Some Basic Ways to Save Money

  1. Use Coupons:  Coupons are a great/easy way to save money.  You can find coupons to clip in the Sunday newspapers and in store mailings.  You can also print coupons from coupons.com.  Also, if you have store specific coupons (ex. a Target coupon and a manufacturer coupon) you can use both on a single product as long as you do not exceed the purchase price.  To learn more and get started with couponing check out these helpful links: Collin's top 10 couponing tips & basics of couponing.  Also, look online for sites to trade coupons that you can't/won't use for coupons that you can.  I trade coupons on thebump.com community forums.  Also, whenever you are purchasing anything online make sure you look for a coupon code.  Sometimes you have to check out more than one site to find the best code.  Generally, I do a google search with the name of the store and "coupon code" and search around until I find the best possible code.  Keep in mind that many sites allow you to stack deals such as free shipping and percentage off codes so it doesn't hurt to try and enter as many codes as you find.  Click here to see some great coupons codes I've collected.
  2. Sign up for Cash Back Sites:  I wish I had known about this sooner!  Sign up for a free account with Ebates (and/or a similar site, there are plenty out there but I can vouch for Ebates since I've been using it for about 6 months now.) Ebates is a shopping site that gives you up to 26% cash back every time you shop online.  Over 1000 stores participate.  You just type in the name of the place you are shopping and Ebates will let you know what percentage cash back you get at that store and will also list current coupon codes (though I recommend doing a google search for codes as well since Ebates doesn't always have all of the available codes.)  At the end of the quarter you get a check with your cash back earnings.  I've earned about $40 cash back so far this year.  You also get a $5 bonus after your first purchase.  
  3. Use a Rewards Credit Card: Use a credit card that yield you rewards for using it.  Some cards offer up to 5% cash back on gas purchases and 1% or more on all purchases, others offer airline miles or Disney points or other rewards.  Sign up for whatever card has the rewards best suited to you.  Keep in mind, this works best if you are paying your balance each month.  Otherwise your interest payments are more than canceling out your rewards.
  4. Set up Automatic Savings:  Whether you bank online or at a brick & mortar it is wise to sign up for an automatic savings program that take a certain amount per week/month/etc. and places it into a savings account.  Determine how much you can afford to save and have that amount automatically transferred. This forces you to save, and no matter how little the amount, it adds up.
  5. Establish an Emergency Fund:  Make sure that you have several (ideally 6-12) months worth of bare-bones expenses saved up.  God forbid you lose your job, the water heater goes unexpectedly, or any other number of life's little surprises come up- you don't want to be without backup.  
  6. Ask for Lower Rates: It never hurts to call up your credit card company, cable company, etc. and ask for a lower rate or monthly bill.  Don't be afraid to play hardball and mention switching to another company or service provider.  Their primary goal is to keep you as a customer and you'll be surprised what they are willing to offer to do that.
  7. Buy Gift Cards on Ebay: Have a big purchase coming up?  Check out ebay and see if anyone is selling a gift card or merchandise credit for the store you are planning on purchasing from.  They get cash for a card they can't use and you get a discount on your purchase.  Just make sure to check the seller's feedback and only buy from seller's with a solid history.
  8. 100 Great Tips for Saving Money
  9. Pay Bills Online: Some banks (Citizens Bank for one) offer cash back incentives for paying your bills online.  With most bill pay programs you can pay just about any bill online.  Its greener, easy to track, and you get cash back!