Figure real needs compared to wants. Do you need the best, most expensive, coolest gadgets and foods? Do you really need to make all those trips and drive so much? Do you need more stuff, or can you downsize? Figure ways to save money and make ends meet.
Plot your paths – figure your driving routes to make a loop of stores you need things at so not go out at separate trips. You’ll save money in gas costs and time. When I have a doctor appointment, I put a list of shops in that area that I can stop at on the way there or back. When I need something at one store, I figure what else I need at nearby stores, or a gas station, or post office, or a rental pace, etc. Buy gas more often, not letting it go below 1/4 tank (you don't want to run your car on a low tank of gunky gas) - then the total bill looks better (but if you leave your car in a place where thieves can drain your gas tank unseen, then keep less gas in the tank and fill to a lesser amount - the thieves are brazen in how they steal gas by drilling into the gas tank). Use the recommended gas grade for the car - repair bill will cost more than the difference in gas cost. Buy when something is on sale. In grocery stores, get the seasonal produce and other items when they are on sale. If you need toothpaste, wait for it to go on sale (usually costs less at a department store, like Target or Walmart). I look for sales and wait to buy until it goes on sale. I try to gauge how many to buy compared to how long before it might be on sale again. Shop at dollar stores for certain things (cheap China toothpastes and such - not a good idea). Sign up to get emails of store ads and look on store apps for what is on sale. It is easier to save money by doing this.
I buy in bulk when I know I will use it. If I am not confident of using it all in the time it is good for (or I can’t freeze it), I will not get it in bulk. If it goes to waste, it didn’t save money. For produce, keep it in the front of the refrigerator so you know to use it before it goes bad. If you let food spoil you are not saving any money on it. Eggs - they are expensive now so instead of buying eggs, use egg replacements and change up your normal foods to ones that don't need eggs. If you bake, use your eggs sparingly but use them before they get old. You might bake enough to freeze the goods you make. Cook or learn to cook. It costs less than eating out. Prepare a few meals worth and freeze to pull out another day. Make your own coffee instead of buying at a coffee shop. Costs of eating out and paying for coffee in a shop add up. Buy or make foods to freeze. Cook dry beans and pasta (cheap to buy and can keep them in the pantry for months to years). Buy meats and produce on sale and freeze them for later. Buy less processed and packaged foods – they add up and can mess with your digestive system, sending you to the doctor more often. Make easy meals by preparing a green and a red type vegetable with a meat. Eat less meat and your costs go down. It is easy to get protein without eating meat - beans, cheese, and nuts, for example. You might need to supplement with B12 if you don't eat grass fed meats (cows need to eat from the ground, not be fed a soy based meal, to get the bacteria to make the B12 into their meat).
If you use coupons, keep your eye out for them and use only the ones you need (not everything you see a coupon for - hoarding and not using products does not save you money). Watch emails, texts, store promotions, stores, and brands on social media – many send coupons and sales notices or offers. Many coupons are “click to load” or auto-loaded on apps. Then you show your store barcode to get those offers.
Be aware of false offers because scams might try to suck you in. Verify the store has your correct email and phone number (scams often send to alternate contacts than you registered with). Pay attention to misspellings and bad grammar - then it is probably a scam email.
If you have a loyalty or loyalty card program at a store, bring it out when shopping online or at the store – to get any discounts and/or add points toward rewards.
Large chain stores can often give better discounts than small Mom & Pop stores, but it’s a shame for the small stores to lose customers to the chain stores because they will suffer losses or even go out of business. Sometimes the small shops offer perks to loyal customers. In times of scraping to get by, you do need to make tough choices sometimes.
As for Amazon buying, it might get you things you can use, but sometimes they are not cheaper than at a store, (especially if you need to pay for shipping) so know what you are looking for, then Google or call to find a better price. Porch pirate issues can rob you of the delivery, as well (find an Amazon drop box or deliver to a neighbor who would be home). Amazon will try to get you to buy more than you need by suggesting other products or pushing a minimum amount for free shipping (but not everything qualifies toward that minimum, so you might keep adding more to the total). Remember that returns are tossed out and not reused at Amazon and other stores - so try not to buy unless you are SURE you need it.
If your car can use a lesser grade of gas, fill up with that. Don’t skimp if your car needs premium gas – you don’t need a big repair bill from a failed engine. Use public transportation more if you can, use Uber or Lyft or taxi, and rideshare - depending on cost comparisons. When you drive, maximize gas usage. Drive the speed limits and accelerate/decelerate more slowly and not quickly. Keep the tires fully inflated and lessen the weight of stuff you keep in the car or trunk. Be mindful of heating and AC - keep it at a comfortable temperature and not warmer or cooler than you need.
Get your shots and health issues dealt with – hospital bills are more expensive than preventative measures. Eat healthy – eat more produce and less sugars and prepackaged dinners - it can prevent more doctor visits. Cut down on the amount of meat you eat..Eat less processed foods, flours and sugars.- the ingredients in packaged and processed foods Sell things you do not need or care about anymore - you can earn some extra money. Take a job if you aren't working - there are many looking for workers. I see "hiring" signs hanging at businesses a lot. Downsize what you can - you can donate what you can't sell so others in need can have it for less. Turn your thermostat down and lower the temperature of your hot water heater to the lowest it will still do what you need. Wear more sweaters in the house. Run laundry and dishwasher, etc. when full so not as often. If you re-align your thinking with your spending habits, you can save a lot of money to help make ends meet. PR