Some days are just worse than others! Whether your car breaks down, you come down with the flu, or any other personal problems occur, you are more than likely to miss work. If you work full time you may have an accumulation of paid time off and sick pay to use, but if you work part-time you may not be so lucky. A couple of months back I got very sick and was out of work for about 2-3 weeks and my sick balance began to drain so I began compiling ways that helped me save some money through different ways. I looked into what we were spending our money on and I never realized how much money we spent on unnecessary purchases, mainly trips to restaurants. After checking out my checkbook, I realized it was time to make a change.
My mom taught me how you can use coupons and other money saving tips to make your money last a little longer. Here are a few ways you can make a $50 meal budget for the whole week.
Only Visit the Grocery Store Once a Week, or as Little as You Need to.
When you live in town, it can be tempting to run to the store, just to pick up milk or eggs. When I lived with my parents we lived 20 minutes from the closest grocery store so we only went once a week or sometimes every two weeks. Try to get all your groceries you need in one run, which leads me to my next point.
Make a List and STICK TO IT!
This is one of the most important things to do when sticking to your budget. Make a list throughout the week and review it before you go to the store. When you get to the store only buy the things that are on your list, even if all the snacks are tempting. A subtip to this tip is always eat before you go shopping. That way the snacks won’t look so good because you are full, which in turn will save you some money.
Plan Your Meals
You have probably heard this one before but planning out your meals can really save you some time and some serious moolah. If you plan out what you want for dinner, you can always pre-make part of or all of your meal with this type of planning. If you know you want roasted chicken one night, you can save the scraps and make a salad or casserole with the leftovers. You can also take the carcass and make chicken broth for a delicious soup! That is 3 meals with one chicken! You can also freeze things like soup in individual baggies to heat up for quick and affordable lunch at work!
Save Your Scraps
I kind of touched on this in the last point as well but you can save more food than you can think of. If you are having a salad with celery, onions, and carrots the peelings, leaves and other “undesirable” parts to make broths for soups and bases. Stocks can run between $2-$5 so save money with the ingredients you already have!
Go Coupon Crazy
When I say go crazy you don’t have to go all out like the people on “Extreme Couponer” but knowing how to use them is the real trick. One rule of thumb is only use coupons on the stuff you are planning to buy. If you see that there is a coupon for Salmon for $1 off and it is not on your list do not by it. As tempting as it may be, buying items that were not on your list will cost you more money in the end. Many local grocery stores send out coupons or have in app coupons, including retailers like Target, Walmart, and other large brands.
Price Check BEFORE You Shop
You can check out the ads to see what deals they are currently running and if you can use your coupons for the best deal possible. Most places sale cycle starts Sunday so check either Saturday sometime or the day before you go shopping! There are some places like Target will offer gift cards if you purchase $50 worth of items such as grocery or paper products. Before you shop check your local add and some coupon sites to help you save the big bucks!
There is ALWAYS Room for Improvement
Let’s admit it, if we tried as hard as we could and lived on the Dave Ramsey “Beans and Rice” diet, but who wants to do that? Make your own version of the “Beans and Rice” diet so you can save money for the most important things. You can also modify cheap meals to make them taste better! When I make Ramen Noodles, I always add soy sauce, chili garlic paste, garlic, onion, sesame seed oil and sometimes meat and veggies if I have them on hand. This meal is so cheap and easy and I am using the ingredients I already have instead of getting Ramen at the restaurant.
Veggies are Cheaper than You Think
You have probably heard the stereotype that junk food is cheaper than veggies and that is why we are unhealthy eaters. In reality, veggies are very cheap! A bunch of kale, peppers, onions, potatoes, carrots and about 20 other vegetables only cost us about $20! When looking at junk food and energy drinks you can spend $10 on a bag of chips, dip, and drinks! Making that paycheck last as long as possible really helps the wallet in the long run. You can sometimes do a pre-checkout online to know how much your items will be. I do that for my Target runs all the time!
Cut Meat Out Even if it is just Once a Week
Meat can be very delicious but very expensive as well. 4 pounds of chicken cost me $10 at the supermarket the other day and it was 4 huge chicken breast. If you eat the chicken breast whole, that can become very expensive very fast. If you cut those chicken breast in ½ or 1/3 you can save money that way too. You can also save money by cutting out meat even like once a week will help you save money consistently. If you are one who must have a type of meat with every meal. Check out your local meat locker and buy in bulk. Deep freezers are perfect for buying meat in bulk because when you purchase such large quantities, you usually receive large discounts as well!
Sign Up for Loyalty Programs and Coupon Apps
Loyalty programs can be a blessing and a curse in disguise as well. Some loyalty programs send you countless emails a day and generally deter people away from these programs. Did you that most programs actually have an option on the bottom of the emails where you can control how many emails you get and what type of emails you get as well. That way you can get all the information about those delicious sales and nothing more! There are also a few apps that help save you money and could be called “loyalty programs” are a great addition to save you money! Some of my favorite are ones you heard of before like ShopKick, IBotta, Receipt Hog and others (there will be a post later on about my favorite money saving apps that will discuss these apps in greater detail).
ShopKick, being my all-time favorite works in interesting ways. When you go to a store, open up the app, and just work walking into the store, you can get 10 kicks! Kicks, are points in this sense, and you can trade in these points for a bunch of free stuff! Anything from gift cards, Vespa Scooters, jewelry and MORE!
You may be asking, if I can only get 10 kicks to enter the store, how am I going to get the awesome FREE stuff? That is a great question! There is also an option at many stores where you can scan items while you shop!
I just checked out the requirements to get 1,100 points at Walmart. All you have to do is view what they want you to scan, scan it, repeat for the rest of the items and that is it! This process LITERALLY took me 10 minutes at most. I will take the ten minutes to get some free points for free stuff.
There is 2 other ways you can earn kicks and that is scanning your receipt! If you have any of the items that are listed to get points on the receipt section you can earn sooooo many points.
I can be really tempting to buy the items to get those points, but do not go out of your way to purchase extra items, you are only buying things you don’t need. Stick to your list.
I bought Dawn Dish Soap, Keebler Cookies, Welche’s Juice, and a Swiffer Sweeper and from buying things I had on my list, I got 1350 Points! JUST FOR BUYING STUFF THAT WAS ON MY LIST! It is so easy to use, and no I am not sponsored but I sooooo recommend this app to everyone!
Buy in Bulk
I learned this from my mom (of course) and it is gospel. If you have the ability to shop bulk at places like Costco, Sams Club, etc. DO IT! Bulk stores may seem expensive when you first check them out, but most of the items are actually cheaper! I don’t know about you guys, but I LOVE saving money. I usually price match my items before I go shopping to save the most money. Some of these bulk stores do require you to have a membership to get those cheap prices. Sam’s Club memberships run about $60 but it is soooo worth it. I payed $10 for 8 pounds of chicken where as I paid $10 for 4 pounds of chicken. Buying in bulk also saves you from having to visit the grocery store weekly!
Grow your own veggies!
Now I know what you are thinking, some vegetables require a lot of time and work but there are so many that are so easy to grow! I currently have a planter of herbs with thyme, rosemary, basil, oregano, and parsley! ALL IN ONE PLANTER. It is growing wonderfully and I can have fresh herbs with no harmful chemicals at any time. I am planning what I will grow for vegetables this season and I will for sure do tomatoes, leaf lettuce, maybe radishes and other ones as well. You can in turn grow many of these plants, especially if you are a homeowner! I live in a larger apartment with a decent size balcony so all my plants reside out there. I found these planters for anyone that wants to save space on their balcony on Walmart.com I have a picture down below and there are many cute colors! I have the charcoal ones because it goes best with my patio set. If you are going to grow tomatoes, you will need to have a single, deep pot for the tomatoes and a tomato cage. You can find all these things at Walmart or your local greenhouse, typically for under $20 including the tomato plant.
If you are not sure how to grow any of these plants, you can become a green thumb quickly especially with resources available like books, tutorial, and my favorite, pinterest. I am working on a board for my gardening and patio inspiration so check there soon!
I hope these tips and tricks give you an idea and some inspiration to save some change. Do you guys have any other suggestions or want information on my favorite coupon sites, leave a comment down below! If you like the content I produce, please feel free to subscribe to my blog and share it with your friends and family. I really appreciate every single like, and subscriber so thanks for supporting me and reading this post? Is there anything you want me to cover or have suggestions? Also leave a comment or get in touch with me. Thanks everyone!