I've always been a good saver. I've got the whole delayed gratification thing down to a science. I'm no hardcore cheapskate, though. You know the type -- somehow these people walk out of the grocery store with $150 worth of goodies for $1.32. Yeah, I don't know how they do that either. I'm not interested in spending my precious free time cutting coupons I'm not going to use anyway. So here are some easy, painless ways to save hundreds of dollars every year by slightly adjusting the things you're already doing.
Use Credit Wisely.
I don't just mean paying off your bill every month. I'm talking about matching the credit card to the purchase. For example, I have a Capital One Spark card that pays me 2% cashback on every purchase. I also use Chase Freedom, and Discover, which offer 5% cash back on $1500 of purchases each quarter in rotating categories.
At least 85% of my wardrobe used to come from TJ Maxx and Marshalls before I started shopping online. That company of stores also offers a credit card that earns 5% back toward gift certificates good at either, (plus HomeGoods, an excellent home decorating store, and Sierra Trading Post). Speaking of the Gap, naturally I also have a Gap credit card that gives me 5% back towards purchases there.
I decided to get an Amazon credit card (you get $30 off your first purchase and 3% towards Amazon gift certificates) because I found I was spending quite a bit there every year. But now I use my Amazon Store Card, which gives a 5% statement credit every month as long as you're a Prime Member. You're probably aware that you can link your Discover and Chase credit cards to your Amazon.com account, which enables you to pay with points on Amazon.
I also have a Upromise Mastercard. I get extra cashback from using the Upromise credit card at the Upromise shopping portal.Keeping track of all these cards might sound confusing, but it's really not. My Amazon cards are only used at Amazon, and likewise for my TJ Maxx and Gap cards. I'll use Discover or Chase for the 5% category, but the majority of the time I'm using my Spark Card or Upromise Card. OK, maybe that's a little confusing. The point is, make your credit cards work for you! By the way, none of my cards charges an annual fee. evreward.com. However, they do not include Active Junky or TopCashback.) Cash back portals are a true win/win situation. Not only that, but there are gobs of information and advice waiting for you in the Fatwallet forums. (You don't receive your cashback immediately; there is usually a 60-90 day waiting period before you can cash out.) So here's how I do my online shopping. First, I'll do a little research by reading reviews at Amazon and cnet.com. Once I know what I want, I'll check a coupon site like DealHunting, TechBargains or Retail Me Not to see if there are any deals floating around. Next, I'll check evreward.com to see who is offering the highest cash back. Finally, I'll purchase through either Active Junky, TopCashback, MainStreetShares, Mr. Rebates. Fatwallet or Ebates (assuming there is a cashback link). These sites have saved me thousands of dollars, in exchange for an extra thirty seconds of my time. Some offer a $5 sign up bonus.
Here's that list of sites again, I recommend you sign up for all of them (remember, they're free to join and some offer bonuses:Active Junky
I don't have any experience with FreeShipping.com but that's another option to investigate. Members get 10% cash back at 1,000+ online retailers, free shipping, and return shipping and price protection rebates. Full benefits are listed here. They charge a monthly fee so you'll have to crunch some numbers to see if the membership justifies the cost.
Open an Online Savings Account.
Discover Bank offers an online savings account that pays 0.95% APY on your balance. That's one of the highest rates I've seen currently (unfortunately). Santander Bank often runs some nice promotions, but at the very least, you can avoid the $10 monthly fee on their Simply Right Checking Account by making one transaction a month (deposit, withdrawal, transfer or payment in any amount.) A Upromise GoalSaver account offers cash rewards as you save, and matches 10% of the funds swept from your linked Upromise account to your GoalSaver Account (as long as you make an externally funded monthly deposit for 10 of 12 consecutive months into your GoalSaver account, or maintain a $5,000 balance).
Online savings accounts are great -- there are no fees and no minimums and they link to a checking account that you already have. I effortlessly transfer money between my online savings and checking account when I'm paying my bills online. Since moving my cash from a money market account to an online savings account, I'm receiving five-ten times as much in interest dividends! I recommend transferring 10% of every paycheck into one of these online savings accounts. It's an easy way to "pay yourself first" and you won't even miss the money. Plus you'll be pleasantly surprised at what a tidy sum will have accumulated before you know it!
That's it for now. I'll be updating with more tips so stay tuned!