The following post is from Sarah at A Matter of Cents. She’s a new mom, former accountant, and current business owner who is throwing herself into freelance writing now too.
Finding ways to make a dollar go further can be challenging. I know from my 20’s and 30’s that paychecks don’t always go as far as you need them to stretch. Being a responsible adult is a drag, but I’ve found some ways to create extra spending money without picking up a second job or cutting spending.
I have found that even if I save some extra money for something fun, that same money gets used for some “adult responsibilities” like unforeseen auto expenses or doctor visits. So I decided to get creative.
A Truly Free Lunch (or Dinner)
Get that dinner paid for by someone else!
Dining out is a common way to get out of the house and have a nice treat. Sometimes we do this a little too often. But if someone else is footing the bill, there is less need to cut it out of the budget!
No, I am not suggesting having a guy take you to dinner…besides, when you get married, it doesn’t help that “that guy” is using your joint account to pay anyway.
I’m talking about secret shopping!
You can get your meals out, including tips, covered by becoming a secret shopper. Companies will actually pay your tab to go and experience one of their venues. You would follow their protocol like: order an appetizer, two entrees, two drinks, and dessert. Which isn’t bad at all unless you are calorie counting! Then you’ll take a survey about your experience and get the night out comped.
Winner-winner chicken dinner…or seafood!
Test Drives for the Win
Looking for ideas on how to get some extra money for a fun purchase? You could spend a little time driving around. I don’t mean drive for Uber either, I mean test drive a car.
Dealerships often have a deal where you can get a gift card for up to $75 just for test driving one of their cars. I’m test driving a Subaru this next week for $25. I don’t actually intend on buying a Subaru, though I didn’t intend to buy a Mazda in 2006 either, but I did…
The dealerships want a chance to sell me that car. I want to get $25 for movie tickets to have a date night with my husband some time soon.
Remember to say ‘no’ to buying that fun little car they’ll let you drive. Then the only hard part is agreeing on a movie.
Use Your Rewards
Charge it! I don’t mean put it on a credit card to pay off in 3 years. I mean get a credit card with some great perks and remember to check on them. There are so many different options.
I have several cards and just recently started checking into the perks they provide. My bank’s debit card had racked up 40,000 points and I was able to trade those in for $400 in Kohl’s gift cards right when I needed maternity clothes! And then there was Kohl’s cash – $10 for every $50 you spent. So, oh lord, let me tell you! I have the cutest maternity clothes and got an extra $80 to boot! I’m no longer pregnant and wearing them, but they are in my closet ready to go for baby number 2.
Plus, points can be easy to get! Stick to just your regular spending at the grocery store, gas station, monthly utility bills, etc. Then pay it off before it accrues interest. We aren’t wanting to rack up debt, only points! Get movie tickets, gift cards, airplane tickets and more by changing the way you pay for your monthly expenses.
These ideas can help you feel like you aren’t in the poor house while getting you out of the house as well!
FYI: I worked at a dead end cubicle job from 2005-2011 for about $30,000 per year. I went self-employed in July 2011 and make between $80,000-$100,000 through blogging, professional pet sitting, hubby's reffing, and our rental home. If you’d like to start your own site (link to my free step-by-step guide), I highly suggest checking out Bluehost (my referral link with a nice discount for you, PLUS a free custom header banner from me!). I even have all of my favorite tools on a resource page - I hope they help you too. Please contact me any time at budgetingfunstuff*at*gmail*dot*com with questions or just to brainstorm! I’d love to help!