Where does the money go? We all ask ourselves that question at the end of each week or month. As prices keep rising, and wages do not keep up it seems it gets harder and harder to stick to the family budget. It may be time for a quick review of where your money goes and some changes in how you spend it.
Stay Out of the Store – Fewer trips to the store mean less money spent. How many times have you gone to the store for one thing and ended up with a cartload of other things? Not that all the extra stuff you picked up was extravagant, but if you are trying to stick to a budget and save money, it’s important to stick to the list. All those other bargains, sale items and great deals are just too tempting.
Get Out of the House Without Spending Money – It’s true that every time we leave the house we are likely to spend money. There are many, many temptations out there in the world and you drive by them every second. Instead of going to the store when you are bored or going out for a coffee, find something you can do out of the house that is free. Maybe there is a nice walk in your town or a free concert on a beautiful night.
Buy in Bulk – There are many items that can be purchased in bulk at great cost savings to you. Toilet paper, paper towels and napkins are a few examples. But other items such as shampoo and conditioner, body cream and other health and beauty items can be bought at warehouse stores in large bottles for a great price. If you don’t like having the big bottle around, save one of the normal size ones for refills. Other items such as cooking oil and cleaning products such as glass cleaner and disinfectant can all be stored for long periods of time and so are economical to buy in large quantities.
Spend As Little As Possible on Restaurants – It’s nice to go out to eat once in a while but some families get into the habit of doing this much too often. Either take-out or eat-in, it still costs more to eat out than to eat in. One way to treat yourself and your family to a meal out and yet not spend too much money is to use a coupon site. Groupon is a popular service which is free to sign up for. The site will send you daily deals for all kinds of things including restaurants. It’s a great way to try a new restaurant or an old favorite. There are good bargains such as a dinner for four costing only 25 dollars with drinks included! That’s a bargain.
Shop Consignment Stores – Second-hand stores have become extremely popular in this tough economy. Many people are seeing the benefits of buying slightly used clothing, as well as trading in their own clothes. For some reason, these stores have a bad reputation but one visit to your local Goodwill or independent thrift shop will show you how wrong that is. Why pay full price when you can find a perfectly good designer shirt or jeans for under $20?
Stay Away From Prepared Foods – The trend in stores these days is towards prepared food. Pre-chopped vegetables and pre-made meals such as lasagna are all offered so that you don’t have to cook. While these options may be easy there are two problems with them. First, they are expensive and second, they are generally not as healthy as buying your own fresh ingredients. Chop your own carrots and fruits, make your own salad and spend a little time in the kitchen to make you own lasagna, it’s really not that hard. It will absolutely taste better and it will save you money.
Cut Down On Waste – One problem for many families when it comes to food is waste. Either you buy too much at the store because you didn’t stick to your list and couldn’t resist some yummy item, or you made too much food and you have leftovers. Not everyone likes leftovers but try to have a leftover night and save money. Try and use items before they go bad or repurpose them. Over-ripe bananas can go into the freezer to be used in smoothies. Leftover veggies can be put on top of pasta or used in a stir fry. Get creative!
Find Coupons – If you are truly interested in saving money and stretching the family budget, your mantra should be “never pay full price”. It does take a little bit of effort but it can also become addicting. There are coupons for everything you buy our use from food to clothes to appliances to rental cars. Take a little time to look through the Sunday paper and the mailer-pack. If you are shopping online you should always look for a coupon code to use.
Shopping Do’s and Don’ts – To avoid overspending, adhere to some simple rules when shopping.
- Do not grocery shop when hungry
- Do not shop with kids, unless necessary
- Do stick to your list
- Do not impulse buy
Get Creative – Pour your creative energy into saving money and cutting down on waste in your household budget. You will be amazed how much you can save by implementing a few changes. If you can make a game of it, either with yourself or with your family you can keep from feeling that you are under punishment and feel more like you are rewarding yourself.