Home Depot recently announced first quarter sales of $38.9 billion, up 3.8 percent from the same quarter in 2021, which were up a staggering 32 percent compared with 2020. Those numbers should come as no surprise to all the people who spent a combined $530 billion at home improvement stores in 2021. The average homeowner or landlord completed three-plus projects, each costing an average of $2,800.

If that sounded like you -- and, more important, if that sounds like you in the upcoming months -- let's save you a little money not just on projects you tackle, but also on everyday business and personal spending.

After all: The majority of small businesses are started at home and funded through savings, credit cards, and hopefully revenue. (Statistics show that one out of three small businesses are launched with less than $5,000 in startup capital.) 

Which, if you're an entrepreneur, makes saving money -- both personally and in your business -- especially important.

One easy way? Take the time -- even though it might seem like a hassle -- to sign up for the right rewards and discount programs for you.

Home Depot Pro Xtra

Let's start with Home Depot. Pro Xtra is Home Depot's rewards program. 

But don't be fooled by the "Pro" part; you don't have to be a licensed contractor to sign up. Nor do you have to own a business to qualify. (More on using your small business to uncover savings in a moment.) 

Members get perks like tiered rewards and coupons; so far this year I've earned $325 in perks and saved $150 on tool rentals and another $900 through special offers. Since we've spent over $3,500 on paint, we save 15 percent on all paint and paint supply purchases. 

Granted, your mileage may vary. Since we own a number of rental properties, and recently purchased several that needed to be rehabbed, our total Home Depot spending this year is over $29,000. (That's another benefit of Pro Xtra; it tracks all your purchases.)

Three-plus percent in total savings doesn't sound like much, especially if your spending falls mostly into categories like cleaning supplies.

But that doesn't count purchases I've made through occasional Pro Xtra Buy of the Day and Buy of the Week offers. I keep a list of tools and supplies I want or will eventually need, and once a week spend a couple of minutes checking those tabs on my Pro page. I saved 20 percent on a portable band saw, 40 percent on a bathroom vanity I knew we would need in a couple of months -- it's a handy way to watch for deals without having to remember and sift through individual items.

Pro Xtra also makes returns easier; enter your phone number at the returns desk and items automatically link to your purchase history. And, if you ever need help, there's a Pro-specific customer service number where wait times -- at least in my experience -- tend to be significantly lower.

And time, as we all know, is definitely money.

But Don't Stop There

Plenty of other major retailers offer rewards and discount programs. Walmart. Costco Business Center. Sam's Club business shopping. Staples business membership.

To squeeze as much as you can out of your spending, you may need to sign up with several.

Also, keep in mind some retailers offer "off menu" savings. Take appliance purchases at Lowe's. Say you're buying a refrigerator, stove, dishwasher, and microwave for your company break room.

Get the total price, and then ask the associate to call their corporate office to see if the purchase qualifies for a volume discount. Sometimes we've had to ask for a manager, since the associate didn't know that was a possibility. Even so, every time we've asked we've gotten an additional 10 percent off, even if items we chose were already on sale.

Never be afraid to ask.

Leverage Your Small Business

If you own a small business, you may qualify for lower prices from certain vendors.

For example, our cabinet supplier offers wholesale prices to businesses. Not contracting businesses -- any businesses. On the other hand, a local marble and granite supplier only sells countertops to contractors with at least a Class C license. (Which I have, only because I then qualify for discounts with certain vendors, and occasionally the permitting process is a little easier.)

So if your side hustle involves light construction, consider upping your licensing game.

The same might be true in other industries. If you run a home health care business, certain certifications or licenses might result in access to preferred suppliers and better pricing.

And then there's this: Small-business owners tend to look out for other small-business owners.  

So say you need new office furniture. Ask the vendor if they offer discounts to small businesses. Or ask if there are products or services you can barter. 

Often they will -- since entrepreneurial birds of a feather tend to flock together.

Because as lonely as running a small business can sometimes feel, ultimately we're all in it together.