Here are some tips to help you stretch your budget to get more for the money you spend.
1. Save on gas. Gas is expensive these days. Here are some tips to get more done on a single tank of gas, and still have some cash left over to put away for a rainy day.
- Plan errand runs. Bunch them for a single day (or two) and plan the shortest route.
- Leave the car at home one day a week, if possible.
- Inflate tires to proper pressure.
- Tune up car regularly.
- Buy early in the day. Gas deliveries are usually made in late morning or afternoon, sometimes at a higher price. Buy before the delivery is made.
2. Save on food. Stretch your food budget simply and easily with careful planning and a little coupon clipping. Know what you need to feed the family, skip the expensive treats and focus on the basics. Cook more of your own food for savings and for better tasting food that can deliver higher nutrition levels to the family each day. Here’s how:
- Casual coupon clipping can save 10% a week on necessities. $150 a week on groceries adds up to $780 savings a year and, to have that $780 after taxes, most people would have to earn $1,000. Think of coupon-clipping as a part-time job you can do in your slippers.
- Buy day-old bread, muffins, etc. and freeze.
- Keep a space available at home for long-term storage of food and other basics so you can take advantage of store sales.
- Use the store customer card for in-store specials and extra savings, coupons and other benefits (like a free cup of coffee while you shop).
- Create a shopping list and stick to it.
- Know the layout of the store. All essentials line the outer walls. Avoid the middle isles, end caps and other come-ons. Avoid impulse purchases at the check-out.
- Prepare big meals and freeze leftovers for later.
- Don’t buy convenience foods. Make it yourself, save money and enjoy better taste and better nutrition.
3. Save on clothes. Smart clothes buying begins with an understanding of when clothes are on sale and where to purchase clothes at the lowest prices.
- Buy off season. Buy summer clothes in the fall, winter clothes in the summer months.
- Wait for close-out sales, clearance sales and end-of-season sales.
- Expect free shipping when ordering online or from a catalog.
- Buy at consignment stores or thrift stores, especially for children, who often outgrow clothes quickly. Sometimes the items have the original tags on them.
- Wash clothes on the gentle cycle. They’ll last longer.
- Organize a clothes swap with neighbors or co-workers who have children of different ages and sizes.
4. Save on home and living expenses. It can cost a lot just to keep up with home and living expenses – everything from home maintenance to heating and cooling costs. Here’s what you can do starting today:
- During the winter, lower the thermostat when you’re home to a daytime temperature that’s comfortable when you’re wearing a sweater. Set it even lower at night, when you can add extra blankets to the bed. But don’t turn off heat altogether. It takes more fuel to heat furniture and air if the house is allowed to get really cold.
- Take shorter showers, and get shower heads that reduce the amount of water flow.
- Increase your home insurance deductible. Place the money you save by lowering your premiums into a savings account. That way, the money should be available in case you have a claim and need to make up the difference between the old deductible and the higher deductible. If you don’t have a claim, your savings account will continue to grow.
- Organize a toy swap with neighborhood parents to save on playthings.
- Talk to your bank’s branch manager to find ways to get more banking services at lower costs. It may pay to do all your banking at one financial institution, which may reward you for your banking relationship.
It may take a little more time to save money but, by saving on everyday expenses, your paycheck will go further, delivering a higher standard of living for your family.
The information provided is presented for general informational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal or business advice.
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