Think outside the box.
You might already be familiar with standard personal finance advice related to budgeting and trimming expenses. But have you considered buying your grocery items on Wednesdays or sleeping on a stranger's couch for your next vacation? U.S. News Frugal Shopper bloggers, including Laura Harders, Jon Lal, Stefanie O'Connell, Joshua Rodriguez, Jennifer Saranow Schultz, John Schmoll and Susan Yoo-Lee, offer these creative ideas and more to help you get the most out of your paycheck.
Shop on Wednesdays.
Since many grocery stores launch their new sales mid-week, shoppers who browse the aisles on Wednesday get first access to the new deals. At the same time, stores will often honor the previous week's coupons, as well. That means shoppers can maximize their savings while also shopping during a relatively less crowded time of week.
Check the app before you hit the store.
It might sound repetitive, but BeFrugal.com founder Jon Lal says you should always check out shopping lists, recipe builders and even prices through the apps offered by grocery stores as well as their websites. They sometimes offer rewards points and other benefits through those tools, too.
Use new price comparison tools.
Tools like InvisibleHand, which works as a browser add-on, will tell you if there's a lower price for the item you're about to buy -- whether you're shopping or booking travel. PriceBlink offers a similar function. In both cases, the tools don't get in your way during normal Internet use unless they're finding a better deal for you.
Hit a food truck for date night.
This idea might not be great for a first date when you're trying to pull out all the stops, but for couples who are comfortable enough with each other to go casual, it can work well. Food trucks often offer delicious food for a fraction of the price of a fancy restaurant meal, and you can dine outside, while taking in the sights of your city.
Shop less often for groceries.
You might think that you need to stop by the grocery store once or twice a week to pick up fresh produce, milk and other necessities. But FrugalRules.com founder John Schmoll suggests that one of the easiest ways to spend less on food each month is to cut back on your store trips. That will force you to create meals out of items you already have in the pantry.
Use an app to book your next hotel room.
A slew of new apps, including StayAtHand, Roomer and Last Minute Travel, make it easy to peruse the best rates on hotel rooms and check availability, too. You can even conduct this research while en route to your destination with the convenience of your mobile device. (Just not while operating a vehicle.)
Shop with discounted gift cards.
Gift card resale sites like Gift Card Granny make it easy to save up to 50 percent on gift cards. Many of them are available for immediate redemption; others need to be shipped through the mail. For just a minute of your time, you can locate gift card deals at major retailers, including Target and Starbucks.
Indulge in meal delivery.
This idea might sound expensive, not frugal, but if done right, it can actually end up saving you money if it reduces your reliance on takeout. New meal delivery services, including Plated and Blue Apron, make it easy and relatively affordable to get well-balanced meals (cooked or uncooked) delivered to your doorstep, and they often offer discounts or special deals.
Be a hair model.
You might not have considered modeling before, but if you want to score a great deal on a haircut, now might be the time to start. That's because students studying how to cut hair charge close to nothing. They might lack experience, but they often do a decent job.
Try couch surfing.
Couch surfing admittedly isn't for everyone, but if you're up for an adventure on your next vacation, then you can consider signing up to crash on someone's couch. The cost will be much less than a hotel, and you might even make a new friend -- and have a host who will double as your tour guide.
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