30 Easy Ways To Save Money Before September

It's hard to save during the summer. Warm weather and an abundance of fun plans make frugality even less appealing than usual. There are so many things to spend money on: rooftop happy hour drinks, weekend road trips, regular pedicures, and that perfect bathing suit.

Thankfully, there are easy ways to save a little here and there, so you're not blowing your paycheck all at once. (Heck, maybe you're even saving some, too.) Ahead, we've rounded up 30 of our best savings hacks for all of your favorite stores: Amazon, Starbucks, Walgreens, Whole Foods, and Sephora. There's rarely a day when you don't need choose to spend some of your hard-earned cash at one of these stores. Read these tips, and you won't have to cut back on self-tanners or Frappuccinos in order to enjoy a trip to the beach (or three). Because what's the point of summer if you don't indulge a little?


Illustrated by Tristan Offit.
Amazon

Amazon is the best, because you can order almost anything without leaving your couch. It might also be the worst, precisely because you can order almost anything without leaving your couch. And who hasn't done a little drunk Amazon shopping?

The site has nearly everything you could ever need, so it's natural you'd want to shop there frequently. And it's often the cheapest game around. But there are still a few easy ways to save even more: Amazon offers deep discounts on big-box items, one-cent books, and grocery deals. Ahead, seven ways to save big at Amazon.
Illustrated by Tristan Offit.
Amazon Savings Hack #1

Maybe you already belong to Amazon Prime, so you can binge-watch Transparent, but there are so many more cost-saving ways to make sure that $99 membership is worth your investment. Of course, you can't not love the free two-day shipping on all orders. If you shop online a lot, this will pay for itself in a few months. You also get access to Prime Music (one million free songs and thousands of ad-free playlists) and Amazon Instant Video, so you can watch Amazon originals and newer movies like Obvious Child or While We're Young. With Prime Pantry, you fill a virtual box with grocery-store buys like food, household items, and toiletries, and it’s a flat delivery fee of $5.99 per box. There are also weekly deals and coupons, so if you’re too busy to go to the grocery store, it might be a good option. Finally, Prime members also have access to the Kindle Lending Library, and you can “borrow” books and read them for free on your Kindle e-reader, Fire tablet, or Fire phone. Prime members and adults in the same house can borrow one book from the Kindle Owners' Lending Library per month. There are over 300,000 books to pick from, so chances are you’ll be able to find something to read every month.
Illustrated by Tristan Offit.
Amazon Savings Hack #2

Say you have a Visa gift card that has $5.43 or $24.95 left on it, and you're always forgetting to use it when you go out. You can convert that money to an Amazon gift card and use it to buy things off the site. If you’re prone to losing half-used gift cards, it’s a good way to make sure that money doesn't just disappear.

It's simple: You just buy an Amazon gift card using the Visa or American Express gift card (which pretty much works just like a debit card). Once you buy the card, you can redeem the amount under the "Gift Card Balance" tab.

Do you have a $100 Abercrombie & Fitch gift card you're never, ever going to use? The site Cardpool will allow you to trade it in for an Amazon gift card worth $90.10. Sure, you've lost some money in the deal, but if you'll actually use the money at Amazon, it makes more financial sense than leaving the A&F card lingering in your wallet.
Illustrated by Tristan Offit.
Amazon Hack #3

You use credit card points on flights and hotels or get cash back — and you can use them to buy things on Amazon, too. Chase Ultimate Rewards gives you $1 at Amazon for every 100 points you accumulate. You can also link your American Express, Discover, or Citi card to Amazon to use accrued points. Don’t rack up your credit card balance just to get stuff on Amazon, but if you already have the points from your everyday spending, go for it.
Illustrated by Tristan Offit.
Amazon Savings Hack #4

If the price drops on an item you ordered off Amazon within the past week, you can request a refund for the difference. This only works for items sold and shipped by Amazon, not third-party sellers.

You can also check out CamelCamelCamel.com — weird name, cool site. It lets you set price alerts for Amazon products (to see if something you bought goes on sale, or to check if something you want becomes cheaper before you buy), making it a nearly foolproof way to find dips in prices, so you can easily snag the savings.
Illustrated by Tristan Offit.
Amazon Savings Hack #5

In the Grocery section of Amazon, you can check for clickable coupons. The site also divides its coupons into categories (grocery, books, vitamins, etc.), so you don't spend two hours searching for a coupon for something like gluten-free Bisquick pancake mix. Just go to the Gluten-Free Foods section, and there it is.
Illustrated by Tristan Offit.
Amazon Savings Hacks #6

With Amazon Warehouse, you can get huge discounts on used/open box/discontinued items like laptops, TVs, and cameras. You can also find sporting goods, power tools, and things for your car, like tire chains or pressure gauges. There are open-box kitchen items, too, so if you need a microwave but want to save some cash (and don’t want to deal with Craigslist), check out Amazon's stash.
Illustrated by Tristan Offit.
Amazon Savings Hack #7

Amazon has some pretty good deals for books, but you can also search for whatever book you want to read, and as long as it’s not something wildly popular and new-ish, you might be able to buy it for a penny. One single penny! You can probably find a couple of those in your couch cushions. Sure, you'll have to shell out a few dollars for shipping, but it's still cheaper than buying new.
Illustrated by Tristan Offit.
Sephora

Remember how happy the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory kids looked, running around in Willy Wonka’s place for the first time? That’s how most of us feel when we step inside a Sephora. It’s like a magical wonderland filled with lip plumpers and hair serums and candy-colored perfume bottles.

But a trip to Sephora can be costly if you don't exhibit a little willpower — and if you don't know how to get the best deals. The cosmetics megastore is one of the most generous companies around when it comes to freebies, discounts, and easy exchanges. If you love nail polish and makeup and face creams and high-end straightening irons (and seriously, who doesn’t?), check out these six Sephora savings hacks and save yourself some cash the next time you need a beauty fix.
Illustrated by Tristan Offit.
Sephora Savings Hack #1

It’s free to sign up for Sephora’s Beauty Insider program, and it gets you seasonal promotions, a birthday gift, beauty classes, and all kinds of product freebies, based on how many points you earn. If you do buy all your lipstick/BB cream/toner there, the points add up quickly. If you spend $350 in a calendar year, you unlock VIB (Very Important Beauty Insider) status, which gets you better deals, like early access to sales and private shopping events. If you spend $1,000 in a calendar year, you get VIB Rouge status, with even fancier perks, including unlimited free makeovers (which means you can show up flawless to every event on your calendar without spending a penny).
Illustrated by Tristan Offit.
Sephora Savings Hack #2

Sephora is one of the best places to shop if you need to return or exchange a product. The sales associates can look up your past purchases using your credit card or your Beauty Insider account, so you don't have to stress if you lost the receipt for that hair tonic that made you look like you dunked your head in a vat of olive oil. You never need to worry about wasting money on products that don't work for you, because Sephora is so responsive about returns — even if you’ve already opened (and thrown away) the packaging. Plus, if you don’t live near a store location, you can return items you bought online for free using the prepaid label. (You do need to make the return within 60 days.)
Illustrated by Tristan Offit.
Sephora Savings Hack #3

When you order online, you always get three free samples with your purchase: perfume, face masks, primers, etc. When you’re in the store, you can also ask for (small) samples of whatever you want to try — even shampoo or conditioners. (Sure, they put them in tiny plastic bags, so they don't last long, and it's kind of messy, but hey — you’re getting to try any product off the shelves, for free!) When you’re checking out, be sure you ask for samples that are behind the counter. They’ll usually stuff your bag with whatever they have on hand.
Illustrated by Tristan Offit.
Sephora Savings Hack #4

People who work at Sephora can be very helpful — and they can also try to sell you a pricey product that might not be that great. (They're salespeople with sales goals, after all.) You’ll save money if you do your own research before you walk in; avoid blindly trusting everything they say. Granted, you can always exchange something, but you’ll save yourself time — and gas money/subway fare — if you just do a little Googling and shop the store knowing what you want to buy (or try). Of course, Refinery29 has plenty of beauty recommendations if you’re unsure where to start.
Illustrated by Tristan Offit.
Sephora Savings Hack #5

Unlike most clothing stores, Sephora doesn't really have a marked-off section with sale items. You have to ask the sales associates where any sale items are, and they will show you whatever is marked down. If you click the "Sale" tab on the Sephora site, you’ll be amazed what you can get for a discount — sometimes for 30 or 40% off.
Illustrated by Tristan Offit.
Sephora Savings Hack #6

Sephora frequently shares promo codes and deals via Facebook and Twitter. Yes, following brands is kind of annoying, but the savings can really pay off. Also, be sure to check the site frequently for ridiculously easy ways to earn points and get discounts. Sephora recently had something called a Beauty Shake-Up that simply involved you typing in your email to earn 150 free bonus points — points that you can use toward a free gift.
Illustrated by Tristan Offit.
Starbucks

It’s official: We are living in the age of $6 Starbucks coffees — not to mention pricey scones, Strawberry Acai Refreshers, and cold-pressed juice. How in the world are we supposed to save money in the midst of all this madness?

When it comes to saving on coffee, the obvious answer is to make it at home. But maybe there’s a Starbucks right down the street from work and you just cannot stand the thought of another cup of watered-down Folgers from the office kitchenette. Work is tough enough some days, right? Maybe you’d just really like to get outside and tweet while someone makes you a latte. It’s understandable.

If that’s the case, there are a few Starbucks savings hacks to try when you need to save a buck (or, hell, even 15 cents). For starters, you can sign up for the Starbucks Rewards Program and get free birthday drinks and refills along with special discounts. Every penny counts, especially when you’re blowing 75 of 'em on something as ridiculous as coconut milk. Try them out next time you find yourself ordering a venti soy-vanilla-chai concoction.

Note: Drink and food prices are subject to change and may vary at different locations.
Illustrated by Tristan Offit.
Starbucks Savings Hack #1

This isn’t as fun as B.Y.O.B., obviously, but if you stroll into Starbucks with your own cup, you’ll save 10 cents. That might not sound like a wad of cash, but if you get five drinks a week, every week, that’s about $26 a year. That could pay for one fancy Spin class — or you could, you know, save it.
Illustrated by Tristan Offit.
Starbucks Savings Hack #2

You’re dehydrated, you’re in line, and a cold bottle of water from some mountain spring is just sitting there, beckoning you to buy it. Don’t do it! Just ask the barista for a cup of water instead. It’s free and it’s filtered. Good enough. A bottle of water will set you back about two bucks ($2.50 for sparkling!), so if you’re buying fancy water every weekday for a year, that’s $520! You could go on a mini weekend getaway with that cash or put it toward your student loans, which is not nearly as fun, but important.
Illustrated by Tristan Offit.
Starbucks Savings Hack #3

You can get a venti iced latte for $4.45 ($5.05 with soy milk), or you can do a DIY iced latte and save yourself some bucks. Just order two to three espresso shots over ice (that’s about $2.45 for two shots, $3.05 for three) in a venti cup, then head on over to the condiment counter and pour in some milk. Done. You just saved two bucks.
Illustrated by Tristan Offit.
Starbucks Savings Hack #4

If you’re with a friend and you both happen to want the same drink, split a venti instead of getting two smaller sizes. Just ask for an extra cup, and you’ll save a little money.
Illustrated by Tristan Offit.
Starbucks Savings Hack #5

Obviously, if you’re in a rush, you’re starving, and an Edamame Hummus Wrap is two feet from your face, you might need to just grab it and go. It’ll set you back $5.95 plus tax, and let's be honest, that's not the most delicious six bucks you can spend. Plus, the food might LOOK tempting when you're facing a 3:00 p.m. crash, but it never tastes that great. The sugar-coated scones are $2.45 — and aren't exactly homemade. So skip the snacks and save yourself some cash. (And if you're really jonesing for a sugar fix, hit the newsstand on your way back to the office and spend $1 on a Snickers bar.)
Illustrated by Tristan Offit.
Walgreens

Shopping at Walgreens certainly isn't the most glamorous, but there's something about browsing the aisles of shampoos and face masks that is endlessly satisfying. Unfortunately, it can also be expensive, especially when you make more than a few unnecessary purchases. But it’s hard to pop into a Walgreens and just get the two-for-one toothpaste you need when there’s a shiny new nail polish to try. Do you need the nail polish? Yes. No. But you buy it anyway, because sometimes you just need to treat yourself.

Thankfully, getting discounts at Walgreens is pretty simple. Still, it does require a little planning and coupon-clipping (real or virtual — your choice). Here are a few ways to save, for the next time you find yourself throwing shea butter and mango-scented candles into your basket when you really only need some Windex.
Illustrated by Tristan Offit.
Walgreens Savings Hack #1

Name brands always seem so much fancier, but you don’t need to spend the extra cash on medications that have the exact same ingredients as generics. Need to restock your Advil supply? Swapping the name brand for Walgreens-brand ibuprofen can save you big-time: 200 tablets of Advil is $16.99, versus $12.99 for 500 tablets of the generic.
Illustrated by Tristan Offit.
Walgreens Savings Hack #2

This one’s pretty simple. Earn 5,000 points and get a $5 reward you can use the next time you want to buy some gum or Swiffer pads. The more points you earn, the bigger your reward ($10 for 10,000, $20 for 18,000, and $50 for 40,000 points). You get 10 points for every dollar spent on over-the-counter items in the store, plus bonus points for featured products.
Illustrated by Tristan Offit.
Walgreens Savings Hack #3

Check the Walgreens app for the weekly deals and coupons, like a backpack for $42.99 or two-for-one vitamins. (If you don’t need a hot-pink backpack, maybe next week it’ll be something you can actually use. Like that nail polish.) You can “clip” coupons straight from the app, so the next time you’re waiting for the subway or trying to entertain yourself while in line at the DMV, just scroll through the app and add coupons — like 40% off Revlon products, or buy-one-get-one-free dryer sheets. Just don’t start buying a bunch of stuff you don’t need because it's on sale. Try to stay rational, even if all those coupons are begging to be clipped.
Illustrated by Tristan Offit.
Walgreens Savings Hack #4

Walgreens has fitness-oriented savings programs, if you’re into that sort of thing. The Balance Rewards for Healthy Choices gives points for healthy lifestyle decisions, such as exercise. You earn 250 points for connecting a device (like a Fitbit) and 250 points for setting your first goal, which could be something like “Speed-walk through Walgreens.”
Illustrated by Tristan Offit.
Walgreens Savings Hack #5

Flexible spending accounts (FSAs) are pretax dollars taken out of your paycheck that can be used for out-of-pocket medical costs like prescriptions, co-pays, and eyeglasses. You can cash in your FSA dollars at Walgreens for contact lenses, allergy meds, or vitamins and save yourself a little cash, which will add up in the long run.
Illustrated by Tristan Offit.
Whole Foods

Yes, we once sent a writer to see how quickly he could spend $1,000 on the fewest number of items. And yes, it took only 17 purchases to hit that goal. But you can shop at Whole Foods without spending your whole paycheck. The key is to never buy something like $27 infused water. Also, you need to determine which items are actually cheaper at Whole Foods than at other stores. And finally, seek out weekly deals and sales at your local store — bingo, big money savers.

We're not recommending you do all your grocery shopping at Whole Foods (hello, triple-digit grocery receipts), but there are ways to shave a few bucks off the bill when you do shop there. Every store has different deals and sales, so be sure to check before you start throwing things in your cart.
Illustrated by Tristan Offit.
Whole Foods Savings Hack #1

The Whole Foods 365 label is the generic selection, and you can get cheap(er) deals on items like peanut butter, soup, vitamins, or sparkling water. Sometimes the prices are even lower than what you would find at regular supermarkets. Just wander the aisles and do some price comparisons to see what works for your budget.
Illustrated by Tristan Offit.
Whole Foods Savings Hack #2

Don’t go to Whole Foods hungry, unless you’re okay going over budget. We'd also recommend avoiding the produce section, which rarely has great deals. (Some stores offer samples, so if you have self-control, you can go hungry, snack on samples, and stick strictly to your shopping list.)

Also, don't go in with a vague idea that you want something delicious, but you’re not sure what that is. Instead, get to know your local store’s selection, so you know where the deals are. Make a list before you go and stick to it; this way you aren't tempted by expensive items you might not really need, like acai berries or grass-fed ribeye (unless they’re on sale, of course).
Illustrated by Tristan Offit.
Whole Foods Savings Hack #3

Go to the Whole Foods Sales Flyer page and select your location and local store for coupons and deals, like 83% off Organic Triple French Milled Soap in Tin Boxes, 40% off frozen entrees, or $4 off a King Salmon Filet. You can also subscribe to the Whole Foods newsletter for your local store, which offers deals and coupons you can access before you shop.
Illustrated by Tristan Offit.
Whole Foods Savings Hack #4

The bulk section at Whole Foods can be great for things like rice or grains — it’s sometimes cheaper than buying the boxed versions. And if you drink a lot of bottled water, you get a 10% discount for buying a whole case.

The bulk bins can also be good if you just need small amounts of things (like six yogurt-covered pretzels or 10 dried papaya slices), or if you’re single and don’t cook often and just need enough for one. Want a small amount of a spice for a recipe you'll probably only cook once? Opt for buying the ingredient in the bulk section at Whole Foods rather than a whole bottle. You're saving money and not wasting food at the same time. Genius!
Illustrated by Tristan Offit.
Whole Foods Savings Hack #5

Most Whole Foods locations have Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts that share deals and discounts for that particular store, so it’s worth following or just checking in when you have an urge to shop there. Usually, a store will Instagram a photo of whatever goes on sale that week, so if you stay on top of it, you can try to score that grass-fed ribeye.
Illustrated by Tristan Offit.
Whole Foods Savings Hack #6

If you buy six or more bottles at a time, you get a 10% discount. Whole Foods has a great selection, and most stores have little bars where you can sample some of the wines. The wine-shop employees are knowledgeable, too, so if you’re looking for a good deal, they’ll steer you in the right direction.
Illustrated by Tristan Offit.
Whole Foods Savings Hack #6

Do you regularly hit up Whole Foods for lunch? Don't spend $20 at the salad bar when there are better deals to be had. Get to know your local store's weekly deals on prepared foods. Many locations offer $1.50 tacos on Taco Tuesday, salad-bar deals on Wednesday, and discounted sandwiches on Thursdays.