December212012.info
FREEBIE LIBRARY!
Join my email list and get FREE ACCESS to the MSM Freebie Library, including my top printables & eBooks.

Tag Archive: 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year

52 Different Ways to Save At Least $100 Per Year: Shop at Aldi {Week 27}

How We Save Close to $1,000 Per Year by Shopping at Aldi

Every week in 2013, I’ll be sharing a different way you can save $100 this year. If you do all of these things, you’ll be able to save over $5,000 this year alone! Many of these things will likely be things you’re already doing, but hopefully all of you will pick up at least a few new ideas or some inspiration from this series.

10 years ago, I stepped foot into Aldi for the first time in my life — and I was pretty much instantly sold. Since then, we’ve saved thousands of dollars by regularly shopping at Aldi.

In fact, I estimate that we save at least $15-$20 per trip every time we shop at Aldi. That adds up to around $780 to $1,040 in savings per year — or at least $9,000 in 10 years. That’s certainly not something to sneeze at!

Here are three reasons I think everyone should consider shopping at Aldi:

1. They Have Regular Low Prices

One of the best reasons to shop at Aldi is that their regular prices are almost always lower than you’re going to find at most any other grocery store. I love that I can count on these low prices. Without ever looking at a sales flier or clipping a coupon, I can see significant savings on my grocery bill.

2. They Have Amazing Produce Sales

Seriously, the Aldi produce sales can be incredible, sometimes even bordering on crazy low! I typically buy the most of whatever produce they have on special buys. If possible, I’ll buy extras to freeze, too.

As they rotate their rock-bottom produce sales every week or two weeks, we can eat a variety of fruits and vegetables — all at a fraction of the cost.

If you find that your Aldi consistently has a poor selection of produce, you can also price-match the produce sales at Walmart. This allows you to still benefit from the amazing sales, while almost guaranteeing that the produce selection will be in stock and high quality.

3. They Don’t Offer a Lot of Variety

At first glance, this might seem like a negative not a positive. But hear me out.

I love the fact that I don’t have to choose between 57 different varieties of cereal when I go to Aldi. There are just a few choices and they are pretty much all completely different.

There aren’t different brands, sizes, or choices that can make your head spin. Instead, what you see is what you get.

For me, this is incredibly freeing as it simplifies shopping. I can run in and run out of Aldi in nothing flat because I don’t have to compare ingredients or cost per ounce. I just pop the one kind they carry into my cart and move onto the next item on my list.

Recommended Resources

Need more convincing? Check out .

If you’ve not read , I’d recommend it. I especially loved Carrie’s one-month of Aldi menu ideas in the ebook. For more Aldi menu ideas, check out .

Also, I’d suggest . They offer budget-friendly Aldi menu plans. Best of all, all the work is done for you — you just print the grocery list, shop, and cook! Find an  to make it even more affordable!

Be Strategic: Stick With Staples

If you want to successfully save money by shopping at Aldi, you’ve got to stick with buying staples. I know that pop-tarts and chicken nuggets might be less expensive than their regular grocery store counterparts, but they are a lot more expensive than it is if you just buy chicken breasts or ingredients to make muffins.

So skip the pre-packaged stuff and fill your cart with staples. Not only will you probably be eating a more wholesome diet, but your pocketbook will also benefit a lot.

Try Things at Least Once

If you’re leery of shopping at Aldi, don’t be. Just be courageous and go check out your local Aldi store. I bet you’ll be pleasantly surprised! You can see a list of some of my readers’ favorite things to buy at Aldi here.

(Tip: If you have multiple Aldi locations in your area, visit each of them to check them out. Sometimes, the cleanliness and product availability can vary widely from store to store.)

Not every single item will be something your family loves, but commit to trying things at least once. After all, you can’t knock something until you’ve tried it!

Are you a fan of Aldi? Why or why not? I’d love to hear!

52 Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Strategically Use Daily Deal Sites {Week 26}

How to Strategically Use Daily Deal Sites to Save Hundreds Each Year

Every week in 2013, I’ll be sharing a different way you can save $100 this year. If you do all of these things, you’ll be able to save over $5,000 this year alone! Many of these things will likely be things you’re already doing, but hopefully all of you will pick up at least a few new ideas or some inspiration from this series.

One way we stretch our dollars is by buying deals from daily deal sites. They can be a way to get amazing deals on restaurants, local attractions, family fun, local stores, and more!

Here are three things to keep in mind when shopping through daily deal sites:

1. Stick With Your Budget

I don’t care how good the deal is, if you can’t afford it, it’s not a good deal for you. Daily deal sites only save you money when you actually buy deals that are for things you will use and have room in your budget for.

For instance, if you allot a $50 monthly budget for eating out/family fun, you can stretch those dollars much further by buying or for restaurants, bowling, and local attractions. But you still have to stick with the $50 budget.

No cheating is allowed just because it’s a “great deal.” Otherwise, you’ve defeated the purpose and it’s not saving you money but encouraging you to spend more money.

How to Save $100+ Per Year

If you want to guarantee that you save $100 per year by using daily deal sites, cut your current eating out and entertainment budget by $10 per month for the next year and try to make the lower budget stretch with vouchers from deal sites. Unless you live in small town or you are really particular about what types of restaurants you’ll eat at or things you like to do as a family, I bet you can make the reduced budget work just fine!

2. Read the Fineprint

Always, always, always read the fineprint carefully before purchasing a voucher. Check the details on whether there’s a purchase minimum. Be sure that the voucher is good at your local store. And double-check that you’ll actually use the voucher before it expires.

One good thing about is that they have amazing customer service and money-back guarantees. So if you do end up accidentally buying something that isn’t what you thought it was, you can usually get your money back. But I still recommend reading the fineprint with a fine-toothed comb and then taking a little time to think through the purchase and make sure it’s a good use of your money.

3. Shop Through

Once you’ve determined that the voucher is, indeed, a good deal for you, be sure to If you’re unfamiliar with , basically it’s a site that rewards you with a small percentage of cashback on your online purchases. All you have to do is sign up for an account and then go to , search for the online store you’re planning to purchase from, and click through to the site to make your purchase.

You’ll usually receive anywhere from 3% to 8% cashback on each purchase. It might not seem like much, but I think it’s worth earning a few dollars in cash back for taking an extra 30 seconds to click through to Ebates.

Each quarter, Ebates will send you a check for your accumulated cashback amount earned over the past quarter. It’s always a fun little bonus — and it’s FREE money that you’re earning for making a purchase you were already planning to make!

My Top 4 Favorite Daily Deal Sites

What are your favorite daily deal sites? What tips and tricks do you have to add to my list?

(Note: The links in this post are my referral links. .)

52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Plan a Weekly Menu {Week 25}

How to Plan a Menu (Plus, Free Printables!)

Every week in 2013, I’ll be sharing a different way you can save $100 this year. If you do all of these things, you’ll be able to save over $5,000 this year alone! Many of these things will likely be things you’re already doing, but hopefully all of you will pick up at least a few new ideas or some inspiration from this series.

Menu Planning Saves You Stress and Frustration

Do you dread 5 p.m. because it’s when you have to try to pull something together for dinner or feel guilty about ordering takeout yet again? Do you often find yourself running to the store at the last-minute in a frazzled state rushing through the aisles and throwing random things into your cart in hopes it will magically create a five-course dinner?

The truth is, you could throw away the 5 p.m. dread and almost completely eradicate the frazzled last-minute grocery store trips if you sat down at the beginning of the week and made a menu plan.

Menu Planning Saves You Money

I can’t even begin to calculate how much we’ve saved over the years through the simple act of menu planning.

By planning ahead and buying all the groceries we’ll need for the week in one shopping trip, we save numerous trips to the store throughout the week. In addition, when you have a plan in place for what you’re supposed to be eating each meal and you’ve already purchased the ingredients for those recipes, it’s a lot harder to justify chucking the plan for takeout.

There’s No Perfect Way to Menu Plan

Everyone is going to plan their menu a little bit differently — and that’s perfectly okay! What matters is that you do it, and that it works for your family.

For the record, I’ve tried multiple menu-planning methods. Some have worked better than others and some have worked better for us in certain seasons than in other seasons.

from Gifts We Use

My Current Menu-Planning “Method”

I always start by planning my menu around what I have on hand and what’s on sale at the store. I’ve found that freezer cooking definitely makes menu planning easier since it means you have meals already in the freezer ready to go.

I also keep a running list of . I always consult this when making our weekly menu plan to get some fresh ideas and inspiration.

Finally, I add in things that I know I can get inexpensively — either at Aldi or elsewhere. I’m so thankful we have the luxury of having an Aldi close by!

There are times when my cupboards and freezers are pretty bare and it seems the sales are sparse. If that’s the case, I see how much grocery money I have to work with, and I usually pull out some cookbooks to get the wheels in my head going. Or I’ll go to some of my favorite food blogs for ideas. (You can also check out for a plethora of menu ideas from around the blogosphere.)

We keep our meals simple around here, so that makes menu-planning a lot easier. I also pretty much never follow the menu plan to a tee — I’ll usually shuffle some things around, nix a recipe or two for lack of time or because I discovered another recipe that I think will work better.

Find a Method That Works For You

You might find it helpful to take 30 minutes and to serve as inspiration if you’re ever feeling a lack of creativity while menu-planning.

Or, you could have pre-established themes for dinners each week. Tsh, over at , does this and :

Mondays – pasta
Tuesdays – soup, salad, and/or sandwiches
Wednesdays – stir fry
Thursdays – crock pot
Fridays – pizza
Saturdays – something new
Sundays – something easy

Jenna from left a comment sharing how she plans her menus:

I try to plan two meals around items I already have at home in the pantry or freezer, and then plan some meals based on what’s on sale, and some based on what we would like to eat. I keep my plan flexible and allow for anything that will pop up. I also like to keep items on hand all the time for a few quick meals like taco soup and spaghetti. This way, if some comes up, I can whip these up in a jiffy. –

It might seem like a daunting task at first — especially if this is all new to you! — but don’t be overwhelmed. Do the best you can do and remember that it’s never going to be absolutely perfect. Over time, though, you’ll likely begin to realize significant savings just by taking a few extra steps and putting the effort forth to make a plan.

Free Menu Planning Worksheet and Grocery Shopping Lists

To aid you in your menu-planning and grocery-list-making, and I put together some free downloads for you. (By the way, Joy put together a snazzy free downloads page here so you can access all the free downloads we currently have available. Enjoy!)

Meal Planning Worksheet :: This brainstorming form contains spaces to write down store deals, coupons, items on hand, and recipes that can be made from those items.

:: Contains space for the items to purchase, the cost of the item, whether there is a coupon for it, and how much the coupon is for. Also includes a space for notes where you can record extra information about your shopping trip.

:: Two separate shopping lists on one page, each of which includes space for the items to purchase, the cost of the item, and whether there is a coupon for it. Also includes a space for notes where you can record extra information about your shopping trip.

Psst! If you don’t have the time or energy to mess with planning a menu, but you really would like to benefit from the organization and cost-savings of having a menu plan, I’d recommend .

 

Do you have some menu-planning tips & tricks to add to my list?

52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Use a Coupon Database {Week 24}

December212012® Coupon Database

Every week in 2013, I’ll be sharing a different way you can save $100 this year. If you do all of these things, you’ll be able to save over $5,000 this year alone! Many of these things will likely be things you’re already doing, but hopefully all of you will pick up at least a few new ideas or some inspiration from this series.

Coupons are a great way to save a lot of money on your grocery bill, but they can be hard to keep up with. Clipping, sorting, and organizing coupons takes time — time that you might not feel you have right now.

Well, don’t despair! I have a very simple tip for you today to help be able to use coupons even if you don’t want to mess with buying the newspaper, clipping the coupons, and keeping them all organized.

Enter, the coupon database. This is a database of all printable and other coupons currently available.

You can access the coupon database at the top of this blog under the “Coupons” header.

You can search for any brand name or item name. For instance, you can search for bread and it will pull up all bread coupons available. Or, you can search for a specific brand name, such as “Nature’s Own bread” and will only pull up the coupons available for Nature’s Own bread (if there are any available).

Save Money on Groceries in Less Than 10 Minutes Each Week

The coupon database is one of the most effective and efficient ways to save money on groceries. Just plan your menu and grocery list and then, before heading to the store, search the coupon database for items you’re already planning to buy. In less than 10 minutes, you can print coupons for what you were already going to buy and easily save at least $5 for 10 minutes’ of effort (or less!).

If you have time, also check the deals at your local stores on your favorite local blog site. These two things can take you less than 15 minutes total and can save you at least $10 per week on your grocery bill. That’s the equivalent of saving $40 per hour — and it’s tax free money!

Even if you don’t have time to spend on extensive couponing, you can still save money by using coupons. Best of all, when you print coupons for things you were already planning to buy, you know that your time was well spent since you’re not chasing down deals on things you may not end up using!

 Do you have any time-saving tips for effectively using coupons?

52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Follow a Local Deal Blogger {Week 23}

Every week in 2013, I’ll be sharing a different way you can save $100 this year. If you do all of these things, you’ll be able to save over $5,000 this year alone! Many of these things will likely be things you’re already doing, but hopefully all of you will pick up at least a few new ideas or some inspiration from this series.

One simple way to save at least $5 to $10 each week without spending a lot of time and effort is to follow a local deal blogger. This is someone who lives in your area who covers the deals at your local store, as well as who alerts you to special sales, clearances, and even free events and other tips on bargains in your city.

There are a few such bloggers in my area and I save a lot of money thanks to their tips. Plus, I love that they do all the legwork to match the coupons and sales at my local grocery stores.

Before I go shopping, I always check their complete coupon match-ups and it’s pretty much guaranteed that I’ll find a few deals that are going to save me at least $3-$5 extra dollars — often more! Best of all, I don’t have to spend time matching coupons and sales, so it saves me an amazing amount of time.

How to Find a Local Deal Blogger

When I talk about finding a local coupon blogger, the first question people always ask is, “Yes, but how do I find one in my local area?” I suggest starting by searching for your local city/town + “coupon matchups” or “deal blogger”.

If that doesn’t pull anything up, try searching for the towns around you. If you live in a very small town, you might not find anything, but if you live in a decent-sized town, there’s a good chance you’ll find someone — maybe even multiple bloggers!

If you still can’t find anything, then search your store’s name and “coupon match-ups” or “deal blogger”. You should definitely find something with that search. You can also check out our Store Deals section to find a blogger who is covering the deals at the stores you shop at regularly.

Once you find some bloggers who you think might be a good possibility, go ahead and sign up for their email newsletter or subscribe to their blog. Follow them for a few weeks and you’ll get a good idea if they are a good fit or not for the types of deals you are looking for.

Can’t Find a Blogger? Create Your Own Frugal Network!

If you can’t find a blogger in your area, don’t fret. Consider starting your own blog or just creating your own frugal network.

Ask some of your local friends who are interested in saving money if they’d partner together with you to share deals they find and pass along any bargains they come across. You could have an email list, private forum, or Facebook Page.

It’s amazing how effective working together to help everyone save money can be. Plus, you might take your frugal network a little farther and set up a frugal club. You can read more about how this might work here.

Remember: Just Because It’s a Great Price, Doesn’t Mean It’s a Good Deal for YOU

Following deal blogs can save you a lot of money, but you need to be careful that you don’t spend a lot of extra money or time chasing “bargains”. It can be easy to get caught up in the excitement and forget to check to make sure you can afford something in your budget. In addition, when other people are all thrilled about a deal, it’s easy to forget to carefully think through whether you need to buy the item.

So just make sure that following deal blogs doesn’t actually encourage you to spend more money than you would otherwise. As I always say, just because something’s a good price doesn’t mean it’s a great deal for you.

Do you have a local deal blog? If so, tell us what area it’s for and share the link to it in the comments!

52 Different Ways to Save $100 This Year: Refinance Your Mortgage {Week 22}

Note from Crystal: This guest post was originally published in 2011. I wanted to re-post it as part of this series since it’s something I think everyone who has a mortgage should consider. This idea might not actually save you $100 this year — as your mortgage rates could actually end up increasing a little bit if you refinance — but over the course of the life of your loan, it could end up saving you thousands of dollars!

Guest post by Megan

“Will I ever pay off my mortgage?”

This question has taunted every mortgage holder in America at one point in time or another. My husband and I have been blessed to have a decent amount of equity in our home, and yet the thought of shelling out hundreds of dollars a month for another 28 years has still sent quivers through me a time or two — at least until recently.

I had purchased a house in 2007 before my husband and I were married. I grew up flipping houses (buying, fixing and then reselling) with my family. This instilled in me a desire to try my hand at one myself. I thought it would be an excellent way to get ahead and that I may as well start knocking out mortgage payments sooner rather than later. So with a 30-year, $80,000.00 mortgage at a 7% interest rate, I started doing just that.

Thanks to the help of friends and family, I completed the necessary renovations on the home I purchased and then proceeded to rent out my house while I continued living at home. Even after getting married a year later, my husband and I decided that, for the time, we would continue to rent the house I owned out. For us, it made more sense to let someone else pay our mortgage while we lived in an inexpensive apartment.

The arrangement was working nicely, but it still seemed as though we could be doing more to manage the finances that were tied up in our rental investment. We started looking into refinancing options and were very surprised by the numbers we discovered.

What does it mean to refinance?

Simply put, refinancing is paying off your current loan with a new one to reduce the term of the loan. This in turn saves you a good deal in mortgage interest. We were so excited to find this silver lining in our current economic cloud!

How Much We Saved By Refinancing:

Before Refinancing:                                      After Refinancing:
$80,000.00 loan                                                $80,000.00 loan
30-Year Note                                                       15-Year Note
7% Interest ($112,168.12 )                                 4.25% Interest ($28,330.41 )
$811.00 Monthly Payment                                $846.00 Monthly Payment

Note: In the process of refinancing, my husband and I recently decided to move from our apartment into our rental, as residential loans offer lower rates than investment loans.

As you can see, our return on two months’ worth of paperwork has been $83,837.71 in interest savings and 15 years off the life of our loan!

I was, and am still floored at the savings in interest alone. You may have noticed our monthly payment increased by $35. For us, this is an overage my husband and I are willing to make up in other areas of our budget. We believe it will be worth every penny in the long run!

If you are interested in pursuing the option of refinancing your home, here are a few tips to get you started:

1) Calculate Your Current Mortgage Information

Before you start shopping for a better interest rate, you’ll want to know what percentage you’re trying to beat. Pull out your latest mortgage statement and input the information into . This is my favorite tool for tracking our mortgage, as it is very simple to use.

With it, you can see how a lower interest rate can affect your loan, or you can calculate how much you would save by simply paying a little extra on your monthly payment. This tool can even help you calculate how much you could save by simply cutting a few restaurant visits and coffee stops each month!

2) Start Shopping For Rates

It is a good idea to start with the company who currently holds your loan. Although this was not the case in our situation, often your mortgage holder will offer you a better rate so they may keep your loan, thus keeping your business from moving to their competitors.

Once you have their rate quote, ask for rate and payment quotes from one or two additional banks before making a decision. Don’t be afraid to let each company know what the others are offering you as they will want to know what would be necessary to acquire your business.

3) Recalculate Your Proposed Refinance Information

Now calculate your proposed rate, payment and loan term information in the to see if refinancing will incur a savings for you and your family. If it does…

4) Act Fast!

Quickly the company that gave you the best rate quote. Although interest rates may be low now, there is no guarantee they will stay that way in our ever-fluctuating economy. In fact, we took our time during a certain portion of our refinance, during which the rates jumped on us by 0.75%. Believe it or not, this “little” jump cost us a savings of nearly $5,000.

It is likely that few of you will have the exact scenario we had, but if this information helps you save even a few thousand dollars and a couple years from the life of your loan, I wish you Godspeed!

Megan is a wife and mom who desires to be a good steward of the earthly possessions God has blessed her family with.