Does it make sense to spend money in order to help you save money?
I’ve put a lot of thought into that question.
And I do think in certain situations, the answer is yes.
I’m not talking about frivolous spending, but rather, putting your dollars towards things that equate to enough savings that end up paying for that initial purchase.
Let me say this… I’m not a financial professional.
But just like many of you, I’m looking for as many ways to save where I can as often as I can.
So take a look at a few of the things I incorporate into our household spending/budget.
I hope they’re tips that help you save money too.
Must Have Memberships To Help You Save Money
I’m a huge fan of club memberships to help you save money.
The cost of membership is relatively low, and the savings can be significant.
For those of you who are empty nesters or live alone, your first thought might be that buying in bulk doesn’t make sense for just 1 or 2 people.
But keep reading, because I have a few ideas for you that might make the idea of a club membership to help you save money a little better!
So what does it cost to belong to these clubs?
Why I Shop At Costco
Our family belongs to Costco and a membership is $60 a year.
So yes, I spend in order to shop there.
But here’s how shopping at Costco helps save you money.
If I’m shopping for groceries, the price per pound on chicken, ground beef, and seafood are much less per pound than buying a single-pound pack at the grocery store.
The packs are smaller than the “family” pack at the grocery store too, so they’re easier to put in the freezer.
I often buy Costco’s pre-made salads or pasta bakes.
When I compare the cost of one tray of pasta and salad from Costco for my family of 4 to what I would spend if we went to a restaurant for the same meal, I easily save $30 dollars with the Costco meal.
Other items I like to shop for at Costco that help save me money are batteries, health and beauty items (like vitamins, makeup wipes and sunscreen) printer ink, electronics (always check Costco first!) and clothes.
Costco is a great place to pick up multi-packs of socks and underwear, but you can also buy singles of gloves, sweatshirts and more.
Costco also has the BEST seasonal plants and flowers.
From hanging baskets in the spring to glorious poinsettias, they’re more lush and beautiful than any I’ve seen at local garden centers at a lower price.
And don’t forget the gas.
Costco members have access to the Costco gas station, which, in my area, is usually at least 5 cents a gallon less than other local gas stations.
Also Check Out Sam’s Club
Sam’s Club is another popular shopping club.
They often have special offers on their memberships (unlike Costco) and many people find that same kind of savings at Sam’s Club as they do at Costco.
A typical Sam’s Club membership is $45, but you’ll often find offers like this one from Groupon. Keep checking back on the Sam’s club site before you join, as you might find a discounted fee with dollars towards your first purchase.
A good rule of thumb with club memberships, especially if you’re single or in a smaller household, is to put your dollars towards the type of items that are shelf stable and have longer shelf lives.
Think pantry staples, beauty items, supplements, and household goods.
More Memberships To Consider
There are a few more memberships that can help you save money.
If you’ve never belonged to AAA, I do think it’s worth the money to have a membership.
AAA is much more than a tow truck on call if your car breaks down.
You’ll find that many hotels, airlines and rental car companies offer discounts to AAA members.
You’ll also find discounts on amusement park tickets, online retailers and more.
Are You Old Enough To Join AARP?
The answer to this question, for EVERYONE reading this, is YES!
There is no minimum age to join AARP.
While the organization dedicates its content to the 50+ crowd, there is no age requirement to belong to AARP and take advantage of some of its benefits.
AARP members get discounts on travel, insurance, shopping and more.
Especially check out discounts at UPS shipping stores, Walgreens and CVS.
Products That May Help You Save Money
With grocery prices sky high, one of the best products to purchase I can think of to help you save money is a Food Saver.
A Food Saver is the best product I’ve ever used to make sure the items I buy in bulk and freeze stay protected and without freezer burn until I’m ready to defrost and prepare.
Depending on the model and accessories you select, you can also use a Food Saver on bakery items and fresh produce too.
While I think a Food Saver is a smart purchase for any size family, I really think it’s an item to consider if you’re single or an empty nester, as this can help you handle the bulk purchases at a Costco or Sam’s Club.
I recognize that a Food Saver vacuum sealer can be expensive (usually between $100-$200.) But according to the company, it can save you hundreds, if not thousands of dollars each year.
The savings comes from both buying in bulk at lower prices AND from not throwing “cash in the trash” by throwing out food that has gone bad or spoiled.
Sustainable Products Can Help Save You Money
Sustainable products are another way to spend once and save money on the back end.
Check out all kinds of money saving sustainable ideas HERE.
From alternatives to disposable plastic bags and wraps to reusable dish cloths, cleaner bottles and more, I love easy ways to be eco-conscious while saving money in the long run.
Gardening Can Help Save You Money
I know it’s a little late in the season to consider planting a vegetable garden, but it’s definitely something to think about to save money on food.
And with so much interest in gardening as a result of the pandemic, there are many products out there that allow even the smallest decks and patios to become a place to grow your favorite fruits, vegetables and herbs.
While smaller planters are a relatively inexpensive purchase to plant your herbs, for a more diverse vegetable bed, consider a raised planter by VegTrug.
Starter plants and seeds are relatively inexpensive to get your garden growing and let’s face it, homegrown is always more flavorful and delicious.
If gardening isn’t your thing, be sure to find out if there are any CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) co-ops in your area.
For a one-time fee, you sign up for a weekly assortment of freshly grown fruits and vegetables.
Once you see what your haul is for the week, it makes meal planning easier and usually results in lower bills at the grocery store.
And if you get more than you think you can eat, this is where the Food Saver comes in handy too!
A great price is only a great buy if you get some longevity from the item.
Let’s face it, getting cheap quality for a cheap price which results in having to rebuy the item isn’t a smart way to spend your dollars.
So, do a little research before you buy things like appliances, electronics, and furniture.
Personally, I’d rather buy a quality brand that I’ve come to trust, like Miele or Kitchen Aid for a vacuum or kitchen appliance than go with a brand I’m not familiar with simply because it costs less.
If you want to learn more about why I’m such a fan of Miele, you can read more in my home refresh blog HERE.
Remember, for more expensive items and brands, there are always dozens of places to buy these items, so spend a little time comparing prices, consider signing up for an email list for a percentage off, or, with a local retailer, ask if you can buy the floor sample.
If it’s in good condition, you get the quality you hoped for at a discounted price.
Credit Cards Should Give You Something Back
With interest rates going up, it’s more important than ever to really take a look at your credit card rates, including your annual fee and whether you’re getting any additional benefit from the card each time you shop.
If you’re not, it’s time to look around.
Why shouldn’t you get cash back, miles, points etc.?
And if that means you have to spend a little extra for the annual fee, but in return, you’ll get more back than the fee itself, that’s a good deal.
Some of my favorite websites to learn about the best credit card rewards are thepointsguy.com, nerdwallet.com and bankrate.com.
More Ideas On How To Save Money
Saving money in times like these comes down to a few things, including creativity.
If you’ve never been a coupon person, you might be surprised how savings add up by cutting a few from your Sunday paper and using the next time you head to the store.
You can learn a few more grocery store savings tips HERE.
Take advantage of signing up for email lists to get extra savings when shopping online (you can always unsubscribe after your purchase).
Make sure you’re also in the know for the best time of year to shop for certain items too. You’ll find that information HERE.
I hope that sharing some of the things I think about and have learned about where and how to save are helpful for you too.
I think sharing tips like these are a great way to support each other during this stressful economic time.
Thanks for being here and for being a part of the Just Jill community!
From my home to yours,