Who doesn’t love a good deal? I’ve never heard someone brag about how much money they paid for something, but I have heard people brag about how much they didn’t pay. Lately, I’ve been posting on my personal Instagram account all the smokin’ deals I’ve found at thrift stores. I love reminding people that you don’t have a spend a fortune to get a good deal.
If you’ve been reading me for awhile, you’ve probably read some of my savings’ tips. I write about how to budget well, how to stop spending money you don’t have, etc. I spend a great deal of time talking about this in my book How to be Your Own Travel Agent. (If you want to see my great commercials I made last summer, check out my YouTube channel.)
I also share ways I’ve been able to save money through various things like not eating out as much, using the library for audio books and eBooks, using my electronics until they break instead of buying the latest and greatest, etc. If you really want to get in the saving mood, listen to one of Dave Ramsey’s podcasts where he yells at everyone for being irresponsible with their hard-earned cash. Although he is wildly opinionated, I appreciate some of the tips he gives.
One thing to keep in mind is that you need a “why” if you’re going to save money. One of my big “whys” is travel. I want to be able to fly around the world or take a road trip somewhere amazing. I need money to do that. If I can save a little here and there, I can go on a trip! (As this lovely video shows).
So, here are some things I’ve been doing lately to save money.
1. Shopping at thrift stores.
I have been shopping at thrift stores for 18 years. I even wore thrifted shoes on my wedding day. Last year, I went the entire year without buying anything in a regular store just to see if I could do it. And let me tell you something I learned from that: if I can’t find it at Volunteers of America, I really don’t need it. I follow some people on Instagram who also shop at thrift stores almost exclusively and they will tell you the same thing. I’ve found some great pants, household items, dresses, hats, purses, rugs, cups, shoes, picture frames, and baskets. Basically anything you can wear or use in your home, I’ve found at a thrift store.
2. Using the Acorns app.
Someone told about Acorns in November, and we signed up in December. We each got our own account, and since then, each of has saved approximately $200 in 4 months. Between the two of us, that’s almost $400! What this app does is every time you use your debit card, it rounds up to the nearest dollar and puts that change in an investment account. You can then withdrawal the money whenever you want. It takes 3-5 days to see the money back in your account, but otherwise it is pretty painless to withdrawal. It’s like the electronic version of emptying the change out of your pocket into a jar. It’s real simple to do, and I was surprised the way the coins added up!
3. Looking for “copycats” or “alternatives” for expensive products.
Before purchasing an expensive product, I try to see if I can find an alternative that is the same thing for a fraction of the cost. It is true that a lot of times you end up paying for the brand instead of the product. Take this Josie Maran product for $50. It’s organic argan oil. I found the exact same product on Amazon for $10 instead. It’s actually the same thing. Before assuming it “costs what it costs”, look into alternatives. You might be surprised what you find (and what you save!)
4. Shopping at Aldi
Their prices are lower than most other grocery stores. They have many organic, natural products for very low. I’ve saved lots of money on produce, baking products, nuts and snack food. They also have one of my favorite spaghetti sauces which has only a few ingredients and no sugar! (Hard to find a spaghetti sauce with no sugar for some reason.) If you don’t shop at Aldi, you need to. Check out this price comparison post from Clark. Aldi vs. Kroger vs. Walmart, and Aldi is the winner!
5. Eating out much, much less
I’ve written about this before, but seriously, it’s one of biggest ways we waste money in America. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2017, Americans spent $3,365 per year eating out. That’s about $280 a month. My next question was how much would it cost me to make this at home, instead of going out to get it? Wellio did a cost comparison and found that on average it costs $4.31 to cook a meal at home vs. $20.37 to buy it at a restaurant. So, if we cooked at home instead of spending $3,365 a year eating out, we’d save about $2,653.
Let’s see what $2,600 could get us in travel. Using Kayak, Airbnb and some Google searching, here is how much a week in London, England would cost:
2 round-trip flights to London at $675 each: $1,350
Airbnb in London for 7 days: $550
Sightseeing + metro transportation: $250
You could spend a week in London instead of eating at Applebees every week. Just something to think about. I do like to eat out on occasion with friends, but I try not to make a habit of it. Twice a month compared to multiple times a week really adds up.
After we did some spring cleaning last weekend, we got our porch ready for enjoyment. We grilled out, put some music on, and the ambiance was perfect. We didn’t have to go out to have a special evening. (Also, I thrifed that napkin in the picture. So win-win)
So, what about you? How are you saving money lately?