Molly’s Money: A Few Ways to Cut Spending, When You Don’t Have Money to Spend

September 13, 2012

YO! Have you entered my Tallulah Earrings giveaway yet?! No?! You should! Now THAT’S a good way to cut spending… *FREE* stuff. 馃檪
You guys, thank you all so much for all of your feedback and encouragement of this money series. It really makes my heart smile that some of you are getting a lot out of it. Remember, if you have ANY questions, let me know. I want to help! You can leave your questions in the comments below or you can e-mail me!

Now, when I was working my way out of debt, there were A LOT of things I did to cut corners and cut my spending in any way that I could. Because basically, after rent and my monthly debt payment, I had approximately $100-$200 to spend on food, gas, you name it. Yeah, money was tight.

But I’m still alive and I’m out of debt. Now, I know that I don’t have kids and it was just me I was supporting, but that doesn’t mean that it was any more or less difficult. It can be done, and when you make little changes here and there, every penny counts. Literally.

The first and MOST IMPORTANT way to cut spending and save money? Maintain a written budget. Don’t know how to maintain a written budget? Why, you’re in luck! I have a whole post showing how to maintain a written budget. Check it out here.

So, once you have that written budget, here are some tips and few ways to cut spending in a few categories:

SAVE ON FOOD:

  • Use Coupons
    • No, you do not need to be like those folks on Extreme Couponing, BUT you can save some serious dough by just checking your grocery stores for specials. There are some great blogs out there like The Krazy Koupon Lady聽 and The Frugal Girls that post specials and where coupons can save you extra money.
    • Also, checking when stores like Food Lion or Harris Teeter double and triple their coupons really helps!
    • You can get FREE printable coupons online at Coupons.com. Also, googling for coupons can land you some good results, too.
  • Local Food Ministries
    • Now, if you are REALLY strapped for cash and you don’t know how you’re going to eat that month, this one may take some Googling. There used to be a program called “Angel Food Ministries” that I used in my early stages of getting out of debt, but sadly they are no longer around. HOWEVER, some Googling for food ministries in your local area may yield you some helpful results. I was able to save HUNDREDS of dollars this way, and I was still able to eat.
  • Restaurant.com
    • If you are not using Restaurant.com gift certificates, you are missing OUT! About once a month they will knock down $25 gift certificates to $1-$4! You usually have a minimum amount you have to spend and there are some stipulations, but you can eat at some GREAT restaurants and save money!

SAVE ON CLOTHING:

  • Thrift, consign, Plato’s Closet!
    • So many of you are already pro thrifters, but you can really find some gems and staples at Goodwill and local thrift stores. ALSO, check your local area for consignment shops! There are a few AMAZING consignment shops near me that I’ve been able to get JCrew and Lilly Pulitzer pieces at 70%-80% off the retail price. ALSO, check and see if there’s a Plato’s Closet in your area – they will BUY your old clothes, give you cash or store credit, and then you can get great, inexpensive, trendy clothes in exchange. I got new clothes SO OFTEN from Plato’s JUST by selling my old clothes. Never spent a dime!
  • Target Coupons!

So, a few weeks ago I posted that I got $76 worth of Target stuff for $20. Well, A LOT of you asked me how… well, the secret really is… Target coupons. Now, you have to be committed to the Target coupon process… it’s not always quick.

About once a week, visit the Target coupons website, go back and check in their Apparel and Accessories section for their coupons.

Target will often have Merona, Xhiliration, and Mossimo coupons for $5 off, or 25% off… and the key is, GO TO THE CLEARANCE SECTION. All Target coupons are valid on Clearance and Sale merchandise!

SO, in the photo you see above I purchased:

  • 3 plain Merona v-neck tees (lavender, off-white, and green)
    • Each tee was originally $12.99, marked down to $3.00
    • I had three coupons for $3 off any Merona item
    • Thus the total for ALL THREE SHIRTS = FREE
    • Total money saved? = $39
  • 1 lace Mossimo tank
    • The tank was originally $14.99, marked down to $7.98
    • I had a coupon for $3 off any Mossimo item
    • Thus the total for the lace tank = $4.98
    • Total money saved? = $10.01
  • Red Mossimo pumps
    • The shoes were originally $29.99, marked down to $8.98
    • Total money saved? = $21.01
  • Thank you notes
    • These weren’t on sale… but they were $5… I needed them… lol
  • Total spent at Target? $18.86 before tax
  • Total money saved? $70!

So, it’s not always that easy – but I had built up those coupons for a while and was able to add some staples and a few fun things to my wardrobe for very little money!

SAVE ON GAS:

  • Carpool
    • yeah, I know this should be a given, but often you’d be surprised how often people I know that WORK TOGETHER don’t carpool. Find out if people in your office are interested in a trade-off carpool system – one person drives one week, someone else drives the next… ask around. People are willing to go the extra mile to save an extra dollar.
  • Use public transportation
    • If you don’t live in a city with public transportation, move on. If you do, you can AND SHOULD use it! I am lucky to live in an area that provides FREE public transportation. I used it OFTEN when I was getting out of debt. Was it a little less convenient than just hopping in my car? Sure. But I saved a lot of dollars by using it.
  • Turn off the AC and roll down the windows
    • I live in North Carolina and it is HOT here in the summer, so I know this is a hard one, but trust me – it saves money. Running the AC in your car is likely to knock a whole 30 – 60 miles off a tank. Yeah, that’s like 1-3 gallons of gas you could save on by just not using the AC. Trust me. When I don’t use my AC, I easily get an extra 30-60 miles per tank. That’s a good $10-$15 I can save.
  • Gas Buddy
    • If you don’t know about Gas Buddy, you are missing out. Gas Buddy will tell you the gas station closest to you with the cheapest gas. They have smartphone apps too!
  • Fuel Rewards
    • Now, I have never personally used Fuel Rewards, but I have a lot of friends who have and LOVE it. It’s a FREE program (READ: not a credit card!) and you can get Shell gas station rewards simply by shopping and spending money at participating grocery stores, restaurants, and retailers. The full list is available on their website. For every $50 you spend at participating retailers (and show your Fuel Rewards card) you get $0.10 cents off every gallon of gas at Shell gas stations. Now, that may not sound like a lot, but after a while, it can really add up and save you some cabbage.
  • Debit Card Rewards
    • Ask your bank if they have a participating Debit Card that has a rewards program. MANY banks are adding these in place of credit cards with rewards programs. For example, the PerkStreet rewards card has CASH BACK rewards. And it’s a debit card. NO MORE DEBT! 馃檪

So, these are just a FEW tips!聽Remember, I am not an expert, I’m not licensed in any way, I’m just a girl who was in a lot of debt and got out of a lot of debt and learned A LOT along the way.

I’m going to do more of these money saving posts, I don’t want to cram ALL the tips into one post.

If you have a specific question or would like tips on a particular category and you don’t see it listed here, let me know and I’ll do my best to help!

Happy Thursday, y’all!