The economy is on the upswing, but every single one of us could probably use a little bit more money in our pockets. Making small changes can add up to big savings, if you know where to look. Here are some strategies that work well for me:
Watch where you buy things: I recently noticed that the frozen lunches my husband likes to take to work are almost a full dollar more expensive at our local neighborhood grocery store than they are at the big chains. Sure, packing a sandwich or leftovers would be cheaper still, but I couldn't believe how much more pricey they were. Some people recommend keeping a "price book" of what things cost at different stores in your regular repertoire, but I think simply being kind of aware is just fine.
Get your Sunday paper: I don't just mean that as a recovering newspaper reporter! They have sale fliers and coupons; If you spend just a few minutes on Sunday going over them you can save big bucks. No need to be a crazy extreme couponer either...just scan the ads and if you see something you use and like on sale, such a a certain brand of shampoo, look for a coupon as well. Store websites will often have printable coupons or ones you can load onto your shopper card or even your smartphone. You can save a lot off the price of certain items if you can stack a store coupon, newspaper coupon and sale price.
Use loyalty cards. More and more retailers are launching loyalty programs that allow you to rack up points toward rewards certificates for every dollar you spend, get access to members-only deals, or get a stamp on your card for every visit. These are great for a few reasons: not only can you save money at stores you like to shop at, they will often send you special coupons just for being a loyal customer. I once got a coupon for free bacon from my grocery store for no reason!
What are your favorite simple strategies for saving money?