I’m not going to straight up tell you I’m cheap, but I’m most definitely… thrifty. If there are ways to save money on something, I generally have spent far too much of my time finding them. To compensate, I thought I’d share them here so that I can say that I spend so much time on these things because they save me money and they’re work. Two for the price of one!
So here are eight of my favorite sneaky ways to save some cash.
1. Make your own cleaning products.
For serious. Instead of spraying toxic chemicals on the countertops your kids are sure to lick (oh wait, that’s just mine?), you can easily make your own equally effective cleaners for a fraction of the price—and quickly. I promise they work and I promise you’ll want to hug me once you try it. Whether you clean with lemons or use other green cleaning recipes (and let’s not forget ditching the shampoo), you can save a serious chunk of change.
2. Cash in on birthdays.
Birthdays can get expensive. But did you know there are a ton of places that are willing to give you free stuff on your birthday (or on your kid’s birthday)? One of our favorite things to cash in on is a free cupcake at the cafe at Barnes and Noble through their B&N Kids’ Club. We also loved claiming free birthday sundaes at Friendlys before our local chain closed. The Penny Hoarder has a list of 100 places that will give you free stuff on your birthday. I’m definitely going to take note of a few I didn’t know about for when Samantha’s birthday rolls around in June!
3. Buy in bulk and share.
I’m kind of a BJs fanatic. I buy in bulk regularly, which is awesome for things like paper towels and toilet paper and even apples (which my girls eat like crazy). But there are some things that we don’t go through as quickly and they just kind of hang out in the basement, waiting to be used (like gardening gloves… because I’m a sucker for pretty packaging). A great way to capitalize on the great price while saving even more money is by going in on it with a group of friends and splitting the cost. So instead of having six pairs of gardening gloves waiting patiently for use and hoping I don’t forget about them (or a huge lot of mascara or EOS pods), I could take only what I need and know I will use and spread the cheap love around to my friends.
4. Buy used clothes.
Some people cringe at this thought (like my sister). But as someone who has done it for myself and my kids on multiple occasions, I have to tell you: it’s awesome. Obviously, there’s a whole range of quality when it comes to used clothes. The stuff that you find at a random yard sale might have a lot more wear than what you find on the racks at Goodwill. Even better, at least in my experience, are the clothes I’ve found at consignment shops that carefully inspect them. The best quality used clothes we’ve gotten (aside from free hand-me-downs from friends) have come from ThredUP. Designer clothes that look like new and cost a fraction of the original price? Sounds perfect in my book.
5. Get books for free.
We are big-time book nerds up in here. While we love hitting up the bookstore regularly, we could not possibly buy all of the books we would like to own. Still, I find it really hard to say no to books. That’s why we are sure to make a trip to the library every weekend. It’s like a free stack of books for three weeks (with the option of renewing for another three weeks if they’re still really into a certain story—which they rarely are).
Other great options are the Kindle freebie list (if you don’t have a Kindle, there’s an app you can use to download it to your phone, tablet or computer). If you’re more into holding a physical book, try Paperback Swap. You basically trade books that you’re ready to let go of with other members.
6. If you can make it, don’t buy it.
Obviously, it doesn’t always make sense to make something instead of purchasing it. Factors like time and frustration level are big ones to keep in mind. That said, if you like to cook, bake your bread (or tortillas!) yourself. Make your own hummus or pesto instead of buying a jar at the store. If cooking isn’t your thing but you’re an expert (or just kind of good) sewer, make curtains or Christmas stockings instead of buying them. When it comes time to give gifts, make your own scrub or body butter and package them up nice and pretty. You get the picture. If you can make it and you enjoy it, do it.
7. Don’t ever buy anything online without doing a discount code search.
Promise me you will never blindly purchase something online again. With apps like Honey (which automatically searches for coupon codes for you) and a plethora of rebate and coupon sites available, you should never buy anything online without doing a quick search. If you do a lot of your shopping online like I do, the amount of money you save throughout the course of a year really adds up.
8. Trade in what you don’t use.
Did you know that Amazon has a trade-in program? When you’ve decided you’re done with something, you can type it into their trade-in search (whether you bought it through Amazon or not) and they’ll give you an instant quote. If it sounds good to you, you ship it for free and get an Amazon gift card in return. Since I use Amazon a lot, that totally works for me—especially since it’s way easier than organizing a tag sale and trying to get rid of all of my crap on my own. If you don’t use Amazon much, you might want to try other options (like the aforementioned Paperback Swap for books or ThredUP for clothes).