Nowadays it isn't just college students who are struggling to make ends meet. All around us, friends and neighbors are struggling to get by in the face of overwhelming odds. Prices are going up and times are getting tougher. Some people live well by living beyond their means and burying themselves under enormous debt.
In this instructable, I will share a few tips for saving money and still enjoying your life.
I will recommend a few websites in addition to some money saving tips. I don't work for any of the websites.
OK let's get to it.
Step 1: Never Spend Change
NEVER Spend Change.
If you are a person who has trouble saving money, (there is always some emergency popping up) this is for you. NEVER SPEND YOUR CHANGE. Seriously. NEVER. No matter how much change is in your pocket, break a dollar if you need an extra 11 cents. Always use paper money if you're paying in cash and put the change in your pocket. When you get home for the evening, put all the change from your day in a jar or piggy bank or something. You will be amazed at how much $$ you'll have in that jar at the end of the year. This is how I save for travel. I've met other people while traveling who save the same way.
Step 2: Stop Advertising for a Rich Guy.
Would you have some fancy designers name tattooed on your arm? No? Then why is it written all over your clothes? This is commonly a mistake made by younger people, but we are all occasionally guilty of spending extra on a brand name. If you own a t-shirt that costs $30 you are throwing money away.Name brand undies? C'mon people. If you can really justify a name brand based on some special qualities such as lightweight material or extreme durability, that's fine, but at least shop clearance. (More on that later in step 4.) Or better yet, shop at the thrift store, goodwill or Sallie's. (What's Sallie's?) That's what my dad used to call the salvation army store. You can get very nice clothes in excellent condition (or new) at the thrift store.
Step 3: Rent Text Books
Amazon rents textbooks. The savings are incredible. Shipping is included in the rental fee. You print out a shipping label and send them back in the same box. You will save hundreds of dollars (in one semester) renting textbooks. There are many sites that rent textbooks, but they are often older editions and published in other countries. That doesn't mean they are not good quality, but you are rolling the dice when you order them. They may not reach you in time and if the edition is missing something relevant to your course, you have a problem. I recommend Amazon for the reliable shipping and savings.
Step 4: Slickdeals
Slickdeals.com is a site where people like you and I submit deals we find online and in-store.The users then vote on the deals, so the best deals rise to the top of the page. I cannot stress enough, how great this site is for saving money. They have multiple forums for things like coupons, freebies, contests, or travel deals. Through slickdeals I learned how to get FREE Shoprunner, FREE Amazon Prime and FREE movie tickets. I got 1 year of membership to a local wholesale club for $3. Yes $3. The normal price is $50 yr. Do yourself a favor and check out slickdeals. There are lots of dirt cheap clearance prices for stuck up brand name stuff. But be careful, not to fall into the trap of buying something just because it's on sale. Stick to what you need and you'll be amazed at what you save.
Step 5: Amazon Prime
Amazon Prime is a service offered by Amazon.com. The chief selling point is 2 DAY free shipping on all eligible purchases. If it's sold by Amazon it's probably eligible. In fact, I NEVER pay for shipping. Amazon Prime costs $99 yr. (Wait, what? $99 for a year of free shipping? Are you crazy? I thought this was an instructable about saving money!) No worries, Amazon Prime can be split between 5 friends or family members in total. So it just dropped to $20 a year.
UPDATE 8/18/17 Amazon has changed the rules for sharing. The people sharing must use the same address. Additionally, whoever you share with can see your payment methods. These restrictions drastically reduce the pool of people you would be willing to share with. That being said, sharing is still possible. I still consider Amazon prime to be a great deal when you are taking full advantage of all they have to offer but, it is no longer the "no brainer" money saving option it once was.
But it gets better. The primary member (that should be you) gets all of the following services included:
Free 2 DAY shipping UPDATE 08/18/17 Amazon has also added the option for 1-day shipping in certain areas.
Free Movie streaming- excellent library. I prefer it to Netflix. UPDATE 8/18/17 - in the past 2 years Netflix has improved greatly. I cannot claim to prefer Prime over Netflix any longer. Prime is still great but I've updated this info just to keep it honest and current.
Free Music Streaming- excellent library. Cheaper than Itunes. (make sure to back up your downloads)
Free Photo Storage - Amazon cloud unlimited photo storage
Here are a few more great Amazon features:
Subscribe and save discounts - order food or home products like cat litter (wouldn't it be great to have someone else carry that) or Cheerios and get a 5% discount with subscribe and save. Order 5 subscribe and save items that month and the discount climbs to 15%. You can cancel the subscription after the order ships.
Digital credit for no rush shipping - Not in a hurry? Many prime products offer $1 credit towards digital goods when you select no rush shipping. Nice little bonus getting paid for getting your item in 3 days instead of two.
Amazon Textbook Rental - already mentioned
Also Available FREE:
Amazon Prime Mom - (available to all caregivers) scaled down version with just free shipping. Often has a trial of full prime included.
Amazon Prime Student - similar to prime mom
Step 6: RedBox
RedBox is the um.., big red box at the convenience store or grocery store where you can rent DVD's, blurays and video games. Most people don't realize that there are codes for free rentals in many places. The first and easiest way to free rental codes is to register at redbox.com and sign up for text alerts and emails. They send lots of codes for freebies right to your phone. Slickdeals also has a thread dedicated to free RedBox codes. Insideredbox.com has LOTS of free codes too. Basically, Google is your friend when it comes to getting free rental codes for RedBox.
Step 7: Bing Search Rewards
Bing.com is Microsoft's search engine. They offer a program called Bing Search Rewards 15 points each day/ 2 searches= 1 point.
Mobile search 10 points a day. 2 searches = 1 point. *Tip* using Chrome browser click control+shift+I to open developer tools. Click mobile device (top left) and do mobile searches from your PC. It's way faster. You can get 25 points per day not including promotions.
Points can be redeemed around the 475 mark for various gift cards like $5 Amazon or 1 month Hulu plus. Many rewards to choose from.
It seems like a lot of effort for little reward but, I just set my work browser to Bing search and in 10 minutes with my morning coffee, I check the news and get my 25 credits. There are always 1 or 2 bonus points available so I get about 1 reward per month. I used to get $5 Amazon, but recently switched to $5 Fandango (discounted movie tickets). I know someone who uses this method to get FREE Hulu Plus every month.( The Hulu Plus is one of the best value options because it's $7.99 per mo.) There are bots (little program scripts) to do this for you but they are frowned upon and could get your account canceled. I don't use them, but if you are interested, Google is your friend.
Step 8: Cut the Cable
I must admit up front, I could never do this. My cable is my splurge option. But here is the info for those of you who aren't addicted to television.
Avg. Cable bill = $50- $150 mo. depending upon your location and provider
Amazon Prime (split 5 ways)- $20yr. = $1.67 month - movies and TV
Netflix Streaming - $9.99 month - movies, TV, and original programs
Hulu Plus (free with Bing search?) = $7.99 month - keep up with current shows
RedBox NEW MOVIES DVD $2 BR $2.50 + buy 1 get 1 codes weekly. 4 movies = $5 mo.
TOTAL: $22.65 monthly and see new rentals and current TV shows. As low as $15.00 mo. using Bing
Make a one-time investment in a Roku or Apple TV type box for easy access and viewing of all your content. I suggest Roku because it accesses the widest variety of content. Older Roku's can be found for <$40 if you check around.
If you need your Game of Thrones fix, you can watch at a friends house or get a friend to share his HBO GO log-in. It helps if you share your one of your streaming accounts.
Also, many networks make full episodes available online.
And of course, an HD antenna will bring in local broadcast channels.
Reading is Fundamental ..., especially for frugal movie fans.
If you are lucky enough to live near a good library, USE IT! My library rents DVD's, Blu Rays, audiobooks, and CDs. I'm there all the time. Before I pay for a rental I check the library. They also have full seasons of great shows and an excellent selection of documentaries. Visit your local library
Update 08/18/17 - Many libraries now have digital access and lending. It is so easy to check your libraries selection and availability before you leave the house. You can often reserve your selections online as well.
Step 9: Concerts and Restaurants
Groupon is a great way to keep up the romance while pinching the pennies.
You can get Concert tickets for $15 or $35 to popular bands. Ok, it won't be Beyonce' but you can see some very popular artists in concert for a fraction of what most concert tickets cost.
Even better is investing in 2 lawn chairs and checking out summer concerts in the park.
Groupon also offers excellent deals on dinners for 2 at restaurants in metropolitan areas. You can show your date a great time and still be frugal.
For example; $25 for $50 worth of food at my local Japanese restaurant.
You can also get discounted tickets to wine tasting, comedy shows and dinner cruises, just to name a few.
Oh and that BJ's Club membership I mentioned earlier? A full year for $3. That was a Groupon.
Step 10: Final Tips
A few little tips to mull over;
Dollar Tree carries name brand food items AND accepts coupons. mind...blown.... If your local dollar store is part of a chain they probably accept coupons.
Gofobo.com for FREE advanced movie screening tickets
Ebates.com for money back almost everywhere you shop.
Hate to carry those stupid little loyalty cards on your keychain? KeyRing App (FREE) for iphone and android will store all those cards in your phone. Now go out and sign up for every loyalty and reward club available to you.
I hope this instructable has given you some new insights into frugal living in style.
If you liked it please vote.