Budgeting 101 with Coupon Mom
Happy New Year! Now is a great time to take a look at last year’s spending and identify ways to get more out of your hard-earned dollars this year. The key to saving money is to find ways to pay less for the goods and services you need, as well as paying less for extras and luxuries.
Shoppers tend to think of saving money as getting great deals on purchases. That’s part of it, but true saving is having extra cash each month to put into a savings account so that you are prepared for emergencies. By having an emergency fund, when unexpected expenses come up, you can cover them. You won’t have to use a high-interest credit card, which will only put you further behind.
If you look at budgeting as a fun game rather than a tedious task, you’ll save more and become a much smarter consumer. The key to true financial security is being able to spend less than you make so that you have more options available to you and enjoy life more. As you grow your savings, you’ll have more flexibility in terms of choosing where you live, work and travel.
Here are my top 5 strategies for saving more money in 2019:
- Pay yourself first. This means taking a set amount out of your regular paychecks and putting it directly in a savings account. You can have the amount deducted from your paycheck and deposited in an account automatically, or you can just discipline yourself to deduct an amount from your checking account and move it to a savings account as soon as your check is deposited.
- Create a realistic budget. Once you’ve paid yourself, list your required fixed expenses (such as rent or mortgage, insurance, groceries, utilities, car payment) and deduct them from your available income. Hopefully you will have money left after those expenses, which you can budget across extra categories such as entertaining, gifts, vacations and more.
- Analyze savings opportunities. Carefully consider each category to see if there are ways that you can shave spending. Your rent may be set, but you may be able to save money by switching providers for various utilities or insurance by shopping around. You may find that there isn’t much extra money for optional expenses, so you may consider cooking at home (rather than going out to eat) and finding creative, free entertainment options.
- Use online tools and free apps to save on everyday expenses. I personally believe most people overpay for groceries and other consumer goods because they aren’t aware of all the savings tools available. Smart shoppers pay far less for the same products by taking advantage of coupons, price comparison tools, sales and money-saving apps. My favorite cashback app is Ibotta, which has hundreds of offers on popular grocery items and consumer products. You do not have to use a coupon at the store. I review the offers available in the Ibotta app for my regular stores, select the offers I like, and then I simply take a picture of the receipt with my Ibotta app to get cash back. In some cases the cash offer is equal to the price of the item, so I get free items easily. This week I got free coffee and free Yoplait yogurt, and I got cash back on other favorite items I buy such as bagels, Dave’s Killer Bread, frozen salmon, Boca Burgers, Life cereal and more. You can also get cash back on online shopping with the Ibotta app. (All offers were valid as of publish date. Don’t forget to check your app for details as offers change frequently and may not be available in all areas).
- Use free store apps. You should use the free app for any grocery or drugstore you use. With just a click, you can get free digital coupons and rewards for your spending. No clipping required!
This is a sponsored post written by me in partnership with Ibotta. All opinions are my own.