There are some unavoidable expenses that are difficult or impossible to eliminate from your budget . You might be able to cut back on going out to the movies or quit drinking $4.00 coffees from Starbucks, but there are other expenses that will always be a part of your monthly budget.
But one thing you can do is try to minimize these expenses as much as possible. Below is our list on tools and tricks you can use to lower those pesky bills that you can’t dodge.
Save Money On Groceries – Ibotta
Going to the grocery store is a necessary part of anyone’s week and it’s definitely an unavoidable expense. But it seems like prices at the grocery store continue to creep upwards. You can get cash back on not only your groceries but also clothing, pet supplies, and other essentials with Ibotta.
This is an app you can use on your computer or phone for online shopping or in-person transactions. Cash back rewards vary by store but they work with nearly every major grocery store and retailer in the U.S.. Check out their list of retailers here and see if it’s part of your regular routine.
If your grocery stores is already on their list, then download the app and get started. It’s very easy and takes 2 minutes to register. Here’s what you do:
- Download the app
- Register and sign up
- Shop at stores on their list
- Earn cash back and get paid directly to your bank account, Paypal or gift cards
Read below for common questions that people have about Ibotta:
Do I need to download the app? No you don’t. But depending on how you want to use Ibotta (in stores or online) it will likely be a lot easier if you download the app onto your phone. This will allow you to see offers while your in that particular store and upload receipts right then and there.
Furthermore, if you only plan to use Ibotta for online shopping than you probably don’t need the app unless you want to shop from your phone. Keep in mind though that you need to do your online shopping through the Ibotta website and then you are linked through to the retailers. If you don’t shop through Ibotta, then you won’t be able to take advantage of cash back.
Can I use Ibotta for online shopping? Yes if the retailer is on their list of retailers. You need to start your shopping experience through Ibotta to make sure you get cash back. Learn how to do that here.
Do I need to upload receipts? Not necessarily. It depends on how you want to use Ibotta. If you have a loyalty program with a certain retailer, then you can link your loyalty program to Ibotta and it will not require any receipts to be uploaded.
Keep in mind that you need to claim your offers BEFORE you buy not retroactively. So even if you have your loyalty program linked, you’ll still need to claim your offers before you buy.
Can I get paid back directly to my bank account? Yes, read how to do it here but you can also get it linked to a paypal account or redeem gift cards.
Save Money On Gas – GetUpSide
If you own a car, then you have the unavoidable expense of gasoline. Unless you want to keep your car in the garage, it’s an expense you have to pony up for no matter what.
However, if you use the GetUpSide app, you can save money on gas AND get deals on car washes, oil changes and other auto services (including convenience stores). It’s pretty simple … here’s how it works:
Download the app and check it when you need gas or other car related services. Recently GetUpSide has started to expand into restaurants and grocery stores which is welcome news. But their bread and butter is gas stations and convenience stores.
The way it works is you go into the app and look for offers from nearby gas stations, car washes, auto-shops that are competing your business.
After that, it works a lot like Ibotta.
When you get the service, use your normal credit card and then snap a photo of your receipt and upload it into the app. You don’t need to use any special cards or coupons and you don’t have to remember any numbers or pins.
Cash out: Your account balance will build over time and you can cash out whenever you want. They can pay you your cash back by check, Paypal or gift card. As of this writing, they do not have an option to link your bank account but that could change.
Automatically Save After You Buy Online – Paribus
Have you every bought something and then later saw on it sale for much less that the price you paid?
With this tool, that will never happen again and you can get all the savings of future price drops on items that you purchase online from certain retailers.
Paribus is a tool owned by Capital One (although you don’t need to be a capital one card holder to use it). The way it works is that you sign up for Paribus with the same email that you use when you buy things online. The site that you buy from will send your receipt to that email.
Paribus scans all the receipts in your email inbox and then keeps track of those items for any time the price drops in the future. If the price does drop, Paribus will notify you when it goes down.
The best part is that it helps you get the savings from the store automatically. You don’t have to do anything other than sign up for Paribus with the same email that you use when you buy online.
Paribus also handles other things like making sure your are refunded for late deliveries and lets you know when a return window is closing on an item you’re thinking of returning. All of this happens automatically without you having to do anything except collect the savings.
Plus it’s owned by Capitol One so you know it’s not going away anytime soon.
What retailers works with Paribus? Paribus works with retailers like Amazon, Best Buy Target, Kohls, GAP, Old Navy, Overstock, Best Buy, Nordstrom. You can check the full list here.
The Ultimate Saving Machine – Trim
If I had to pick one tool off this list that is my favorite (and most effective) way to get money back in your pocket and plug the holes in your monthly budget…this is it.
Chances are that you have at least a handful of things that are being charged to your credit card each month that you don’t need. Trim helps you plug those leaks and clean up your budget.
It automatically scans your credit card accounts and learns based on your spending patterns. Then it suggests ways that you can save money and often does the work and negotiation for you.
They negotiate with cable, internet, phone, and medical bills, and will cancel old subscription for you (without you having to waste your time on hold with these companies). Avoiding hold times on the phone with these companies is reason enough for me to use Trim.
They will also look at your credit cards and find ways to lower interest rates (APRs), waive interest charges, and get refunds on unfair bank fees.
Again, they will do this directly for you (if you want) so you don’t have to spend your time and energy negotiating with these companies that know they can wait you out because they have all the time in the world and you don’t.
Hands down … this is our favorite way to “trim” your monthly budget.
Slash Your Car Insurance Cost – Gabi
Ok so we talked about the smaller expenses but what about some of your bigger monthly expenses like your car insurance?
People often pinch their pennies with coupons on smaller items but they miss where the big money is. Gabi is one way to start getting those big savings with a better rate on your car insurance. Gabi will give you a quote for your car insurance in 5 minutes and find the best possible rate.
This isn’t like Geico where you’re only calling one insurance company. Gabi is not an insurance company and they don’t insure you directly. They take your requirements and scan all the insurance companies out there to let them beat each other up on price.
The result is a much lower bill for you to spend month on better things that insuring your car. Over the course of the year, their customers save an average of $825 which is nothing to sneeze at.
Save Money On Your Taxes – TaxSlayer
They say that the only sure things in life are death in taxes. I personally believe that are many more sure things in life but it’s true that we all have to pay our taxes.
One of the best things you can do to save on your tax bill is hire a quality accountant to sort your financial affairs. Unfortunately a good one is hard to find.
So if you prefer to file taxes on your own, a cheap way to do so while also maximizing your tax return is through TaxSlayer.
TaxSlayer is similar to other only tax platforms except it is more focused on sniffing out how to cut your tax bill or maximize your return. Their walk-through on how to save the most on taxes could big the biggest money saver of the year as tax bills can swing wildly up or down (sometimes by thousands of dollars).
If you want to make sure you’re paying the lowest possible on taxes and you don’t want to hire an accountant, then try TaxSlayer.com.
Reduce Or Eliminate Cable Bill With HD Antenna
When I was a little kid, we had a TV is our living room that had little rabbit ear antennas that we could adjust to get better picture. Needless to say, we did not have cable … actually … cable didn’t even exist yet.
But the lesson I hold from this memory is that antenna’s SUCK!
Au contraire. The technology for both indoor and outdoor antennas has dramatically improved over the past decade. But more importantly than that, many broadcast networks are REQUIRED to broadcast their signals in HD.
This means that you can get quality picture for your big screen tv without having to pay for cable. However, you won’t be able to get premium networks like Netflix or HBO with an antenna.
Chances are that you can get the channels you want with a quality antenna and not sacrifice picture quality. Check out AntennasDirect.com and find the antenna that is right for you. They make it easy with a zip code tool that can show you available networks in your area and then match you with the best antenna.
It’s not guaranteed as a solution for you but if you get the channels you need from an antenna, you could save $1,000s by reducing or eliminating your cable bill.
Planning On Moving? Use SmartMove
On average Americans move homes once every five years and the is increasing dramatically with the pandemic as people’s lifestyle requirements and needs change.
We would probably move more often if it wasn’t such a pain to pack up all your stuff and resettle in a new place.
There’s no getting around packing your things but you can save the headache of canceling and signing up for cable, internet and smart home systems using SmartMove. Not only that, they will get you the best deal you can possible get for these necessary expenses that will save you big money when added up over the year.
You can’t put a price tag on the mental anguish you get to avoid by using SmartMove and not having to deal with the cable companies. In fact, I would pay to have someone do this for me … instead SmartMove saves me the frustration and actually puts money back in my pocket.
Check the SmartMove website to see if you qualify.
Bonus Tip: if you are freelancer or small business owner that has to pay for your healthcare insurance out of your own pocket, then read our guide to finding a cheap family doctor. It could save you thousands and actually give you BETTER quality healthcare.