Happy New Year! 2014 is here and the in addition to being a time of celebration, the near year is also often a time a reflection on what we didn’t accomplish in the past year and what we’d like to accomplish in the new one. If you’ve opened up this post, chances are one of your new year’s goals is probably to save more money in 2014.
Saving more money this year is easy to do and you and you don’t have to turn into one of those crazy extreme couponers on TV. Just taking a few basic steps to save money here and there can make a big difference on your budget. Here’s a few places to start!
1. Start Spending Smart
Maybe watching your spending is your New Year’s resolution or maybe it was the shock of your credit card statement and all that holiday spending. Whatever your reason, January 1 is always a great time to start fresh and be smart about spending. No you don’t have to become a crazy coupon person like those folks on Extreme Couponing on TV.
Instead try setting a budget and sticking to it. Instead of killing yourself to use coupons for EVERYTHING, start out small and just begin using coupons for some things. Work your way into it and do what your schedule and lifestyle allows and then find ways to expand your savings from there. Find a few blogs or websites to give you some regular daily money saving tips or inspiration and you’ll get a little extra motivation to save along the way. Start off subscribing to your favorite blogs (like Two Kids and a Coupon of course!) to get updates on the latest saving and other places to get the latest savings include Free Coupon Alerts, A Full Cup, Coupons.com, Sunday Coupon Preview and That Freebie Site.
2. Get Your Credit Under Control
The smartest financial move I ever made (well in addition to using coupons! LOL)? Taking a hard look at my credit report, cleaning it up and being responsible about it since. Not knowing your credit situation can cost you hundreds and even thousands of dollars a year in over paid interest, insurance and more, and you could also be at risk for identity theft. One time when I pulled mine I found out someone had opened $100,000+ in accounts in my name and wasn’t making payments! By requesting a free credit report and using a free credit monitoring service you can stay on top of your credit, even on a busy schedule.
3. Get Cash Back for Shopping Online
If you’re buying pretty much ANYTHING online, did you know that you could probably earn cash back for doing it? No I don’t just mean through your credit card cash back or airline miles (although those are great too!). By making your online purchases through a cash back site like Ebates, you can save big with discount codes AND get cash back too. My husband (who is only an occasional online shopper) was shocked at how much he earned for cash back just with his online holiday shopping.
4. Get Rewarded
In addition to using coupons, one of my favorite ways to save and earn freebies is through reward programs. We belong to several and have earned everything from event tickets, to free toys, free food, free meals and more. There are food reward programs for the brands you buy like Coke Rewards, Kellogg’s Family Rewards and store reward programs.
Yes, it is a bit of work to collect the reward points and cash them in, but they add up quickly and the rewards are great. Check out the free pop (soda for those of you not in the Midwest LOL) we got just on one shopping trip using coupons scored from Coke Rewards.
5. Sign Up for Auto Pay
Ever have the power flicker out during a storm or the cable go out during the big game and wonder if you remember to pay the bill? In addition to lots of extra postage and worrying if you mailed checks on time, if you’re still making payments via snail mail you might be forgetting to make payments, paying unneeded late charges or having dings on your credit for late payments. If it at all possible, sign up for auto pay for your regular monthly bills. It will give you peace of mind, you won’t worry about missed payments due to a crazy schedule and many companies will offer you a discount for signing up for this payment method. We were able to just shave $15 a month off our cell phone bill by signing up for direct pay!
Watch for part 2 coming soon. What are your tips for saving in the New Year?