Spend wisely

Teaching Kids to Spend: Part 4 – Other Ideas

Thanks for joining us again on part 4 of teaching kids to spend!

J and I have been going to various stores and doing some comparison shopping, so if you missed any, check out the previous posts about buying generic vs. name-brand products, looking at price differences between stores and buying in bulk.

Today we’re going to take a break from going to the store (whew) and talk about other ideas for spending wisely.


When I think of coupons, I think of newspaper inserts and products I don’t necessarily need or use. However, there are LOTS of ways to find and use coupons now.

Sites like Ebates and Coupon Cabin let you apply coupons and get cash back when making purchases online. Sign up and get the browser extension. When you’re on a website that has a deal, you’ll get an alert to activate it. Activate by clicking a button, make and complete your purchase and see your cash back on their site. Get your cash via PayPal or check when you hit the threshold.

Search for a coupon on sites like Retail Me Not before making an online or in-person purchase. You can also use a store app (like at Target) or website coupons (like at Walmart).

Beware of discounts you can earn if you spend more, especially if you weren’t planning on buying more and/or don’t need the extras. Target is good for this with promotions like buy 2 and get a $5 gift card on your next trip. Some websites have a minimum order amount for free shipping. You’re not saving money by buying more of something that you don’t need or want.

Credit cards

I’ve recently discovered the joy of cash back credit cards. I have the Citi Double Cash card which pays 2% back. (For awhile I was ALSO trying to hit the 5% categories of the Chase Freedom card, but that was too much work, so now I’m back to the Citi card full time. Remember, your time is valuable, too.)

In addition to regular credit cards, some stores have their own cards that offer rewards and/or a percentage back.

Note that this works BEST if you don’t carry a balance. If you have a balance and are paying interest fees, you’re not really getting cash back.

If you love the big bonuses credit cards pay out when you open a card, check out churning. I’ve done a bit, earning $200 back on a Capital One card and $500+ on a Chase Sapphire Preferred card over the past two years. Churning takes discipline, though, so if you think you won’t be able to pay close enough attention, don’t attempt it.

Don’t forget that your credit card may offer additional benefits. According to The Points Guy, the Chase Sapphire Preferred card offers benefits like travel insurance and extended warranty protection. Inquire what added benefits may be available on the card you use (or get a card with perks you like).

Citi has a feature called Price Rewind. Make a purchase, enter it on the site and if they find it for a lower price within 60 days, you get the difference back. (Note that the price protection perk is changing a bit in the upcoming months.)

Gift cards

You can sometimes stack perks by buying gift cards. For example, my local grocery store offers fuel perks. If I buy a $50 gift card for Home Depot, not only do I earn 2% cash back from my credit card, I also earn $0.20 per gallon the next time I fill up my car.

I’ve not done this, but there are sites where you can buy discount gift cards (like (You can also sell unwanted ones, too!) The Penny Hoarder breaks it all down for you.

Just be careful to get a gift card for the amount that you need and use it!

Recurring purchases

Check your recurring purchases and see if you can get a discount by paying for a longer period of time.

My website hosting was set to renew the other day, and I did some quick calculations. Renewing for 12 months was the regular price, but 24 months earned me a 20% discount and 36 months a 30% discount.

If you know you’ll use the services and you have the money, go for it. (Then you can calculate how much you’d need to set aside each month until the next renewal and you’ll be set for next time. This is the same principle my dad taught me when buying a car!)

Likewise, a few years ago I didn’t realize I was paying extra to have my car insurance taken out monthly (a $2 fee * 12 months = $24 extra dollars per year). But not just that, I got a $32 discount for paying in full, saving me a total of $56 per year!

Referral discounts

Before purchasing, ask your friends if they have any referral discounts. You both may get a discount on services or your friends might.

Our YMCA has a referral program — if someone signs up under us, not only do I get 20% off my monthly bill, but they do, too!

You can also check for a “affiliate” links. A lot of blogs will recommend a product or service they use, and when you purchase, they get a small commission. A nice way to show some love to your favorite bloggers!


Check out the added benefits on any memberships you have.

Do you have Amazon Prime? If so, you know you get free shipping and some streaming content, but there are other perks as well.

If you’re a member of Sam’s Club of Costco, not only can you get a good deal on buying in bulk (most of the time), but did you know your membership comes with other benefits? If you buy tires there, you qualify for “24 hour emergency roadside service, road hazard protection, rotation, balancing and flat repair for your tire’s lifetime.” has a great article on Sam’s Club perks you need to know about.

And speaking of the Y, membership entitles you to be able to visit any Y in the US. Learn more about their reciprocity agreement.

Price alerts, comparisons + matches

If you look around, you’ll find some neat price alerts. is a “free Amazon price tracker [that] monitors millions of products and alerts you when prices drop, helping you decide when to buy.” Similarly, Scott’s Cheap Flights will alert you when Scott finds cheap flights! (There’s a free and paid version of this — decide what’s best for your needs.)

There are also a number of other price comparison apps you can check out. If you’re looking specifically for books, try AddALL.

Many stores will match their price to a price of a competitor. Check the stores you frequent for their price matching policy. (This is a great idea for all you Lego buyers out there.)

What other ideas do you have? Leave a comment below!

We have one more post in our spending series! Next time we’re getting philosophical — asking the question, “Do I really need to buy this?” Join us then!

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