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If you’re researching how to drop an income, this may sound familiar: “You’ll have to forget fun money and be broke. Like, forever.”
But that’s not the case.
We’ll help you work the system so you can still live well without feeling the pinch. (And, you may want to bookmark this page because it’s about to become your one-income bible.)
1. Know where to find all the deals and save hundreds a month on groceries.
You had to know I’d say couponing is The Way to Save on Groceries, right?
There are two ways you can access our database of hand-curated coupon deals:
- The Krazy Coupon Lady website: Search deals by store, or even select “Smartphone-only deals” to see deals you don’t need newspaper coupons for. (There’s a TON of them!)
- The KCL app: AKA, your couponing BFF. Use the app to select your favorite stores, browse deals, add deals to your shopping list and then post your couponing brag!
Learning how to combine apps with coupons, promo codes, and discounted gift cards can save you hundreds on your grocery bill. Which means you can put the “fun” back in “fun money.”
2. Use KCL’s Quick Start Guide to Couponing if couponing feels overwhelming.
Not ready for the couponing deep-end? We all have to start somewhere.
Lucky for you beginners, we made the Quick Start Guide to Couponing, which teaches you how to coupon the easy way by starting at just one store. I promise zero overwhelm.
3. Use the KCL stock-up price list to know when to stock up on your favorite items.
Once you have a 3-6 month stockpile of groceries and health + beauty items, you’ll really start to feel the savings in your monthly grocery budget.
Use our stock-up price list to determine when items are at their “stock-up price.” And when you see these prices, BUY.
4. Know which items you don’t ever have to throw away.
What better way to save money than by NOT throwing things away?
Use this list of items that never go bad.
5. Tattoo Costco’s list of unbeatable deals on your arm.
Myth: You can’t get out of Costco for under $100.
Fact: You totally can when you stick to this list of items that are cheaper at Costco than anywhere else.
6. Get up to $500/year back on your groceries using rebate apps like Ibotta.
Rebate apps are the fastest, easiest way to get cash back on groceries you’re already buying.
Become an expert on how to use rebate apps in order to get double or triple cash back on one item!
7. Save on fruits and veggies when you know where to find produce coupons.
One of the hardest things to fit into a shrinking grocery budget is fresh produce. But it’s also the one thing you probably don’t want to skimp on! No need. There are quite a few ways to save on produce (without starting a garden!). Like buying your frozen veggies at Sam’s Club and using Checkout 51’s produce rebates.
Little bits of wisdom (like picking out the bag of potatoes priced at 8lb, that actually weighs 9lb) will add up.
8. Don’t chase down every deal that pops up.
Remember: Budgeting is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s easy to get overwhelmed or frustrated when you’re planning to save big, but then missed the fine print on a few coupons at checkout! Avoid frustration by checking out these 5 mistakes new couponers tend to make.
9. Use Paribus to help you get cash back if something goes on sale after you purchase it.
You’re trying to trim your budget, but you’re bound to buy something you need at full price at some point. In the past, we had to watch the item to see if it went on sale after we bought in order to request a price adjustment. Sometimes it even required another trip to the store! But now? Paribus can help you get the sale price without even returning to the store.
Paribus monitors your online purchases when you buy from stores they monitor, and tells you when there’s a price drop.
Paribus compensates us when you sign up for Paribus using the links we provided.
10. Learn the secret shopping strategies at your favorite retailers.
Every store has little-known secrets that can save you money.
Like do you know which of these stores lets you return used items, for a full refund? Do you know how to tell when an item is at its lowest markdown? We’ve already done the detective work for you!
Study these store hacks to get insider tips that’ll save you hundreds:
11. Sign up for store loyalty programs to earn points that translate into cash back.
Stores want repeat customers, and some of them reward loyalty in a big way. While I’d never tell you to shop a certain retailer out of blind loyalty (we are loyal to the deals, not the stores!), it’s not a bad strategy to generally stick to stores that both offer frequent deals and give you a percentage back in the form of some “reward” that brings your future total down even lower.
Look for stores that offer 2-5% back when you make a purchase. This is usually tracked in the form of “points” — so, a certain amount of points gets you store cash. You’ll get 5% back at Kohl’s through Kohl’s Rewards, 1% back at Target through Target Circle, etc.
12. Use ThredUp to keep feeding your designer-clothes addiction.
Living on one income doesn’t mean you have to hate your wardrobe. Save up to 90% on your favorite gently used brands on ThredUP. I recently scored a pair of 7 For All Mankind jeans ($189 retail) for just $10!
You can also use ThredUp to sell your own gently used clothes, handbags, shoes, and children’s clothes to make an extra buck on the side.
RELATED: Sneaky Ways to Outsmart Retailers
13. Shop with discounted gift cards from Raise.com to save an extra 12-15% on your purchases.
Sites like Raise and Gift Card Granny carry discounted gift cards for almost every major retailer and restaurant you can think of. I regularly save between 12-15%, and up to 54% on all my shopping using discounted cards.
Purchase discounted gift cards for your favorite stores, then use them like cash.
TIP: I recommend using the Raise.com app to keep your gift card balances readily available, including each current balance.
14. Know the best time of year to buy everything, and shop when items are out of season.
Did you know March is the best time to buy winter clothes and other cold-weather gear like snow shovels? And September is the best month to get camping gear and gardening supplies.
Knowing the best time of year to buy certain items can save you up to 90%.
15. Get all the baby freebies on the Internet.
If you’re dropping an income to stay home with your expanding family, gather these 35 baby freebies while you can!
No kids? Stockpile these freebies for future gifts.
16. Call and negotiate your cable bill to get a lower monthly payment today.
I recently found out my neighbor was paying less for cable than I was! So I called and got the deal she has.
You can also use Bill Slasher to negotiate all of your monthly bills! If Bill Slasher is able to talk one of your bills down to a lower price, you’ll pay Bill Slasher 40% of the savings for three months, but after that, the difference is all yours.
Use the logic your small children use: Never hurts to ask (a trillion times).
17. Use Trim to find and cancel unwanted subscriptions.
When you sign up for Trim, they’ll find and cancel old subscriptions you forgot you signed up for. Like, remember that free trial of CBS All Access that you signed up for to watch the new Twilight Zone? Yeah, you’ve been paying monthly for it after those initial free seven days.
TIP: Trim also does the same work Bill Slasher does — negotiating your monthly bills down — for a small fee.
18. Or ditch cable altogether and save.
I pair Netflix + Hulu Plus + Sling TV. For just $36/month, we get to enjoy both on-demand AND live TV. (Including ESPN!)
Take back your remote control and watch all the TV without the cable bill.
19. Share Prime, Hulu, and Netflix subscriptions with family members.
Sharing is caring — it’s also more affordable. So share your $119/year Amazon Prime membership the “traditional” or “alternative” way. And you can totally share your Netflix, Hulu, or Sling TV accounts with extended family or close friends. Each of you only pays for one of them, but you get access to all three!
20. Shop at Costco without a membership.
Every time I shop at Costco, I think “Is this membership worth it?!” Quit asking yourself that, and learn to shop at warehouses without a membership. It can be as easy as asking a friend to pick up a Costco gift card for you.
Home and lifestyle expenses
21. Embrace DIY home repairs.
Home repairs can unexpectedly kill any progress you’ve made in your savings account. Save easy money with these unique DIY repair tips. Who knew you could fix squeaky floors with baby powder?
22. Build a gift stockpile to save money all. freaking. year.
If you’ve ever planned and purchased a gift months in advance, you know that magical feeling of getting it out of the closet and heading straight to the party (and yes, it usually includes a choir of angels singing).
With one income, you’ll need to be a pro at seeing a discount and thinking ahead.
RELATED: How I Built My Gift Stockpile for Birthdays and Weddings
23. Get your Christmas shopping done during Black Friday season.
Here’s the golden rule of shopping during the holiday season: Not all holiday shopping days are created equal.
Did you know during the Black Friday season is best time to shop? Yep, it’s true. Start following KCL’s Black Friday Deals page about the time you’re putting away Halloween decor (yes, that early!).
24. Fire your cleaning crew and use Kool-Aid instead.
Just because you can’t afford a cleaning crew doesn’t mean your house has to suffer.
Refresh your cleaning routine with some professional DIY cleaning hacks like removing dust from a painting with old bread heels or cleaning your toilet with Kool-Aid. They’re weird, but they work.
25. Do your back-to-school shopping on Tuesdays and Fridays in the summer.
Don’t let summer end in tears. (And I mean your tears when you remember how expensive school clothes and supplies are!) Learn our tricks when it comes to back-to-school shopping to avoid that late summer expense.
26. Cook from scratch (the fast way), instead of eating out.
Whether you’re looking for freeze-ahead meals or dinners you can make in 20 minutes, cooking at home is always cheaper than going out to eat.
27. Take surveys for cash.
Surveys are great if you don’t mind investing lots of time for a small payout. When I was home with small children, it was easy to spend 10 minutes a day doing this.
Check out these survey sites. You can sign up for all of them if you want to!
28. Get an at-home side hustle you can do while the kids nap.
I know plenty of stay-at-home parents who make legit money from home.
You can earn up to $1,000/month dog sitting in your own home or doing other people’s laundry!
29. Trade in your old electronics at Target or Best Buy for store gift cards.
Stores like Best Buy, Target or Amazon Trade-In have programs that offer gift cards for your used devices.
If you want cash, go with Craigslist or eBay.
Saving money for your future
30. Trick yourself into saving a little every month.
Ever notice how you don’t actually miss small amounts of money that come right out of your paycheck and into savings? Take advantage of that. The best time to do it is when someone gets a raise or you’re no longer paying a certain bill. Automate that chunk of cash right into savings.
31. Go extreme cheapskate and tear the stems off your broccoli before you buy.
I dare you. If you’re really up for a challenge, check out our list of borderline extreme ways of saving money.
Some of them might make you laugh (like hoarding free ketchup packets), but again, we don’t judge.