Budgeting / Money Management

Coupon Codes & Other Money-Saving Hacks I Used To Replenish My Emergency Fund

By Tuesday, March 02, 2021

Budget-wise, I went through a harrowing start to the year. Despite the fact that my lease wasn’t up until April, I was forced to move out of my apartment, since my unit was undergoing mandatory construction work. I even had to pay a lawyer to get me out of my lease since my landlady refused to allow my roommate and me to break it. I also spent a significant amount of cash on moving fees amidst the pandemic and spent a large amount compromising with my roommate about expenses in our new home. I also took a massive pay cut at the start of the year—55% to be transparent—in order to gain work experience in a field, I hoped to break into, on top of wanting to leave a toxic work environment I’d been stuck in for two and a half years. Thankfully, I had an emergency savings pool I was able to tap into for these unexpected fees, but I certainly didn’t expect to be replenishing this pile so early in 2021. 

On top of that, one of the resolutions this year I plan to stick to is reminding myself that it’s OK to spend more on pandemic-related care. Last year, I skimped on many of my needs, pushing through the pandemic as if life were normal (mentally), and kicked into survival mode. As a result, I wound up saving significantly. Clearly said savings came in handy, but I also want to continue to prioritize my mental health this year, acknowledging that we’re living through strange, unprecedented circumstances and that I deserve to be kind to myself for living through all of it.

So, how am I replenishing my savings account? Check out three key ways, below:

1.Using out-of-network insurance reimbursement to pay for therapy

While it may seem like a no-brainer to use insurance to pay for therapy, the truth is that I’m still on my parent’s health insurance, and mental health isn’t a topic of discussion in my family. It’s a cultural taboo, to say the least, so I found ways to afford an out-of-network therapist of South Asian descent on my own. But, given that my savings were nearly depleted by the unexpected expenses at the start of this year, I began to re-evaluate the benefits of having a portion of my fees reimbursed. While this did mean an uncomfortable conversation with my parents, who are still not entirely on board, I also received 50% of my payment back and can continue to see my therapist at half-price, which is significantly more affordable. The reimbursement, which amounted to nearly $750, has helped to pad my new emergency savings account, too. 

2. Taking advantage of meal kit discounts, $0 grocery delivery fees, and so forth

This is a bit complicated, so let me explain—most meal delivery services, like Hello Fresh or Blue Apron, offer discount codes for new users. A number of grocery delivery services, from Imperfect Foods to Instacart to Jupiter, do the same. Given that food is one of my top expenses, I decided to crunch the numbers and see how much I could save by using new member discount codes on nearly every meal/grocery service I could find. Turns out, the answer is quite a lot— at least $25 a week! Grocery delivery services in particular offer free delivery and up to $50 off for the first week or two of trialing a new service. Now, the catch in all this is (a) you have to remember to cancel the subscription afterward, otherwise, you’ll be charged (b) canceling is often a lot more complicated than just clicking a button, you often have to call or message a customer service specialist and explain why you’re canceling the service and (c) you don’t always have a lot of freedom to choose your meals in a meal-delivery kit and sometimes grocery delivery services don’t have the ingredients or quality you want. But, given that I’m in a tighter spot than I anticipated being in, budget-wise, these are compromises I can make to save close to $100/month for another 1-2 months. 

3. Use all of your credit card perks

I consider myself fairly good about using my credit card to its full potential, but there are always perks I’m not on top of or discounts I forget about. This time, though, I did all my research to determine where my credit card could save me money — and how much. For one, I used to save my credit card points to convert them to miles to save on airline travel. Given that, that isn’t happening much these days, I’ve decided to use those points to be reimbursed on my credit card bill. I’m also doing my best to maximize my credit card points where I can, offering to use my credit card when paying for a picnic takeout with friends or using it to pay my utilities bills and rent. As such, I’ve been able to save another $50/month through my card’s cash-back program, converting points to cash and paying significantly less on my bills each month. 

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At the end of the day, I feel lucky to have had such a comfortable pile of emergency savings to draw upon for the unexpected circumstances I found myself in at the start of the year. Building back up my emergency savings account is yet another privilege; since I don’t live paycheck to paycheck and I’m able to prioritize this, instead. Still, it’s no easy task and finding ways to shave off spending without compromising on needs( and even wants) is tough. I hope this list sparked a few ideas on where to save, and how important an emergency savings pool really is.

Keertana Anandraj is a recent college grad living in San Francisco. When she isn’t conducting international macroeconomic research at her day job, you can find her in the spin room or planning her next adventure.

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