Thursday, January 28, 2010

Swagbucks & More Fun Ways to Save Money

Since becoming a coupon-clipping Mommy, I am starting to watch out for more and more deals and ways to save money on the things I buy. I am discovering there are so many cool ways to live on a budget and to save money just by making some simple choices and changes. I thought it might be fun to share some of my fun frugal facts (you like that alliteration there?) and maybe the four people who read this blog might find them useful too!

1. Clipping Coupons Old-School: I buy a Sunday paper before I go to work every Sunday morning and I bust out the scissors to clip coupons the old-fashioned way. It's tedious, but after I sort the coupons into my cute little coupon folder (by genre and expiration date) I have a boatload of savings at my fingertips. I make my shopping lists based on the grocery store sales advertised in the circular I get on Tuesdays along with the Walgreens & Target ads from the Sunday paper. On my last outing, I saved more than $60 just by using coupons I clipped and shopping the specials. It took me more than an hour to make my shopping lists, but it was worth it!

2. Date Night on the Cheap: Who says date night has to be at night? The last time Evan and I went on a date, we dropped the boys off with my sister-in-law (Translation: FREE childcare) on a Saturday afternoon and we caught an early movie. By going to the movies before 6:00 pm, you pay about $3 less per ticket. We also snuck in snacks we had previously purchased at Walgreens to avoid the insane concession prices. Slightly dishonest? Sure. A fiscally savvy move? Absolutely. My Reese's Pieces and I were just fine with it.

3. Go Generic: I buy store brands whenever possible. Case in point - infant formula. Enfamil and Similac formula run about $25 per can! I pay $19.79 for a two-pack of the Up & Up brand that Target makes. The best part? The nutrition info on the label is exactly the same as the pricey brands. The Up & Up diapers are really nice too. I buy generic pasta, cheese, yogurt, milk, whatever I can get my hands on. Sometimes you gotta go with the name brand for certain items, but I avoid it whenever possible and it saves me big bucks.

4. Swagbucks: I am brand new to this phenomenon, but I know several people who swear by Swagbucks. Basically, you do all your Internet searching through the Swagbuck-generated search engine and you earn Swagbucks. Need to do some online shopping? Access your favorite online stores like Target and Walmart through the Swagbucks site and you earn Swagbucks for every dollar you spend. Over time, those virtual dollars add up and you can redeem them for actual items or for gift cards to your favorite stores! Not a bad deal. Oh, and you earn Swagbucks for referring your friends, so if this sounds like something you might want to start doing, click on the button to get started!Search & Win Best of all - it's FREE!!

5. Shop Online: Sometimes it just makes sense to buy online versus going to the store. I never buy anything online until I have at least done a search for a promo code I can use. JC Penny always has a ton of options for promo codes and you can usually find some for other online retailers too. It never hurts to check and you may end up saving a nice chunk of change! Often I find the cost of shipping is cheaper than the gas I would spend to drive to the store. Also, consistently offers really great prices and a lot of their products qualify for free shipping. I recently bought Micah's new carseat on and it only cost me $107 versus the $144 for the same model (different fabric) at Target. It was on my doorstep in only two days with the free shipping option. Can't beat that!

6. Sign up for Stuff: This one only works if you sign up for stuff you're actually going to use. It's no fun to get spam sent to your email all the time or to have to dump massive amounts of junk mail into your garbage every day. My example? I signed up to receive the emails from Hobby Lobby and Michaels. Every time the new Michaels email comes out, it has a link to a 40% off coupon for any one regular priced item. This is perfect for me to go and buy my fabulous American Crafts D-ring Scrapbook albums. I will never pay full price for one of those babies ever again. Check out a store's website and see if they have a email sign-up or if you can sign up to receive their offers in the mail. Pampers and Huggies also have awesome programs for this!

I've come a long way from the clueless shopper I once was. In fact, I wrote about it on the blog back in August of 2009. In this post, I was really stressed out about money and one of my goals was to learn how to shop smarter. I'd like to think I've made some progress in that area!

What about you? What tricks & tips do you use to shop smarter?

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