Tax season is upon us, which means it’s time to start making plans for how to spend or save your tax return wisely. But what if you could do a little spending and a little saving? What if you could get more retail therapy out of less cash? Getting creative about saving money can help you get what you want while sticking to your budget. Use these seven innovative personal finance and budgeting tips to help you cut expenses without cutting corners on purchasing what you need, want, or love!
1. Try Some Honey
We’re not referring to the kind of honey that you can find in beehives. Instead, we’re talking about a free internet browser extension called Honey (owned by PayPal). With one click, Honey automatically finds, tests, and applies coupon codes for more than 40,000 e-commerce sites, including Amazon.com. Figures published in the L.A. Times state that you can save up to $400 a year with this money-saving app!
If you don’t want to install an internet browser like Honey, then you might try coupon websites or apps such as Coupons.com, Groupon, Rakuten, RetailMeNot, and Swagbucks. These sites aggregate coupons that retailers have distributed, making it easy to find deals by brand or store.
2. Earn Cash Back
If none of your credit cards offer cash-back rewards, you could be leaving money on the table. Consider looking into getting a cash-back credit card that gives you cash rewards when you spend money at certain places. Are you wondering which card to choose? Personal finance website NerdWallet provides a list of 12 of the best cash-back credit cards. Make sure to do your homework before opening a credit card to ensure you aren’t stuck with unnecessary fees!
If you do have a rewards card, make sure you’re taking advantage of earning maximum points. Among credit cardholders who do not carry balances, more than half (55%) are missing out on gaining reward points in five popular categories: gas, groceries, restaurants, airfare, and hotels.
Bankrate.com analyst Ted Rossman shares his expert advice on cash-back credit cards:
“As long as you’re avoiding credit card debt and refraining from overspending, you should be using a rewards credit card for everything, as it can make a big difference.”
3. Rely on Cash for Everyday Expenses
Remember those dollar bills you used to tuck into your wallet? Well, if you want to save money, going the cash route for some purchases may be a wise move.
It’s simple: every month, withdraw money from your bank account and set it aside to pay for daily expenses, like dining out and grabbing a cup of coffee. Once you run out of cash, it’s time to stop spending on stuff unless it’s necessary (like rent, gas, and groceries).
This approach includes a physical indicator (an empty wallet) when you should stop spending to stay on-budget. It also incorporates a psychological strategy: handing over cash to pay for something is out of the ordinary, and therefore makes you think twice before spending. Using cash builds discipline in deciding what’s worth spending money on, and what’s not!
4. Stash Extra Cash
Did you work overtime and get an extra $150 on your paycheck? Did you get a $50 birthday check from your Aunt Ellen? Don’t spend that money. Save it! Consider depositing surplus money that comes your way into an interest-bearing savings account to save up for a big purchase — a home, a car, or new furniture! — or to create an emergency fund.
5. Don’t Overlook Quality
You may want to pick the lowest-price items when you’re hunting for a bargain, but that could be a costly mistake. If you sacrifice quality, you might end up with things like clothes, furniture, or appliances that quickly fall apart and must be replaced sooner than high-quality items. Are you in the market for excellent bargains on great home furnishings? Check out CORT Furniture Outlet, where you can find high-quality furniture that’s built to last.
6. Do It the DIY Way
Rather than hire a contractor or handyman to tackle a home improvement project, consider doing it yourself. These days, you can find YouTube videos that instruct you on how to take on an array of home improvement projects.
By doing things yourself, you can potentially keep thousands of dollars in your pocket. For instance, replacing your front door on your own can save almost $2,000 on materials and labor! Meanwhile, you can slash about $3,700 from the cost of new wood flooring if you install it yourself rather than hiring professional help.
7. Use Free Tax Preparation Tools
Few people enjoy doing tax returns every year. But you can ease the pain — and maximize your tax refund — if you turn to free tax preparation tools rather than paying a person or company to complete your returns. Free options include Credit Karma Tax, IRS Free File, TaxSlayer, and TurboTax.
You may not be able to give yourself a raise, but you can make the money you do have go further! Leverage these creative money-saving tips to get what you want at prices you can afford. And when life calls for home interior retail therapy, visit CORT Furniture Outlet for clearance deals on high-quality furniture.