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So much personal finance advice revolves around saving rather than spending money or spending sensibly and mindfully. It’s mostly good advice but all of us have to spend, and some of us just love to spend. Given that, it makes sense to save money every time you spend money, and there are a few very simple ways to do that.
From gas stations and airlines to supermarkets and coffee shops, almost every business has a loyalty program now, including small independents. Even my yoga studio offers points for every class I attend (even though I don’t pay per class – each one is included in my monthly membership). Many loyalty programs give you points that can be used ‘as cash’ at the business issuing the points (and sometimes at other businesses). Some will give you other perks, gift cards, or vouchers, so check out the terms and conditions to see what will work best for you. Many loyalty cards give you random discounts in-store as well.
The number of loyalty cards I have kind of makes a mockery of the concept. I have cards for two different gas stations, two well-known chain store pharmacies, and two health food stores. Why own loyalty cards to direct competitors? Because they’re competing. One will often have a special offer that the other doesn’t, and if you’re a loyalty cardholder you’ll usually know about it because you’ll get an email or alert about it.
Cashback Credit Cards
Cashback credit cards (or cards with points-based rewards) also help you save while you spend. In fact, there are a few different ways to profit from your credit cards. Cashback cards are the most obvious and direct way to save money with every purchase, but they are often reserved for premium clients with great credit scores. Remember that cards issued by a specific company (such as Amazon) often give you points to convert into gift cards, and let’s face it, for some of us, Amazon gift cards are as good as money in the bank.
Remember that when you shop using a store loyalty card and pay with a points-based credit card, you’re racking up two lots of savings. Always use your credit cards responsibly though. Carrying even a small amount of debt month-to-month will cancel out your cashback rewards in no time.
Save-When-You-Spend Apps and Websites
There are a wide range of apps and websites that allow you to save money or claim cash back when you shop via the app or website. Apps like Honey can be used on a mobile device or added to your browser on a laptop and will search for discount codes for you every time you go through an online checkout. If there are no discounts available the app will still often offer you points on the purchase which can be converted into gift cards for online stores.
There a lot of save-when-you-spend apps and websites, that allow you to earn cash or points on every purchase, as long as you start the purchase journey via the app or on the website. Popular options include Be Frugal, Swag Bucks and Shop At Home. Terms and conditions vary considerably, so take a close look at them to make sure anything you sign up for is truly worth it.
Paying your monthly bills may not be the type of spending you love to do, but it’s got to be done, and there’s often an opportunity to save here too. Many companies offer a discount when you sign up for autopay. This is common with cell phone carriers, but can also be the case with utilities, insurance payments, car loans, and other monthly bills. As a consumer, always ask if there’s a discount for autopay. It will usually be a fairly small amount, but can still save you hundreds of dollars in the long run. There’s the added benefit of simplifying your finances a little too.
Whether your spending is 100% necessary, or you’re spending for fun, there’s usually a way to save while you spend, and it’s generally worth doing.
About the Author
I’m a freelance writer specializing in online business, personal finance, travel and lifestyle. I also work as a content creator for hire, helping brands and businesses tell their stories, grow their audiences, and reach their ideal customers. I’ve lived, worked and studied in six countries, across three continents. Stop by my blog TheSavvySolopreneur.net to learn how to run your own (very) small business on your own terms. You can also connect with me at my website KarenBanes.com or follow me on Medium.com.
Disclaimer: The information in this article is not intended to encourage any lifestyle changes without careful consideration and consultation with a qualified professional. This article is for reference purposes only, is generic in nature, is not intended as individual advice and is not financial or legal advice.