Let’s face it – life is expensive. It’s not easy to juggle work, raising a family and trying to save money while stretching limited funds. When you look at your budget, the numbers may feel overwhelming and inflexible.
You wonder how you could possibly find room to breathe. You’ve got rent or a mortgage, bills, food to buy, what can you do? How could you survive until the next payday?
We’ve compiled some great tips to help stretch your family budget, which will increase your savings and decrease your stress related to financial constraints!
Home & Utilities
1. Consider Preventative Maintenance
A messy, disorganized life will cost you money. If your dishes are dirty, you’ll eat out instead of cooking. Scheduling a regular check-up on the furnace and air conditioning systems, clothes, and keeping your life organized in general, will make things easier to manage in the long run and help you avoid big spending down the road.
2. Check the Bills
Look carefully at your monthly bills every time you receive them. Sometimes even assessors can make a mistake, so you shouldn’t rely on their accuracy. You may be paying more than needed in case if you don’t notice any existing errors.
3. Turn Your Heat Down
Nobody says that you should turn off your heat on cold winter days. But turning the heat down by a few degrees could save you an impressive sum of money, basically on your electric and gas bills. Just put a warm knitted sweater instead of turning your thermostat up to 30 degrees.
4. Give up on the Cable
Take out a subscription to Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, or any other streaming service. It will let you take the plunge and finally cut out the cable, as you’ll not need it anymore. You’ll be able to avoid unwanted advertising and select suitable video content for you and your kids.
5. Opt for Slower Internet
Think about your real internet usage and profitability of a chosen package. If it seems like you are comfortable with a slower internet connection or you don’t need so many gigabytes, then contact your internet provider and ask about any other options for downgrading the package.
6. Always Pay on Time
To prevent any fees, pay all the bills on time. Set up some reminders in case if you usually forget about payment dates, or give preference to automatic payments via your bank. Consider that a lot of utility companies have special offers related to budget billing services, which allows you to keep the bills the same throughout the whole year.
7. Pay Slightly More on Loans and Bills
To save money on interest on personal loans and credit cards, and lower the length of the repayment time, pay extra toward your bills each month. Even a small amount makes a huge difference and adds up quickly. Another option is to round up and overpay on your bills. It can be incredibly handy if you’re having a lean month and realize you have created a financial buffer, and have less to pay on your bills than you thought.
Food Supplies & Meal Planning
8. Eat at Home
The best way to save money when it comes to food is to avoid fast food and other attractive places. Even if you’d like to visit the cheapest fast food in your town and your children beg you to go to McDonald’s instead of eating a bowl of soup, remember that it will end up costing you more than the food you buy and prepare on your own.
9. Cook from Scratch
It’s not necessary to be a master chef and prepare culinary delights. If you are a sandwich fan – make it! Don’t be afraid to try something new as well. You are always able to spice up an accustomed salad with different vegetables and seasonings and cook something unusual for your family’s breakfast.
10. Plan the Meals
Meal planning is a fantastic way to save money! Not only is it healthier but it’s very cost effective to plan your meals on a weekly basis. Make a list of the ingredients you have, and buy only what you need. Create a meal plan based on what you have and set aside a Sunday afternoon to do your cooking for the week.
If your budget is limited consider utilizing food pantries in your area, they can be an excellent resource. The food available in food pantries has been donated by located grocery stores. In such a way not only are you reducing food waste but your spending as well.
11. Stretch Meals with Instant Foods
There are a lot of recipes that include such instant products as rice, noodles, canned beans, extra bulky vegetables, mashed potatoes, etc. Adding them to your favorite dishes could help them stretch into incredible servings. In case if you want to treat your family members with some deserts, you could serve instant pudding or oatmeal with banana or apple pieces and sugar.
12. Use Meat as a Garnish
Consider that meat adds up on your grocery bill as much as possible. So, it’s better to use less meat and serve it as an accent. This way, you’ll be able to avoid significant spending, and it will definitely be much cheaper than cooking a whole steak. Just add some spicy sausage or delicious bacon to your main dish.
13. Only Buy What You’re Going to Eat
It’s common enough when you buy a lot of unnecessary products, and then you have them spoiled in your fridge. In case if you’re going to stretch the budget, avoid buying food of all kinds and prefer purchasing only necessary ones. Even if you’re hungry and you think you’re going to eat them all – you’re not.
14. Stick to Your Grocery List
Remember that your shopping list is your best friend when going to save on groceries. Focus on the mentioned products and avoid buying unnecessary stuff. Consider carefully what you really need, write it down and adhere to it. To avoid forgetting your list at home, make a copy on your phone. This way, you’ll not forget anything and will always have a list of required products.
15. Create Special Meal Days
Even if it seems too boring to eat the same food each Monday or Wednesday, it’s not. Sticking to your meal routine helps you to slash the grocery bill. It prevents you from spending a lot of time and money. When you have an exact plan of meals, you don’t feel worried about their recipes and money you’ll be going to spend on it. You’re always sure that your family likes it and it will help you to avoid the situations when nobody wants to eat your new dish.
16. Buy in Bulk
When you find a good deal on garbage bags, shampoo, toothpaste or lotion, stock up! Buy items in bulk, especially dry goods. Toilet paper and paper towels last a LONG time (basically forever), so if you find a sale, you can buy as much as you can store. Don’t hoard supplies, but buy plenty when you find a good deal. With this, it may be worthwhile to invest in an Amazon Prime membership. There are many great bulk deals available online, and automating the errand of keeping your house stocked is a great time saver. Not only will you get free delivery, but your shopping travel time is significantly reduced.
17. DIY if Possible
We all pay for jobs we could probably do ourselves. Weigh the cost/benefit of your time, of course, but you can save a lot by doing it yourself! Have a manicure and pedicure night with your family, cut your kid’s hair, fix items around the house rather than buying new. Mend clothes on your own. You can even do your dry cleaning with kits that you buy at your grocery store! You can have fun going DIY too!
18. Avoid Disposable Items
Such products as paper towels and plastic bags are very easy to use. That’s why most people prefer such disposable items to reusable ones. However, these items cost a lot of money, and they add up fast. Instead of it, it’s better to use rags for cleaning your house, re-use grocery sacks. Also, many grocery stores offer rebates and discounts for bringing your shopping bags.
19. Prefer Workout at Home
In general, most of the gyms cost about $60 per month. It’s quite detrimental to your budget. So, instead of attending gyms and obtaining a gym membership, set up your gym at home. Look for appropriate exercise equipment, watch some workouts on different sports channels on YouTube, and choose the most convenient for you. It will help you stay in shape and encourage your family members to do healthy morning exercises, at least.
20. Consider Cheap Beauty Brands
This point doesn’t mean that you need to cut out all expensive and high-quality beauty products but advises you to keep in mind that a lot of costly beauty products have less-pricey equivalents. So, instead of trying a lot of expensive beauty products, try to find their equivalents, select one or two cosmetics brands and stick to them.
21. Turn to One Car
Of course, everybody wants to have more than one car, but sometimes it’s very harmful to family finances. Two cars require paying insurance, repairs, and twice as much gasoline. So, if you’re struggling with it, consider selling your vehicle and maintaining the only one. Also, it’s a great idea to sell your old car (if you have one) and put this cash towards paying off your monthly bills or to payback a same day loan or any other kind of debt you owe.
22. Walk More
Walking is an even less expensive way to get things done and increase your activity at the same time! Do it as often as possible. If you can walk to your bank and accompany your kids to their school on foot – do it. You’ll get some extra exercise and stay happy for a whole day.
23. Choose Public Transportation
Public transportation means you don’t have to deal with driving in traffic; you can also read, catch up on remote work or listen to music while traveling. Taking the bus or subway is also cheaper than gas and vehicle maintenance. Teaching your children to use public transportation is also very empowering and increases independence. Not to mention that student public transportation passes are offered for reduced prices in many cities.
24. Carpool with Your Coworkers
Carpooling to work will reduce wear and tear on your vehicle and reduce money spent on gas. Ask your coworkers who live nearby if they would like to set up a carpool for your office. It is similar to school buses, so it will also allow you to be plunged into your childhood memories for a short time.
25. Become a Fellow Traveler
Sometimes it’s better to find out if anybody else is going your way and join their trip, instead of getting a cab. A trip to an airport or any event may cost you a lot of money, and you can definitely avoid such spending. You’ll finally get to your destination and pay only half the cost! It’s one of the most profitable ways to ride, isn’t it?
In the end, these hacks are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to ways to stretch your family budget, but it’s a great place to start! You don’t need to reinvent the wheel to save money; there’s plenty of research out there already. Just try to experiment with new savings strategies, and be sure that most of them can totally surprise you!
Take your time and explore options that you think will work for your family, and have fun with it!