Is there truly anything better than getting freebies? If there are, I think they’re very few. Freebie hunting is not only a fun scavenger hunt at times, but it allows me to get the same little hit of dopamine as I would with online shopping, but without spending the money! Do I often get high dollar items as freebies? Not usually. However, I sometimes do score some goodies! These are the 5 Brilliantly Frugal ways to get freebies:
Sampler sends me the most samples out of the other companies. I’ve gotten everything from tabasco to laundry detergent and snack items from them.
They don’t always have openings for new customers, but they do once in a while. You can check periodically and sign up for an account through their website or the app. Once you have an account, you’ll need to fill out the survey so that they know which offers will be best for you. They have gotten better about sending emails when you’re matched with an offer, but you will want to keep checking back and signing up for new programs in the app or the website once in a while.
2. Sample Source
Fair warning, Sample Source does not have the most modern-looking website. It looked a bit spammy to me when I first saw it. However, several coupon influencers swore by this site and some google searching helped me determine that the site and company where legit! They too do not always have openings but when they do jump on it! They do sample drops, so you’ll want to also follow them on their Instagram or Twitter so that you know when to log in to your account and snag the drop.
BzzAgent fell off for me for a little bit but have started to come around a lot more recently. I get the most invitations but least opportunities from this company now, but they do send full-size and decent freebies in exchange for a review once in a while. I’ve gotten everything from cases of dog food to a new electric Oral-B toothbush! All you have to do to get started is sign up for an account, fill out the survey so they can match you, and link your social medias. Keep an eye out for invitations from them in your email and apply when you get those invites. An invite doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get picked to get the product. I probably only get picked for 1 out of every 10 invites I get.
4. Send Me a Sample
I don’t get a ton of items from Send Me A Sample but it’s one of my favorite ones at the moment, just because they make it so easy! To get started, sign up for an account through their website, or you can ask your Google Assistant or Alexa to “Send Me A Sample” and you’ll be prompted to create one. Once you have an account, you just say “Hey Google, Send Me a Sample” and it’ll ask which one you’d like. You can then ask “What’s available” and it’ll go through what they have available at the moment. Also, follow them on social media to see what’s being made available. I typically get snacks, drinks, and perfume sample options.
You can’t get things for free all the time. Things have changed a lot since the show Extreme Couponers came out so coupon restrictions have gotten a lot tighter. It’s rarer than it used to be but it does happen. I usually get completely free items with coupons once every few months. This method definitely takes the most work than the other options, since you have to look through the different apps or the newspaper and then go to the store, but you get more items at once. They’re also usually better because you’re getting full-size items usually instead of samples like what you get from some of the sample companies. Check out my favorite couponing apps here.
6. Buy Nothing Groups
I know. I don’t shut up about the Buy Nothing Groups, but they’re the TRUTH! If you have a local Buy Nothing Project group on Facebook, be sure to join and check back regularly for items that neighbors are gifting FOR FREE. I’m currently in the middle of planning our upcoming wedding. We’ve received so many items from neighbors for the wedding, like mirrors, vases, bachlorette party games, and so many other things that our neighbors were no longer using but we were happy to give away. We’ve returned the favor by gifting our unused or unwanted items frequently as well.
Follow Brilliantly Frugal and othercCouponers on Instagram. I post on the Brilliantly Frugal Instagram periodically when I see a good deal that works.
This year you can get a FREE Thanksgiving dinner at Walmert including Turkey and sides with Ibotta!
Wait, what is Ibotta?
Ibotta is a rebate app! After you sign up for an account, you can click on the store you want to shop and save rebate offers for that store. Once you’ve shopped, redeem them by taking a picture of the receipt in the app. Once your receipt is approved, the rebate funds are added to your Ibotta app which can be redeemed as soon as you have $20.00 available for redemption in the app!
For some stores, like Walmart and Target, you can link your store account with Ibotta. The rebates you selected will be automatically redeemed through the info that the store sends Ibotta. You don’t have to take any receipt pictures!
You can read more about Ibotta and other apps that I like to use while shopping online or in-store here.
Okay, so what exactly do we get for FREE?
This is everything that is being offered on Ibotta for the FREE Thanksgiving Dinner:
Instant Mashed Potatos
2L Coca Cola
Birds Eye Frozen Vegetables
Jeffy Corn Muffin Mix
Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup
Some of the offers are already showing as unavailable on my app though.
No longer available:
Great Value Cranberry Sauce
Great Value French Fried Onions
To get the turkey offer this year you need to get a friend to sign up for Ibotta using your referral link!
Getting healthy, exercising more, and losing weight are some of the top 3 new years resolutions in the US. I’ve made these same goals for myself this year as I hone in on living a better, happier life while I enter into my 30s. The only problem is that it seems like living healthy and trying to lose weight can be unreasonably and impossibly expensive. Thankfully, I’ve learned some tips and tricks over the years to teach you how to get healthy and save money in 2020!
Gyms to Get Healthy AND Save You Money in 2020
Gyms can be incredibly expensive. However, there are cheap gym options that offer the basics that you need to get your main exercises in and help you get healthy and save money in 2020.
DON’T GET PRESSURED INTO A TOO EXPENSIVE GYM
Planet Fitness is super inexpensive. You can get a membership for as low as $10. The $10 membership gets you access to the gym equipment and the lockers, but not the tanning beds or massage chairs. Only $20 a month gets you “Black card status” which also gives you access to the tanning beds, massage chairs, and 50% off drinks in the cooler at the gym. If you’d like to try it out, click here for a free one day pass.
Be sure that you can actually afford the gym or option that you’ve chosen. Make a point to look through your budget and determine the amount of money you can spend per month on your new health goals. Don’t pick a gym simply because it has all the bells and whistles. Pick a gym because it checks the boxes for your needs and is within your budget.
For example, I have to have a gym that has a treadmill and weight machines that are not overly crowded. When picking a new gym, that gym HAS to have those things, or I know I will not go, which is a huge waste of money. Also, some of the things I would like to have at the gym but could live without is group exercise classes like Yoga or Spin at a time that I can attend. If I find a gym that has all of those things and is within my budget, GREAT! I’m signing up! But if the only gyms that have my wants in addition to my needs are outside of my budget, I’ll need to look for the next best thing. There is no reason to go into debt to become healthy.
Do Trials Before Committing
Almost every gym or app has a few days of free trials available, but be careful! Many will charge you automatically if you don’t cancel in person during the trial. Be sure to write down or set a reminder on your phone before the deadline to cancel if you try those. It can also be a way to try some super expensive gyms for fun.
Apps to Get Healthy AND Save Money in 2020
There are so many apps out there for weight loss or fitness, it can be daunting. Additionally, many of the free ones seem to have little benefit and the premium ones can sometimes be really expensive. But fear not, I’m happy to share the apps that I’ve used to meet my health and fitness goals while still being Brilliantly Frugal.
One less expensive workout option is app subscription options, like Openfit, or Bad Yogi Studio. Bad Yogi Studio is only $15 per month and gives you access to a ton of premium yoga classes that are regularly updated. You can play the videos on a phone or stream to your TV and do the classes at home! Openfit is similar in that you can play the workouts on your phone and can do them anywhere. However, the workouts are more HIIT or strength training focused on Openfit.
Another app that I love is Noom. It helps you set goals, track your weight/exercise/food and calories in the app. It gives you helpful encouragement throughout your journey. There is a premium version of the app, but there’s really no need to sign up for that unless you want a personal coach. Otherwise, the app is completely usable and helpful in the free version.
Lastly, if you have a Fitbit, you need to be using the app to its full potential. You can log food and water consumption, exercise, track your weight, and make weight loss goals. You can also track your calorie consumption throughout the day and set the app to customize the amount you can eat for the day based on how many calories it’s predicting you will burn for the day. This is super helpful, because instead of sticking to a boring and monotonous 1400 calorie a day diet, for example, it can be set for a 400 calorie a day deficit; meaning you can eat more on days that you are more active or do more exercise. Your calorie progress logs and tracks in real-time.
Even better, the app will automatically pick up when you’re going for a run, bike ride, or long walk, based on your heart rate. Alternatively, you can manually ask it to start tracking when you start your workout. Either way, it helps you track and maintain your goals in real-time, which is amazing!
Keep an eye out on Facebook Marketplace, Nextdoor, or your local Buy Nothing Groups for free or very cheap at home gym items like stretch bands, exercise balls, free-weights, foam rollers, etc. You can have a respectable collection of at-home gym items for little to no money. I have personally found a brand new foam roller for free from my local Buy Nothing group. It has been a great addition to my personal at-home gym collection.
Join a local walking or dog walking group! There are many on Facebook and may help you make friends with some of your neighbors.
Make Your Own Food AND Save Money in 2020
COOK AT HOME. I know. You already know this and it’s super annoying to be told again, but IT’S TRUE! And sometimes you need tough love. So here it is. My best Brilliantly Frugal tip is: STOP eating out and START cooking at home!
It’s generally healthier and more cost-effective. You’ll make yourself much smaller portions than what you would get at a restaurant or fast food place so you’ll automatically be reducing your calorie consumption. Hopefully, you’ll be buying as much fresh food as possible. You will save yourself from all the sodium and other horrible preservatives that you find in fast food and major food chains. You’ll be able to make better, more informed decisions about what is going into your body when making it at home.
Make big meals and freeze or use leftovers for lunches at work. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to “meal prep” and spend a whole day cooking. I personally do not enjoy or subscribe to meal prepping. It does mean that when you are cooking, instead of making enough for 1 or 2 people, make twice what you normally would. Use storage containers and Tupperware to portion out individual meals to freeze or take to work for lunch. You can cook 1-3 times a week and still stick to your goal of eating at home.
It can seem easy to buy lots of premade workout drinks and shakes, but try making workout and healthy shakes and smoothies at home! It’s super easy and they can be really yummy. You can be sure of what you’re putting in your body without all of the preservatives, sodium, and fillers. You can get an expensive Nutribullet if you want, or the really inexpensive personal blender that I got on Amazon. Bullet journal or use your apps to track your savings on food and pounds lost to keep you motivated!
Make the Shopping Convenient
Don’t have time to grocery shop? Thankfully it is 2020 and that is not a problem! Use Amazon Prime NOW or Curbside pickup from your favorite stores. You can get curbside pickup from Target, HEB, and Walmart. That means you order groceries ahead of time online, and then head to the store when you’re ready. You never have to leave your car. The store working will bring your items to the car and load them for you and you’re on your way! It’s super convenient.
Never Pay Retail
USE A COUPON FOR EVERYTHING. All things healthy are on sale right now. That includes protein shakes and other healthy foods and snacks. Don’t pay retail for anything. Use Honey and Mypoints extension to find coupons online. If you are shopping in the store, be sure to use the store’s app to look for coupons. You can read more about Target’s rewards program, Target Circle here.
Brilliantly Frugal Take Away
Find a fun option that you’ll stick to. If you hate the gym, don’t sign up for a regular run of the mill gym, because “going to the gym is how you lose weight.” You’ll just set yourself up for failure and end up wasting money on a gym membership that you never use. If you need something more fun, try the at-home options that you can do on your own time. If working out AND a diet sounds too daunting right now, try just working on the diet portion or just the exercise portion for right now. Know yourself. Make your plan targeted to something that is reasonable and that you can stick to. You can do it!
Your Brilliantly Frugal Motto: EVERYTHING is negotiable.
Brilliantly Frugal Tip #1: Electric
If you are able to shop for electricity in your area, start by shopping on powertochoose.com. You will need to know your average monthly kilowatt per hour (kWh) usage to know your TRUE rate. Find your average (kWh) by looking at your last few electricity statements to see what you used. You may have to dig around on your electricity provider’s website a bit to find the statements.
Now head over to powertochoose.com, enter your zip code, filter by your average kWh usage, companies with good ratings, and whether you would prefer a company with renewable energy or not. I would also suggest picking a fixed-rate plan to be sure that your rates will not increase. Now, look through the available plans, considering the kWh charge, any new customer signing bonuses, and your current rate charges to pick a new plan!
Brilliantly Frugal Pro Tip: Follow these ^ steps each time your electricity contract is set to expire to make sure you’re getting the best rate.
Brilliantly Frugal Tip #2: TV
You’ve probably seen this a million times now, but it’s true. If you have cable, you need to cut right now. There is nothing on the cable channels that you can’t watch on a streaming service like Hulu, Netflix, Disney+, etc. Hulu even has a live TV option with live sports. Though, if you don’t watch live TV now, there’s no need to buy that ore expensive version of Hulu. Who has time for live TV anymore anyway?! Even when I had cable, I found myself almost exclusively watching my recorded shows on the DVR. Which is basically like watching streaming services with more steps and for more money.
If you aren’t willing to cut your cable, check to see if you can get a better rate with a competitor or at least check to see whether you’re actually using the channels in your current package. If not, you may be able to at least downgrade the package you’re subscribed to and save a little bit of money each month. When that’s not an option, call your cable company to see if they have any current promotions available. Sometimes they’ll at least give you free premium movie channels for 3 months.
Brilliantly Frugal Pro Tip: Review your bills, subscriptions, etc for ways to reduce your subscriptions or ask about promotions once a year for the best savings.
Brilliantly Frugal Tip #3: Internet
The major internet companies often work together to keep options limited and prices high for customers. However, shop around once in a while or see if you can bundle services to reduce your bill. It may be worth switching between companies every once in a while when your contract is up to get the “new customer” promotional rates. If you’re lucky enough to have Google Fiber in your area, switch to Google Fiber. It is incredibly fast, reliable, and cheap.
Brilliantly Frugal Tip #4: Credit Cards
If you have consistently paid on time, call your credit card companies and remind them of how long you’ve been a good customer. Ask for a reduction in interest rate. Even if they won’t permanently reduce it, they may give you a limit increase or 0% interest for a period of time. If they give you a limit increase, this can help your credit score (read more about that here). If they give you 0% and you have balances on other cards, consider transferring the balances to reduce the interest you will accumulate on the debt. Read more about credit cards here and how to focus on reducing your debt here.
Brilliantly Frugal Tip #5: Student Loans
If your student loan payments are a struggle to keep up with or afford, consider switching to an income adjusted or an income-driven repayment plan. You can talk to your student loan servicer about your options. You will pay more interest in the long term, but may help you keep your head above water if you need the help. I have an income-driven repayment plan and focus any extra money I make in the month towards the one student loan with the lowest balance. Read more about paying off debt using the snowball method here.
Brilliantly Frugal Tip #6: Cell Phone Data Plan
Get on a good unlimited plan! Do your research! I personally suggest switching to Google Fi.
Pros: Unlimited data. You can sign up for a straight unlimited plan. If you don’t use much data each month, you can sign up for a different plan for less. If you use less than 6 gigs per month, they will refund what you didn’t use as a credit on your next bill. In other words, you ONLY pay for what you use. And yes, they pay CASH on your statement, not “rollover minutes” or “rollover data”. Each line is only $20 per month. They use both Sprint and T-Mobile towers, so coverage is both good AND backed up. If one of them has towers down, Google will auto-switch you to the other towers. It auto switches you to open wifi when it detects it. It encrypts the connection, so you don’t have to worry about security. This keeps your data usage WAY down! I only used about 2-3 gigs per month now. It also includes free international data in over 200 countries.
Always go shopping with a list and use coupons. The list will help give you an idea of what you will be spending before you even leave the house to go to the store. It can also help you be sure that what you will be spending will be within your grocery budget for the month. Lastly, it will keep you from placing random things in your basket while you shop and help keep down your overall cost.
Coupons of course help reduce your overall bill by helping you save on individual items. Thankfully, couponing is not as time-consuming or laborious as it once was. If clipping coupons from the paper sounds like a lot of work, you don’t have to do that at all!. You can find and print coupons on coupons.com. Additionally, almost every store has an app with digital coupons available. You just need to save the coupons ahead of time when you’re making your list and scan the barcode at checkout at the store. If you shop Target, use Target Circle. You can read more about that here.
Brilliantly Frugal Tip #8: Gas
Use the GasBuddy app to find the cheapest gas in your area. I’ve been surprised a few times when I thought I already knew the cheapest gas station in the area only to find that a different gas station is a bit cheaper in the area.
Google Maps will also sometimes show the gas prices when you search for gas stations along your route.
Brilliantly Frugal Pro Tip: Check the app every single time you need to fill up and you’re low on cash for the best savings since gas prices change so frequently.
Brilliantly Frugal Tip #9: Eating Out
Use a loyalty program every single time that you can. You’ll usually rack up points for free items later, get free items on your birthday, or coupons for discounted items frequently. The trick to this is to not eat out more than you normally would. You should go the same amount, just be sure to scan the reward code to keep free items later. Whataburger, Starbucks, and Chick fil a are good examples of fast-food restaurants with rewards programs. Most restaurants also usually give free items or coupons if you join their email list. Ask your waiter about it.
Brilliantly Frugal Tip #10: Car Care
Get your car regularly serviced. I know, that seems daunting or like a luxury when money is tight. However, I promise it will save you a ton of money in the long run. The trick to this is to set aside a little bit of money each month (put it into a savings account on payday if you have to so that you won’t spend it.) Most auto servicing chains like Jiffy lube or Kwik Kar always have coupons for oil and brake changes. Just google for those coupons in your area, print or show the coupon on your phone when you get the service for the discount!
Brilliantly Frugal Pro Tip: Follow Brilliantly Frugal on Facebook and sign up for the email list on our website for notices and alerts about how to save more money!
Target is one of my favorite places to shop. The addition of Target Circle makes it that much better! I am so excited to tell you all about it!
How it Works
Target Circle is built straight into the Target App and is completely free. Download the Target App on your phone and register. Search for what you plan on buying through the search bar at the top and add the Target Circle offer if one is available. If you just feel like browsing offers, click on “Shop” and then “Target Circle Offers” to browse the offers and add any offers to your list.
If you don’t feel like making a list ahead of time, open the app and click on the barcode in the search bar while you’re out shopping. You can scan the barcodes of each item while you pick it up to see if a Target Circle offer is available. It will automatically add any offers it finds to your list! It’s so exciting when you’re out shopping for your daily essentials and you see an offer pop up!
At checkout, click on the wallet in the Target App and have the cashier scan the barcode. All of your Target Circle offers will automatically be deducted from your total before paying at checkout.
To save even more money, sign up for the Target Red Card, debit or credit, to save another 5% on any purchase that you use your Target Red Card. (Read Understanding your Credit Score and 5 Credit Card Myths before deciding whether you want the Debit or Credit Card.) I personally opted for the debit card, because I didn’t need or want another credit card at the time.
You can also add other Target coupons and target gift cards into the wallet. No need to keep up with the plastic cards that I am constantly losing.
Wait. But What Happened to Cartwheel?
Right, Target used to have an app called Target Cartwheel. It worked similarly to Target Circle, in that you could add offers and scan the barcode at checkout to save. You could add friends and see how much your friends were saving along with you! Target was striving to add a social media type aspect to its offerings. However, the app evolved a lot over the years. Eventually, the social part was completely removed and the separate app was incorporated into the Target App. Now Cartwheel is being incorporated into Target Circle, but there are a few differences.
How Target Circle is Better Than Cartwheel
A major complaint about Cartwheel was that the discounts were essentially in-store only. Every once in awhile a cartwheel offer was available on the online store, but it was incredibly rare. It also meant that you couldn’t use Cartwheel offers if you wanted to order online and do in-store pickup or Target Drive Up (the curbside service). Now though, Target Circle makes all of that possible. You can shop in the app, add cartwheel offers, pay with gift cards and your Target Card, save a ton of money and have the items delivered to your door, pickup in-store, or use Target Drive Up to have the items brought and loaded in your car.
If you’re not using your Target Red Card, you’ll still get 1% back in Circle Rewards to use later when you scan the barcode. You can redeem those on your next trip when you add the rewards in your wallet in the Target App and scan the barcode at checkout.
Target is now doing an amazing thing by supporting local nonprofits through Target Circle. When you use Target Circle, you earn “votes.” With those votes, you can vote for who Target will support next in your local area. Voting periods are usually a few months and there are usually about 4-5 local nonprofits to choose from. Target includes the company’s logo and a brief bio of each to help you decide. You don’t have to use all of your votes on one nonprofit, you can vote for more than one, diving your votes however you like between the nonprofit if you would like.
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