This article is sponsored by TextNow.
If saving is a struggle, you’re probably not interested in arduous, penny-pinching strategies. After all, old habits die hard, and easy ways of saving money are a wonderful “gateway” into the awesome feeling that saving money can bring. Big lifestyle changes can make a difference, but a nice starting point is the quick money wins.
A nice way to create new money habits is to substitute your more expensive expenses for cheaper ones without having to fully “give up” something important to you. This way, you still get what you love, but you also get the freedom and margin in your budget that comes from small reductions over time.
That’s why we’ve partnered with TextNow, an affordable alternative to pricey cell phone service providers, to bring you a few ways to save that you might not even know exist. Not every one of them is an option for everybody, but looking into these quick wins might help you find another, unexpected place to save. You can shop around for cheaper or free alternatives to many other items in your budget once you get the hang of it. It’s pretty invigorating to free up your paycheck without cutting your standard of living too much.
1. Get new online quotes for insurance
As simple as it seems, many people discover that they are overpaying for insurance because they didn’t do a lot of comparison shopping. Even 30 minutes of research can give you some very valuable discounts on your bills. If you can bundle insurance coverage, such as car, home, life, or renter’s insurance, you may find further discounts. It’s not glamorous, but it’s a fast way to quietly cut those costs, and since insurance is usually out-of-sight, out-of-mind for a lot of us, you usually won’t miss your previous coverage once you make the switch.
2. Use a free talk and text phone service provider
So many people don’t understand just how much money they’re pouring into a smartphone service, especially when they have access to wifi as well for most of their time. TextNow is a great alternative to expensive phone services. They offer free talk and text options with or without Wi-Fi, and optional data add-on options for those looking for a bit more but still want data at an affordable rate. TextNow is free to download on Android and iOS smartphones and tablets.
You don’t even have to have a smartphone to use TextNow. It has a browser-based form, www.textnow.com, which you can use for things like getting a separate line from your personal phone number if you’re starting a business but not wanting the expense of a second line through a traditional cell service provider. Imagine finally cutting your bills for cell phone service and getting to save that money for the future of your side business or for other future expenses!
3. Make the sale-price-option your default choice
On days when you specifically walk into a grocery store or restaurant craving a particular item, it makes sense to go straight for it. However, many of us go into mealtime or meal prep a bit unsure what we’ll be picking.
One easy way to make decisions easier and save money is to default to whatever is on sale/the special of the day. If the restaurant has 50 menu items but only three daily specials, just pick from the specials or the dollar menu or whatever is the most affordable section. If your grocery store has an online discount flyer, plan your grocery list and meal plan around those specials. Yes, you can deviate from it if you really don’t like anything available, but even semi-adventurous eaters can save a lot of money and cut down on their overthinking time by just picking your favorite among the discount options.
There are many other ways to gamify choices that you don’t feel strongly about: not sure whether to watch a movie you own/can watch for free or to rent one/buy one online? Default to the free or cheap option! Most of us aren’t great at knowing which of two positive experiences will make us the happiest, so we can save time and stress by just picking the cheaper one when it’s not a big, important purchase. Those savings, though, still accumulate!
4. Save on prescriptions with prescription drug coupon programs
Saving on prescriptions starts by getting to know your health insurance. For instance, some plans come with automatic zero copay on certain preventative medicine, sometimes even including multivitamins (it’s way easier to want to take them if you realize they’ll be free or cheap!). Just a quick meeting with Human Resources or read through the fine print may reveal ways that your insurance could be saving you money that they don’t widely publicize.
There are also a variety of prescription drug coupon programs and phone apps that offer coupons or price comparison for prescription drugs. Make sure you aren’t giving a lot of sensitive information to one of these applications without checking their online reviews first (avoid scams!), but there are multiple options that are actually helping people save money every time they buy a recurring prescription. Never hurts to save on your core expenses!
5. Use cash back and credit card perks to pay essential expenses
One of the glamorous things that people discuss about credit cards is the potential for free gift cards, travel vouchers, or other luxury-based rewards. A nice way to make those cards actually save you money is to select the card that gives you the best perks on things you’ll buy anyway. Remember, if you wouldn’t have bought a plane ticket or gone to a fancy restaurant without the credit card perks, even “buying it with points” doesn’t really “save” you money.
If you can get cash back or a discount on fixed expenses, like gasoline if you have to commute or groceries, your credit card is actually saving you money (provided you pay it off every month to avoid interest). It’s not as exciting, but think about it: there will be no restrictions at all on where you can spend the money you save because of this smart choice.
6. Spend an hour calling utilities and asking about prices
Everyone’s mileage varies on this, but you’d be surprised what bills are negotiable. Calling everyone from the internet company to ask if there’s a cheaper package to the trash collectors to see if they can match a competing offer can reduce your bills.
What’s nice about specifically negotiating bills is that you can often get that discount long-term. For instance, if your landlord knows you are a good tenant, and you don’t personally want to move, see if they’d be interested in a longer-term lease that includes a rent discount. Obviously not everyone will go for these changes, but consider how much a short conversation could save you long-term. Just two or three dollars a month can add up!
7. Work toward a fitness discount with your insurance company
Not everyone can do this, but lately a few different health insurance companies have revealed that, if you’ll share your fitness tracker information with them and keep those step counts at a certain level, they’ll reduce your health insurance premiums! Many of us wish we had more incentive to take those steps anyway, so if that’s a way you already keep up with your daily activity, consider switching to an insurance provider who offers that discount.
8. Check for free/cheap options before paying for expensive classes or test prep
Whether you are taking a certification exam for a field or considering where to go to take college classes, remember to throw free and inexpensive options into the mix! Yes, there are some careers that require the accredited college or university experience, but many of us can benefit from free or cheap options out there.
This is especially true when we’re re-training after a couple of years in a career, or deepening a pre-existing skill through practice. For instance, there may be a course on Skillshare or a series of YouTube videos to help you pass a particular exam that you can try first. The world of high-quality free or subsidized educational resources has grown a lot, and while there’s plenty of lower-quality stuff to wade through, it’s worth making sure that you actually need Expensive Test Prep Book before you buy it.
9. Pick one streaming service at a time with a cheap plan
One of the factors that has changed a lot as streaming services continue to grow is that they are really quite easy to pause or cancel. It wasn’t always that way! Now, pausing your subscription to one service until the next season you want to watch of your favorite show comes out is really easy.
There’s rarely any reason to pay for multiple streaming services at once, since you can alternate back and forth between these services, draining each one of your favorites and then switching to another after a few months. If you drop from a total of two or three to one total streaming service at a given time, you can save upwards of $150-$400 a year!
Saving money effortlessly means thinking of alternatives
What do all of these strategies have in common? Recognizing great alternatives. One of the ways you can do this is by swapping money-saving strategies with friends: maybe you tell a friend about the internet service discount you got through TextNow, and she or he tells you a new money-saving tip that has worked recently. Once you are paying attention to alternatives, you’ll be in a place to save enough money to reach your major money goals over time.
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