I’m not big into setting resolutions. Mainly because the second I set one I tend to go into panic mode. When I say I’m going to start a juice cleanse the first thing I want to do is eat a cheeseburger. That doesn’t mean I don’t have goals. I ended 2017 being an awesome goal setter (and achiever) see my post: How to Set Easy Goals that Stick for some tips that actually worked for me. This year, however, one goal I don’t plan on straying from is wise spending and smart budgeting. In two weeks Tom and I will be taking Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University; I hope you guys are prepared for all the blog posts that are coming at you after that! I plan on 2018 being a smarter year than all the rest when it comes to finances. So, if anything, this list of 33 ways to have more money in 2018 is my personal reminder of who I want to be and what financial goals I want to stick to so that I can head into 2019 with a heftier savings and even less debt!
*This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures.
Start getting intentional about where you put your money. So many people see living on a budget as a restricting thing that makes life harder on them. The truth is, starting a budget can be a tough adjustment but it winds up giving you so much freedom! I remember the days my family wasn’t on a budget and it seemed by the end of the month we were doing anything we could to scrape by; even taking the $100 out of savings that we had put in for the month. Now there are no surprises because we know exactly where our money is going to go and where it’s not going to go.
Take the time to go over your spending for the last few months and take a look at just how much money you may have wasted on un-important things like the liquor store, fast food or other random purchases. Yes, I am speaking from our own experiences here. Here’s the proof: Shopping: the Keys to Spending Less and Saving More. Often times when I would do this I realized that all of our small $10 or less purchases added up to be over $500 by the end of the month! Talk about a big waste of money. Find out where you might be wasting money, set a spending cap and start saving the rest or using it to pay off your debts!
After Tom and I decided to downsize, (you can read the full story here) we also decided it was time to start saying goodbye to our major debts. Paying off debt goes hand in hand with getting a smart budget together; but it doesn’t have to be stressful. Check out some of my posts below for detailed step-by-step guides on how to start tackling your debt today.
Think “off shore”
If you don’t already, consider getting an “off shore bank account.” Doesn’t that sound so cool when I say it like that? What I really mean is set up a savings that is not easily accessible. Bank accounts these days are often so easy to manage online. This is great when it comes to paying bills and keeping all your information in one place. This also means, it’s become even easier to transfer money right out of your savings. Get yourself set up with a bank account that is not as easily accessible. When I was doing wedding photography, I met with a couple that had to drive an hour away from their home just to gain access to the deposit they needed to book their date with me. They went out of their way to make sure that there money was hard for them to get to. It was there for emergencies, but they made darn sure it was only for the most important things.
On top of getting funds into a separate savings account, it’s important to be searching for the best prices as far as the amount of interest gained. Finding a savings like a high yield savings account will ensure that you are making the most interest on your deposits. There are also other ways to invest your money like CDs or IRAs.
How annoying. I just said think bigger, right? Well the thing about savings is, the biggest differences can be made with the small choices you choose to make. Once we started using Sinking Funds to ensure we had money for our big payments throughout the year, life got a lot less stressful.
Best Posts for Savings
Investing has probably been the most terrifying thing to think about for me since we started getting a hold of our finances. This year, I am determined to at least get a plan set in motion when it comes to investing our money.
Invest Tax Money
The last few years on my taxes I was given the option to invest my return. It sounded so appealing, but at the time we were really fighting to get out of debt and pay off our credit cards so I turned the option down. I don’t know if all tax companies are doing that these days. For my whole adult life I have used Turbo Tax and as I’ve said, they have been ready and willing to get me set up with investing our returns.
There’s an app for that! There are a growing variety of online programs and apps that allow you to easily invest (literally) your spare change without even thinking about it. I’m currently in the researching stage of this, however, I have repeatedly heard great things about a new app called Acorns. With Acorns you can set up a selected amount of money to invest each month and/or you can simply invest your spare change. That means, if you make a purchase for $5.75, Acorns will round up to $6 and use the remaining $.25 to put into your investments. This is great for young adults, college students or anyone else who is wanting to dip their foot into investing. (AKA me.) Like I said, I have read a ton of great reviews from people seeing a huge return on their investments (they usually have invested more than the required amount.) Trust me, I will report back if we start giving it a try!
Just like Acorns collects your spare change, you can easily do this yourself. After Tom and I started our budget and began using cash more and more frequently, we created a big spare change jar in our closet. We’ll occasionally toss lose dollar bills or coins that we’ve collected throughout the week. You’re not gong to see any huge returns on investments here, but why not try saving spare change throughout the year, cashing in and whatever you have left, you get to spend on something fun. Maybe it’s a pizza, maybe it’s a trip to the Bahamas. You never know!
Getting smarter when it comes to shopping has been a huge game changer for us. Creating a meal plan or setting a grocery budget can be huge when it comes to the food you buy each month. Plus, more and more grocery chains these days have great money saving incentives for you. Whether that be a points system, or something like Target’s Red Card that connects to your regular checking account, but saves you 5% with each use.
Another thing I use when shopping at Target, is my Ibotta app. You can read the full Ibotta review here. This is a great app that actually gives you money back for purchases you make at Target, Whole Foods, Trader Joes, Costco, Walmart and more. Before heading to the store, I scroll Ibotta to see if they are currently offering any deals on the products I am already buying. After I make my purchase, I can easily snap a photo of my receipt and Ibotta reimburses me! Then I am able to either get the funds transferred to my PayPal or redeem the money for gift cards. The best part is, you get $10 just for signing up! To get even more money back the Dosh app is another great one that works to get you all the money back in your pocket that you can. Dosh works with your credit cards or debit cards to scan for any possible rebates and make sure you get them. No need to do anything at all!
Coupons, cupons, coupons!
Taking the time to click coupons can be extremely beneficial especially if the places you frequent also have the bonus ways to save like I mentioned above. Places like Target, where I often go allow you to use their store coupons, manufacturer coupons, their discount apps like Cartwheel, plus their 5% off with the Target Card. Similar to the Ibotta app is a website called BeFrugal.com that gives you discounts and reimbursements on your online purchases including restaurants and Groupon
Smart Shopping Posts
Once you have started saving more on your purchases, it’s time to get savvy about the best ways to make the most out of the food that you bought. This can be easily done with meat products. Check out my post all about how I made 5 separate meals out of 1 single turkey: 5 Frugal Family Meals to Make with One Turkey. Another personal favorite is using gluten free oats to make healthier versions of my favorite breakfast foods. They are easy to make and freeze so that you can quickly grab them throughout the week. In fact, we can usually get by for a while on a modest $10 breakfast budget. Check out the post: $10 Breakfast Meal Prep for a Family of 5.
You can also use this new year as a chance to start something new. A great way to make money can be to find an easy side gig to make a little extra cash. Besides finding a job in the paper, the best way to go about this is to look at the skill sets that you already have. If you are a fast typer, there are a ton of opportunities to do transcription work; which is something you can usually do easily from home. If you have a passion for photography and have access to a quality camera, you could easily make some extra cash (especially around the holidays) doing photography for friends and family at a lower price than most professional photographers. Looking at your talents can be a huge way to not only stat making yourself a side income, but may also turn into a full fledge business. Read my post about 3 women who turned their entrepreneur dreams into a reality: How to Start Your Own Business: the Best Tips from Successful Female Entrepreneurs. You can also read my post about how I created my own income from home by starting a blog.
I am a big believer in spending money on experiences versus things. One of the best ways to do this, and still be frugal is by using Groupon. Not only do Ibotta and BeFrugal.com offer cash back on Groupons, you can already get great discounted rates for some seriously awesome nights on the town. My favorites are brewery or winery tours, indoor theme parks for the kids and I may even do the occasional browse of the destination getaways! Even though we have become very conscious of how much money we spend, we still make a big effort to get out (especially for date nights) and Groupon is usually the way we choose to go.
You’ve saved money on groceries, found ways to stretch the groceries and now it’s time to cook in bulk! This helps you get back time throughout the week, takes the guess work out of cooking and then you are less likely to keep opening new foods that you may not need! If meal planning isn’t your cup-of-tea, consider looking into companies like $5 Meal Plan that do all the planning and prep work for you!. I have some awesome recipes ideas that are easy to prep ahead and make in bulk!
Easy to Prep and Store Foods
There are more and more great options these days when it comes to energy efficiency in the home. Things like solar panels, LED light bulbs, even energy saving water heathers and stove tops. For a really detailed post on some of the best ways to create a sustainable home, take a look at one of my featured guest posts: How to Make Your Home Sustainable.
Often times a change as simple as a switch to LED is often overlooked because of the upfront cost. However, the amount of money they save and the time frame in which they last will wind up saving you huge in the long haul. Here is an article from The Art of Being Cheap that totally breaks down just how much LED lights can save you in the long haul using Clark Griswold (from Christmas Vacation) as their prime example: How Much Did Clark Griswold Spend on Christmas Lights?
Downsizing totally transformed our family in so many ways, but more than anything it allowed us to get more money in our hands and more time back having to care for less house! Downsizing is a big step, but it can be a set that can make huge improvements in your life and might be something worth considering.
Best posts on downsizing
A great way to make some extra cash is to go through some of your old stuff and start clearing house. Personally, I often take old books, games and movies to Half Priced Books. There are tons of clothing consignment shops these days and there are even options to sell online. I highly recommend checking out Decluttr because they offer free shipping on everything and they offer next day payments!
Not only is it good for your mental health to unplug every day from social media and screen time but it’s great for your electric bill as well. If you can plug in close objets to one power strip and shut it off every day, that’s a great way to get started. Unplugging items like the toaster, coffee maker, stereo (do they still make those?) or phone chargers when you’re done using them can make a significant change in the amount of energy you use every day.
This is becoming something that is more and more popular and I am not at all surprised. You’d think my now the cable companies would get wise to the amount of customers they are losing to services like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. The fact of the matter is, if you can break free from cable, you can easily save $100 a month or more. Personally, my family and I have never paid a cable bill. The biggest downfall with this is when it’s game time. We love football and hockey seasons and we were really getting bumped when we couldn’t turn on the game. Enter digital antenna; these are basically like a cleaned up version of those rabbit ears your grandma…great grandma? used to have on top of her old black and white.
Similar to LED bulbs, longer lasting household cleaners may cost you a little more when first purchased but will last you a significantly longer amount of time. I say “may” cost you more because really, I think it ends up being less when all is said and done. Let me walk you through my 4 favorite household cleaners and how we use them around the house.
Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap
Baking soda and vinegar
Taking the time to walk or bike instead of drive to places that you are able to is a huge money saver, plus it’s great for you in so many ways. Not only is this a chance to get out and get some exercise but the sunlight and fresh air will do you a world of good. My family and I started doing this to places that were safe to get to. Since we have two younger children, we weren’t about to start biking along the highway or anything! In fact, our children have grown accustomed to a 12 mile round trip bike ride to Target during the summer months! That might seem a bit extreme, I get that. We also started enjoying a walk or bike trip to the local gas station (about a mile away) to get donuts as a Friday treat!
These little changes not only cut back on your gas expenses and are beneficial to your health. They are also beneficial to the environment and the world around you. Here are 35 Ways to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint Without Totally Changing Your Life.
When I heard that a family I knew was able to fly to Hawaii for only $45 a plane ticket, I about had a heart attack. I asked them how in the world they managed this vacation and they told me all about their airline miles that they’d racked up. Then I started to find more and more families that were benefiting from the perks of having a credit card.
Things like airline miles, or Costco credit cards offer you money back or perk incentives to ensure you keep using their cards. This can be a HUGE money trap and a real problem if you don’t keep a good grip on your spending. That’s why I say to use them WISELY! Tom and I have considered getting a Costco credit card to use for all of our major purchases and then paying the bill immediately. Getting a credit card for perks and winding up paying a butt load in interest is definitely not the way to go. If you choose to start up one of these programs, make sure you trust yourself enough to use it wisely!
This isn’t just a metaphor for life (although it totally works!) There is such an abundance of products these days and they are so easy to get our hands on. Because of this, people usually just toss out the old and seek out the new. But let me tell you, there is beauty in fixing what is broken. I recently did this with our bedspread and pillow covers. At one point they were white and NOT filled with holes. A month or so ago Tom and I found ourselves disgusted with how dingy and dirty they had come to look. I was ready to bite the bullet and make some wiggle room in our budget for a new set, but then I decided I would try to salvage what we had first. I used my terribly broken sewing skills to stitch up the holes that had accumulated and I concocted my own whitening mix for the washing machine (using my favorite household cleaners). To my surprise, they worked! We now have ourselves a much cleaner looking bed and a reminder that just because something needs a little TLC doesn’t mean you should toss it out.
I have a small group of friends that get together once a month when we can. Lately we have been discussing the idea of swapping our stuff. Clothing swap, book swap or DVD swap. We all go through our stuff and get ready to haul to Goodwill but usually we run by each other first. Swapping goods like this with others can circulate your wardrobe so you get new clothes, new books or other new materials without having to purchase anything yourself.
If you are a big reader like I am, it’s seriously time to get yourself a library card if you don’t already have one! This always sounded like such a geeky idea to me…and I truthfully loved the feeling of buying a new book. However, I have saved a ton of money by not purchasing new books all the time. Besides, sometimes I often bought a book and it didn’t turn out to be as great as I thought it would. With a library card, I don’t lose anything by not finishing a book. With the world being as digital as it is these days it’s also incredibly easy to order books online and get an e-mail informing you when they are in.
When I think back on my childhood, my favorite memories were the ones that didn’t cost anything. When my dad would drive us through a wooded path at night playing a spooky Halloween mix or when my mom would bake cookies with me. I try to keep this in mind with my own family. Depending on where you live, you should be able to Gooogle “Free things to do in…” Personally I know our Minnesota favorite are the Walk Art Museum Sculpture Garden, parks, beaches, Bentleyville Tour of Lights and Como Zoo. Large places that are free often ask for a donation and I say if you like going there, then help support them and then if you do happen to go when you are strapped for cash, you don’t have to feel as guilty!
You know how you sign up for a great deal (cough INTERNET cough) and then 6 months down the road you are paying twice as much!? Well, often times just giving your provider a call and stating your frustration will encourage them to find new promotions for you to take advantage of.
Another way of doing this is actually shopping around for other discounts with other providers in your area. Often times your current company will be willing to match what their competitors are offering in order to keep you a satisfied customer.
I’ve just started doing this with our internet and garbage companies and have been able to get our bills back down to a more manageable price.
Depending on the type of insurance you have, you may qualify for some seriously awesome discounts when it comes to your gym membership! Our family recently realized that if we were to switch to a health care covered membership we could save ourselves over $70 per month! That’s $840 a year; just think about all the possibilities!
If you are a consistent gym goer, it’s a good idea to really shop around and find the best membership for you!
For those who maybe have that membership you’re hanging on to but really aren’t getting enough use out of, it might be a wise idea to consider at home workouts and just forgo the membership fees altogether.
Home workout ideas
This one is so silly to me because our family has always used our dishes. Even at birthday parties or big gatherings I cringe at the idea of using paper plates or plastic utensils. My biggest pet peeve with this is the fact that it’s terrible for the environment. But, truth be told, it’s not all that great for your bank account either. If you are one of the people who tends to gravitate toward disposable materials, it might be a good time to reevaluate that spending, even if it only saves you a few dollars a month.
Meat can be a very expensive thing to put your money toward, especially if you are eating a standard American diet. That might be something like eggs and bacon for breakfast, chicken sandwich for lunch and pot roast for dinner. Try to find places where you can cut back on your meat consumption. Whether that means smaller servings, cutting back on your meat-filled meals per day or considering something like Meatless Mondays. This is another great time to check my post: 5 Frugal Family Meals to Make with One Turkey.
Meatless Monday options
I don’t mean for your fruits and veggies…shop those in season. But when it comes to your clothes, try to nab your winter gear when the winter clearance is in full swing. If you know you are due for a new bikini, wait until they go on sale! This definitely requires patience but it saves you big time in the long run.
Often times I will even buy my kid’s Halloween costumes at the end of the season when they are marked down by 70%. Same goes for our Christmas decorations, shoes, and even movies. If there are movies that Tom and I know we want to buy we wait until Black Friday. After waiting out the crowds, we’ll make our way into the stores to casually shop all the discounted movies. This year I saved even more money by NOT Black Friday shopping and instead shopped some of these great small businesses.
Just today my daughter asked me why I was shoving food scraps into Ziplock bags and popping them into the freezer. The reason: to get as much use out of our food as I possible can! Some of the easiest and best ways to reuse my scraps are:
Pump the breaks here; don’t buy everything in bulk! But for the things you and your family use the most, it is a wise idea to consider buying those items in bulk. Things like laundry detergent, toilet paper, or quick grab snacks. These can wind up saving you not only cash in the long haul but also help you avoid extra trips to the store where you will waste gas and inevitably end up buying more than you came for!
This one can go closely hand in hand with shopping out of season, but is still a bit different. I have made a conscious choice not o buy anything unless it is marked down in price. It gets bonus points for additional discounts with Ibotta or BeFrugal.
Starting a compost is a great idea and a lot less complicated than people think. How to Start a Compost. Composting saves you huge when it comes to the amount of garbage you wind up throwing out each month especially if you eat fruits, veggies, eggs or drink coffee as much as we do! All these things are compostable and if you can avoid tossing them into a garbage bag each month, you will go through less garbage bags and might be able to talk to your garbage provider about downsizing the size of your trash bin.
Also, if you have your own garden composting can save you huge when it comes to the amount you might spend on fertilizer, because composting is a great way to naturally richen the soil!
When I read Chip and Joanna Gaines’s, The Magnolia Story I was amazed at all the ways that Chip Gaines was able to make money. He spoke of how it just came so naturally to him. One of his first examples was how he was able to look into the future. When he was in college, each student required a specific sheet to take their tests with. These sheets cost 10 cents at the school store and for those who had forgotten to pick one up, the teacher carried extras but charged $2 in order to teach them a lesson. Chip picked up on this and stocked up on these sheets. He charged only $1 and was able to make a profit before every test. Tom is currently reading Chip’s book, Capital Gaines: Smart Things I Learned Doing Stupid Stuff and I can’t wait to dive into it next!
This also happened in 2017 when the solar eclipse took place. Not only did hotels spike up their prices, but people who had planned ahead stocked up on the special glasses required to view the eclipse. The bought them in bulk a year or more in advance and then were able to make a huge profit selling to all the last-minute buyers who desperately wanted to get a front row seat to the eclipse.
Each person has a different and very special set of skills. The tough part can be figuring out just what they are. There are so many ways to make money using the abilities that you have it’s insane. If people can sell poop on the internet, you can definitely make money off your good ideas! Don’t be afraid of yourself or what you’re capable of. Personally, I am still in shock that I have been able to make any amount of money from this blog I started less than a year ago. Whether it’s something small like scooping dog poop for the neighborhood or running your own company, do it with your whole heart and a good set of smarts and nothing can hold you down!
Get help starting your blog
$5 Meal Plan – The $5 meal plan was created by a busy mother of 4 for other busy mother’s out there. Get access to healthy meal plans that take all the guess work out of what to make for your family!
BeFrugal – Be Frugal is an online resources for the best coupons around. In stores, online or in restaurants.
Dosh – Dosh is an app that links up to your credit cards (or qualifying debit cards) and gives you money back on purchases you make. It works like other cash back apps by refunding you money on qualifying purchases. Only you don’t have to keep track, it scans discounts and gives you money back automatically!
IBotta – IBotta is a totally free app that pays you $10 just for signing up. With this app you can get paid for the things you already plan on buying!
Love and Money – Online courses to help couples and family get finances together in order to stay together!
Paperless Home – The paperless home guides you step by step through how to start creating a home where all of your most important information can always be in one place and always at your finger tips!
Simplify + Planner – Abby Lawson from Just a Girl and Her Blog has a great and inexpensive planner to help you get intentionally organized. Starting a blog can be very overwhelming and getting a little organized can go a long way.
Target Debit Card – If you shop at Target as much as me, you should definitely get in on the debit card if you haven’t already. All it does is remove money from your regular checking account like a regular debit card, but saves you 5% on your purchases every time you use it!
Blue Host – Blue Host is my personal hosting site that I have used since the beginning of my blog. Check out my easy step by step guide to get yourself all set up: How to Start a Blog. The best part is, you can get started for as little as $3.95 a month!
Building a Framework – Building a Framework is the best course for getting a new blog up and running. I purchased Building a Framework early on in my blogging career and it completely changed the way I blogged. Abby teaches everything from how to start to how to start making a profit.
Food Blogger Pro – Food Blogger Pro is a terrific online course you can take that was created by the creators of Pinch of Yum. They have seen tremendous growth from their food blog and share all their knowledge with you to help you succeed as well.
JetPack – Jetpack offers so many features to keep your site safe and secure. With backups, site monitoring and spam protection.
Linqia – Linqia is a great way to start working with brands. You fill out your profile and the brands come to you!
Pitch Perfect Live – Pitch Perfect is a course I took hosted by successful blogger, Jenny Melrose. She will walk you step by step through how to pitch to brands and what to do once you’ve got them.
Share a Sale– Share a Sale is a great place to find a ton of affiliate programs that fit your niche.
Tailwind – Tailwind is a great scheduling tool to help with your Pinterest posting and Instagram sharing. It takes a lot of time and guesswork out of building your social media so you can spend your time doing other things.
WooComerce – The best way to sell your products for an online shopping experience!
WordPress – I have used WordPress from the second I created my blog and have not been let down once. They have a huge variety of themes that are easy to use so that you can be unique without being over-the-top!