It’s exhausting to be an overachiever. We’re happy to leave the pie-in-the-sky, super big-picture stuff to the legions of financial experts and investing gurus out there. After all, does pie really belong in the sky?
Our money-saving tips are small, simple, reasonable, and achievable. They’re down-to-earth ideas that help cut costs in areas that are problematic for nearly everybody in modern society. So read on for some refreshingly realistic tips for saving money on online shopping, gift giving, entertainment, energy use, parking and gas costs, and going out to eat. Then, start off the new year feeling like a frigging champion.
1. Reshop Your Insurance, Naturally!
We swear we’ll get this one over with quickly. But you didn’t seriously think we’d leave out the idea of saving money on insurance, did you? After all, here at Covered, it’s the veritable meaning of existence.
ICYMI, we just published two excellent blogs telling you why and how to figure out if you can save money on car insurance and homeowners insurance. Using Covered’s super-intuitive online quoting tool, you can get new quotes in minutes. Saving money on insurance has never been easier.
2. Start Using Coupons When Shopping Online
We’re not talking about actually clipping coupons. Coupon clipping can quickly feel overwhelming, and anyway we don’t really picture you rocking one of those expandable nylon organizers.
We’re talking about COUPON CODES. You know, promo codes, discount codes, daily deals, whatever you want to call them. It’s as simple as this: Before buying anything online, google the vendor name and the words “promo code.” That’ll bring up a range of websites devoted to cataloging such things. It’ll only take a minute or two to sift through recent entries to find anything worth trying. Whether you’re looking for an oil change or a new sofa, you may be able to reduce the cost or score free shipping.
Say it with us: “Coupons are not just for old people.” Coupons are for you, helping you reduce the burden of your online shopping habit! You may be surprised by how much you can save.
3. Use Less Energy
Whether you own or rent, you’re probably responsible for an electricity bill. Luckily, energy-saving tech gets better by the second, and common sense never goes out of style. Saving money may simply mean:
- Turning down your thermostat. The cost savings add up over time, and putting on a sweater costs you nothing. At minimum, make sure you’re programming your thermostat. Set it to turn the heat way down at night (you’re under all those luscious blankets anyway) and when you’re gone during the day.
- Buying better bulbs. Incandescent bulbs are so over. While energy-efficient LEDs cost more initially, they’ll use much less energy and last loads longer (on average ~50 times longer).
- Unplugging stuff. As the Department of Energy’s “Energy Saver” website explains, if left plugged in while not in use, appliances like your hair dryer, flat iron, espresso machine, computer, and printer are still drawing electricity. So be wary of these homebound energy vampires (not to be confused with these energy vampires). Get in the habit of unplugging these devices after use, or plugging them into power strips you regularly power down.
4. Get Creative About Gifts
“It’s the thought that counts.” You’ve heard it a quadrillion times, and we’re afraid it’s entirely true. It’s time to stop thinking about gifts in terms of money spent or shiny brand names proffered. Start saving money by thinking about gifts as:
- Experiences. Take them for a picnic. Invite them on a hike to a surprise destination. Make them a scavenger hunt in their own backyard. Teach them a skill you know. Invite them for an “all your favorites” night, where you’ll have prepared their favorite meal and cued up their favorite movie.
- Acts of kindness. What can you do for them that would make their lives easier? Go ahead and do it, or commit to doing it in writing. Don’t you remember how thrilled your mom was when you made her that chore coupon book back when you were a kid?
- Handmade treasures. You don’t even have to be crafty to make this work. A collage of photos assembled in a cool thrift store frame. A new potted plant created from a cutting of one of yours. A plate overflowing with homemade brownies. A story, letter, or drawing. A collection of recipe cards you think they’ll enjoy, gathered together on a ring. A bookmark with a favorite saying, like maybe “Insurance doesn’t have to be complicated.” (Or something else! It can totally be something else. Sorry, we get a little excited about insurance over here.)
5. Drive Less
Parking and gas cost money. Despite Elon’s efforts, electric cars are not yet everywhere. What to do?
- Bike. No gas! No parking fees! Actual exercise! Also, bikes can go where cars can’t.
- Walk. So Google Maps says it’ll take you 47 minutes to walk there. Provided you can do so safely, what’s wrong with walking across your own city to get where you want to go? Call it “urban hiking” if it makes you feel less weird about it. The journey becomes an adventure in and of itself.
- Carpool. Shared rides on Lyft and Uber are just carpools you pay for. If you’ll share rides with complete strangers, why not plan ahead and figure out some cost-reducing shared rides? Maybe you have a tolerable coworker who lives nearby, or a friend who frequents the same ski area you do. Maybe Nextdoor can help you find a trustworthy neighbor whose kids are in soccer, too.
6. Make a Going-Out-to-Eat Food Budget (and Stick to It)
Feeding ourselves can be challenging, and it’s just so wonderfully easy to let someone else feed you. Unfortunately, whether we’re talking Taco Bell drive-through, GrubHub, or your favorite sit-down restaurant, eating-out costs add up quickly.
Decide on a reasonable weekly budget for going-out-to-eat expenses. For the first month, compel yourself to physically write down the costs of all takeout or dine-in meals. That way, you’ll become more conscious of your habits. After that, start using a free budgeting app like Mint to help you track these expenses. The overall goal, of course, is to become more mindful of how much you’re spending going out to eat — and to create some discipline that helps you keep those expenses in check.
7. Schedule a Regular Game or Movie Night… at Home
When you go out, you’re essentially paying rent for the privilege of being allowed to sit, drink, eat, and have fun in some sort of special environment. Isn’t your home — or the home of a friend or family member — occasionally good enough for some sitting, drinking, eating, and having fun? Bonus: You may even be able to walk around in your socks!
At Covered, we’re a big fan of board game nights. If you still think board games are limited to the likes of Monopoly, Life, and Trivial Pursuit, it’s high time you check out some of the tremendously cool board games that have emerged in the past 20 years. The crew at Shut Up & Sit Down do highly entertaining and informative reviews. If you think a regular invite-the-friends-over movie night suits you better, just google “best movie night movies” and choose your flavor (girls’ night, date night, family-friendly, outdoor, all-time best movies, etc.). After that, all that’s left is to enjoy the spectacular freedom of a socks-night-in.
Ready to get started on saving money RIGHT NOW? In just minutes, Covered’s easy online quoting tool will tell you if you may be able to save on auto or homeowners insurance. Why not check it out?