Personalfinance tips

Save on Groceries

Groceries take up a big chunk of our budget but there are so many ways to save money on them that people don't know about. One of the easiest ways to save money on groceries is to use a cash back app. Here are a few of my favorites:

  • iBotta ($10 sign up promo) – Scan receipts for money.
  • Checkout51 ($5 sign up promo) (Full review) – Another receipt scanning app with tons of unique and amazing offers
  • Drop ($5 sign up promo) – Connect your credit card and earn cash back automatically, completely hands-off. If you sign up for all 3 of those apps and use them each time you shop, your savings will skyrocket. PS: You should be able to easily cut your grocery bill in half if you follow these 21 simple ways to save money on groceries.

Start Earning Cash Back

This is probably the easiest way to save money, and if you're not using at least one cash back app or website you're losing money you could have kept. Even if you barely shop, it's still worth it to take advantage. So what are the best cash back apps? Here are my favorites:

  • Ebates – This one is the most popular and allows you to earn cash back at over 2,000 stores online & offline. If you sign up here you'll get a free $10 bonus.
  • Drop – With Drop, you can earn cash back at your favorite stores by simply linking your credit card – no receipt scanning required. If you sign up here you'll get $1 for free.

Make Financial Goals

Goals, in general, are great to have – they give you something to work towards and they're motivating. When you're coming up with financial goals, follow these key points:

  • Be specific – Instead of saying you want to save money, come up with an exact amount you want to save, like $1,000.
  • Think short & long term – You want short-term goals to keep you motivated and long-term goals so you know where you're headed. Your short-term goals should be small wins that get you closer to accomplishing your long-term goals.
  • Review and update – Every month you should be looking at your goals, measuring your progress and coming up with new goals.

Start a Budget

Starting a budget and sticking to it is key to financial success. It's also one of the personal finance basics. If you want to save more money you're going to need to at least have an idea of where your money is going each month and how much you're making each month. You don't need to become a budget fanatic, but at least set up a basic budget.

Build an Emergency Fund

You've definitely heard of these before. An emergency fund is a sum of money that's saved strictly for emergencies. That means you have to save some money first to build your emergency fund. Once you have your emergency fund, it's going to do exactly what it's meant to do: save you money when emergencies happen. Since you'll already have enough cash saved to deal with most emergencies, you won't have to go into debt (and pay interest) to deal with them.

Review and Learn From Your Budget Data

Chances are you are either using some type of budget spreadsheet or a budgeting app to create your budget. You want to take a look at your budget data and study your budget trends. Maybe you were able to pay off a significant portion of your credit card debt this past year or there were household spending changes. Maybe you were able to save money on housing costs in your budget. On a spending audit, I recently had 21 unusual things I stopped buying in my household. By knowing this kind of information and addressing household spending changes, you can change your long and short term goals which in turn will impact future budgets. If you are good at excel and your budget spreadsheet is in excel, you can create custom formulas that will automatically calculate things such as percentages of increases or decreases within a budget category. Knowing this information is extremely important and worth knowing in your financial life.

Hold Yourself Accountable

Creating a budget is a lot of work and so is living by a budget. It takes a lot of personal power to hold yourself accountable to the budget that you have created. Accountability is one of the most important budgeting tips and tricks available. Luckily there are a lot of techniques and budgeting tips and tricks you can use to combat this within your daily life.

  • One of the easiest ways to hold yourself accountable and make sure that you physically make and pay your bills each month would be to use automation. Almost all banks nowadays offer free bill pay. Set up monthly fixed expenses or bills in auto pay to be sure that they are paid. Use instant online check cashing for cashing checks. This way you will not even see the expense being paid.
  • Another option to hold yourself accountable would be to use the envelope system. This is a budget system that includes creating an envelope for each spending category. You put money in the envelope based on what the budgeted expense amount will be for that month.  When there is no money left in the envelope after the end of the month, you are done spending.
  • The third way to hold yourself accountable is to track spending. As stated above there many budgeting apps and software that will assist you to help track your spending.

Decide On a Format To Document Your Budget

When it comes to physically creating your budget, you will have to make some decisions on the type of format. Choosing the correct budget format to align with your goals is also one of the most important budgeting tips and tricks to follow. There are a lot of different types of personal budget systems so you have many options in this area.

  • One option is to actually hand write out the budget, however there is a lot more time involved by going this route. While it is a good way to learn the intimate details of your financial transactions, it is also extremely time consuming. Nonetheless if you feel tempted and motivated to create your budget document old-school, this is a great option.
  • The next option would be to use an excel spreadsheet. This is a very popular option especially for people who are familiar with excel and the formulas. One of the great advantages of using excel is knowing how to run the formula calculations. Once your budget is complete in this format, it is very easy to run projections, discover trends, and even chart your results.
  • Finally the third option would be to use a budgeting app. There are many out there such as  The advantage of using a budgeting app is that you can make the entries instantly on your mobile phone when you make a purchase. This will be very hard to do if you are using the method of physically writing out your budget.  Using a budgeting app is one of the easiest budgeting tips and tricks which offers great rewards. It would also be hard to do if you are using excel, although it could be done on your mobile phone with a few more steps involved. If you don’t have a checking account, you can always use starter checks when you open a bank should you decide to use physical checks as well.

Create and Implement a Reward System

Following a budget is no walk in the park. You will make mistakes and have mishaps here and there, but that is OK. Don’t let that discourage you from sticking to your budget. A good way to keep motivation high is to establish a reward system for reaching certain goals or milestones within your budget. Establishing a reward system is one of the best budgeting tips and tricks to use. The reward could be as simple as taking in a movie or as extreme as going on a vacation. I have actually followed this tip and strategy and recently went on a vacation to the Caribbean when I paid off my mortgage early. A reward system will keep your energy and enthusiasm high for meeting your goals within your budget.

Align Your Budget Goals and Values With Your Expenses

This is one of the more important budgeting tips and tricks to follow. When your budget is complete, you should go through and review your expenses and look to see if they line up with your short and long-term financial goals. I talked above how analysis is one of the best budgeting tips and tricks to keep your budgeting on track. For example if one of your goals is to get out of debt or reduce credit card balances, then you want to be sure that your monthly budgetary expenses reflect that. You should have and aggressive monthly expense factored into this category if you’re trying to pay off your credit card debt.