With Tax Day around the corner, everyone could use tips to help get through these difficult economic times.
Rising food costs, sudden spikes in gas prices and the recent increase in Pay Roll taxes are just some of the many factors causing families to tighten their spending. According to the Coupons.com Internet Coupon Index, consumers are clipping coupons at the same rate as right before the 2007 recession. What if clipping coupons isn't enough?
Jeanette Pavini, savings expert with Coupons.com, offers advice on ways to save on everything from groceries to clothing, insurance, travel and more.
Use her tips below to help ease the strain on family budgets:
Drive Less. Swap out some trips with walking, carpooling or bicycling to save money. A perk is that families also get some exercise by driving less.
Shop Seasonal. Plan meals around what produce is in season. The quality and prices will be better.
Brown-Bag It. Pack a lunch instead of purchasing it. Jeanette compared the prices for homemade to the average deli price for three popular sandwiches and found that consumers could save $23.75 per week—or $1,235 over the course of a year—by doing just a little shopping and taking five minutes each day to prep a lunch.
Hit the Dollar Store. Get some necessities at discount stores and only buy what is needed, when they’re needed. The dollar store is great for toiletries, snacks for school lunches and even toys.
Buy in Bulk. Sometimes it’s cheaper to buy items like potatoes, tomatoes, avocados, onions and lemons in bulk bags versus individually; do the math before buying.
Get Pump App-y. Just because gas prices are on the rise doesn't mean families need to pay the highest price. Download gas price comparison apps such as GasBuddy to save money with each fill up.
Buy Frozen. Frozen veggies and fruit are a great alternative to pricier fresh produce. There is no waste, and consumers can often find a coupon from the manufacturer. Stock up on freezable items like meat and bread when they are on sale. Just make sure to use a permanent marker and write the purchase date on the package to know how long it’s been in the freezer.
Shop with Cash: It is known that those who shop with credit cards tend to spend as much as 30 percent more than if they'd shopped with cash. When shopping with cash, people are more aware of how much they’ll spend and how much they’ll have left because they can touch it. Once the money's gone, it's gone.
Entertain at Home. Invite a group of friends over and everyone can bring a meal and the alcohol. Don't spend the money on drinks out. Friends can rotate hosting.
Take Advantage of Technology. Leverage online sites and mobile apps to save even more money. Retailers are offering more and more digital discounts, so make sure to download money-saving apps like Passbook.
Shop for Imperfections. There are grocery stores that specialize in selling imperfect of “misfit’ items that are perfectly good except for the packaging. Shopping for "almost perfect" could save big bucks.
Coupons Aren't Just for Groceries. Many people think that coupons are only good for food shopping and household goods. There are tons of coupon codes available online for all things, even high-end retail.
Stay Organized. Keeping an account of expenses can really make a difference during tax season. Need a little help? Try downloading Expensify – this app helps users sync their bank accounts with their credit card accounts in real time, providing an expense report helpful for tax preparation.