With a combination of shopping smart and substituting some indulgences for other equally-fun activities, anyone can have fun while saving big. Read on for ideas that will maximize your entertainment while minimizing expenditures.
1. Sign up online
The world of serious couponing can be intimidating and time-consuming, but there are easier ways to get in on the game. The money you save on regular purchases can be put towards fun activities and special purchases.
Get rewards: It’s easy to join customer rewards programs at every place you regularly shop. If you don’t want coupons and promos cluttering up your personal email, set up another email specifically for those mailings. Check it when you’re ready to make a purchase.
Do a search: It’s a good rule of thumb to try not to buy most things unless you can get a discount, and this is an especially doable goal when you get a lot of your shopping done online. Even if a site doesn’t have rewards program, you can always do a quick search on sites like RetailMeNot to find a coupon code towards your purchase.
2. Make your own beverages
Most people spend a surprising amount of money on what they drink; whether that means beer, wine, soda, or coffee, there are fun alternatives for each.
Alcoholic: For both beer and wine, it can be fun to gather a group of friends and learn how to brew together; if you share all the supplies, the cost and effort is minimal. You’ll all learn an interesting new craft and get a lot of cheap, delicious booze in the process!
Non-Alcoholic: You can easily add carbonation to plain tap water with products like SodaStream. Just add flavored syrups to your sparkling water, and you have your own cheaper, healthier soda, in any flavor you want. If coffee is your drug of choice, forego your morning Starbucks for a home brew. Get a Keurig coffee maker if you crave variety; you can choose from hundreds of different coffee and tea options, so your morning routine never grows stale.
3. Swap or sell
Everyone has a lot of clutter in their home that goes unused but isn’t junk. Sort through your stuff and decide want you want to get rid of; you’ll get a cleaner house and some cash to put towards something else.
Household Items: You can easily trade away almost anything you own using sites like SwapMarket, in return for fresh goods. You can also conveniently sell books and DVDs to Amazon.com in exchange for credit on your Amazon account. Both are simple and convenient ways to recycle useless clutter.
Clothes: After you’ve gotten rid of all your other messes, it’s time to clean out your closet! Consider selling any designer pieces on eBay or sites like Threadflip , which allow you to buy and sell fashionable clothes at prices you fix yourself. Bring less valuable goods to your local Buffalo Exchange or Crossroads Trading Co., and get cash or credit back. Then it’s time to go shopping—guilt free!
Or if you want to make a fun event of your closet cleanup, host a swap party with your friends—just pour out some of your new homemade wine and have everyone bring over their gently-used, fashion-forward clothes. Then swap!
4. Eat at home
Instead of going out for dinner, make an event of it at home; you’ll save money, learn new skills, and get to spend more quality time with your family and friends.
Grow a Garden: Even if your “garden” is just a flower box on your kitchen window, you can still grow a lot to save on groceries. If you have limited space, focus on herbs and smaller vegetables; tomatoes and peppers are a good start. As long as you keep it small and simple, gardening can be a fun and satisfying activity, especially for kids.
Rotating potlucks: Get together with other friends and families for a dinner every couple of weeks. Adding themes like a different cuisine or special ingredient each time can really enliven the meal. Another fun twist is to watch a movie before or during the meal and eat food that relates to the film. And if you miss going to restaurants, you can always stop by your favorite dessert place afterwards.