*THIS IS A GUEST POST BY TASHA WHITMORE OF THEFRUGALFITGIRL.COm*
Hey all, I'm Tasha and I'm working hard...really hard, to get out of debt and get my budget in check. When I first started my debt free journey, I realized something...stuff is expensive! And it all adds up! After I pay rent, utilities, student loans, put gas in my car, and buy groceries, there's not always a lot left for the fun stuff. But, I know myself and sitting on the couch twittling my thumbs for the next 5 years (which is how long my debt payoff plan lasts) is NOT an option. I believe that life is meant to be lived and we are not on this earth just to eat, sleep, work, and repeat. So, I started figuring out ways that I could still enjoy the things that I love to do while saving myself money and staying within my budget. I hope this list helps you too!
1: Make your money work for you.
I'm gonna let you in on a little secret...I went 3 months without paying for Starbucks! How you ask?? Ibotta! If you haven't tried out Ibotta yet, you're missing out. It's basically a rebate program for lazy people. So, instead of cutting coupons or mailing in rebates (cause who actually does that??), you scroll through and see what Ibotta is offering money back on. Then, once you're done shopping, you take a pic of your receipt and the App adds the money to your Ibotta ccount. Once you're at $20, you can choose to either get the money back via paypal OR...this is the cool part...get it turned into a Gift Card!!! I exchange my rebate money for Starbucks gift cards and was doing so well that, I didn't pay for Starbucks for 3 months!! Anything that feeds my Starbucks obsession is a good thing!
2: Use Groupon, Living Social etc to make your money go farther.
I often use Groupon and Living Social to purchase massages, facials, even Starbucks gift cards. (have you realized the level of my addiction yet?!!) Most deals on those sites are for 50-90% off the retail value PLUS, you can often find coupon codes that will give you an additional 20% off or so. That adds up to mega savings while still allowing you to indulge on services that might otherwise be outside of your budget's price point. But, I will caution you, don't go crazy buying deals and then forget about them! When I first started using Groupon I totally did that and wasted a ton of money on deals that I paid for and then didn't redeem.
3: Student Run Salons...Don't Be Afraid!
About 2 months ago I needed my hair trimmed. I'm new to Tucson and didn't have any salon recommendations. I'm a black girl with natural hair so I was hesitant to just go to any salon but, a friend of mine, who lives in NYC, had mentioned that she went to an Aveda Institute Salon and had a great experience. Aveda Institute Salons are student run but closely monitored by their instructors. The students there are in their last couple months of classes and are getting real world salon experience. Because they're still students, the salon offers MAJOR discounts on services including blow outs, cuts, color...and spa services too! I called the salon and was VERY specific about the fact that I needed a stylist that had experience with African American hair. They spoke to the instructors who recommended 3 stylists and then paired me with Matthew who had an opening in his book for the day and time I needed. Matthew was awesome! He spent 3 hours washing, detangling, blow drying, flat ironing and trimming my hair...and he even added some layers! And I paid $25!!! If I had gone to a regular salon, I would've spent at least $80 PLUS tip (I tipped Matthew $20 because he was really THAT GOOD!) If you have an Aveda Institute Salon near you, or something similar, I highly recommend it.
4: Breakfast, Lunch, or Dessert dates instead of Dinner.
My fiancee and I are major foodies and we don't really do chain restaurants (except In-N-Out Burger, I LOVE that place!!). Good, local restaurants can get pricey so, we often choose to go on breakfast, lunch or even dessert dates instead. Lunch menus are often just smaller versions of the dinner options which means you'll save money AND calories. Who can argue with that? Or stay in for dinner and head out for coffee and dessert.
5: Use your town's free resources
We moved to Tucson a few months ago and have found a lot of low cost things to do simply by Googling "things to do in Tucson". One of my most fun things we've done so far is gone to a microbrewery that was showing Titanic on a Friday night! We just ordered a couple appetizers and some Diet Pepsi (Scott is allergic to alcohol) and basically got dinner and a movie for a fraction of the price. (oh, and I still maintain that there was room for Jack on that door! Rose was selfish!!)
Another option is Meetup.com. I recommend Meetup especially if you're new to a town and looking to make friends but really, anyone who's looking for new stuff to do can definitely find it at Meetup. We belong to a Meetup called "Free Events In Tucson"...it really can't get any easier than that! Each week, they post at least 50 Free Events happening in Tucson ranging from concerts to Adult Kickball Leagues. You could spent an entire weekend event hopping and never spend a dime!
I hope this list is helpful. It's definitely possible to be your fabulous self without your wallet paying the price. Let me know which tips you try or if you have any frugally fabulous ones of your own!
"The Busy Girl's Guide To Couponing"
As anyone who has listened to me talk for more than 30 seconds knows, I'm a huge couponer and save anywhere between 30-50% of of retail price on my groceries every week. Now some people may say...
"Why not 90-100%? I see people doing that all the time!"
Well, the easy answer is that I believe in balance...balance in work, balance in life and yes, even balance in savings. And for those people to be getting that big of a discount every week, they're spending hours upon hours working very hard to match deals, buy coupons and go store to store to store to find the BEST prices.
I applaud their efforts but I just don't have that kind of time. So, in my FREE webinar, "The Busy Girl's Guide to Couponing" I want to walk you through 3 of the key ways I save on groceries each week WITHOUT spending hours.
You'll also get to ask all of your grocery savings questions. AND, I'm giving out a little somethin' somethin' to everyone who signs up and attends the webinar live!
I really want you there and know that this information is valuable and can become a game changer for your budget like it was for mine.
Join Tasha on Tuesday, February 7th at 6:30pm MTN
If you're looking to get your budget in check + start the new year on the right foot, check out Tasha's 2017 Budget Planner...it's everything you need to keep your finances organized and yourself on the right track! You can also join her January No Spend Challenge to really jump start your year!
For more tips + tricks on living a Healthy, Balanced, Fabulous Life while working to stay on a budget or pay down debt, visit The Frugal Fit Girl.
Tasha Whitmore is the owner and founder of The Frugal Fit Girl. A blog dedicated to helping people learn how to become debt free while continuing to live a healthy, balanced, fabulous life. When she's not spending 12 hours a day scheduling social media posts, she enjoys time playing Languinis (an online word game) with her Fiance, Scott while their chiweenie rescue dog, Stanly, gazes longly out the window.
You can connect with Tasha on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, + Pinterest!