8 Easy Ways to Save More and Spend Less in 2017

If one of your 2017 New Year’s Resolutions was to spend less or to save more, you’re not alone. According to statisticbrain.com, more than 42% of people who make resolutions include money-related goals in their list.


Image credit: 401kcalculator.org

As a self-employed business owner and mother, I’ve been clipping coupons and buying things on sale for years. When my husband’s health problems meant that he couldn’t work at all for more than half of 2016, we had to ratchet up our savings efforts to make a single income work for our household.

I know we’re not alone in needing to pinch pennies right now, so here are eight things we started doing to save. If they’re helpful for you too, hurray!

1. Sign up for Your Local Grocery Store Savings and Rewards Cards

If your favorite grocery store offers a free loyalty card with preferred pricing on in-store purchases, take advantage of it.

In our neighborhood, the two big grocery players are Cub Foods and HyVee, and both offer loyalty cards. By doing a little bit of homework to find out what each store’s offers are before heading out to fill the cupboards, you can realize big savings just by swiping your card at checkout. If you’re a mobile app user, your store may also offer digital- and app-only deals.

Both of these stores also have incentives at gas pumps for their loyalty card-holders. Here’s my savings history – just so far this year I’ve saved $11.74 at the gas pump, and we’re only one week into the new year!


2. Ibotta

I found out about Ibotta totally by accident, but have since learned that many of my friends and family members are using it too to get money back on all kinds of purchases.

Create your account, download the free app and start saving on groceries, beer and wine, clothing, hotel reservations and much more. Once you accumulate at least $20 in savings, you can get cash in your PayPal account or use the money to buy gift cards.

I love it for grocery rewards – the available rebates change weekly, but I’ve gotten rebates for buying any brand of milk, bread, orange juice, eggs, ground beef, bananas and more.

You can also build “teams” with your friends on Ibotta and work toward extra team bonuses.

See for yourself – I’ve gotten almost $200 in cash back since joining Ibotta in 2016!


(Full disclosure: If you sign up under my link (use code gelmfgr if prompted to enter a code) and start claiming rebates, I’ll get a bonus because you joined my Ibotta “team”.)

3. Checkout 51

Checkout 51 is another great option for getting cash back on grocery store purchases. Like Ibotta, offers change weekly but in addition to getting rebates on things that were already on my shopping list anyway, I’ve saved money on everything from toilet paper to cleaning supplies.

When you accumulate at least $20 in rebates, you can request a check. I did this last month for the first time, and the check arrived within 10 days.


4. Ebates

I’ve been a huge fan of Ebates since mid-2015, when I learned about it from a friend. I do a fair amount of online shopping, and I’ve saved real money on those purchases using Ebates.

Once you’re signed up, you simply “activate” an Ebates shopping trip when you visit the site or store where you want to make a purchase. You can get cash back  at all kinds of stores, on all kinds of purchases. Your cash back bonus money accumulates in your account and is paid out once/quarter (you can get a paper check or have it deposited to your PayPal account.) Ebates also offers in-store cash back at a number of retailers.

Stores and websites frequently offer special double cash back or other incentives too, so you can see your savings add up even faster.

Here’s my history of cash back through Ebates. We got rebates for back-to-school shopping, including buying new school clothes, shoes and contacts online, so that $41 payment in November was just in time for holiday shopping:



(Full disclosure: If you sign up using my link in this blog post, I’ll get a bonus. You’ll also get a $10 bonus if you sign up as a new Ebates user by 3/31/17 — win/win!)

5. Honey

With Honey, you can get discounts on your online shopping at thousands of stores without having to wait for a rebate.

Honey crawls the web looking for online coupons and discount codes to apply at checkout and automatically applies them for you. If the sites you’re shopping also offer Ebates cash back, you can take advantage of both offers!

6. PayPal Business Debit MasterCard

This is one of my favorites. A lot of my writing income comes to me via PayPal each month, so I signed up for the PayPal Business Debit MasterCard for quick and easy access to those funds. I don’t have to wait days for funds to transfer to my bank account, but that’s not my favorite part of having the card.

I get 1% cash back on every purchase with this debit card, with no limit! The money is deposited into my account once/month. What’s more, I have it tied to my checking account, so even if there’s not a balance in my PayPal account, I can still use the card and earn 1% cash back on every purchase and the money is just deducted from my checking account. I use my debit card for EVERYTHING, so the cash back can be real money (here’s December’s bonus, deposited last week):


7. Target REDcard™

The only place I DON’T use my PayPal debit card is at Target. Why, you ask? Because I’m getting an unlimited 5% discount on Target purchases by using my Target REDCard™.

It comes in both credit and debit card varieties – I use the debit card version, which is tied to my checking account. So, I’m getting an automatic 5% discount on every Target shopping trip by using my own money anyway.

Here’s what I saved at Target in 2016:


8. Target Cartwheel

As a frequent Target shopper, I also need to admit that I’m somewhat addicted to using their Cartwheel app.

Download the app, and then add offers that you want to take advantage of on your next Target run. It’s user-friendly and the savings can be layered with coupons and store specials, so you can get some incredible deals (and don’t forget to check Ibotta and Checkout 51 to get rebates on some of the same purchases too!)

Here’s what I’ve saved since mid-2015 by using Cartwheel:


A Little Upfront Work can Yield Big Results

Sure, it takes a little bit of work, but we’ve saved what I consider “real” money over the past 12-15 months buying things we were going to buy anyway.

We’ve made other changes too that have had positive impacts on our bottom line, including ditching cable and signing up for streaming services (Sling TV, HBO Now and Netflix), and finding cheaper gym memberships (Planet Fitness in our area offers $10/month memberships!)

I’m hopeful that the combination of all of these will help us to realize even more savings in 2017 and beyond. I hope you found them useful too! Do you have a favorite way to save that isn’t listed here? Please add it in the comments! (Note: if you haven’t previously commented on one of my blog posts, there will be a short delay before your comment is “live.”)

Happy Savings!



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