Every year I’m on the hunt for new ways to spend less money.
And New Year’s is the perfect time to refresh my financial goals and cut the fat.
Here are some of my personal goals for spending less money in 2019.
1. I’ll get refunds when there’s a price drop on something I bought online.
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Paribus is an easy and absolutely free way to take advantage of online retailers’ price adjustment policies. Paribus will monitor your online purchases, and when there’s a price drop on something, they’ll help you contact the retailer and request the difference on your behalf.
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2. I’ll never pay for my kids to eat at restaurants.
Clearly, cutting restaurants out completely is the best thing to do, but for some people (like me) that extreme of an action might not stick. So I do a softer version.
We will try to cut back on eating out, but when the inevitable must happen, we choose a restaurant that offers a kids-eat-free deal like Texas Roadhouse or IHOP.
Kids-eat-free deals are usually a certain day of the week, or sometimes it’s a BOGO Free, based on what restaurant you’re at.
3. …And I won’t pay full price for adults to eat out at restaurants, either.
So many restaurants — like Panera, Red Robin, Buffalo Wild Wings and more offer birthday freebies, coupons, BOGO Free deals or just have fantastic loyalty programs. Why would I pay full price?
Educate yourself on the best restaurant hacks of all time and then do what I’m gonna do — avoid paying full price to eat out!
4. I’m dropping non-essential monthly expenses that are under $25 a month.
I’ve collected a few monthly expenses that are under $20 that I don’t use or need anymore. If I can ditch them, I could save myself about $80 per month.
Do I really need that $18/month 24-hour gym membership I don’t use? Is there a “free trial” subscription I’ve signed up for and accidentally forgotten to cancel?
TIP: Use Trim to help you find and cancel subscriptions you may have forgotten you signed up for. Trim finds your subscriptions and cancels them on your behalf.
5. I’m making my own cleaning supplies.
There are a bunch of household cleaning supplies I can easily make myself. For example, I can make my own “dryer sheets” by soaking a hand towel in fabric softener and then allowing it to dry before I use it.
My goal is to avoid buying any pre-made cleaning supplies in 2019.
6. I’m stockpiling when I see a coupon and a sale.
This is the heart of couponing — combining a coupon with a sale price. We call it “stacking.” When you see a price that’s the lowest you can expect for that item, you should stock up — or buy as much as the store allows.
Truth be told, finding coupons to match current sales is a full-time job for the KCL team. So why not let us do the hard work for you?
Download the KCL app and we’ll tell you where to find the coupons you need for each week’s sales at most major grocery stores.
7. I’ll leave my debit card at home and only spend the cash in my wallet.
I’m talking about “walking around money.” If I’m going to the grocery store and I need my debit card, I’ll bring it.
But if I’m just going out to look around or compare prices on an item, I’m not bringing my debit card with me! I’ll save a lot of money by avoiding impulse buys.
8. I’ll scan or take a picture of every receipt to get money back.
To do this, once you have your grocery receipt, search for items you bought and “unlock” them inside the Ibotta app. Take a picture of your receipt and voila! You’ll get money in your PayPal account.
Upload any receipt with Fetch Rewards. You’ll earn points, and 1,000 points translate to $1. Redeem your points as soon as you’ve earned 3,000 points for a $3 gift card to retailers like Target and Amazon.
And I’ll be uploading the same receipt to both apps, for the record.
9. I’m going to negotiate my car and homeowner’s insurance.
The insurance industry is so cutthroat that if I call up my current insurance carrier and tell them about a lower price I found, they’ll probably manage to “locate” a few ways to save me more money in order to keep me as a customer.
Most financial-minded people recommend doing this at least once a year. If anything, just to keep your current company honest!
10. I’m making a list of wants versus needs (and sticking to it!).
For me, this applies to retail purchases like clothing, shoes, seasonal attire. But it also applies to big things like home improvement projects and kids’ activities.
If I can acknowledge ahead of time what’s truly a need compared to a lesser want, it’ll be easier for me to focus on needs.
And of course, I’ll be sure to reward myself with something on the list of “wants” periodically.
11. I’ll only buy jeans when I can get them for 60-75% off.
Like you, I’m outfitting an army of small people with a penchant for growing out of or tearing holes in pants, so I have to know how to save on jeans.
The quick and dirty secret is to buy when they’re at least 60% off. Stores like Old Navy and The Children’s Place host sales at least once a quarter where jeans are marked down this much and more.
12. I’m cheating on Amazon with the local library.
This year I’m gonna try to avoid buying audiobooks and paying to stream movie rentals on Amazon.
I can check out books on CD from the library and I can rent DVDs there as well. Sure, it’s a little early 2000’s, but it has the potential to save me upwards of $30 per month, so I’m alright with the throwback.
13. I’m buying store brands when I don’t have a coupon to use.
Some store brands are the same as the name brand, anyway. For example, Trader Joe’s brand macaroni and cheese is made by Annie’s.
In general, store brands are cheaper when you aren’t stacking a coupon with a sale, so this is another way I’ll spend less on groceries this year.
14. I’m going to make all the gifts for all the teachers this year.
I want to try it out and see if I can make gifts teachers will love since buying gifts for Teacher’s Appreciation Day, Christmas and end of the year can add up!
Even non-crafty people like me can paint a flower pot with chalk paint and write the teacher’s name on it, right?
Check in with me around May when end-of-year gifts happen to see if I’m still on track with this goal.
15. I’m getting cash back for my online purchases.
The best strategy for cash-back sites is to choose one and stay loyal.
Ebates or RetailMeNot are the big players, and they’re slightly different from each other. RetailMeNot cash-back offers tend to be higher in percent-savings (up to 25% savings compared to Ebates’ up-to-10% savings).
But Ebates has more offers overall. Just initiate your shopping through one of these websites and you’ll get a percentage back usually via PayPal.
16. I’m planning weekly meals around the store sales instead of around what sounds good.
I did this last year and I feel like it really helped my budget whenever my couponing stockpile got low.
If you’re using store fliers to make a meal plan around what’s on sale instead of what’s on Pinterest or what sounds good, you’ll be able to avoid spendy or exotic ingredients, saving money overall.
17. I’m getting a Target REDcard.
OK, just kidding — I already have a Target REDcard, but I’m going to keep using it because even 5% savings is helpful for this Target addict. Remember, the REDcard is connected to your checking account, so it’s not a credit card.
Also, if you’ve been living under a rock and haven’t downloaded the Target app, do that too. You’ll have access to mobile coupons and Cartwheel offers that can save you up to 70%.
18. I’m going to switch to a discounted cell provider like Ting or Republic Wireless.
I’ve heard I can save up to 50% with a discounted mobile service provider like Ting or Republic Wireless.
It’s structured differently — based on minutes and data you use, so it may not be for everyone. But I figure, why not try it out for a year and see if I save money?
19. If that’s a bust, I’ll convince my parents or siblings to get a family plan with me.
I really want to save on my cell phone bill this year.
Based on what I can tell, family plans will save almost everyone money, and most big providers — like T-Mobile — structure payments so you can pay for your portion of the bill by phone number. (So you don’t get penalized if your little sister forgets to pay her bill.)
This option works well for families that use a lot of texts and data.
20. I’m depositing my piggy bank savings once a month.
I have a jar of loose change that I collect anytime I see a coin without a home. But I’ve found my family dips into this jar for lunch money and other things.
So, if I make a point to deposit the loose change once a month, we won’t be tempted to spend it, and we’ll be motivated to keep doing it once we see coins turn into dollars in the savings account.
21. I’ve memorized the best time of year to buy everything.
Granted, this is something I’ve done for a while, but knowing the best time of year to buy everything might be one of the best ways to save on retail purchases.
Why? Because you’re buying when the item is at its lowest price instead of paying full price.