– Ben Martens

How To Be A Cheapskate

I’m not an extreme coupon person, but I do love the low-effort ways to save an extra $10/month. Here are some of my favorites:

  • Most of our groceries come from Safeway and all of their coupons are available online. But who has the time to click through hundreds of coupons? This calls for automation! I previously blogged about how to make a quick button in your browser to click every coupon in a few seconds. This is probably the single most valuable piece of code I’ve ever written outside of work. It saves hundreds of dollars a year.
  • For every $100 we spend in groceries, we get $0.10/gallon off of our gas purchases at Safeway. It doesn’t sound like a lot but it does add up, especially with the bonus coupons that give extra gas discounts. To maximize our savings, I only use the gas discounts when filling up the truck because it takes around 20 gallons per fillup while the Escape is about half that.
  • The gas savings from Safeway expire eventually so I keep an eye on that and if we’re going to lose some before we can use them for gas, I use one of the “use 7 gas rewards for $10 off your next bill” deals. It’s not quite as good as filling up the truck but it’s better than using it on the Escape.
  • Our bank gives us a better interest rate on our checking account if we meet a few criteria every month and the main one is making 12 debit transactions. We use credit cards for everything just for the cash back so I have to plan out debit purchases. Amazon is a great way to knock these 12 purchases out. I hook up my debit card to my Amazon account and then buy 12 $1 gift cards and send them to myself.
  • We have splurged on Hello Fresh during the lockdown but it is pretty pricey. We pause it for a few weeks and Hello Fresh sends us a coupon for $10 or $15 off our next two orders. Then we unpause, use the coupons, and pause again.
  • Similarly, we limit our streaming subscriptions to only what we’re watching. We burned through a bunch of Netflix shows, canceled the service and then switched to Hulu. As we near the end of some Hulu shows, we’ll flip to another service and watch a bunch of shows there. I keep track in of all the shows we want to watch in One Note and Just Watch.
  • There are a lot of credit card rewards out there but we use two specific ones. The American Express Blue Cash card averages just under 2% cash back for us each year. We use that for almost everything except Amazon purchases which all go through the Amazon Visa card. That gives 5% back on Amazon purchases which is impossible beat.

None of these are going to make us rich, but they add up to a decent chunk of money each year and none of them take much time.