The following post is from Christina of Northern Cheapskate:
When the budget gets tight, it’s time to get creative! You don’t have to pay full price at the store to get the things you need.
Here are some simple ways to get what you need for less:
1. Cash in coupons and rebates.
Sign up for the mail and e-mail lists for your favorite products and learn about coupons and sales. Learn how to use coupons and how to get mail-in rebates and in just an hour a week, you can easily shave 30 to 50% off your grocery bill.
Last year I saved nearly $2,000 using coupons – well worth the little bit of time it takes each week. Why pay full price when you can get many items your household uses for free or cheap?
2. Ask for discounts.
It never hurts to ask for discounts. Ask the cashier if there are any coupons or special deals available on the items you’re buying. If your item has damaged packaging, don’t be afraid to ask for a slight reduction in price. Ask your cable provider how you can shave money off your bill. The worst that can happen is that they can say “no” to any discounts. But many times you’ll uncover unadvertised specials that can save you money.
Need a special tool for a task around the house? Ask a neighbor if you can borrow his. Check out all kinds of free entertainment – from books to movies- from your public library instead of spending money on them. Borrow maternity clothing from a new mom. Just remember to promptly return the items you borrowed in the same condition you got them and don’t forget to return the favor when someone else needs something.
4. Do it yourself.
If you need a book case, new art for your walls, or simple a home-cooked meal, making things yourself is an excellent way to save money. Learn to tackle do-it-yourself projects around the house like fixing a leaky toilet or grooming your dog, and you’ll never pay full price again.
5. Barter or trade.
Don’t be afraid to trade! What skills do you have that could be traded for things you need? Perhaps you can swap some of your homemade jam for some fresh honey from a farmer friend. I have an artist friend who swapped set design skills for dance lessons for her daughter. Other friends participate in babysitting swaps so that they get a much needed break from the kids without having to pay a babysitter. You can hold a clothing or toy swap and score new stuff without spending a cent!
6. Find it for free.
Get what you want for free with a little patience and know-how. Put the word out to friends and family that you are looking for particular items and chances are, they just might give it to you to get it out of their basement. Many garage sales offer a “free” box – stuff that the owners didn’t want to bother pricing for sale and just want to get rid of. You can sign up for Freecycle and find lots of free items in your local area.
7. Use what you have.
Take a good look around your home. Are there things that you can repurpose instead of rushing to buy new? Turn mason jars into beautiful storage containers or replace paper towels with cut-up old blankets and t-shirts. Turn last night’s dinner into something new rather than caving in and ordering take-out. Use what you have to get organized. When you get into the habit of making do with what you have, you realize how much money you can save just by seeing things in a different way.
8. Shop secondhand.
Why pay full price and create more waste in the world, when there are plenty of secondhand items available to purchase at a fraction of the price? Learn how to shop at estate sales, hit the garage sales, and score great deals at thrift stores. Ask friends and family if they are looking to sell the items you’re looking to buy. Check out Craigslist for great deals in your area. Don’t forget to look for secondhand sports equipment and musical instruments, too!
Getting what you need for less is just one of the many skills you need in your frugal toolbox if you want to be smart with your money. Plus, it can be a lot of fun scoring some great deals!
How do you save money on the things you need?
|Christina Brown is the creator of Northern Cheapskate, a blog dedicated to frugal living through coupons, freebies, and money-saving ideas. She lives in the rural north woods of Minnesota where she clips coupons, pinches pennies, and chases her three boys (a 7-year-old and twin 5-year olds) as a stay-at-home mom.