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If you know me well, you know I’m good at finding ways to save money. Do not call me dirty words like cheap, frugal, or tightfisted. I will take offense. Instead I prefer a more sophisticated term – economically savvy.
In this four-part series, I will share with you all the tips and tricks I have picked up over the years. First, let’s begin with a brief history of my journey to economic savviness.
1. The Journey
As far back as I can remember, I was the child who liked to save everything. For example, I liked to eat my Halloween candy over the course of days (or weeks), instead of all in one day. I saved my pennies until I could buy something at the store I really wanted. I collected my baseball cards instead of trading each one for a cheap toy. I hung onto those little carnival tickets until I had enough for the prize I wanted. When people asked, “How’d you get that?” I just shrugged and smiled.
As an adult, my habits haven’t changed much. I’m not a hoarder, and I don’t keep things I don’t need. However, I do have a knack for hanging on to things until I can upscale them for something bigger and better. After minimizing the costs of my everyday expenses, I use the savings to buy things I really want (e.g., a vacation, a new tv, or an upgrade to my 13-year-old car).
The psychological term is delayed gratification. When it comes to money, I call it economic savviness.
What does it take to become economically savvy?
2. Minimize the Costs of Your Everyday Expenses
One of the easiest ways to become economically savvy is to save money on the things you buy every day. Food, personal hygiene products, and cleaning supplies are some of the easiest things to save on. Do you need to buy toilet paper, deodorant, or snacks for a party? Whenever you can, buy these items when they are on sale. What do you do when there isn’t a sale? There’s a coupon, or an app, for that.
I started couponing and using apps years ago when I accepted a new job but, for practical reasons, I needed to leave the old job while I moved and waited for the new one to begin. I knew it would be a few months before my job started (to be exact, there were 5 months between the time I accepted the job offer and the day I actually started working).
I was financially secure, with a healthy savings account and no car notes or loans. I’d even managed to make a few extra bucks by selling some of my stuff. However, being the economically savvy person that I am, I was not willing to spend one more penny than I needed to. Thus, I began couponing and using apps.
3. Use Those Coupons
Couponing is fun and challenging. When I started, I used two of my favorite websites, The Krazy Coupon Lady and Hip2Save, to get started. These ladies have got the details of couponing covered. They discuss everything, including how to save the most at your favorite stores.
Additionally, Collin of Hip2Save has a great video about creating a coupon binder. Although I mostly use apps now, my coupon binder is still an important part of my economic savviness. Sometimes, the best coupons are only available in print. I use every resource available to save money.
4. There Is an App for That
If you don’t believe you have time to clip coupons, or you want to search for coupons while you’re in the store, there are apps for that. Above, I only mentioned two of my favorite websites. However, there are hundreds of bloggers, small businesses, and large corporations that offer coupons and money-saving apps.
It’s likely your favorite grocery store, your favorite brand of toilet paper, and your favorite restaurant offer coupons through an app.
Money-saving apps have come a long way since I began couponing. I have tried over a dozen couponing apps. Some of the app companies experienced long slow deaths and no longer exist. Some have merged with other companies. Still others have changed their names and become different types of apps. Through all the ups and downs, here is a list of my four top-rated money-saving apps (of the moment).
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5. Go Slowly
Take your time on your economic savviness journey. If you try to rush, or you believe you will get rich overnight, you will get frustrated and end a really fruitful voyage. If you feel overwhelmed by all the choices above, choose one app or one website and stick with it.
I started out searching only one website for coupons I needed immediately. Then, I began searching multiple websites and saving coupons for future purchases. Eventually, I made a coupon binder.
Next, I downloaded one app, then two, then three. Now, I consistently use eight money-saving apps. I have others, but I only use them when I need specific items. I’ve also signed up for email alerts from my favorite household brands.
To keep my inbox from getting cluttered, I’ve set up my email to mark those messages as read and automatically send them to a specific email folder. I open the folder when I need the coupons. Otherwise, I ignore the emails.
As you can see, it has taken me a long time to develop a couponing system that works for me. Take your time, and you will find out what works for you.
With a little effort, you can become economically savvy, too.
6. Share the Knowledge
When I started, I kept a log of how much I saved with each shopping trip and sent bragworthy snapshots of my receipts to friends and family. When I have a really good grocery haul or I get a lot of items for free, I still send out pictures of my receipts. I also send out alerts when I find coupons or sales that others would appreciate. I have even taken friends and family members to the store with me so they can see how to double and triple stack coupons.
There are a lot of people who want to save money. Share your knowledge with them.
Leave a comment and let everyone know what you have done to become economically savvy. Inquiring minds want to know.
Have you read the other parts of my Be Economically Savvy series?
Click the links below to see what you’ve missed.
Part IV: What the Heck is Compound Interest?