From simply asking for discounts to comparing prices on auto insurance to going to early birds, these 20 tightwad tricks will help you bank more than pocket change in 2020.
Doreen Christensen of the Sun Sentinel asked her community of super savers on Facebook to share their top tips. They came through with large and small ways to trim expenses.
1. Ask and receive
“ALWAYS ask for discounts,” says reader Mitch Goldberg. “You would be surprised at the number of businesses and attractions that give substantial discounts to veterans, AAA members, teachers, students, etc. I have saved thousands when traveling by simply asking.”
Mitch is right! I realize not everyone is comfortable doing this, but politely asking “Is that your best price?” or “Is there a way to save more on this?” usually gets the job done. It truly works, but you won’t save a dime if you don’t ask.
2. Cut that cord
If you’re still paying hefty monthly bills for cable or satellite TV, cut the cord and save at least $1,200 a year. Both Comcast and AT&T recently announced rate increases. You can get 70 channels of YouTube TV for $49.99 a month with a small investment in a streaming stick if you don’t already have a smart TV. We cut the cord in 2016 and have never looked back. You can do it!
3. Auto insurance
The best way to save on anything is to shop around, but this is especially true when it comes to auto insurance. Get a quote on a new auto insurance policy and save possibly hundreds of dollars a year on each driver. Here in the Sunshine State we pay some of the highest rates in the nation, according to a 2019 report by TheZebra.com, an insurance comparison website. Auto insurers are famous for imposing a so-called loyalty tax on longstanding customers. If you want to keep your current insurance company, shop around, then ask your agent for lower rates based on your research.
4. Get happy
“Want to save money when you dine out without using coupons? So many restaurants now offer happy hour pricing with big discounts on food as well as drinks, so long as you order before 6 or 7 p.m.,” says reader Stacey Marantz Stabile.
It’s true. I love to visit high-end restaurants where you can eat like a king and pay like a pauper.
5. Save on cellphone bills
Check in with your carrier at least twice a year to be sure you’re getting the best available deal on wireless service. Ask customer service reps to guide you. There is intense competition between carriers and they are always offering new, cheaper plans with more features, but you must opt-in to take advantage of them.
Also, for those over 55, Verizon and T-Mobile senior plans offer up to 50% off service.
6. Dining deals
Reader Lynn Todd has the right idea about eating out. It’s expensive.
“Take lunch every day, cook at home and freeze leftovers for another time. I eat out once a week as a treat.”
My husband often will suggest we go out “somewhere cheap” to keep the bill under $50. I suggest we eat in and save $50. Search online for 20-minute meals and surprise everyone with your resourcefulness.
7. Book it
“Get reacquainted with your public library,” suggests Margie Kozich.
This suggestion was made by many readers. Besides hard cover and e-books, libraries lend everything from free music to museum passes, digital tablets and fitness trackers.
8. Skip Starbucks
Phyl Krinsky says, “Make your own coffee. Save any leftovers in the fridge for iced coffee.”
Carol Connolly suggests freezing the leftover coffee in trays for iced coffee. On National Coffee Day, I shared tips on making the perfect cold brew at home so you can skip Starbucks and bank the savings. What is your weekly Starbucks habit costing? Do the math. The number may shock you.
9. Make a list
Don’t impulse shop, says AJ Grossman. “Make that list, clip coupons and stick to your budget/plan.”
Several readers shared this simple and effective tip. To avoid impulse purchases, especially on decorative items, I take a photo and then search for it on online to see if I can find a better price. Most times, I decide I don’t even want or need the item.
“My tip is to dedicate a no-shopping-at-all week,” suggests Gwyn Mixsell West. “Literally. I may not pull out my credit card or buy ANYTHING for one whole week. Makes me plan my meals, no lunch or meals out, and not even a Publix run. It’s amazing because you see how many times you would buy things you can easily live without and when the week is over I still refuse to buy a coffee out, etc.”
I also try to skip a week of grocery shopping, which helps me keep the freezer lean and clean. You’ve likely got plenty of food in there. Use it up before buying more.
11. Go generic
Brand loyalty to food products can cost you up to twice as much. I almost exclusively buy store-brand products and find the quality to be just as good. Most stores also offer a money-back guarantee, including goods purchased at Aldi, Publix, Target and Trader Joe’s.
12. Buy big
Don’t purchase individual snack sizes. Those little bags of chips and cookies often sell for twice as much as the regular-sized product. Instead, buy small zip-seal bags (generic, of course!) and load them yourself. It takes 2 seconds.
13. Water works
“Get a water filter and stop buying bottled water to save thousands,” says Frank Mach. I say take this a step further and buy a few good-quality reusable water bottles and start filling ‘em up. Think of all the money we spend on heavy cases of water over a year! Plus, the environmental impact of empty bottles is enormous. It takes 500 years for plastic water bottles to decompose. Enough.
14. Join the club
“Join the CVS club. It’s a flat fee up front but you receive $10 each month in Extra Bucks that more than pays for the membership (almost double),” says Staci Lyn Garcia. CareClub is $5 a month and also offers free delivery. Go to CVS.com/carepass/join.
15. Social savers
Facebook groups are a fun way to learn tricks to save money and hunt down the best deals from expert savers. These communities sniff out savings at Amazon, Walmart, Target and Publix, among other retailers, and post the deals so you can get them, too. Often, employees, managers and Instacart shoppers offer insider tips that will turn you into a smarter shopper.
The groups are made up of fans of certain retailers and are not affiliated with the brands. Search groups under the name of your favorite retailer.
16. There’s an app for that
Leigh Gage says to use grocery apps Ibotta, Fetch Rewards and SavingStar to earn cash back on purchases. They’re free and often come with a joining bonus, as in the case of Rakuten.com, which offers new members $10.
17. Sign up for a rewards credit card
Get something for nothing. If you travel, sign up for a major credit card that pays you back in airline or hotel miles. A good source on current offers is ThePointsGuy.com. Or, save on everyday goods. Target’s REDcard gets you 5% off all purchases and free shipping on Target.com.
18. Pay cash
“Credit will always cost more in the long run,” says Trudy Wasserberg. If you are carrying heavy credit-card debt, call creditors to negotiate a lower interest rate, which will help you save hundreds or thousands of dollars.
19. Dollar club
Bank more with this fun savings plan, known as the 52 Week Money Challenge. Starting on the first week of the year, deposit into a savings account $1 on Week 1, $2 on Week 2…$26 on Week 26, etc. By the end of the year, you’ll have $1,378. Or, reverse the chart and start with a $52 contribution. For even more savings, double the amount each week and you’ll have nearly $3,000. Go to SunSentinel.com/MoneyChallenge to see the chart.
Mix-and-match just a few of these tips, then put that money to work by paying yourself first. You can’t accumulate wealth if you don’t save.
©2020 Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)
Visit the Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) at www.sun-sentinel.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.