Hey guys it’s Chelsea from the Financial Diet,
And this week’s video is brought to you by RetailMeNot.
And today I wanted to talk to you
about the super creative ways
that you probably haven’t tried to save money.
When it comes to saving,
especially when you’re already on a tight budget,
it can often feel impossible,
because so much of the advice around saving
is centered on really restricting as much as possible,
and not acknowledging the fact
that we’re all going to spend in not perfect ways
and it’s often just about making those purchases in a smarter way
than stopping them altogether.
Being extremely restrictive with money
is not dissimilar from being extremely restrictive
when you’re on a food based diet.
You’re likely to see a lot of results for the first few weeks or so,
but eventually you’re gonna mess up and then binge
because you’ve already ruined it anyway.
But there are ways to live the life you want
while still making serious savings,
and it all comes down to being creative.
So, here are seven of those creative savings strategies
for every part of your life that money touches.
Number one is The Cash-Only Food Diet.
So the cash-only diet is a pretty creative
but still fairly common way to save money,
and it may even be something that you’ve already tried.
It’s essentially where you limit yourself to only being able to spend in cash.
And there’s a pretty strong psychological backing to it.
Research shows that we have a powerful emotional response
to paying for things with cash.
Just looking at an image of cash
releases chemicals in our brain that make us happy.
We’re more attuned to the value of $10
when forced to fork over two $5 bills than when paying with plastic.
Having to run to an ATM to get more money to pay for another round of drinks
also forces you to think twice
about whether or not it’s worth it.
But it can be pretty hard to just switch over all of
your spending overnight to cash only,
particularly when a lot of the ways in which we spend money
you literally can’t use cash for,
things like apps, online shopping, etc.
You don’t want to do a hardcore cash cleanse
only to break the rule in a few days,
because you have to Venmo someone or buy something on Amazon.
Because once you mess up,
you’re much more likely to just abandon it entirely.
But there are ways to utilize the power of a cash spending diet
without making it so restrictive that you’re likely to break it.
And that’s by limiting the cash only rule to only one area of spending
particularly the one you have the most trouble with.
And for most people, that category is food.
Because for most of us,
food and dining is the biggest category of spending
in our budgets every month after things like rent or mortgage,
and it’s also a very easy area
in which to overspend without even realizing it.
Because food is a necessity,
but there is a huge spectrum between what we need and what we want
And if you’re a millennial like myself,
chances are that statistically you have a relationship with food
that is even more expensive than other generations.
In fact, 60% of Millennials
can’t even make a basic salad dressing by themselves,
40% of them can’t identify a butter knife,
and 44% of total millennial food spending is on dining out.
So if you combine our tendency to overspend on dining,
our general inability to cook,
and the extreme access to easy food on things like delivery apps,
food is the area in which we could stand to make
a huge difference in our budget,
just by limiting ourselves to cash only.
Now I’m someone who does tend to cook a lot,
I genuinely love it,
and I would say the majority of my meals
are either home-cooked or leftovers that I’ve defrosted.
But I also do spend on things like Seamless and Postmates,
and even one month without being able to use those apps
would likely make a huge difference in my budget
without actually having to feel like I’m restricting myself,
because there are other ways
to still enjoy food while using only cash.
In fact one TFD contributor
who has her own site called “The Luxe Strategist”
talked about her cash-only food spending and how it helped her.
That month she and her partner only spent
$860 total on food and dining,
which is the lowest they had spent in 12 months.
Wherever you’re currently at,
see how much just using cash
could help you when it comes to food.
The next way to save is to be super creative with your browsing.
So 79% of Americans shop online now,
and for most of us, especially for Millennials,
it is an integral part of how we shop.
From the convenience of it to the products we otherwise wouldn’t have access to,
to the sales that we can hop on when they come along,
it is a really indispensable way to get what we need while not paying too much.
And for me online shopping has changed the way I do several things
I automate regular necessity purchases
so that I can get them at a better bulk price.
And I don’t have to make as many runs
to the store, which means not being tempted
to buy a bunch more stuff I don’t need.
But I’m also a huge devotee of couponing online,
and one tool that I’ve used for years
and checked religiously every time I’m shopping online is RetailMeNot.
In the past, basically every time I was shopping online,
I made sure to check their site for deals,
and there was almost always some kind of sale
that I could take advantage of.
And what’s really cool is for purchases that I wanted to see online first,
like clothes I wanted to try on,
most retail stores are obligated to honor online coupons
so long as they’re not online only,
and most aren’t.
So I would literally just hold up my phone
with the coupon code from RetailMeNot,
and they would have to honor it in the store.
But now there’s an even better way to do it,
you can add a browser extension
called RetailMeNot Genie to your regular internet surfing
that does all the the work of saving for you.
And it automatically applies coupon codes and cashback offers
whenever applicable at checkout.
They make it easy to save on everything you need,
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such as clothing, beauty, travel and food.
Install RetailMeNot Genie for free
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The next way to save is the Punch Card Treat Yourself Day.
So one thing that I think is super important
is to find creative release valves
that allow you to feel like you’re indulging and treating yourself
and getting the things you want
without having to spend recklessly for them
Because let’s be honest,
we can have a tendency to indulge in these things
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whether we’re sad, anxious, happy, celebrating, commiserating,
there’s always a reason to overspend on those treat yourself things,
and that tends to have a notable impact on our credit card debt.
Almost half of Americans, 49%
say emotions caused them to spend more than they can reasonably afford,
with stress, excitement and sadness
being the top emotions associated with overspending.
So for those of us who are not looking to tempt ourselves
with a credit card that we can easily start
racking up unaffordable charges on,
there is a more manageable way
to focus on the accumulation of points and rewards.
Now this is very separate from using credit cards
to maximize the points or miles you might get for them,
which is something that I do,
I essentially just filter a lot of my purchases through credit cards
and pay it off at the end of the month
so that I can rack up those points.
But that may not be where you’re at
in terms of your relationship to spending yet,
or you may not even be qualified for those points cards yet.
But anyone can do this approach
and you can also do it in tandem with using credit cards,
which I also do myself.
Essentially I wrote a whole article
which I’ll link you guys to in the description
about how I do the same points maximizing theory
with loyalty cards to stores rather than credit cards,
and they’re often just punch cards,
like you’ll get at your coffee shop
or your favorite sandwich place.
Essentially pick three to four places where you could use these freebies
to have your perfect day,
and work toward keeping all of those loyalty cards
and freebies to use together.
For example, you can make it so that you get
a free blowout, and a free smoothie,
and a free manicure, or a little makeover at Sephora,
or really whatever you want all on one day.
And these are purchases you’re already making regularly,
so it’s not like you have to go out of your way to do it.
Similarly to how you accumulate points
by using a credit card intelligently,
you can accumulate these loyalty rewards
and freebies by using these loyalty cards the same way.
And by putting them all together into a fun
“Treat Yourself Day” as I have,
you get something to look forward to
without having to do blow out spending on the day.
So dig up all those loyalty cards
you probably have hanging out in your wallet,
and start coordinating them,
and most importantly never forget to use them
when you’re buying something.
Number four is to rethink your commute.
So the average American spends $1,968 a year on gas alone,
according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
And that’s not surprising
considering 85% of working Americans
are estimated to take a personal car to work regularly.
According to the American Public Transport Association,
the average household spends 18 cents of every dollar on transportation,
and 96% of this goes to
buying, maintaining, and operating cars,
the largest expenditure after housing.
A household can save nearly $10,000 a year
by taking public transportation and living with one less car.
That’s bananas, and speaking as
someone who has not owned or even really operated a car
in almost a decade,
and that’s not always been while living in major metropolitan areas,
I am gobsmacked. So simply set a challenge
to reduce the total cost of your commute
by either a certain percentage or dollar amount each month
and use various strategies to get there.
It doesn’t have to be one size fits all,
because some of us can’t get out of using a car entirely,
but even just using public transportation
on some days or for some parts of a commute
can make a huge impact.
And even if you have to keep using a car period,
there are plenty of more creative ways to be getting your gas.
For instance, there are several smartphone apps such as GasBuddy
which help you locate the cheapest gas around you.
It’s also a good rule of thumb
to never buy your gas if possible anywhere near a highway
as they often jack up their prices for convenience.
And if gas tends to be very expensive
and public transportation is scarce,
try organizing a carpool.
There are plenty of great websites that help people organize carpools,
you can also organize them within your own office or place of work,
and perhaps most importantly,
rethink just how many cars you need
if you’re living in a multi-car household.
It’s very common in America for households
to have more than one car on average per person,
which is insane.
Aside from how much more money you’re spending unnecessarily,
think about the environment,
chances are if you are commuting like an average American,
just rethinking a few elements of your daily routine
can save you thousands of dollars a year.
Number five is the second hand challenge.
So one of the biggest areas in your life where you can change the way you shop
and change the way you think about what you need and how you get it,
is in your home goods/furniture.
Setting a challenge to get at least 50%
of these home goods secondhand or free
is an amazing way to change
not just the money you’re spending,
but how you’re thinking about spending itself.
You can easily get everything from flatware to appliances
to great wood furniture in this way.
And things like a fresh coat of paint,
changing the handles on something or just a good sanding down
can really transform key pieces.
Of course there are obviously the basics
like people giving stuff away on Craigslist,
or even just leaving it on the street when they move,
which is how I got several of my favorite pieces in my home,
from a kitchen cart which I completely redid and whitewashed
to a beautiful leather couch
that rich people were throwing away because rich people are insane.
There are also websites like freecycle.org
or Facebook groups like broke lists,
which have chapters for most major cities.
You can also organize home good swaps,
but perhaps most importantly,
check out your local thrift stores and goodwill,
it is insane the amount of notably dining accessories
that they have at these stores.
Not only is it kind of chic and cool
to have tons of like really cute
mismatched serving ware and things like that,
but there are also really amazing sets of like
a full thing of dinner plates, dessert plates,
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forks, knives, glasses, etc,
for pennies at these thrift stores.
One of my friends just recently picked up a beautiful
KitchenAid stand mixer at her local thrift store for $30.
Those things retail in the hundreds,
and it came in the box with all of the accessories.
The point is, furniture and home goods are one of the biggest places
in which paying retail is almost always a mistake,
because most of these items, especially if they’re of quality,
are built to last for decades,
and as long as they’re still functioning, why replace it?
Make that “50% of home goods be secondhand” challenge
and stick to it,
and you’ll be shocked at how much you save.
Number six is store loyalty programs.
Now outside of just using the loyalty rewards like punch cards
or buy one get one free that some stores offer,
there are also just more general rewards programs at many stores
that give you tons of benefits when you shop.
And of course sometimes savings means just strictly spending less money
or buying fewer things, period,
but often it means buying what you need to buy anyway
in a much smarter way.
So as many loyalty programs as you can be a part of
at these stores you are regularly shopping at, the better.
For example, anyone who regularly shops at CVS
and uses their ExtraCare card
is familiar with the mile-long receipts
that you get for buying a pack of gum.
And you should not just laugh at
how long those are and throw them away,
they have a lot of good stuff on them.
Simply remembering to bring those coupons with you
and to make your purchases according to them when you can
will guarantee you savings.
Plus, using the card means you can get
2% cash back on on your purchase.
Similarly, if you’re a frequent Target shopper
and not interested in those store-specific credit cards,
which can be tempting and problematic,
Target offers a loyalty based debit card
that links with your checking account.
You don’t need to have a great credit score to get it obviously,
and it also means not being tempted
to spend past what you can afford.
It simply gives you 5% off
whenever you use it at Target,
plus tons of coupons and bonuses.
And plenty of other stores offer loyalty programs.
It’s very likely, for example,
that your local grocery store has one.
And you don’t just want to join them because they seem like a good deal,
you want to join them because you’re already shopping with these stores anyway.
So take a look at each store you most frequently shop at,
and just take a few minutes to see
if they have a loyalty program you could be taking advantage of.
And best of all, these loyalty programs are totally compatible with outside coupons,
so you can really rack up the savings,
especially when it comes to things like holiday shopping
when you’re doing way more your normal spending.
Number seven is strategizing with gift cards.
So there are actually two ways that you can use gift cards
in a creative way to save money.
One of them is that you can use them as fixed incentives
for reaching specific financial or personal goals
that allow you to do something fun without overdoing it.
But you can also literally hack the way you use gift cards
to get them at a discount for their full value.
So similarly to using the punch cards
as a fun way to create a Treat Yourself Day,
using gift cards as a reward for a specific goal
means that you have something super tangible to look forward to,
and you don’t have to worry about
whether or not you’ll have the free cash
at that moment to have the rewards.
For example you can buy a gift card to your favorite restaurant
for a nice meal for yourself,
and put it away for a few months,
and only take it out and use it when you’ve reached
let’s say for example, a thousand dollar savings goal.
You get to feel totally good about indulging in that reward,
you get to have something really concrete
to look forward to in your spending goal,
and you don’t have to worry about
taking it out of your account at that moment.
Because let’s be honest,
if you google things like shopping ban,
you’ll find thousands of posts of people explaining
why they totally failed in their shopping ban.
It can be really hard to stick to things
or to reach goals without specific tangible incentives,
you always have to have that release valve
to make sure that you’re not getting discouraged or disheartened
because things are just not feeling fun.
And even if you’re not tying that gift card to a specific goal,
having it in your pocket as a sort of
“break glass in case of emergency” for a really stressful
or really happy moment
when you want to do something special with money,
gives you a fixed, already budgeted for amount of money with which to do it.
You’re not going to go overboard and drain your checking account,
but you will get to reward yourself.
But, as I mentioned, you can also buy gift cards at a discount
and use them for their full retail value.
Essentially people put up gift cards for sale
that they’re not going to use,
and you can buy them for up to 50% off,
especially when it comes to purchases that are important
but flexible in terms of timings,
such as, high quality work clothes,
waiting for that discounted gift card
can be the most practical way to make that purchase.
Ultimately, saving extra money is all about being creative,
knowing yourself, and not being afraid to try new things.
And when it comes to all your online shopping,
make sure you’re never left paying $1 more
than you have to again with the awesome Chrome extension
that makes saving a checkout easy, Genie from RetailMeNot.
Download it for free today at the link in our description.
As always guys, thank you for watching,
and don’t forget to hit the subscribe button,
and to come back every Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday
for new and awesome videos. Bye.