If you’re guilty of making and breaking New Year’s resolutions, you have to try a few of these easy and painless ideas for saving money in 2021.
1. Check once a month for discounted gift cards with savings over 10%.
Once a month seems like enough time for new gift cards to become available but not so often that it feels like you’re constantly doing it.
Visit Raise or Gift Card Granny and look for discounted gift cards for stores or restaurants you frequent — like Sam’s Club, Old Navy, Starbucks and more. Buy when you see a savings of 10% or more. You’ll pay less than the face value of the card. Hence, savings!
- Sam’s Club: 25% savings
- Old Navy: 15% savings
- Gap: 14% savings
- Walgreens: 14% savings
- Carter’s: 12% savings
- Starbucks: 10.9% savings
2. Only pull the trigger on clearance meat if you’ll save at least 30%.
You probably won’t find a lot of meat on clearance at already-low-priced grocery stores like WinCo or Walmart. I have the best luck at Kroger or Albertsons — the other day I found a roast marked down to $4.99/lb. (regularly $6.99/lb.).
3. Print three high-value coupons every month.
A high-value coupon is anything over $2.00 off.
We see high-value coupons for razors, sunscreen, laundry detergent and more. Print three per month and stack them with a sale. (Don’t worry, we will tell you when to use your coupons with a sale — download The Krazy Coupon Lady app to get started.) Note: Proctor and Gamble has changed their policy to a 24 hour-window for using those printed-off coupons. Even more reason to download the KCL app!
If you can do three of these types of couponing deals per month, you’ll save close to 25% on your overall grocery budget.
Plus, you might get addicted to the savings and want to print more than three coupons a month eventually.
4. Start your gift stockpile in January during Target’s Semi-Annual Toy Clearance and save up to 70%
Target marks their toys down twice a year, but January is the best time to shop toys because of both the toy sale and Christmas clearance.
During the second or third week in January and July, you’ll start seeing 30%-off toys. The sale then goes to 50% off and quickly to 70% off.
Toys go fast, so if there’s something you really want, it’s best to get it at the 50% markdown. The good stuff is gone once it hits 70%.
Load up on super-discounted toys, and tuck them away for your kids’ friends’ birthdays and last-minute gift needs.
Learn more ways to save on your Target addiction.
5. Switch banks at least once this year and earn hundreds.
Banks like Chase, Key Bank and Bank of America all offer what amounts to a signing bonus when you open a new checking account.
And I’m not talking about chump change. Key Bank offers up to $350 for opening a new checking account and depositing money.
I’m not recommending you do this constantly, but if you haven’t done it yet, it might be time.
6. Sign up for store loyalty programs and then be loyal.
I’m not loyal to brands — I follow the deals. But when it comes to stores I frequent, I’m loyal because it pays to be.
There are a handful of store loyalty programs that outshine the rest, and all things being equal, you should sign up for these programs now so you can rack up points that translate into future savings each time you buy.
For example, Ulta’s Ultamate Rewards program will give you about 3% back on every purchase.
Other top contenders are Kohl’s with 5% back, Office Depot with 10% back and of course, Target with 5% back for REDcard holders.
7. Use Walmart’s free Grocery Pickup to avoid impulse buys.
Ideally, you’ll plan your shopping trips way in advance, and your meal plans will be based on sales and coupons. “Ideally” is the key word.
If the reality is a quick trip to the store because you’re insanely busy, consider placing a Walmart Grocery Pickup order for that evening instead.
I figure I save 5-7% by not stepping into a grocery store just because I don’t walk by items that call to me when I’m shopping online (looking at you, chips, ice cream and fancy cheeses).
8. Vow to stock up on one thing using coupons every month.
One thing. Anyone can focus on coupons and sales for one item every month.
And we’ve already done the legwork to figure out which item to stock up on every month.
- January: Oatmeal or snacks like chips and soda
- February: Noodles or rice
- March: Cold cereal or cleaning supplies
- April: Eggs or Easter clearance
- May: Seasonal produce like berries, melon or broccoli
- June: Pain reliever
- July: Hamburger, hot dogs or buns
- August: School supplies
- September: Razors or steak
- October: Seafood
- November: Turkey
- December: Flour, sugar or Christmas clearance
Walgreens, CVS and Rite Aid have a lot to offer once you start couponing, because you can stack up to three discounts (store coupons, manufacturer coupons and rewards promos) on top of sale prices.
Often, they run promotions where you can earn extra points toward a cash reward to spend in store.
In fact, when you start grocery shopping at drugstores, you’ll find surprises like stock-up-worthy prices on cold cereal at least once a week, 75% off shampoo, and wine is almost always on sale.
10. Check CamelCamelCamel before you buy anything on Amazon.
When you know you’re headed toward a big Amazon purchase, look up your item on CamelCamelCamel to find out what time of year Amazon sells it the cheapest and also what price point to aim for.
You might think you found a screaming deal on a TV on Amazon, but CamelCamelCamel will tell you for sure whether it’s actually a good deal.
11. Don’t buy bread, pregnancy tests or tampons unless you’re getting it at the dollar store.
Of course, you need these things, so why not buy them at the dollar store when there’s no coupon deal in sight?
Dollar Tree sells Oroweat and Thomas’ bread — and if you’re worried about expiration dates, just throw it in the freezer.
Raise your hand if you found out about at least one baby by a dollar store pregnancy test. <Raises hand.> Plus, you’re gonna save close to 92% this way. Regular pregnancy tests are close to $13 each!
12. Take a picture of every receipt — at least once!
…And maybe twice.
Download Fetch Rewards and start taking pictures of your receipts, because Fetch accepts any receipt and you’ll earn points that convert to gift cards when you reach a certain amount. For reference, 1,000 points equal $1. Redeem your points as soon as you’ve earned 3,000 points for a $3 gift card to retailers like Target and Amazon.
Your second picture could be using the Ibotta app. Navigate to the store you’re shopping inside Ibotta. Browse current product offers and look for the items you bought. If you see one, “unlock” it and snap a picture of your receipt. Ibotta will put cash in your PayPal account within 24 hours.
13. Sign your family up for every birthday freebie and then restaurant hop.
And by “restaurant hop,” I mean plan to only eat out at the restaurants with birthday offers during the birthday month of someone in your family.
An example could go like this — my birthday is in November, so for the month of November, we only eat at restaurants with birthday freebies like Applebee’s, Denny’s, Red Robin or Panera.
This way at least one meal is free. When birthday months for my family members are over, we go back to eating where we want or where we have loyalty points or a discounted gift card to spend.
14. Post a KCL brag at least once this year!
A “brag” is what couponers do when they score the kind of deal that gives you a little couponing high. It can be a one-liner or a detailed paragraph showing how you got a killer deal.
You’ll find that when you post a brag — and especially when KCL features it — couponing gets pretty addicting.
To post a brag go into the KCL app, tap “Brags” at the bottom, and then tap “Submit a Brag” at the top. Easier than you think!
15. Use GasBuddy to pay $340 less for gas this year.
GasBuddy keeps an eye on gas prices as they fluctuate constantly, so when you check the app, you’ll see what stations are the cheapest at that moment.
Consider linking your checking account to GasBuddy for free to save $0.05 per gallon on every fill-up.
16. Split the cost of your Netflix, Prime and Hulu accounts with family members.
Controversial as it may be (yes, it’s legal but a lot of people have a lot of feelings about it), sharing these three streaming services still saves my family loads of money every year.
Think about it: if you get three extended family members to go in on a $119/year Prime account, an $8.99/month Netflix account, and a $5.99/month Hulu account, you’ll each only pay under $9 per month instead of over $24 per month.
17. Only buy shampoo and conditioner in January and July during Ulta’s Jumbo Love Sale.
When people ask me for just one easy savings tip, this is the one I give them. You don’t need coupons, and the sale runs all month (although you should get there at the first of the month because inventory does run out).
You’re gonna spend $11 instead of $30-35 on a huge bottle of Matrix, Big Sexy Hair or TIGI this way.
I buy a couple of bottles of shampoo and conditioner for myself twice a year and I always have a stockpile.
18. Get a FitBit and ditch your gym membership.
Spend $50-$100 (but no more than that!) on a FitBit after Christmas, and then cancel your gym membership and set a goal to work out three times a week with it — go on a brisk walk, go for a run, or if the weather lets you, ride your bike.
Calculate how many months you’d have to be paying for a gym membership in order to recover your FitBit cost. For me, it’d be four months:
[Cost of FitBit] divided by [Cost of monthly gym membership] = [Months until you’ve recovered FitBit cost]
$80 / $20 = 4 months
19. Make a short list and stick to it when you go to Costco.
It’s true that most people can’t get out of Costco for less than $100 — so, don’t be a statistic.
Make a list of a few items you know are cheapest at Costco like string cheese and bagged broccoli, and then stick to your list no matter what. Eat samples, browse around, or do whatever else makes you feel like you’re getting your Costco kick. But don’t buy anything that’s not on your list!
20. Learn how to pack so you never pay to check bags on a flight again.
Save yourself between $25-$50 per bag per person when you travel because you know how to pack your clothes when you travel.
For example, when you wear your heaviest and most bulky items on the plane, you’re not even “packing” them. Also try putting your bulky personal care items into smaller “travel size” compartments (like a contact case!). Or how about only bringing one pair of shoes?
After all, if you’re traveling with your kids, you could buy yourself a new pair of sandals at your destination with the $100+ you saved on luggage fees.
21. Get yourself an Air Fryer already! It’ll save you on eating out.
You don’t need oil to cook with it. You can make, bake and fry basically anything in it.
It only takes a handful of minutes for things to cook and turn out crispier than the oven could get them.
You can get one for $50 or less when you jump on Air Fryer deals.
What the heck are you waiting for? Last minute dinners, cooked to restaurant (or at least fast-food) perfection.
Here are a couple Air Fryer recipes to get you started.
22. Feed your designer clothes addiction on 6pm.com only.
You’ll save up to 80% on brands like Coach, The North Face, Lucky, Free People, Armani and so many more.
6pm.com is owned by Zappos, a sister site to Amazon. So it’s trustworthy, and the only drawback is you’ll be shopping last year’s or discontinued styles.
But remind yourself about the “saving up to 80%” part and I think you’ll be able to handle it.
23. Shop Ross, T.J.Maxx and Marshalls at least once every three months.
The idea here is to pop into these stores whenever possible. If you’re driving by and you have time, do it.
24. Ask BillSlasher to lower all your monthly bills.
There are a few services like BillSlasher, which offer to negotiate your bills on your behalf.
The schtick goes like this: BillSlasher reaches out to your cable, internet or utility providers and asks for a lower rate. If they successfully negotiate a lower rate, they take a percentage of the difference for the first year only and after that, you get 100% of the savings.
BillCutterz is another company that does this but takes 50% of the difference for the first year. BillSlasher only takes 40%. BillSlasher has saved me $25 per month with their mad negotiating skills.
25. Stop throwing out your leftover wine.
You can use the rest of that cheap wine you bought to use in your slow cooker with a roast.
Use it in your garden as compost, make ice cubes to toss into your sangria, or make lollipops! But whatever you do, don’t throw it out!
Get more uses for leftover wine.
26. Rent camping gear this summer instead of buying it if you’re only going once or twice.
If you’d like to try camping but feel it’s just too stinking expensive to buy the bare bones in order to take one trip, consider renting camping equipment like tents, propane stoves and more.
Check out places like Mountain Side Gear Rental where you can get a three-person tent for under $15 per night and a hiking backpack for under $9 per day.
We have sleeping bags at our house, but when it comes to more obscure and specific camping gear like tents, backpacking gear or snowshoes, I like to rent before I buy.
27. Spend all those free Target gift cards on necessities like laundry soap and toilet paper.
Target offers so many ways to earn free Target gift cards that you could practically plan on them as passive income.
For example, I get them for taking pictures of my receipt with Fetch Rewards, as previously mentioned. Also, I trade in electronics like old phones I don’t need anymore for Target gift cards. I scan grocery items with my smartphone, and Shopkick gives me points that I can cash in for Target gift cards. (Learn more about Shopkick.)
When you have at least $25 worth of Target gift cards, use them to buy household basics like laundry soap, toilet paper, diapers and more.
28. Ditch your optometrist and buy glasses through GlassesUSA.
OK, you’ll still need your optometrist for exams. But once you get your exam, ask for your glasses prescription and then go home and buy glasses online at GlassesUSA.
You can almost always get them for 50% off the regular GlassesUSA price and sometimes for up to 75% off. Plus, the glasses aren’t as expensive as the ones your optometrist sells to start with.
Plan to save up to 75% pretty easily when compared to similar frames at your optometrist. Perhaps even more!