We're almost half-way through the year–how are you doing on your financial goals for 2010? If you're trying to pay off debt, reducing your spending is key. Learn how to save money on groceries, other shopping, utilities, and insurance. Once you have a handle on your monthly spending, think about how you can bring in extra income. Last year, I was able to earn an extra $625 on average each month in 2009 using these strategies:
- Sell items at a yard sale, consignment sale, on Ebay or on Craigslist. This can be as simple as cleaning out your basement and selling items locally or a concentrated effort at making good money online with Ebay. For expert advice and tips, download the FREE Ebook Guide to Successful Ebay Selling from Suzanne, the eBay Selling Coach. I keep it low-key; last month I sold $38 worth of outgrown uniforms at my twins' preschool.
- Redeem Swagbucks for gift cards like Amazon. In 2009, I added $1300 to my family budget by redeeming Swagbucks for Amazon cards and using them on products where I would have spent cash, like carseats. By replacing regular purchases that way, I free up cash to pay down debt. They've changed the point system a little for 2010, so I am not seeing the same earning rate as last year, but it's still FREE money that I can use to replace purchases in my family budget.
- Earn FREE gift cards through points programs. Both my bank and the Washington Post have points programs that let me earn gift cards by not doing anything. With my bank, for example, I only redeem my points 1-2 times per year; I just let them accumulate the rest of the time. By choosing gift cards that replace regular purchases in my budget–like gas or clothing–I'm able to free up even more cash to pay down debt.
- Get FREE gift cards with pharmacy coupons. Obviously, this may not be as lucrative for some families as others, but because we have several regular prescriptions and tend to have a rough winter season with lung infections, I pick up several $25 gift cards over the course of the year. By using these on items I would buy anyway, and by stretching the dollars with coupons and sales, this adds to my budget greatly.
- Look for occasional promos for FREE money. Last month, several grocery stores offered a $10 coupon off your next trip when you purchased $100 in Gift Cards. We had some home repairs coming up, so I purchased $100 in Home Depot cards, which got me a $10 coupon to spend at Safeway. That was $10 of FREE money since I shop there anyway. Note–this strategy only works if you plan to use the GCs immediately. Another example would be rebates, but only those for products you buy already, so it doesn't cost you extra out-of-pocket. Here's an easy $15 in rebates to submit by June 30th, and you probably already have the receipts from the products.
- Use a cashback site like Ebates for all online purchases that you would make anyway. I don't do a lot of online shopping, but every time I do, I take a few extra seconds and a few extra clicks to shop through Ebates. I also refer friends and family to Ebates, especially those I know who do a lot of online shopping. Last month, I received a $130 “big fat check” from Ebates, just for my own shopping and referring others*.
If you're feeling like your family budget needs a little assistance, I encourage you to take some time to focus on saving before you attempt to earn extra income. However, if you can set aside a little time (because some do take concentrated time), these strategies may be helpful to you.