10 Easy Ways for Mainers to Save Money
Inflation is showing signs of softening, but regardless, there's no question that trips to the grocery store, filling up the tank, and monthly bills are not draining the bank accounts of hard-working Mainers right now. Even applying a few of these tips will likely soften the blow.
1. Weekly Fliers
You get them every week, and more often than not, they hit the recycling bin before they even make it to your kitchen table. I’ve been making it a point to look at these more often. The major grocery stores often have great weekly deals, especially on meats where you can save big money. Even the smaller amounts that advertise “Save $1” can add up. Especially if they are nonperishable items or items that can be frozen. Since inflation has kicked in, I have taken advantage of these weekly specials and put my storage freezer in the basement to use. It can be tough dropping the extra money at the time, but my motto has always been, “If you’re gonna buy it down the road anyway, why not save money?” Getting into this routine could save you hundreds of dollars over the calendar year.
2. Gas Apps
These have been around for a few years now, but have become increasingly popular due to the high gas prices. Gas stations like Cumberland Farms and Irving have apps and cards that allow you to save .10/gallon and even sometimes more. The warehouse club memberships can save you money as well, but beware, as there have been recent reports that their gas is not top tier gasoline.
3. Heat Pumps
You’ve likely heard the term “you gotta spend money to make money”. Well, sometimes you also need to spend money to save money. Since I’ve been a real estate agent, I have become quite familiar with heat pumps. These are highly efficient units that run on electricity and will heat and cool your home for significantly less than the other traditional heating systems. In the colder months, they essentially pull the cold air in from the outdoors and transfer it into warm air to heat your home and vice versa to cool your home in the summer months. They can be expensive depending on the quality of the unit and the size of your home, but typically start around $6,000 installed. We’re talking about saving you money here, I know, but these highly efficient units will do that over time.
4. Cancel Streaming Subscriptions
You’re sittin’ pretty with all the streaming services. You have Netflix, Max, Paramount Plus, Apple TV… what can you possibly miss? Well, probably not a whole lot, but you might want to ask yourself, "What am I watching?" Are you actually using all of these streaming apps? If so, could you do without one or two of them? $15-ish a month per streaming service adds up quickly on a monthly basis. Canceling just one subscription could save you up to $200 a year.
5. Cheaper Phone Plans
There’s a good chance that you're paying a substantial amount more than you need to on your monthly phone bill. There are newer, lesser-known phone providers like Google-Fi and Mint Mobile that run off of other provider towers that start as low as $15/month. These options seem to work quite well for some people, but make sure you read the fine print before you make the switch.
6. Meal Prep
You mean less takeout? Really?? Yes, takeout is satisfying and convenient, but it gets expensive, especially when done on a regular basis. Meal prepping on a Sunday afternoon for the week is not only more efficient on the wallet, but it's typically healthier and should make you less likely to order out. Maybe allow yourself one or two nights per week to order takeout.
7. Web Browser and App Savers
You may have seen advertisements for web browsers and mobile apps that provide money saving deals on products. Are they legit? Well, it depends which ones you use. I have been using Capital One Shopping and Coupert for a couple of years now, and it’s saved me a ton of money. Subscribe online or download the app, and it essentially sits in the background waiting for you to make a purchase. Once you’re nearing your purchase, it will pop up and ask you if you would like it to search for codes and/or better deals on your product. Sometimes you already have the best deal, but other times you will save a certain percentage or dollar amount off of your purchase. I recommend you do your due diligence prior in order to make sure any of the other money savers you decide to sign up for are legit.
8. Buying Store Brand Items
This one will save you lots of money over time. Sure, that box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch looks nice and appetizing in your cereal cabinet, but according to a taste test conducted by Taste of Home, you will likely not notice the difference when enjoying a bowl of Walmart’s Great Value brand of Cinnamon Crunch. This goes for a lot of other items outside of just cereal. Did you know that a lot of the store brand items are actually the name brand with the extra cost used to market the product? True story.
9. Heating Assistance Programs
The state of Maine is offering heating assistance for qualified people. You can apply for the Home Energy Assistance Program through Maine Housing. These benefits include assistance with helping to pay for heating fuel and emergency fuel delivery.
10. Check Your Insurance Policies
You likely have car insurance, as it’s required in order to drive your car in Maine. A lot of you also have homeowners insurance. This may take a little time, but calling around to different insurance companies to get quotes could save you a substantial amount of money.
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