Regardless of where you fall on the political spectrum, these are tough times for almost everyone. My husband is out of work. One good friend has been jobless for 18 months in spite of his best efforts and a Master's degree. Another friend works full-time but is having trouble meeting her basic needs. These hard hard times indeed.
With the loss of 60% of income, I have been working hard to find ways to save and even create some new revenue streams. Here are some of my favorite money-saving strategies:
1. Set up a junk e-mail account.
Many coupons and deals are only available online now and they always require you to sign up. I have one e-mail account I use just for online shopping and coupons. This keeps most of the spam in one place.
2. Get a Facebook and Twitter account.
Many special deals and coupons are only made available to followers on Facebook and Twitter. Also, many contests require that you enter on Facebook or tweet on Twitter. These are also good places to look for company freebies.
3. Utilize deal-saving blogs.
There are some wonderful blogs out there that serve as a clearinghouse for the best coupons and deals and freebies. Two of my favorites are Deal Seeking Mom and STL Mommy. I also find excellent freebies on SlickDeals. These blogs and forums are updated frequently so check back often.
4. Join free saver clubs.
I know it is annoying to carry around saver cards for grocery and other stores but the savings can add up. Plus, you can be eligible for special coupons and promotions.
5. Ebates is the Online Shopper's Best Friend
I love Ebates!!! As a full-time working mom, I don't get to go shopping very often so I do most of my shopping online. I always go to Ebates first to see if the store I want to shop is eligible for rebates. They almost always are. Generally, these stores will give you 4% or more back if you shop them through Ebates. Ebates tracks your purchases and periodically sends you a check. It's so easy!!! Since I joined last year, I have saved $182.49 by using Ebates. Because I usually stack Ebates with coupon codes (see below) the savings are probably even bigger.
6. Always look online for coupon codes
When shopping online, do a search for coupon codes for that store before completing your purchase. I can't tell you how much money I have saved doing this. You can search the store's name and "coupon code" in Google or go to places like Retail Me Not. By combing this strategy with Ebates, I have saved a lot of money!!! The most easy coupon codes to find are for free shipping and that can save upwards of $7.
7. Try entering instant win contests.
SlickDeals is also a good source for this. I always thought no one won this stuff but I have actually gotten a couple of freebies this way. Sometimes you can even win excellent coupons. I recently won a coupon in a Schick instant win game that gave me $4 off.
8. Search for coupons online.
There are some great coupons sites out there like Coupons.com and PG E-Saver. Before you go to the grocery store, check these sites. Also, I have found that googling the name of my product along with "coupon 2010" can often find me coupons as well.
9. Sell Sell Sell
I have created some new income streams for my family by selling things. I have sold a lot through Craigslist which is great because no one takes a cut. I am also selling off my collection of signed first edition books on Alibris and have made some decent money off of that. Don't forget about consignment!!! I sold a bunch of baby gear at a children's consignment sale event this past Spring and made about $350. Normally, consignment shops will give you 40-50% of the purchase price. At special event sales like Just Between Friends, you can get 60-65% of the purchase price.
All of this can be a lot of work but can really save you money. I will try to add more as I think of them. Good luck everyone!!!