Black Friday has come and gone too soon, but it was fun while it lasted. It’s probably no surprise that this has been a pretty expensive year for us between planning the wedding, paying tuition, and some travel, but we have some tips we use to stay frugal and save a little along the way!
- Membership Programs: Some membership-only companies offer discounts to university students, such as Sam’s Club. We got their Collegiate Membership last year and it cost about $45, but definitely paid itself off within a couple months. It’s been great to use towards items we use frequently so we can stock up like toothpaste and paper towels, and most of our kitchenware and electronics are from Sam’s Club as well. Unfortunately it isn’t always the cheapest place to find produce, but their rotisserie chickens, loafs of bread, and snacks are often a lot cheaper than purchasing from a market.
- Produce: We usually get most of our grocery’s from Smith’s Marketplace, which sells a lot of value brand products. If you’re enrolled in their free rewards programs, you’ll usually save several dollars each visit. We also like to get snack foods from Trader Joe’s because they’re often cheap and tasty.
- Meal Planning: I never really understood meal prepping until this past year. I use to get home early every night and make a different meal with the food we had, but this year has been a busy one, so I’m trying to be better at it. We go grocery shopping weekly, and write out all the ingredients needed and try to stick with it before we go to the store, or I’ll get caught up in the “Oh, that looks good!” and end up spending money on a bunch of food we don’t need, which will then go bad if we don’t eat in time. We try to make a big meal (so we’ll have plenty of left overs) with lots of fresh veggies then when we begin finishing it off, we’ll make a second meal that has mainly canned ingredients, like our vegetarian chili recipe, so nothing goes bad before we finish the first meal.
- Coupons: We’ve tried being really diligent about coupons in the past, and to be completely honest, it hasn’t always worked out. I get so overwhelmed with how many coupons are available, but usually don’t go towards what we use. So now I only look for coupons once I’ve meal planned that’ll actually apply to the food we’re going to get. Don’t get me wrong, coupons are great, but don’t feel obligated to get things with coupons you wouldn’t normally use unless you have the space to really stock up.
- Beauty: I’ve found that my favorite beauty reward program is Ultamate Rewards. I like Ulta’s more than others because they offer both drugstore and high end products, so when I want to just grab a drugstore brand mascara, the points I get from purchasing can go towards something more expensive later.
- Make Loose Change Count: My mom and I use to pay for trips by saving loose change all year. We were able to pay for our flights and always had some spending money left over just from change. Sam and I don’t use cash all that often, but this year we decided that when we do we would put the change in a mason jar. It’s getting pretty full so we’re going to take it to the bank before the new year to see how much we were able to collect!