As most of us are finding out, our paycheck does not go as far as it did just a couple of years ago. With the rise in unemployment, we are also experiencing the backlash of the over-the-top fuel and gas prices of several months ago.
We see this backlash in full force at the grocery stores. Every item has increased. Some products are up a few cents, while others have increased by fifty cents to a dollar or more. When you consider the number of items you purchase on a weekly basis, this increase is significant.
Other expenses we have seen rise is the cost of electricity, home heating, health insurance, co-payments, deductibles, car and property insurance, credit card interest rates, postage, and last but not least, cable and internet service.
During these times when it is necessary to “tighten the belt”, there are many ways you can reduce your expenses. Even saving a few cents or dollars here and there adds up to considerable amounts over time.
Although some of the following may appear to be common sense or trivial, you will reduce expenses and in some areas where you only save a few cents, just being aware of costs makes you a better consumer and gives you practice in thinking about ways to cut expenses.
Every suggestion will not be for you, so take what works for your lifestyle or what you are willing to try and remember the others to suggest to family, friends, or co-workers that may find them helpful.
1) Cut coupons. Sunday newspapers are normally the best place to find coupons. The money you save by using these coupons on items you normally buy, will more than pay for the cost of the newspaper.
2) Plan meals in advance and use the grocery store flyer sale items to create your menu. If chicken breasts and chuck roasts are on sale, plan on a couple of chicken dishes and use the chuck roast for an oven baked meal and beef stew.
3) Turn out lights when the room is not in use.
4) Save gas and wear and tear on your vehicle by planning errands in advance. If you need to go to the post office, grocery store, bank, and pharmacy during the week, try to run the errands on the same trip making as close to a circle from your home or work place as possible. Avoid backtracking whenever possible.
5) Pack lunches for work. Ordering out for lunch can cost $25.00 or more per week. This is equal to purchasing 2 well planned family meals at the grocery store, a family pizza night, a family movie night, ¾ of a tank of gas, you get the picture. The lunch money can be better spent elsewhere, reducing the effects of a tight budget.
6) Don’t buy prepackaged items for packing lunches, such as chips, crackers, or cookies. Purchase a large bag/package and place desired amount in store brand sandwich bags.
7) If you have the space, plant a garden. Rather you have a small space or enough land for a farm, you can plant something. Fresh fruits and vegetables can be costly to buy, even in season, so plant you own and organize meals around the harvest.
8) In planting a garden, if you have more fruit or vegetables that you can use, donate the surplus to an area soup kitchen or other charitable organization. You can claim the donation on your taxes.
9) Take outgrown clothing to a consignment shop. You can sell quality items with little effort; however, the downside is that you usually pay about a 50% consignment fee to the shop (this is fair as they have the overhead).
10) Another option for outgrown clothing and unused quality household items is to document their value and donate to a charitable organization such as a church or community organization in need.
11) Check your home for areas of heat or air conditioning loss. Add or replace weather stripping around windows and doors. Place foam insulation in light switches and plugs, on outside walls.
12) Keep doors closed and heat/air conditioning turned off in rooms that are not in use.
13) Adjust heat/air conditioning in each room – this can most often be done by regulating the dampers; located in the heat/air conditioning ducts. They will need to be adjusted when changing to or from heat and air conditioning.
14) Reduce laundry loads by planning – saving water, detergent, fabric softener, and electricity/gas. Change and wash sheets on all beds at the same time. Change and wash bathroom and kitchen towels at the same time.
This is a generalized list of areas where you can save money just by making minor changes to your routine. Check out my other articles to find more tips and money saving ideas.