There are definitely BIG things you can do to save money.
But, there are also a lot of little things. And let me tell you, the little things are easier. That’s what I call “easy-peasy lemon squeezy.”
In addition to cutting out non-essentials, we have also found ways to stretch our dollars in other ways. Here are a few:
Let’s face it, animals are expensive. But, nothing gets more pricey than constantly buying food and toys. I’ve found a few ways to save some pennies on dog food and toys for the
devils pugs, without depriving our babies.
Toys are easy. They don’t need that many. I used to bring home toys and bones for the dogs all the time. However, when we looked at our spending, I realized that it wasn’t necessary. The toys I bought were almost immediately destroyed, so to me, it’s a waste of money.
Plus – they always grabbed the oldest toys out of the box. Or, they prefer the plastic coat hanger to any toy in the box. So, now the plastic coat hanger is in their toy box. When I do pick up a toy, I get it at the dollar tree. Then, it’s not such a big deal when the stuffing and squeaker are pulled out within 35 seconds.
I have fed the dogs Science Diet since…. forever. I never switched from the free bag the vet gave us when we first brought Franco in (successful marketing to vet’s office, check). The truth is, the stuff is good. And, the dogs love it (although they also like to lick each other’s butts, but that’s besides the point).
So, the 20lb bag at Pet Co is $37.99 (which is pretty ridiculous). But… if you keep your eye open, they often run a special for $5.00 off a bag. So, this is when I usually buy it. However, if you go to Science Diet’s Web site, you can get another $5.00 off coupon. So, that’s nothing to sneeze at.
But, by far the BEST deal in my mind is Pet Co’s rewards program. If you buy 10 bags of pet food in a year (which is normally exactly what I buy in a year), you can receive one bag for FREE. My free coupon came in the mail and I redeemed it over the weekend. I paid exactly $2.75 tax for a bag that will last our kiddos a month.
Speaking of loyalty programs…
Sometimes, these are somewhat of a pain. Every store you go to has a punch card, a rewards card or a savings program. It’s hard to keep them straight. But, I say – if you visit that store EVER during a year, sign up. I have rewards cards at Pet Co, Famous Footwear, NY&Co, Ace Hardware and CVS (and probably about 16,000 more, but I don’t carry the cards. They all have the ability to look up my number when I get there.)
But, the best loyalty rewards program we have found is for Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express. The Priority Club points are AMAZING. By staying in the hotels, you can earn points for future stays. If you travel at all, it’s easy to build up points. And, since Ryan travels a lot for work, we always have tons of points available (which is the ultimate because his work travel is providing us a place to stay on vacations). He refuses to stay anywhere but Holiday Inn Express. Their rooms are nice, bedding is great and they have a good hot breakfast. We have had so much luck with HIE.
We used our points in San Francisco for our entire honeymoon. We used them when we were in Wisconsin, too. Plus, since we are platinum members, we often get free upgrades WITH our free points. When we were in Wisconsin they upgraded us to a suite and gave us some special snacks. Score!
We also have multitudes of punch cards to places like the local coffee shop, Happy Joes Pizza, sandwich shops, and local restaurants. If I’m somewhere that I will never return, I turn down the card. If not, what does it hurt to put it in a back pocket in my purse?? Some of those cards carry great deals. At one restaurant, we can get a free meal after 6 punches. Cha-ching. Plus, it’s pushing us to support the locally-owned places instead of waiting in line at the national chain restaurants.
I’ve never understood why people do not use these loyalty programs. That’s what they are there for.
Speaking of what I don’t understand…
Why don’t people take the time to send in rebates? It’s free money. Free money, I tell you.
If you don’t want to send in your rebates, let me know and I will do it for you. We can split the rebate 70/30. =)
What bothers me most is that we already factor the rebate into our savings. When we buy paint at Menards and it has a $5 rebate, we take $5 off the price of the paint in our heads. In our minds, it’s instant savings. That’s what the marketers are counting on.
But, it’s not. And, how many people don’t send those rebates in? It’s estimated at less than 50%, although no one really knows because the rebate people aren’t talking.
I have forgotten to send in rebates before. It stinks. When we were roofing our house, there was a $50 rebate. You think that would be high on my radar? But, it got stuck in my purse with the best intentions. When I found it again, the rebate redemption period was expired. I was not happy and Ryan was less than thrilled.
So, now I have gotten into a habit. We get quite a few things with rebates, particularly at Menards. So, I have made it a habit to stick them in the mail IMMEDIATELY upon returning home. It takes less than 5 minutes and then I don’t have to worry about forgetting.
What I’m saying is – stick it to the man! Redeem those rebates!
Speaking of sticking it to the man…
Find ways to earn money when you spend
There are lots of ways to do this. Tons of cards have rewards. These are simple ways to earn some extra dollars. I have an aversion to credit cards because they can be dangerous (my history proves this). But, if you keep track of your spending and are able to have the will power to pay off your balance in full every month, there are some great deals to be had.
For example – we use the BP Mastercard for all gas purchases (and a few other select purchases as well). We earn 5% back on all purchases at the BP station and other rebates on various purchases. This is stellar. They send us a check in the mail when we’ve reached $25 in rewards, which happens more than you’d imagine.
We also have found a great checking account deal with a local credit union. Many banks across the nation are offering similar deals. It’s checking plus. We earn 5% interest on our checking, with free checks, debit, billpay and online banking. We pay no fees and are reimbursed for ATM charges (the best part, in my humble opinion). The catches: we have to have direct deposit set up on the account (our paychecks) and we must use the debit card at least 12 times throughout the month (ummm….. did I just laugh out loud? I use it well beyond 12 times). So, this is the deal of all deals for us. We make a hefty sum every month from our checking accounts. It does have a $25,000 limit, so we can’t use it forever to fund our nest egg, but it’s definitely worth using.
Tomorrow, I will be posting about a new way I have been working to save money on groceries and essentials. I’m kinda diggin’ it.