This is a new series in the style of The Frugal Girl’s Five Frugal Things, where I’ll be posting weekly(ish) about what I’ve done lately to save money and make things stretch in order to further our financial goals, which currently include us paying off a decent hunk of debt. I encourage you to play along and post your own weekly frugal wins in the comments section below!
Note: There are affiliate links to the books, products, and services mentioned below.
I purchased bows and Christmas lights on clearance at 75% off
Much of the conversation around last week’s Frugal Wins post revolved around whether or not we were going to hit up the after Christmas clearance sales. I didn’t have it in December’s budget to check them out, but I did take a look while at the store yesterday because I knew I would want some bows for next Christmas (since I basically didn’t have hardly any this last year) and because we’ve needed new lights for our burnt-out Christmas tree for two years now (and have been making do with white lights that are two different temperatures, which kind of drives me crazy). I was able to get everything at 75% off, which meant I only spent a total of about $13 rather than over $50. I know Future Me will be thankful I planned ahead!
I looked for a promo code when I had to renew my blog theme license
Once you switch over to a self-hosted blog and personalized domain, there are yearly blogging expenses that you just have to factor in. This month I saved two-fold on one of my blogging expenses (my blog’s theme) — the first way is that I discovered that there was an option to purchase a lifetime access key so that I wouldn’t have to pay the renewal fee every January, and the second way is that when I went to check out, I made sure to check around for a promo code, which ended up saving me 20%. All in all, the lifetime access key (with the discount) only ended up costing me about $20 more than the yearly access, and then I’ll never have to pay for it again. Score!
Confession: I *almost* just checked out without even looking for a promo code because I didn’t think this site would have one. So, there’s your lesson learned — always, ALWAYS check, even if you don’t think there will be.
I made my own oat flour for a gluten-free pancake recipe
Gluten free baking is always going to be more expensive than regular baking, but there are tricks I use so that it’s not quite as expensive. One of my easiest hacks is to just grind up whole oats in our food processor to make homemade oat flour rather than buying the premade oat flour, which generally costs more per ounce. I also buy my oats in bulk, which usually helps to lower your cost as long as you’re comparing ounce to ounce prices. Also, any recipe that uses oat flour is usually going to be cheaper than recipes that use the premade GF flour blend (we buy this one in bulk, at 19.8¢ per ounce) or almond flour (like this, which is 28¢ per ounce).
If you’re looking for a fabulous gluten free cookbook, I swear by this one, which is where we got the pancake recipe from.
I got cash back for doing regular grocery shopping
Other than Christmas and birthdays, I really don’t buy much “stuff,” so often my best frugal hack for saving money is just not spending the money in the first place. However, since there are certain expenses that we absolutely have to have, such as for groceries and gas, I’m always looking for ways to optimize those so that we’re spending the least amount we can. We’re extremely limited on grocery store options where I live (just a Walmart and a small local grocery store that’s quite expensive), so I’ve had to change how I used to do grocery shopping a bit.
Since we have to drive to the “big city” that’s about an hour and twenty minutes north of us once or twice most months anyway, I always try and hit the Sam’s Club when I’m already up that way to save on gas and time. However, if I’m wanting something nonperishable from Sam’s Club, I just have it shipped to my house (for free with my Plus membership). Whenever I order groceries online to be shipped to my house, I make sure to go through Rakuten first in order to get cash back from the purchase. It’s usually just 1-3% cash back, but since it’s stuff that I’m buying anyway, I figured I might as well get back what I can. Many online retailers like Walmart and Target (where I’ll usually order my gluten free pasta because it’s usually cheapest there) won’t let you get cash back on groceries, but Sam’s Club usually does.
Basically, if you ever do online shopping and you’re not using a cash back app like Rakuten or something similar, you’re leaving free money on the table. You can also get an extra $30 cash back if you go through someone’s referral link like, ahem…mine 🙂
Also, whenever I do my in-store grocery trips, I always check Ibotta to see if I can get cash back there. Lately I haven’t found as many usable deals that way, but I can usually find at least one item that qualifies because they’ll often give cash back for “any receipt” or “any loaf of bread” or something like that.
I used the McDonald’s app when we went out for a treat
Just like we’re very limited on grocery store options, we’re also extremely limited on options for eating out, especially any that have gluten-free options. Admittedly, McDonald’s gluten-free options are almost nonexistent, but the kids love to play on the PlayPlace and like to fill up on fries and drinks anyway, so that’s usually what we go for. To just buy fries though is often ridiculously expensive, so I make sure I ALWAYS go through the mobile app whenever we go because you can save a ton of money that way.
For example, every day they let you use the deal for $1 large fries, which are normally almost $3 apiece. You also earn points by ordering through the app, and you can trade in points for free items as well.
Other fast food chains also have apps with similar features (we have one for Chick Fil A installed since it’s one of the few with gluten free main dish options), so if you EVER go out for fast food, your wallet will thank you if you go through their app.
Did you hit up any after Christmas sales? And what about your own frugal wins this week? Drop a comment below and share your recent frugal hacks!