It’s a new year, and another chance to be a new you! Although New Year’s resolutions are a bit of a worn-out trope, I still get giddy at the prospect of a clean slate.
As I shared in a recent article, one of the most popular resolutions is improving finances. I won’t beat you over the head with all the common tips you’ve likely already heard (bring your lunch, reduce your coffee stop indulgences, use coupons). But I will share a few tips and insider savings secrets the experts use. Save a little here, a little there, until it adds up to big savings by the year’s end.
1. Shop the mother of all coupon retailers
The savviest of savers know that CVS is the king of retailers when it comes to coupon deals. But you do need to understand their savings and reward program to make the most of their offerings. If you sign up for emails they send you personalized deals for items you buy frequently, as well as coupons with your receipt each time you shop in-store. You can conveniently print them from the store kiosks as well. The ExtraBucks they give you are also free cash on top of your regular savings. Why do couponers love CVS above others? Most retailers don’t offer email deals, on top of coupons, on top of cash rewards. If you pay attention, your savings can be legit.
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2. Familiarize yourself with swap
Many people have hundreds of dollars worth of items in their home collecting dust that people would be willing to purchase in online swap shops. Take a massive inventory of everything in your home and create a “selling corner” in a basement or storage space. Then post something for sale once a week, once a month, whatever feels manageable for you. In my experience, this makes more money over the course of a year than garage sales, where people are looking to pick things up at an absolute steal. There are also websites out there that will buy old CDs and DVDs, as well as used electronics. When was the last time you listened to a CD? Get RID of all the junk cluttering your life and make some cash in the process!
3. Simplify cooking
People only ever address the excessive cost of eating out, but rarely do people talk about the expense of frequently cooking pricey meals at home. This can especially be problematic for the budding chefs out there who love to experiment in the kitchen. You’ll save the most if you cook the same meals on a rotation (five ingredients or less) because you can stock up on items when they are on sale. It can, admittedly, be very tedious eating the same things all the time. I asked a friend who loves to cook to share her savings strategy. She cooks on a rotation during the week, but at least one day during the weekend cooks to her heart’s desire. That way she saves most of the time, but has some money to enjoy her love of cooking. I thought that was a great compromise.
4. Rethink medical procedure payment
One of the number one ways people get financially behind is with unexpected medical expenses, especially procedures. However, I recently learned that if you offer to pay for a medical expense up front, in full and with cash, you can sometimes negotiate discounts on the total cost of the procedure. This is a cash flow benefit for the business, and reduces administrative work on their end since they don’t have to submit through insurance. This obviously doesn’t work every time, nor does every medical institution have a policy that allows it. But for those that ask, it can save a major chunk over the course of a year.
Everyone can, of course, financially benefit from adopting some of the well-known savings strategies in the New Year. However, if you’re tired of the overused advice out there, give these insider tips a try and see how your wallet can grow.
Kat’s Money Corner is posted on Dollars & Sense every Tuesday. Kat Hnatyshyn, when not blogging or caring for her little ones, is a manager with CommunityAmerica Credit Union. For more financial chatter, visit http://communityamerica.com.