10 ways to spend less in 2017

Recently, I’ve been more mindful about saving more and spending less since I’m graduating college in May (yay!). I know there will be a lot more expenses and bills when I fully launch into the adult world,  so I’m trying to get ahead of the game as much as I can. While doing this, I’ve learned some simple tips to spend less. I plan to implement them even more in 2017, and I thought I’d share a few with you!

1. Spend less when shopping. Sounds easy, right? That’s what I thought, but it’s not always the most convenient thing to do. Sometimes it means visiting multiple grocery stores to get the best deals, or doing some research before purchasing a more expensive item. It may be a more time consuming and extensive process, but I promise it’s worth it. I typically go to Aldi and Walmart to buy groceries every weekend, with the occasional trip to Hy-Vee or Sprouts to grab some organic products that aren’t offered elsewhere. If I’m buying clothes or other accessories, I’ll search for coupons and sales before I go

2. Meal prep. I learned this trick when I started my first round of Whole30 this summer and I’ve done it ever since! Every weekend, I make a list of the groceries that I need based on what I plan to eat that week. This helps when shopping because I have a plan, so I get exactly what I need and nothing more. It also ensures that I have food for the whole week, so I don’t spend money eating out as much.

3. Spend less when eating out. We all know that NEVER eating out isn’t an option, so when you do, there are ways to do it more affordably. First of all, the obvious tip, don’t order drinks. It easily adds a few bucks to your bill, and water is better for you anyway! 😉 Consider sharing an entree with someone when you go out, or get something that you know you’ll eat for lunch the next day. I rarely finish my meals at restaurants and it typically goes to waste. A lot of restaurants have happy hours and specials on certain nights of the week. Learn these! You could easily score some half-priced appetizers, buy-one-get-one hamburgers, and drink specials at many restaurants near you.

4. Spend less when giving gifts. I love to give gifts, and that’s something I’m not willing to give up in order to save money. However, there are more affordable ways to give your friend a birthday present that can still be just as meaningful. A few ideas include painting a canvas, making a mixtape, or paying for their dinner. Other affordable gift options can be found in the Target dollar section, Dollar Tree, and cheaper department stores (Marshall’s, Home Goods, TJ Maxx, Ross, Walmart).

5. Buy certain items from thrift stores. Obviously you can’t buy everything at thrift stores, and I wouldn’t advise you to. My mom buys wood furniture from thrift stores, cleans and paints it, and it looks brand new! I totally recommend buying furniture from thrift stores, along with decor, dishes, vases, picture frames, and some clothing. City Thrift and Red Racks have 50% off days at least once a month, which is the only time I go.

6. Reuse when you can. These simple tips may only save you a few bucks here and there, but it all adds up! Shopping bags = small trash bags. Glass containers = vases or storage. Newspaper = gift wrap. OH, and always keep gift bags and tissue paper to reuse! I cringe when I see people throw away perfectly capable gift bags that have so much life left. Also, I’m a fan of re-gifting. If you get a gift you won’t use, consider re-gifting it instead of giving it away.

7. Sell stuff you don’t use anymore. I hate having a lot of stuff, so I’m always going through my stuff and trying to sell it. I’ve found that I’ve had the most success selling on Facebook buy & sell groups. I prefer it to Craigslist because I get to see who I’m meeting and have a better conversation with them beforehand. I’ve sold clothes, purses, books, CDs, DVDs, and more on those groups. Next time you’re cleaning out your house, look through the pile before you haul it off to Goodwill. You can probably group together some clothes or decor and sell it for $20+.

8. Take free stuff when you can. I haven’t bought a pen in years, thanks to all of the promotional pens I’ve taken when offered. I also have quite a few promotional cups. Companies can have some weird promotional items, so make sure to only take what you know you’ll use. (Those stress balls and magnets end up in my trash within a week.)

9. Shopkick. This is an app that gives you money for checking into stores and scanning the barcode of certain products (without even buying them). I earned a $5 Walmart gift card last month for simply clicking a button on my phone every time I walked into a store.

10. Continue reading my blog posts. 😉 Follow me on Instagram @thesavingspender. And on Facebook “The Saving Spender.”

Thanks for reading! I hope this will help you as you enter 2017. Let me know if you have any tips that I can benefit from as well!

-KT

my favorite places to shop

Hey everyone!

This is my first blog post, and I realize that some of you may not know me that well, so I thought I’d dedicate the first few posts to introducing myself.

There are stores that I will probably mention pretty often in my blogs, so I thought it would be a good idea to introduce you to them and explain why I love them.

So, here is a list of my favorite places to shop. Some of them are obvious, and some maybe not so obvious. 😉

  1. Aldi
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Photo courtesy of 2ndvote.com

If you know anything about me, you know that I LOVE Aldi. I must admit I’m probably a little biased because my mom works for them, but they have amazing products! I buy most of my groceries there every week. My favorite things to buy there include milk, eggs, nuts, produce, paper products, and baking essentials. They have incredible organic, low calorie, and gluten free lines. (When I was a blogger for my school, I wrote a blog comparing Aldi & Walmart prices. You can read it here).

2. Walmart

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Photo courtesy of corporate.walmart.com

DUH. It’s cheap. And they actually have decent organic products! When I can’t find certain  items at Aldi, Walmart is next on my list. Fun fact: they also have great, affordable workout gear.

3. Sprouts

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Photo courtesy of logos.wikia.com

Why would you go to Whole Foods when places like Sprouts exists?! It’s beautiful. It’s affordable. Make sure to ALWAYS pick up an ad on your way in to learn about the produce sales that they often have! I only visit Sprouts about once a month when I need something specific that isn’t available at Aldi or Walmart.

4. Hy-Vee

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Photo courtesy of Hy-Vee Twitter

Hy-Vee has an ENTIRE health food section called “HealthMarket.” I almost cried when I discovered this. They have so many name brand organic products, and they also have Halo Top which is the BEST “healthy” ice cream I’ve ever tasted. That’s reason enough to go to Hy-Vee. (I may write an entire blog on Halo Top in the future because it’s THAT good).

5. Dollar Tree

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Photo courtesy of http://www.businesswire.com

You gotta be careful in Dollar Tree, but I’ve learned my lesson time and time again. Not everything is cheaper at Dollar Tree just because it’s a dollar. The things I regularly buy include gift bags, cards, gifts, and party favors.

6. Marshalls/Home Goods

Two words: cheap leggings. That’s what usually gets me in the door, and once I’m in there,  feel the need to buy EVERYTHING because it’s so CHEAP. (Not like thrift store cheap, but like high quality, new item cheap). I always buy workout gear and kitchen stuff there (and then some cute decor because you can’t walk past it without getting hooked). If you haven’t been to Marshalls or Home Goods, please go very soon. It will change your life for the better.

7. City Thrift/Red Racks

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Photo courtesy of allevents.in

My favorite thrift stores. When I hear they’re having a 50% off sale, it’s music to my ears. City Thrift and Red Racks are owned by the same organization, the City Union Mission. They have sales at least once a month, which are the only times I go. When I’m there, I always make sure to look for clothing, kitchen stuff, and books.

8. Other thrift stores (Goodwill, Salvation Army, Savers, etc)

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Photo courtesy of http://www.watchdog.org

I love all thrift stores, obviously. But I’m not particularly drawn to any particular ones besides the two I just mentioned, so this is where the rest of them get lumped together. But once again, I’m always lookin’ out for the sales. Thrift stores are cheap, but I still want to get the best deal!

I’m sure you’ve been to some of these stores, and I hope you visit the ones you haven’t been to yet! They’re all great, I promise. 🙂

Thanks for reading my first post – more introduction posts are on their way!

-KT