Want to save big with minimal effort? We’ve always admired the expert coupon clippers who could roll up to the check-out line and slash their bill by 90 percent by handing over a fistful of fliers. But pouring over discount pamphlets to find the best deals sounds, frankly, exhausting. So we asked money-saving experts what small tweaks we can make to our daily lives in order to sock the most money away.
1. BUY SEASONAL PRODUCE.
You can drastically cut your grocery bill if you buy fruits and veggies during their harvest seasons. This means that now isn’t the best time to buy peaches or watermelon, says Cindy Livesey, New Jersey-based founding editor of the blog Living Rich with Coupons. “If you buy the strawberries in February, it’ll be high priced,” she says.
2. STOCK UP ON SALES.
You don't need to clip coupons in order to take advantage of store discounts, Livesey says. If Costco is having a buy-one-get-one sale on dishwasher tablets, and you know that this is the brand that you use on a regular basis, then you should purchase as many boxes as you can store, she says. “I did this deal myself, and it required no coupons,” Livesey says, explaining that she bought 12 boxes which lasted for six months until the next big dishwasher tablet sale.
3. USE PAPER, NOT PLASTIC.
Livesey uses envelopes of cash for her weekly purchases: everything from gas to groceries to dog grooming. “It’s much harder to use cash than it is to pull out your credit card,” she says. Research backs Livesey up on this: Studies show that people tend to spend more money when they pay with plastic.
4. MAXIMIZE YOUR EMPLOYER MATCH.
If your employer will match your workplace 401(k) or other retirement plan contribution, then use this to your advantage, says Greg McBride, Chief Financial Analyst with Bankrate. According to Smart401k, "A typical matching situation is: The employer matches 50 percent of employee contributions for the first 6-percent-of-salary that an employee contributes—so the company will not match more than 3 percent of the employees’ salary." If you make $50,000, this is an extra $1,500 annually.
5. RE-SHOP FOR YOUR HOTEL AND RENTAL CAR.
Have a vacation on the horizon? You can lock your lodging and car rental in as early as you want, but check the prices for them again when it gets close to your travel date, McBride says. “Maybe you got a great rate, but as you get closer, you may be able to do better,” he says. “You can cancel your original reservation and re-book later.”
6. USE REBATE APPS.
If clipping coupons sounds arduous and time-consuming, try using apps, which require no scissors or bulky binders, says Tracie Fobes, couponing expert with Penny Pinchin Mom. She recommends Ibotta and Checkout 51.
7. PURCHASE LOSS LEADERS.
“When you shop, always grab the item on the front page of your weekly ad, as these are the loss leaders,” Fobes says. “That means they are the lowest price you will find on those items.”
8. USE LESS OF YOUR PRODUCTS.
It really is that simple, says Fobes, who only uses a tiny bit of toothpaste. “Most people could use half the amount they currently use, and still maintain their dental health,” she says. The same is true for laundry detergent. “You can reduce the amount per load by up to one third, and your clothes can still come out clean,” she says.