Sometimes, saving money can feel like a myth – the concept of it seems like something somebody made up. You hear of people doing it, and you even set up a budget that should allow you to do it, but by the time you review your bank statement at the end of the month, perhaps you’ve put aside barely anything. What the hell happened? Well, there are usually a lot of things our budgets don’t account for. Take, for example, the simple fact that prices are up on nearly everything right now, from food to gas to clothes, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. You don’t notice it while you’re shopping. Apples are now $1.49 a pound instead of $1.19 a pound. T-shirts from your favorite bargain spot are going for $8.99 now instead of $6.49. It’s those little things, but they really add up.
Then there are surprise expenses, like having to get a friend a housewarming gift or having to pay for a cavity filling. Those can eat up your projected savings. Life is pricey, and if you still want to save, but making more money isn’t currently in the cards, you have to get scrappy. According to the Federal Reserve, 61 percent of Americans are unprepared to pay an unexpected $400 expense. If you don’t want to fall into that category, try some of these slightly embarrassing ways I save money.
Getting a coupon and getting back in line
You’ll notice that pharmacies and similar places with membership rewards give you a great coupon…after you’ve already made your purchase. You buy some mascara, coffee, hand soap, toilet paper, and greetings cards and with your receipt, are handed a coupon for $5 off a purchase of $25 for next time. Make next time this time. Beat their system. Gather up all the things you need. Buy just one or two. Get that coupon. Get back in line and use that coupon right then and there, on the remaining items. If you have a big shopping list that day with nearly a $100 or more worth of items, it can pay off to break this up into chunks and do this a couple of times. Get $30 worth of the stuff. Get the coupon. Get back in line, buy another $30 worth. Get another coupon, get back in line and get the rest of the stuff.