8 Amazingly Easy Ways to Save Money

by Julie Cohn
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I don’t know about you, but our family really had to tighten our budget the past year. Workwise, my travel business took a huge hit, plus with product shortages and demand, groceries became more expensive. I started looking for small ways to save and make some extra money for our family.  These Eight Amazingly Easy Ways to Save Money were my favorite ideas and the easiest to implement.  If you have a few favorite money-saving tips too, I would love to hear them!  

{This post contains affiliate links to support my small business.  Opinions are my own. }

Eight Amazingly Easy Ways to Save Money

Have you noticed groceries, cable, and other bills have gone up in price this past year? Whether because of shipping problems due to COVID, supply chain disruptions, store shortages, or consumer/supplier demand, products have become more expensive. Unfortunately, consumer salaries are not on par with these price increases. More people are out of work and/or earning less than they were a year ago.  Many people, including my family, have had to look closer at our expenses and cut costs where we can. 

I used to think I had better things to do with my time than worry about finding ways to cut costs, but in order to minimize our growing grocery expenses, I was forced to find ways to save (and make) a little extra money.  My time is important to me, however, so I looked for the easiest ways to do this without spending hours cutting coupons, spinning my wheels without little return on time (and investment), or skimping on family comforts with brands of lesser quality. 

In a nutshell, I wanted to save money while still enjoying the products we already like.    These ten tips allow me to save money without sacrificing my time or product loyalties.  Some tasks are quicker than others, but in the long run, they will save you as much time and money as they do for me!

1. Cut the Cable Bill 

Our cable bill was getting ridiculously expensive.  As a long-time subscriber, we had a bundled package with our cable company with cable tv, home phone, and internet.  Each year, our bill would go up by $40-50 a month and I would have to call them and spend time haggling get our bill lowered. The past few years, however, they were not flexible on offering deals to existing subscribers as they were for new subscribers and the promotions became smaller and with more hoops to jump through. Last year, our bill went up $90 per month, and since they were the only cable company in my area, they thought I would gladly pay that rate to keep our service and refused to offer any new promotions to lower the bill.  

I had enough of their nonsense!  I did a ton of research (a ton!) so that I could get rid of our cable tv and home phone service without losing our favorite television channels.  Some of the channels we were determined to keep were local ABC/CBS/NBS channels, BBC America, CNN, SYFY, AMC, Hallmark Channel, and ESPN.  We also wanted some type of DVR recording so we could go back and watch shows later.  I used Streaming TV Guides and Cordcutting.com to help determine which streaming service was best for our needs.

Some of the streaming services offered some channels and features we liked, but not all of them.  In the end, the streaming service that was the best fit for our family was YouTube TV, which allowed us to keep all our local channels, plus all our other favorite channels.  The only channel YouTube TV does not offer is the Hallmark Channels, but I found an easy way around that too. If you are not as picking about channels, Philo and Sling TV are less expensive options.  

Here is an example of the cost difference: 

Old Service: 

$275 per month including taxes – Cable tv, home phone service with long-distance service, high-speed internet (No premium channels like HBO, Cinemax, or Showtime) 

What I did: I cut our cable tv and our home phone service with the cable company, which I will discuss in a separate tip.  Unfortunately, I had to keep internet with the old cable company but I watch that bill to keep it within our data limits so we are not charged penalties.  It should be noted that we already had Amazon Prime and Netflix so I am not counting those costs in the switch.  

Our cable tv was approximately $140 per month. 

New Service:   

  • YouTube TV$69.07 per month including taxes
  • Hulu/Disney+/ESPN: $14.11 per month including taxes  

Savings: Approximately $83.18 per month

Remember I mentioned that YouTube TV doesn’t have the Hallmark Channels?  The only time I really watch them is from Halloween – Christmas, so for those few months, I subscribe to Frndly TV for $5.99 per month, which has all three Hallmark Channels available.  

  • Frndly TV: $5.99 for Oct/Nov/Dec 

 

2. Cut the Home Phone Service Bill

Although we have cell phones, my husband did not want to cut our home phone service completely, so I researched alternatives to our high cable phone rate.  I looked at several VoIP (voice over internet provider) options but kept going back to Ooma, which was inexpensive, had great reviews, and all the features we wanted.

Ooma offers crystal-clear phone service, works with Nomorobo to block spam calls, has call forwarding and call blocking, as well as premium voicemail services.  In the end, Ooma turned out to be a much better deal than I realized because I was able to add a second phone number that I use as a dedicated line for my small business, for no additional charge.  

How I Did It: 

Our phone service (through our cable company) was approximately $55 a month, including taxes.  I was able to switch to Ooma

Initial Annual Service$127.64 per year, paid annually, plus $5.70 per month.  This plan, divided by 12 months, comes out to $10.63 + $5.70 = $16.33 per month.   

I did have to purchase a special Ooma Telos Box, with a one-time cost of $73.00. 

Savings:  $38.67 per month.  (Not including the Telos Box) 

Bonus?  Ooma allows a second line for free. In order to use it as a separate line for my small business, I had to purchase an Ooma Linx phone jack for $47 and a wireless phone for $40 but if you do not mind answering the same phone for both lines, you can use your existing phone.  I love having a dedicated phone for my travel business, which also has separate voicemail and other calling features.  

 

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3. Online & In-Person Retail Shopping with Rakuten 

I have always done a fair amount of shopping online, but now, during the pandemic, I do the majority of my shopping online.  Online shopping makes it harder to shop sales and bargains, but one way I have found to save money shopping is with Rakuten

With Rakuten, I can save anywhere from 1-15%, depending on the retailer, and they have hundreds of retailers in their program. Rakuten also offers bonuses so members can earn additional cashback, especially during holidays. I can use Rakuten for both online and in-person retail shopping so when the pandemic ends and I do more in-person shopping, I can continue to use Rakuten.  There is a desktop app that pops up when I visit a retailer’s website that is part of the program and there is also a phone app for in-person purchases. 

Example:  During the holidays we wanted a new Christmas tree.  Micheals had a Christmas tree we liked, it was on sale, and Rakuten offered 15% cashback as a Black Friday bonus.  We got the Christmas tree we wanted, saved money on it, got a curbside pickup, and made $28 cashback! 

In the past year, I have earned $204.29 cash back on purchases, and I receive the funds via Paypal.  To be clear, I save money on purchases I already make, I did not have to change my shopping habits.  

4. Cut Auto Insurance Rates

More people are working from home, yet our auto insurance rates are set by how far we travel for work.  If you are working from home or are driving considerably less than you were before, call your insurance company and let them know you are working remotely now.  Many states will cut insurance costs if you have less travel each day.  Also, if you have a college student who came home and is taking classes online now, make sure you let your auto insurance company know that as well.  When my son came home from college to finish his classes, our rates went down about $600 per year.  That was definitely an easy way to save money!   

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5. Earn Gift Cards for Grocery Shopping 

Are you familiar with Fletch Rewards?  One of the easiest ways to save money on groceries is with Fletch Rewards. Every time I go shopping (usually curb-pickup), I scan my receipt into the Fletch Rewards app when I get home. and earn a minimum of 25 points for each store receipt and most of the time I earn 100-150 points for brand bonuses (like Starbucks, Yoplait, Kraft, Heinz, etc.).  I still purchase the brands we like, but I am rewarded with points for purchase, which I collect and use for Amazon gift cards, restaurant gift cards, etc.  Fletch Rewards sometimes has bonus points for certain purchases to earn 250-500 points per receipt.  Fletch Rewards works with most major grocery chains, as well as Costco, Home Depot, Lowes, and other retail stores.

Fletch Rewards also works with Amazon to earn 25+ points for every Amazon receipt (points are collected digitally for Amazon so I don’t have to photography my receipts). I signed up for Fletch Rewards last March and earned $150 in Amazon gift cards by December.  While this may not seem like a lot, these were points I earned on my regular shopping habits, so this was bonus money for holiday gifts!  The program is an easy-to-use app on cell phones and I found they are accurate in calculating points.  If you sign up for their program right now, you will get 2,000 bonus points just for signing up! 

6. Sign Up For Grocery Reward/Coupon Programs 

Grocery store sales and digital coupons are some of the best easy ways to save money. Most local grocery stores have a rewards program where you can sign up to save money, get special digital coupons, and earn fuel points.  I belonged to both of my local grocery programs but never spent the time to look at sales and coupons.  Last spring, when money got tighter, I started to look into the programs more and realized I could save lots of money by shopping by sale. 

Once a week, usually Thursdays, I spend 30 minutes looking through my Safeway and Fry’s Rewards programs to see what is on sale and what new digital coupons they have (new sales and coupons usually start on Wednesday).  I then spent about 15 more minutes looking at the Walmart grocery service and compare prices to Safeway and Fry’s. Based on the available sales and coupons, I place my grocery orders and pick up my groceries on Friday morning.   I usually only shop at two of the three stores each week, but there are sometimes brands we can only get at a certain store, so I take that into consideration and rotate stores every other week, based on their sales.  

Some examples of recent shopping: 

  • My husband only likes a certain brand of ginger ale.  It has been hard to find in stores and when it is available, it has gone up in cost about 50 cents over what it was a year ago.  Sometimes I can find it on sale at Safeway for 99 cents but if not, it runs about $1.99 for a 2-liter bottle.  However, Walmart always has the brand for $1.25, so if I cannot get it on sale at Fry’s or Safeway, I can always get it less expensive from Walmart.  
  • I use a certain national brand of eggs.  Safeway had the eggs for $4.29 for an 18 pack, Walmart had it for $4.25, but Fry’s had it for $3.99 with a 50 cent digital coupon.  
  • My husband and son love a certain brand of oat bread.  Twice last month Safeway had the bread on sale for 50% off its regular cost.  I bought several loaves and froze the extra to use in the future.  

By spending an hour a week researching grocery store sales and coupons, I have been able to save about $40-60 per week on my groceries, without clipping any coupons!  

7. Get A Freezer and Do Meal Planning 

One of the best easy ways to save money this year was by buying a $200 freezer.  When I started to bulk shop more using grocery store sales, I wanted a place to put the extra food. A freezer allows me to buy groceries on sale and freeze them for future use.  I also do meal planning when groceries are on sale, and use meal planning to make chicken dishes, lasagna, homemade cookies, and homemade sauce, then freeze them to use in the future.  Bonus: A freezer and a little meal planning save me not only money but time.  I use freezer bags and freezer tape to label my packages for the freezer to keep everything organized.  

8. Use the Ibotta App 

Another grocery app I started using is the Ibotta app.  Ibotta offers cash back on specific products, with regular bonus offers.  I go into the app, go to my favorite grocery store, find products I already use, and add them to my list.  Once I finish my shopping, I photograph my receipt, and then Ibotta credits my account.  I especially like this program for my Walmart shopping, which is already linked to my Walmart online account, so I don’t have to scan in my Walmart receipts.  The cashback can be sent to me in the form of cash (through my bank account) or as gift cards.  I signed up for this program last August and earned two $25 Amazon gift cards by December.   Sign up for Ibotta and start earning cashback right away! 

What are your amazing ways to save money?  

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