitive space, deals like these come around every single week, which means by shopping a couple times a month, you can easily save $500 a year!

With rewards programs and coupons, you can realistically save 70% on the cost of personal care items like soaps, lotions, shampoos, toiletries and oral care.

 

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