Let’s face it, life is expensive. It’s not easy to juggle work, raising a family and trying to save money whilst 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? We’ve compiled some great tips to help stretch your family budget, which will increase your savings and decrease your stress!
1. Meal Planning
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.
2. Coupon Clipping
You would be surprised at how many deals there are available out there, especially for families. Whether it be outings, clothing, groceries, etc. don’t be hesitant to do your research to see if there is a deal available. Just like anything weigh the cost/benefit of your time, but some coupon clipping could help stretch your family budget.
3. 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 greatly reduced.
4. DIY or Die
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!
5. Prevention is the Best Medicine
A messy, disorganized life will cost you money. If your dishes are dirty, you’ll eat out instead of cooking. When your clothes are dirty buying a new outfit is easily justified. In case you can’t find batteries you’ll buy more. The list is long. Spend the time keeping your life organized, not only will it make things easier to manage in the long run but you’ll save money too.
6. Carpool, Public Transportation or Walking
All of these methods of getting around can greatly reduce stress and save you tons of money! 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. Walking is an even less expensive way to get things done and increase your activity at the same time! Carpooling to work will reduce wear and tear on your vehicle and reduce money spent on gas. This is also a viable option if you’re moving from a two to one car family.
7. Pay Slightly More on Loans and Bills
To save money on interest on 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. This 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.
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. Take your time and explore options that you think will work for your family, and have fun with it!