5 Ways to Save Money With Minimal Effort

There are obviously countless ways to save money; however, sometimes we want to save money without making drastic changes to our lifestyle. I’ve rounded up a few ideas that can do just that for you.

1) Buy generic

There are so many things that people buy solely because of the brand name when the generic version is just as good. Some things to buy generic: over-the-counter medicines, spices and seasonings, cleaning products, milk, water, frozen fruits and vegetables, canned vegetables and beans, toiletries and packaged salads and fruit. The price differences between these things individually may not seem like much, but altogether they add up, especially when you buy these products multiple times a year. You’ll be surprised how much you can save by swapping out even just a few things for generic brands!

2) Shop sales or discounts

So often we pay full price for items, just for them to go on sale a week or so after we’ve purchased them. Whether you’re shopping for clothes, household items or food, you should try your best to buy according to when items are on sale. Online grocery shopping makes it even easier to shop sales than ever before. Even if you prefer grocery shopping in person, you can try to plan your meals based on what is on sale, what you have coupons for or just try to buy items in bulk when on sale. For clothes, there are so many holiday sales, so these are great times to buy things you’ve been waiting on. Also, if there is a particular item you are looking for, household or clothing, sign up for sale emails, so that you can be the first to find out if the item goes on sale, there are promotions going on and you will receive coupons. You can always unsubscribe if you no longer want these emails.

3) Ebates

Source: ebates.com

Ebates is a website that rewards you with cash back for your purchases. It’s quite simple. You go to the Ebates website, click on the store you want to shop at (you have to click on the store directly on the Ebates website, which then forwards you to the store’s website), shop and make your purchase, then you will receive an email confirming your purchase. Also, there is a downloadable button that makes it even easier to ensure you get cash back. The Ebates cash back button pins right onto your browser, so if you forget to go through Ebates first you press this button once you are on the store’s website and then continue the process. Once a quarter, Ebates sends you a check rewarding you with cash back for your purchases. If you’re going to shop anyway, you might as well be rewarded for it! If you sign up through my link here, you will automatically receive $10 when you sign up!

4) Rewards credit cards

There are countless credit cards that offer rewards points that can be converted into all sorts of things, such as cash, travel, gift cards, products and more. These are great because you simply shop for things the way you always would, but by paying with these credit cards, you automatically receive rewards points. The list of cards below are credit cards that offer you rewards with no annual fees, a.k.a. no additional cost to you (other cards offer similar or greater rewards, but those increased rewards come at a cost, as they may include annual fees ranging anywhere from $75 to $600). Additionally, some credit card companies allow you to shop through their website links which generate even greater rewards. For example, if you shop through Chase’s Ultimate Rewards at Sephora, you receive 5x the rewards point that you would have received if you just went directly to Sephora’s website and purchased something. While at first this may seem insignificant, these rewards really add up. My husband and I have accumulated over $6,000 in the past 2 years in credit card rewards points and we haven’t changed our spending habits to do so.

  • American Express Blue Cash Everyday®
    • 3% cash back at supermarkets (up to $6,000), 2% cashback at gas stations, 1% on all other purchases
  • Chase Freedom®
    • Rotating quarterly categories for 5% cash back (up to $1,500), 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • Citi® Double Cash Card
    • 1% cash back on all purchases and another 1% cash back when you pay them off
  • BankAmericard Travel Rewards®
    • 1.5% for every $1 spent to be used towards booking traveling
  • Capital One® Quicksilver Cash Rewards Card
    • 1.5% cash back on all purchases

5) Sign up for loyalty programs

There are so many stores that offer loyalty programs at no cost to you and without opening store credit cards. It takes just a few minutes (if even that much) to sign up for these, so instead of automatically saying no when you’re checking out, take the extra time to be rewarded for buying things. These loyalty programs offer coupons, discounts and, sometimes, even free items! This morning, for example, I bought a muffin at Panera on my way to work and it ended up being free thanks to their loyalty program! I’ve included a list of a few loyalty programs I am aware of at places people frequently visit.


Dunkin Donuts DD Perks

Starbucks Rewards

Express Next Rewards

CVS ExtraCare Rewards

Walgreen’s Balance Rewards

Bloomingdale’s Loyallist

My Best Buy

Nordstrom Rewards

Sephora Beauty Insider

Papa John’s Papa Rewards

8 thoughts on “5 Ways to Save Money With Minimal Effort

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  1. Yesss to Generic = value = smart spending = saving more = me happy = who cares what brand of red pepper flakes I use in my spicy omelette!

    Grocery stores out there offer so many generic products, and I buy a lot of them, except for some food products like cereal, orange juice, and other snacks.

    1. Exactly! I am the same way with a majority of things, unless of course the name brand happens to be on sale for cheaper than the generic (which happens on the rarest of occasions!)

  2. I’ve never been a big fan of buying generic. Yes, it definitely is cheaper. But for some reason generic stuff never tastes as good as the brand name (e.g. Ketchup).
    On the other hand, I always prepare my own lunch. It is so much cheaper, and a lot healthier. I usually pack fruits and salads, thereby cutting down on carbs.

    1. Troy, that’s a good point about always packing lunch! I get free lunch at work, so that’s not a concern for me right now. However, in the past few months I have started packing lunch for my husband because we realized we kept going over our food budget. It helped so much!

      Regarding generic, I hear you. There are some things that I just cannot bring myself to buy generic (ketchup, BBQ sauce, meats, toothpaste to name a few), but things like spices and some fresh produce I have found I am completely fine with.

  3. Yep. All five are super easy tricks/hacks to keep costs down. My wife and I always buy generic, unless you have a name brand that is just that much better. In addition to rewards program, don’t forget about apps such as Cartwheel by Target, Walmarts coupons app. Most stores now have apps that allow you to save on the spot!

    Bert, one of the Dividend Diplomats

    1. I didn’t even know about Cartwheel! Thanks for the info! I actually did forget about all the store-specific apps there are now. Thank you for the reminder!!

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