Sad but true: I used to be a hardcore daily deals addict. I was that friend who invited you to a restaurant across town for dinner because I had a voucher. My daily deals buying habit got so bad I created a spreadsheet to track all my vouchers. I made a pact with my then-boyfriend to keep my coupons to a maximum of 10.
Over time, I discovered I was squandering money by buying stuff I didn’t need. Not to mention those moments when I neglected to use a coupon before it expired.
Instead of wasting time deciding whether I should jump on a daily deal, I’ve found simpler ways to save that don’t cost money up-front or take up precious brain space. Here are my top tactics to save on everyday stuff:
Buy what’s already on sale
There’s nothing wrong with couponing. I don’t mean to knock it. I just found that couponing, even using an app, can take up valuable brain space. It’s not for me.
As I’ve scaled back couponing in recent years, I base what I eat for the week on a combo of stuff that’s already in my kitchen, food staples (romaine and marinated grilled artichokes, anyone?) and what’s on sale. I know this is old school, but I grab the weekly mailer of my favorite market and shop based on what’s good and on sale.
Declutter your inbox
As tempting as they can be, I’ve also avoided online sales and unsubscribed from the mailing lists of most online stores. That’s inbox clutter I can do without. Instagram can also serve up a constant stream of imagery that inspires a “Me want now” response. While I am a sucker for gram feeds of baby goats and squirrels, I try to be discerning with the shops and brands I follow.
I take advantage of generic brands at the market. For instance, with 365 Everyday Value, the Whole Foods store brand, you can pick up affordable versions of various items. That $6 jug of almond milk now only costs $3. Save for different packaging, I’ve found little difference between the generic version and the brand-name stuff.
Purchase items that are generally cheaper
When I had a day job I’d cross the street from my job to Gelson’s, an upscale market, during my morning break to buy one of their $4 breakfast burritos. After scouring the aisles, I found it was one of the few affordable items. A rarity, yes, but they do exist. You just have to do a bit of hunting for the less-expensive stuff.
Ask for the happy hour special
Saving money by doing something at non-peak hours is one of my favorite frugal hacks. Instead of trying to wrangle people to that restaurant across town I have a Groupon for, I’ll gather a few pals for happy hour at a favorite haunt. Some places offer dishes similar to their lunch and dinner menus, just in smaller portions.
Other no-brainer ways to save a buck include asking for the neighbor deals at your local massage and spa parlors (they do exist). Be a matinee movie hopper.
You don’t have to be like me and learn the hard way. There’s no need to go hog-wild with daily deals and suffer the illusion of saving money. With a few simple hacks, you can save on daily expenses.