It’s not easy, or cheap, providing for a big family; they eat enough food to feed a small army, all the kids have different extracurricular activities you need to pay for, and you always try to set aside enough money so you can all enjoy a nice summer vacation together. While there is a lot of advice out there to help you improve your family’s finances, there are also a few things you can do to make your money go further. Some tips do involve a few budget cuts here and there, but overall they are just ways of spending your money wisely. If you impart a few of these money-saving tips to your children, you’ll also teach them to be financially responsible when they grow up.
Cut back on unnecessary luxuries
There are two different kinds of luxuries; there’s the necessary kind, which helps you to relax after work, provides you with an outlet for your stress, and which doesn’t cost too much money so cutting it out won’t make too much of a difference to your budget. Then there’s the unnecessary kind, which costs a lot of money, you barely use, and you might not even miss if you stopped doing it. For example, you might pay around $25 a month for your gym membership because you got a great deal, you wanted to get into shape, and it’s the only thing encouraging you to exercise. Unfortunately, if you don’t go to the gym at least three times a week, you’re usually not getting your money’s worth out of the membership. This is especially true when there are so many way to work out for free in the comfort of your home. Magazine subscriptions are another drain on your savings. Try cancelling all your subscriptions and only renew the ones you actually find yourself missing, or just buy the occasional issue when you see it in the stores.
Look for bargains
Don’t assume that the first price you see is the best price you’re going to get. There are plenty of websites such as Groupon that will give you excellent discounts on family days out, occasional treats for yourself, or even bulk household items. Believe it or not, if you want to get free stuff there are websites that can make that happen. You can legally get free things on Amazon, such as music, Kindle eBooks, and even a way to get cash back. Finally, there are always thrift stores, Craigslist, or eBay, where you can find hundreds of items at a fraction of the retail price.
Buying groceries on a budget is a struggle for a lot of people for various reasons. The best thing you can do to keep your food bills low is to find ways to reduce the amount of waste you throw away each week. Fortunately, there are several more ways to reduce your food bill each week, including shopping for cheaper store brands, buying non-perishables items in bulk, or sticking to a shopping list. You can also save money on food by avoiding takeaways, packing a lunch to take to work, or freezing your leftovers to eat them later.
Cut down your energy bills
If your energy bills are the biggest expense in your household, the easiest way to start saving on this is to make your home environmentally friendly. Start by switching to energy efficient LED bulbs, unplugging all appliances you’re not using, and insulating your home so you don’t need to turn up your thermostat as much. Doing these small things can reduce your energy consumption, saving you money on your bills each month and helping the environment. If you want to do a little more to help your energy bills, you can improve the insulation in your building, and upgrade to double-glazed windows; doing this will reduce the amount of heat that escapes your house by at least 25 percent, which will cut down on your use of the thermostat each winter. Finally, if you have enough in your budget for new appliances, you could shop around for an energy-efficient fridge. Refrigerator technology has made dramatic strides since the 1970s, so you’re actually wasting more money by not buying a new fridge. Any other eco-friendly appliances, such as dishwashers and washing machines, may seem expensive initially, but it is estimated that you will use a significantly less amount of energy with a green appliance than you will with its predecessor.
Learn to repair clothes
There was a time when people knew how fix tears in dresses, holes in socks, and prolong the life of pantyhose. Clothes nowadays are made from very cheap material, therefore are more prone to tearing and wearing out. Unfortunately, most people don’t know how to fix these clothes, so they end up throwing them out and buying new items merely two months after they just went clothes shopping. Save your wallet the hassle of another shopping spree by learning how to repair the holes in your jeans; the cost of a sewing machine will certainly pay for itself with the money you save on new dresses. Once you’ve learned how to sew up the rips in your clothes, you can put off clothes shopping with a few more tricks. If you dresses are a little shorter than you would like, or your shirts pinch a little too much around the waist, you can lengthen them using lace, or use fabric inserts to add some length to shirts and sweaters. Oversized dresses can be hemmed slightly, or turned into a comfortable, baggy shirt.
Sometimes the best way to save money is by doing little things by yourself. When things break around the house, try doing your own home repairs instead of calling a professional (as long as it’s nothing too serious). Blocked pipes can be easily sorted with a solution of baking soda and vinegar, and then using a plunger to push out the blockage.
DIY is not just limited to fixing things that are broken. There are plenty of home remedies online for face masks, or hair products, which only require things you’d put on your grocery list. You could even set aside a Saturday and do a spa day in the comfort of your home for a fraction of the price.
Caffeine lovers can save dollars every week by brewing their own coffee at home instead of getting a takeaway from a cafe. A really good coffee machine will soon pay for itself with the savings you make from skipping the visit to your local Starbucks. If you also go to cafes for the delicious pastries, then learn to bake your own treats at home.
With the price of gas constantly changing, your car is an unpredictable money pit, and that’s before you even factor in the monthly payments, insurance, and unexpected repairs. You can save money and still keep your car by only using it for long trips, such as family vacations. In the meantime, there are plenty of public transport options to suit your lifestyle. Monthly bus passes are more than worth their value if you take the bus to work every day. Carpooling with a colleague splits the cost of gas, and can reduce traffic if enough people get in on the scheme. Finally, if you’re going out for the night and don’t have a volunteer for designated driver, Uber can save you the trouble of standing out in the cold to call a cab.
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