11 Ways to Lower Shopping Costs When Living Paycheck to Paycheck

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Illustration Credit: Nicetoseeya/Shutterstock

We have all lived paycheck to paycheck at one point in our lives. But we all don’t have to live this way. By saving more, you can increase your financial stability and work toward breaking free from the paycheck-to-paycheck rat race. Most people fall for the myth that saving money has to be a drastic action, but the truth is that every little bit counts. I’m sure we all would like to save more money, and luckily there are plenty of ways to save on expenses today and in the future. Here are some effective ways to generate savings today and tomorrow.

1. Bulk Order Your Necessities Online

We order all of our toiletries for the month via subscription services. Many outlets offer them, which let you "subscribe" to receive certain products each month, every two months, or quarterly. You save a certain percentage automatically, but when you buy more monthly items, you save more money per item. Using this feature allows us to save big on things we use all the time, like toothpaste, soap, toilet paper, and helps us avoid overspending when shopping at the store.

2. Local Resale Options

For my first apartment, I was able to get all my gently-used furniture for only $50 from a local furniture bank. Now, I typically buy some of my furniture around major holiday sales, or get used furniture that I find online, in resale shops, and places like Habitat for Humanity. I’ll admit, I’ve also grabbed some pretty great finds that have been on the curb in my neighborhood for garbage day.

3. Christmas in July

Why wait until the next holiday season to stock up on gifts?! Do holiday shopping right after the season or in the off months to get great clearance deals.

4. Buy Household Items with Free Gift Cards

There are some household items that you just have to get each month. Why not save money on these purchases by using free gift cards? You can earn free gift cards by taking surveys online during your spare time with sites like Survey Junkie and Opinion Outpost.

5. Earn While You Spend

Start using rewards programs to save money and earn cash back. I use cash-back rewards programs to save automatically for Christmas each month. Some programs put cash-back and rewards into your holiday-savings account.

6. Recycle & Reuse

When it comes to buying clothes, check out resale shops before purchasing from big box stores. ThredUp is an awesome online consignment that is worth a look for fantastic and well-priced secondhand items. You can also try setting up a clothing swap in your neighborhood and do some trading.

7. Bring Only the Cash You Need

If you’re afraid you may overspend at the store or when you go out, try bringing only the cash you need in your wallet. Leave your debit card at home. That way, you can’t go over budget. I’ve been using a cash budget for some of my spending categories, and it has helped a ton.

8. Use the 48-Hour Rule

Sometimes we spend money based on emotional impulse, then regret the purchase later or find it was unnecessary. The next time you’re thinking about buying something, use the 48-hour rule. Sleep on the idea of making the purchase for at least 48 hours. Reassess whether you genuinely want or need the item at the end of that time period.

If you haven’t thought much about the item in the 48 hours, it may be best not to buy it.

9. Milk Your Birthday

Utilize all free gifts and offerings from stores and restaurants on your birthday! Most companies offer a great birthday perk if you sign up for their mailing list or subscribe to their apps, so don’t miss out on doing so for your favorite brands.

10. Simply Ask

You never know until you ask, but discounts are sometimes available. Be sure to ask if there are additional markdowns (usually given for items that will be a final sale) that you can take advantage of.

11. Read Reviews Before You Buy

Don’t forget how important reviews are to helping you save money. Take a look at a few reviews before you buy products, especially big-ticket items. Sometimes people share great coupon codes there as well.

Living paycheck to paycheck can make you feel limited in terms of how fast you can pay off debt and what you can save. The key is to get creative with your budget and how you manage money. Start with these tips if you’re looking to save and also realize that living paycheck to paycheck doesn’t have to be your future. Take steps to start building up your emergency fund, increasing your income, and taking specific actions to improve your financial situation.

Also, check out my Budget Beyond Your Paycheck worksheet bundle to help you stay on track.


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