Hey guys. It’s Chelsea, from
The Financial Diet. And this week’s video
was brought to you by Retail Me Not. And today, I wanted
to talk to you about the super creative
ways that you probably haven’t tried to save money. When it comes to saving,
especially when you’re already on a tight budget, it can
often feel impossible, because so much of the
advice around saving is centered on
really restricting as much as possible. And not acknowledging the
fact that we’re all going to spend in not perfect ways. And it’s often just about
making those purchases in a smarter way, than
stopping them altogether. Being extremely
restrictive with money is not dissimilar from
being extremely restrictive when you’re on a
food based diet. You’re likely to see a lot of
results for the first few weeks or so. But eventually, you’re
going to mess up, and then, binge because you’ve
already ruined it anyway. But there are ways to
live the life you want, while still making
serious savings. And it all comes down
to being creative. So here, are seven of
those creative saving strategies for every part of
your life that money touches. Number one is the
cash only food diet. So the cash only diet
is a pretty creative, but still fairly common
way to save money. And it may even be something
that you’ve already tried. It’s essentially, where
you limit yourself to only being able
to spend in cash. And there’s a pretty strong
psychological backing to it. Research shows that we have
a powerful emotional response to paying for things with cash. Just looking at an image of cash
releases chemicals in our brain that make us happy, we’re more
attuned to the value of $10 when forced to fork
over two $5 bills, than when paying with plastic. Having to run to an
ATM to get more money to pay for another
round of drinks also forces you to think twice about
whether or not it’s worth it. But it can be pretty
hard to just switch over all of your spending
overnight to cash only. Particularly, when a lot of the
ways in which we spend money, you literally
can’t use cash for. Things like apps, online
shopping, et cetera. You don’t want to do a
hardcore cash cleanse only to break the rule in
a few days because you have to Venmo someone, or
buy something on Amazon. Because once you mess
up, you’re much more likely to just
abandon it entirely. But there are ways to utilize
the power of a cash spending diet, without making
it so restrictive that you’re likely to break it. And that’s by limiting
the cash only rule to only one area of spending. Particularly, the one you
have the most trouble with. And for most people,
that category is food, because for most
of us food and dining is the biggest category
of spending in our budgets every month after things
like rent, or mortgage. And it’s also a very easy
area in which to overspend without even realizing it. Because food is a
necessity, but there is a huge spectrum between
what we need, and what we want. And if you’re a
millennial like myself, chances are that
statistically, you have a relationship
with food that is even more expensive
than other generations. In fact, 60% of
millennials can’t even make a basic salad
dressing by themselves. 40% of them can’t
identify a butter knife. And 44% of total millennial
food spending is on dining out. So if you combine our tendency
to overspend on dining, our general inability to
cook, and the extreme access to easy food on things
like delivery apps, food is the area
in which we could stand to make a huge
difference in our budget, just by limiting
ourselves to cash only. Now, I’m someone who
does tend to cook a lot. I genuinely love
it, and I would say the majority of my meals
are either home cooked or leftovers that
I’ve defrosted. But I also do spend on things
like Seamless, and PostMates. And even one month without
being able to use those apps, would likely make a huge
difference in my budget, without actually having to feel
like I’m restricting myself, because there are other
ways to still enjoy food while using only cash. In fact, one TFD contributor
who has her own site called The Luck Strategist
talked about her cash only food spending, and how it helped her. That month, she and her
partner only spent $860 total on food and dining,
which is the lowest they had spent in 12 months. Wherever you’re currently at,
see how much just using cash could help you when
it comes to food. The next way to
save is to be super creative with your browsing. So 79% of Americans
shop online now. And for most of us,
especially for millennials, it is an integral
part of how we shop. From the convenience of
it, to the products we otherwise, wouldn’t
have access to, to the sales that we can
hop on when they come along. It is a really indispensable
way to get what we need while not paying too much. And for me, online
shopping has changed the way I do several things. I automate regular
necessity purchases so that I can get them
at a better bulk price. And I don’t have to
make as many runs to the store, which
means not being tempted to buy a bunch
more stuff I don’t need. But I’m also a huge devotee
of couponing online, and one tool that I’ve
used for years and check religiously every time
I’m shopping online, is Retail Me Not. In the past, basically, every
time I was shopping online, I made sure to check
their site for deals. And there was almost
always some kind of sale that I could take advantage of. And what’s really cool, is for
purchases that I wanted to see online first– like clothes
I wanted to try on– most retail stores are obligated
to honor online coupons, so long as they’re not
online only, and most aren’t. So I would literally
just hold up my phone with the coupon
code from Retail Me Not, and they would have
to honor it in the store. But now, there’s an even
better way to do it. You can add a browser
extension called Retail Me Not genie to your
regular internet surfing that does all the work
of saving for you. And it automatically
applies coupon codes, and cash back offers whenever
applicable at checkout. They make it easy to save
on everything you need, such as clothing,
beauty, travel, and food. Install Retail Me
Not genie for free, and save instantly on everything
you need this holiday season. Check them out at the link
at our description below. That’s retailmenot.com/Genie. The next way to save is the
Punch Card Treat Yourself day. So one thing that I
think is super important is to find creative
release valves that allow you to feel like you’re
indulging, and treating yourself, and getting
the things you want, without having to spend
recklessly for them. Because let’s be honest,
we can have a tendency to indulge in these
things whether we’re sad, anxious, happy,
celebrating, commiserating, there’s always a reason
to overspend on those treat yourself things. And that tends to have a notable
impact on our credit card debt. Almost half of
Americans, 49%, say emotions cause them to spend
more than they can reasonably afford with stress,
excitement, and sadness being the top emotions
associated with overspending. So for those of us who are
not looking to tempt ourselves with a credit card that we
can easily start racking up unaffordable charges on,
there is a more manageable way to focus on the accumulation
of points and rewards. Now, this is very separate
from using credit cards to maximize the points or miles
you might get for them, which is something that I
do, I essentially, just filter a lot of my purchases
through credit cards, and pay it off at
the end of the month, so that I can rack
up those points. But that may not be
where you’re at in terms of your relationship
to spending yet, or you may not even be qualified
for those points cards yet. But anyone can do this
approach, and you can also do it in tandem with using
credit cards, which I also do myself. Essentially, I wrote
a whole article– which I’ll link you guys
to in the description– about how I do the same
points maximizing theory with loyalty cards to stores,
rather than credit cards. And they’re often
just punch cards like you’ll get at
your coffee shop, or your favorite sandwich place. Essentially, pick
three to four places where you could use
these freebies to have your perfect day. And work toward keeping
all of those loyalty cards and freebies to use together. For example, you can
make it so that you get a free blowout, and a free
smoothie, and a free manicure, or a little makeover
at Sephora, or really whatever you want,
all on one day. And these are purchases you’re
already making regularly, so it’s not like you have to
go out of your way to do it. Similarly, to how
you accumulate points by using a credit
card intelligently, you can accumulate
these loyalty rewards, and freebies by using these
loyalty cards the same way. And by putting them all
together into a fun, treat yourself
day, as I have, you get something to look forward
to without having to do blow out spending on the day. So dig up all those
loyalty cards you probably have hanging out in your wallet,
and start coordinating them. And most importantly,
never forget to use them when you’re buying something. Number four is to
rethink your commute. So the average American spends
$1,968 a year on gas alone, according to the US Bureau
of Labor Statistics. And that’s not
surprising, considering 85% of working
Americans are estimated to take a personal
car to work regularly. According to the American
Public Transport Association, the average household
spends $0.18 every dollar on transportation. And 96% of this goes
to buying, maintaining, and operating cars, the largest
expenditure after housing. A household can save
nearly $10,000 a year by taking public transportation,
and living with one less car. That’s bananas. And speaking as someone
who has not owned or even really operated a
car in almost a decade– and that’s not always
been while living in major metropolitan areas– I am gobsmacked. So simply set a
challenge to reduce the total cost of your commute
by either a certain percentage, or a dollar amount each month,
and use various strategies to get there. It doesn’t have to
be one size fits all. Because some of us can’t get
out of using a car entirely, but even just using public
transportation on some days, or for some parts of a commute
can make a huge impact. And even if you have to
keep using a car period, there are plenty of
more creative ways to be getting your gas. For instance, there are
several smartphone apps such as Gas Buddy, which
help you locate the cheapest gas around you. It’s also a good rule
of thumb to never buy your gas if possible
anywhere near a highway, as they often jack up their
prices for convenience. And if gas tends to
be very expensive, and public
transportation is scarce, try organizing a carpool. There are plenty
of great websites that help people
organize carpools. You can also organize them
within your own office, or place of work. And perhaps, most importantly,
rethink just how many cars you need if you’re living
in a multi car household. It’s very common in
America for households to have more than
one car on average per person, which is insane. Aside from how much more money
you’re spending unnecessarily, think about the environment. Chances are, if
you are commuting like an average American,
just rethinking a few elements of your daily routine can
save you thousands of dollars a year. Number five is the
second hand challenge. So one of the biggest
areas in your life where you can change
the way you shop, and change the way you
think about what you need, and how you get it is in your
home goods slash furniture. Setting a challenge to get at
least 50% of these home goods second hand or free
is an amazing way to change not just the
money you’re spending, but how you’re thinking
about spending itself. You can easily get
everything from flatware, to appliances, to great
wood furniture in this way. And things like a
fresh coat of paint, changing the handles
on something, or just a good sanding down can
really transform key pieces. Of course, there are
obviously the basics, like people giving stuff
away on Craigslist, or even just leaving it on
the street when they move, which is how I got several of
my favorite pieces in my home, from a kitchen cart,
which I completely redid and whitewashed. To a beautiful leather
couch that rich people were throwing away, because
rich people are insane. There are also websites
like freecycle.org, or Facebook groups like
Broke List, which have chapters for most major cities. You can also organize
home good swaps, but perhaps, most importantly,
check out your local thrift stores and Goodwill. It is insane the amount of
notably dining accessories that they have at these stores. Not only is it kind of chic
and cool to have tons of like really cute, mismatched serving
wear, and things like that. But there are also
really amazing sets of like a full thing
of dinner plates, dessert plates, forks,
knives, glasses, et cetera for pennies at
these thrift stores. One of my friends just
recently picked up a beautiful KitchenAid stand
mixer at her local thrift store for $30 dollars. Those things retail
in the hundreds. And it came in the box,
with all of the accessories. The point is furniture
and home goods are one of the biggest
places in which paying retail is almost always a
mistake, because most of these items, especially,
if they’re of quality, are built to last for decades. And as long as they’re still
functioning, why replace it? Make that 50% of home goods
be second hand challenge, and stick to it. And you’ll be shocked
at how much you save. Number six is store
loyalty programs. Now, outside of just
using the loyalty rewards like punch cards, or buy one
get one free that some stores offer– there are
also just more general rewards programs at many stores
that give you tons of benefits when you shop. And of course,
sometimes, savings means just strictly
spending less money, or buying fewer things period. But often, it means buying
what you need to buy anyway, in a much smarter way. So as many loyalty
programs as you can be a part of at these
stores you are regularly shopping at, the better. For example, anyone who
regularly shops at CVS, and uses their
extra care card is familiar with the
mile long receipts that you get for
buying a pack of gum. And you should not just
laugh at how long those are and throw them
away, they have a lot of good stuff on them. Simply remembering to bring
those coupons with you, and to make your purchases
according to them when you can will guarantee you savings. Plus using the card means
you can get 2% cash back on your purchase. Similarly, if you’re a
frequent Target shopper, and not interested in those
store specific credit cards– which can be tempting
and problematic– Target offers a loyalty
based debit card that links with your
checking account. You don’t need to have a
great credit score to get it, obviously, and it
also means not being tempted to spend past
what you can afford. It simply gives you 5% off
whenever you use it at Target, plus tons of
coupons and bonuses. And plenty of other stores
offer loyalty programs. It’s very likely, for example,
that your local grocery store has one. And you don’t just
want to join them because they seem
like a good deal, you want to join them because
you’re already shopping with these stores anyway. So take a look at each store
you most frequently shop at, and just take a
few minutes to see if they have a
loyalty program you could be taking advantage of. And best of all,
these loyalty programs are totally compatible
with outside coupons, so you can really rack up
the savings, especially, when it comes to things
like holiday shopping when you’re doing way more
than your normal spending. Number seven is strategizing
with gift cards. So there are actually
two ways that you can use gift cards in a
creative way to save money. One of them is that you can
use them as fixed incentives for reaching specific financial
or personal goals that allow you to do something
fun without overdoing it. But you can also,
literally hack the way you used gift cards to
get them at a discount for their full value. So similarly to
using the punch cards as a fun way to create a treat
yourself day, using gift cards as a reward for a
specific goal means that you have something super
tangible to look forward to. And you don’t have to
worry about whether or not you’ll have the free cash at
that moment to have the reward. For example, you
can buy a gift card to your favorite restaurant
for a nice meal for yourself, and put it away
for a few months. And only take it out and
use it when you’ve reached, let’s say, for example,
$1,000 savings goal. You get to feel totally good
about indulging in that reward. You get to have something really
concrete to look forward to in your spending goal. And you don’t have to
worry about taking it out of your account at that moment. Because let’s be honest,
if you Google things like shopping ban,
you’ll find thousands of posts of people
explaining why they totally failed in their shopping ban. It can be really hard
to stick to things or to reach goals without
specific tangible incentives. You always have to have that
release valve to make sure that you’re not getting
discouraged or disheartened, because things are
just not feeling fun. And even if you’re not
tying that gift card to a specific goal, having it in
your pocket as a sort of break glass, in case of emergency for
a really stressful or really happy moment, when you
want to do something special with money,
gives you a fixed, already budgeted for amount
of money with which to do it. You’re not going to go overboard
and drain your checking account, but you will
get to reward yourself. But as I mentioned, you can also
buy gift cards at a discount, and use them for their
full retail value. Essentially, people put
up gift cards for sale that they’re not
going to use, and you can buy them for up to 50% off. Especially, when it
comes to purchases that are important but
flexible in terms of timing, such as high quality
work clothes, waiting for that
discounted gift card can be the most practical
way to make that purchase. Ultimately, saving
extra money is all about being creative,
knowing yourself, and not being afraid
to try new things. And when it comes to all
your online shopping, make sure you’re never left
paying a dollar more than you have to again with the
awesome Chrome extension that makes saving at checkout easy. Genie, from Retail Me Not. Download it for free today at
the link in our description. As always, guys, thank
you for watching. And don’t forget to hit
the Subscribe button, and to come back every
Tuesday, Thursday and Friday for new and awesome videos. Bye.