Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Freebie Jeebies (and the Art of the Budget)

Oh, the painful, yet enlightening, "budget discussion". All couples have had one, I am sure, unless you both happen to be bajillionaires and do not have to worry about money...ever.

Well, M and I had our first real, in-depth budget discussion last week. We now know where everything we spend is going, and for exactly what. WOW. What an eye-opener!

Knowing where everything was going and how much we have to save each month to reach our goal savings amount really motivated me to check into ways we could stretch what we have just a little further while still maintaining the lifestyle we like and have gotten used to. I have always loved saving money. I really hate the jargon, though. Especially the term "cutting corners", because it makes me think of too much "doing without". M and I both love the idea of budgeting so that we can have the luxuries that we want, but "cutting corners" makes me feel like we would be sacrificing quality to save a few pennies. What you have to do, in every case, is figure out what it is worth to you. Make sacrifices where you have to, or where it doesn't matter to you, and spend the extra pennies where it really matters (for us it is eating well, which is more expensive than cheap-o boxed dinners or heavily processed foods).

Since we are talking about saving money, I have compiled a list of things that I do to boost our savings and stretch our dollars just a little bit, and to make a little extra money on the side!  Couponing is one of the ways we save money, but I have addressed that in a previous post, here, so I will be leaving the heavy couponing out of this list. :) 

1. Freebie Sites: These are awesome if you have some time. I love to go online and search for free samples and deals that will be sent to our house. I find this the most useful when we are receiving samples of things that we already use, but are expensive, like K-cups and tampons! Plus, they usually come with a coupon, and who doesn't love getting mail? I know I do. Here are a few of my favorites:
Target's sample page- either hit or miss. When they have samples, they are usually really good ones.
Free Stuff Finder- tons of samples here! also tons of free samples!

Do not forget that if you are a Sam's Club or Costco member, they each have their own sample pages.

2. Shopkick: This is an app that allows you to rack up "kicks" (points) by just walking into stores, and sometimes by scanning things. You can get kicks by buying things too, but you do not have to. I love this app because when you get enough kicks, you can trade them in for Target and Starbucks gift cards, and so much more. M desperately wants a Dyson, so I am saving the points for that. It is gonna take a while!! :) The point is that whatever it is you end up trading your points for, it is free. All you have to do is walk into stores, and sometimes you have to be that weird girl who is scanning things with her smartphone and then putting them back on the shelf. Haha!

3. Savings Apps: I use Target's Cartwheel app, which allows me to save a percentage on the featured items. Coupons can be used in conjunction with the app, so that is great! I also love RetailMeNot's app (and site!!!) for mobile coupons and savings.

4. Amazon Trade-In: Did you know you can trade in electronics, books, music and other things you don't use anymore for Amazon gift cards? M and I love this. We have tons of stuff we don't use around here, and I have been going to school now for sooo many years... I have textbooks like crazy! Many of these can be traded in. It isn't a lot of money, usually, but it is better than the nothing you are getting letting it sit around your house! :) We love this because we can leave the balance on our Amazon accounts, and then use it later to help buy Christmas gifts! By the way, students get Amazon Prime for free, so get on that too, if you're a student!

5. Ebay: People will buy the craziest stuff... and you have the craziest stuff laying around your house gathering dust! I know we do. And I also know people have bought the craziest stuff from us on Ebay. It is a lot of work having to monitor what needs to be shipped when, but to me, it is well worth it. You will need a Paypal account, and be warned that Ebay does take a percentage of the sale price of the item, but it really isn't much. One month, we made almost an entire rent payment just by selling some random stuff we had laying around! An amazing feeling.

What creative ways do you use to save money? What is your favorite freebie site? I would love to know!

1 comment:

  1. Hi! I'm a new follower of your awesome blog via GFC.
    Have a nice day!