Saving money is much easier when you can find simple ways to cut costs that don’t have a noticeable impact on your lifestyle. The new found money can be used to pay off debt faster or build an emergency fund to pay for unexpected expenses and leave you more financially prepared.
Your family budget is like a puzzle. You must move the pieces (current spending) around to make room for all of your financial needs. Successful money management is finding the right combination of spending and saving that will pay today's bills, reduce yesterday’s debt, and prepare for tomorrow.
Here are some places where financial savings can add up to make your personal financial puzzle create the picture you need.
Saving Money on Food Purchases
One of the largest discretionary items in the budget is for food purchases. Between eating out and the grocery store, there are a lot of places to save money without a significant impact on the quality.
- Set a specific monthly budget and plan meals to stay within that budget. You can eat healthy and prepare foods quickly without breaking the bank.
- Stick with a set restaurant budget, which includes both fast food and sit-down
- Use a list when shopping and go directly to the items on the list rather than up and down each aisle. Online shopping saves you both time and money and can eliminate impulse buys from in-store shopping. If you choose this route, search for each item, rather than browsing the site, which is the equivalent of walking all the aisles and leads to higher spending. Stay focused.
- Only shop once a week. The fewer times you shop, the less your overall spending will be.
- Use coupons cautiously. Coupons are an effective marketing strategy and condition you to buy higher priced, name brand Only buy items you already use and compare prices of the item with the coupon, to sale items and generic brands. Combining coupons with sales and double, or triple coupon offers is the most effective strategy.
- Plan your menu for the week. Pre-planning gives you faster food prep and fewer dinners out. Many extend the food budget when you decide to “pick up dinner” because it’s 5 o’clock and you haven’t even thought about dinner. Some families freeze meals ahead of time. Some complete prep work for the week by cutting and bagging vegetables and then assembling dinner when you arrive home. Find a plan that works for you and your family.
- Use savings books and websites for discounted restaurant meals. Websites like Groupon and Living Social and com offer discounts up to 50% off at local restaurants. Local coupon books cost a flat upfront fee upfront ($30 to $40 sold in the fall and discounted in January) for a year’s worth of coupons at dozens of local restaurants, enabling you to stretch your restaurant budget dollars. It’s easy to get off course: Be careful to shop specifically for these savings and coupons only and not open other offers for products and services once you browse their sites..
- Shop at discount grocers. Discount grocery stores come in two varieties: The first offers regular savings with mostly generic brands and no premium services, such as a deli. Aldi or Stock and Save are examples of no-frills discount grocery stores. The second type of discount grocery store are warehouse clubs like Sam’s and Costco. They save you money by selling in larger volumes. Instead of a one-pound bag of rice, you buy 25 or even 50 pounds. Both stores save money in a different way.
Saving Money on Household Costs
At home, the more energy you use, the more it costs to run the household. There are easy ways to trim the electric and water bills, which leave more money in your pocket while reducing the environmental impact.
- Get a free energy audit from the power company. An audit evaluates current home systems, identifies energy leaks in the home, and offer suggestions on energy conservation.
- Improve your lighting by installing fluorescents or LED lights. Newer lighting technology uses less power, burns cooler, and last longer, saving you money. Even if the lights are only on a few hours a day, the savings can be substantial.
- Reduce water usage with low flow shower heads, low flow sink aerators, and energy efficient toilets. Technology improvements for water conservation mean newer products operate more efficiently without a noticeable difference in performance. Inexpensive retrofits are available if you don’t want to change
- Clean the HVAC system twice a year, so it runs more efficiently and extends the life of the unit.
- Seal doors and windows to reduce heating or cooling losses.
- Close curtains or blinds during the day to block outside temperatures. This is especially helpful for windows with direct sunlight.
- Set timers or motion sensors on lights so they shut off when you leave the room.
- Take a line by line audit of each bill to eliminate any unneeded expenses.
Saving Money on Vehicle Expenses
Transportation is an essential part of getting to and from work and improving your quality of life. In most cities public transportation is not adequate, making ownership of a car essential.
- Save gas by combining multiple trips. Run an errand on your way home from work and route errands efficiently to save miles.
- Carpool, bike, walk or use public transportation whenever possible.
- Keep your vehicle maintained to improve gas mileage. Properly inflated tires and regular oil changes will extend the life of your car and enable you to operate the vehicle more efficiently. A well-maintained car will also last longer extending the time between car purchases.
- Drive the speed limit. Fast starts and stops, along with higher highway speeds reduce gas efficiency.
- Buying a pre-owned car offers better value than new cars. Interest rate options are often as attractive for newer model cars, without paying the sticker price of the current model year.
- Check your insurance bill for add-ons you do not need. Medical payments, car rental, towing, roadside assistance, and even maintenance plans might be covered on your policy. Make sure these are services that have value. If you own two vehicles, perhaps you can eliminate the rental car. Carrying AAA membership may eliminate the need for towing. Bottom line, check to see if you have double coverage you don’t need.
- Consider the total cost of the car, when buying a vehicle, not just the monthly payment. What are the average maintenance costs over the first five years of ownership? How much interest will you pay on the financing? The longer the loan, the more interest you will pay. Sometimes a higher interest rate is charged for financing an older vehicle, making a newer model the best choice for overall costs.
- Evaluate the insurance coverage you need. An older vehicle that is paid off may only need liability, instead of full coverage. Higher deductibles can save money if you have enough in savings to cover an accident.
Finding extra money in everyday spending can leave you with a faster debt reduction or the ability to build savings. Financial security increases as you gain control over spending.
If you are burdened with high amounts of credit card debt and are struggling to make your payments, or you’re just not seeing your balances go down, call Timberline Financial today for a FREE financial analysis. Our team of highly skilled professionals will evaluate your current situation to see if you may qualify for one of our debt relief programs. You don’t have to struggle with high interest credit card debt any longer. Call (855) 250-8329 or get in touch with us by sending a message through our website here contact-us