I’ve often been asked over the years how we can afford me being a stay at home mom. There are a lot of answers from basic budgeting to simply learning to adjust. Our plan had been to stay at dual income when the economy changed our plans in 2009 leaving me no job to return to after maternity leave.
I do make some money now off of this blog, but that wasn’t the case then and still isn’t a “salary.” Here are a few money saving tips that anyone can do (no blog required 😉 ) …
If you shop online at all and aren’t signed up with Ebates, you are losing money. It is completely free. Just visit the site BEFORE you shop (or add it to your browser) and find the website for the store you want to make your purchase from. Then click through to start a “shopping trip.”
Two extra tips for Ebates:
- Double check your pending cash back! Twice I’ve noticed my shopping trips not showing up. A quick click and form completion in their Help section and I had my money. The two trips totaled *just* $12, but that’s still $12 (or 3 tall coffees at Starbucks).
- Check the Double Cash Back tab at the top of the page. In early April I scored 6% back on a makeup purchase from Macy’s and 14% from GoDaddy when I renewed my domain (which wasn’t even due until a month later, but for twice the cash back, yes, I’ll renew early!).
Use Groupon or LivingSocial to save on purchases? You can get cash back via Ebates for those purchases too.
ibotta (pronounced “I bought a” – get it?) is a phone app. Find the stores you typically shop at. I personally use it for purchases at Harris Teeter, Target, and BJs and have “favorited” those 3 stores so they are on the top of the list in my app.
Check for rebates for products by store or by category. After you purchase one of the products, click “Verify Purchases.” Select the item(s) you purchased and scan the UPC codes. Take a photo of the receipt. Upload. Once verified, the money will be added to your account. You can cash out at $20 into either your PayPal or Venmo accounts OR redeem for a gift card (minimum amount currently varies from $20 to $25).
Sign up for ibotta today using this link (or enter referral code yevga) and you’ll get $10 by redeeming one rebate within two weeks from signing up.
Not an app. Not a site. Simply create a meal plan each week for the meals your family will eat. You can jot the ideas in your planner, on a list, or use my printable I shared here. How does this save money? By eliminating meals out of the house and using up food you’ve already bought whether it was from this week’s grocery trip or has been in your pantry for months.
Also, as you sit down to write the plan, make a list of any groceries you need to complete the meals. Sort through and pull any coupons so you’re ready to save as you shop.
Admittedly “saving money” and “Starbucks” don’t often go hand in hand, but you can save in some ways and still enjoy that latte every once and a while. For starters, register for the Starbucks Rewards program. It’s free. Use money you earn from Ebates and/or ibotta to add money to your Rewards account and you’re spending your “free” money you earned. Rack up stars within the Rewards program to redeem for free food or drinks later. You’ll also receive a free drink each year for your birthday.
- Watch for sales at your local stores and for coupons (check Coupons.com as well as your Sunday paper) to save on Starbucks products for home. Target often offers a buy X number of Starbucks products or dollar amount and receive a store giftcard for a future trip. That’s money later for other items or even coffee if your Target has a Starbucks inside.
- Check packaging of Starbucks items purchased at your grocery or big box store for star codes. Stash them in a safe place and watch for emails from Starbucks for “bonus star” times (i.e., earn an extra 10 stars when you buy 3 packages of ground coffee”). This will help you earn those stars faster and not spend as much as that in-store latte will run you.
- With a Starbucks Rewards account, you will get emails and/or notifications in the app for special savings on select item(s) in-store. I.e., as I write this I have an offer for a $3 breakfast sandwich.
- Keep an eye on Groupon for discounted Starbucks gift cards (i.e., $10 for a $15 card). Hint: you can get cash back on Groupon purchases as well through Ebates.
Beyond the Target RedCard
There is the option of the RedCard which will save you 5% every shopping trip. Depends on your personal shopping preference because, really, 5% isn’t that much. However, do consider signing up for the Cartwheel app (you can just log in online, save discounts, and print a barcode if you don’t want the app on your phone). It’s completely free and will save you anywhere from a small percentage to a larger dollar amount on specific items. I personally prefer the app because I can quickly scan items while shopping to see if there is a discount I can apply.
Also, if you are in the beta test market (which I *think* is somewhere else beyond Raleigh-Durham? I could be wrong), sign up for RedPerks. Again, add the app to your phone (for now you have to live in the test area to get it). Have the cashier scan your barcode every time your shop or, if you forget, use the app to scan the receipt later. You will earn points for every dollar spent plus occasional bonus points. When you reach 5,000 points, you receive a special perk. This has varied for me from 5% off a shopping trip to a free tall coffee at Starbucks in Target. More recently I’ve been able to pick a perk and, last time, I chose a $5 gift card. Again, not a significant savings, but if you are shopping there anyhow, why not earn something? Plus, there are occasional special coupons inside RedPerks.
Update: Sadly, Target ended the RedPerks program in August 2017.
Of course, one of the best ways to save money? Carry cash and only pay in cash. It gives you a much better sense of how much money you are really spending.
What’s your best money saving tip?