How to Stretch Your Family’s Budget Farther

The age-old problem of trying to stretch your household budget is a challenge nearly everyone grapples with at one time or another. If you’re confounded by the fact that your paycheck(s) seem to disappear within days of depositing them, it may be time to examine your spending habits.

Creating a written budget is often an eye-opening experience, especially if you haven’t taken the time to do that recently — or ever! Itemizing all your monthly and periodic expenses can not only help you realize where the money’s going, but it can also give you a greater feeling of control over your life. As an added bonus, reviewing your household budget a couple times a year will also increase your awareness of your debts, your income, and your spending habits. Once you know how tight your budget is and whether you need to reduce expenses or increase income, you’ll be in a stronger position to effectively manage your family’s finances.

  • Creating a budget: Whether you prefer to use spreadsheets, software, or just a simple income-versus-expenses chart, setting up a budget will help put you in the driver’s seat of your cash flow situation. While there are many distinctions between running a business and managing a household, there are probably more similarities than differences!
  • Identifying “money leaks”: If your family’s budget seems tighter than you’d like it to be, one possible reason is that you’re spending more than you need to on some expenses. The perfect examples are homeowners’ and automobile insurance. You’ve probably seen and heard countless ads for well-known insurance companies that say they can save you hundreds of dollars a year on your insurance policies. If you’ve been dismissing those claims as mere hype, consider the possibility that you may actually be paying more on your insurance premiums than necessary. It may be worth your while to have your insurance agent review your policy with you to make sure you’re getting all the coverage you need and the discounts to which your entitled. The best way to remove any doubt is to get two or three quotes from other reputable insurance companies. You can often do this through email or online, so you shouldn’t have to go to time-consuming office appointments just to get a few insurance quotes. To compare “apples to apples,” make sure to use identical coverage amounts and deductibles for each estimate your seeking; hopefully the agents you deal with will remind you of that. It’s also possible to save hundreds more dollars a year by contacting your cable TV company, Internet service provider, and cell phone service (It might be one company) to discuss ways your bill can be lowered. The first step would be to examine your latest invoice and determine whether you’re paying for services you don’t use or need. If you see charges that are excessive or confusing, don’t hesitant to get on the phone and have those issues clarified. If inconsistent utility bills are a problem, then switching over to a monthly budget plan will make your expenses more predictable and manageable.

While there are many strategies for reducing your expenses and regaining control of your household budget, information and a healthy sense of skepticism can often be your most valuable resources.

Strategies For Saving Money at the Supermarket

As you may have noticed, your family’s grocery bill accounts for a big chunk of your monthly household budget. Fortunately, there are many ways to prevent your food bill from spiraling out of control! Some money-saving strategies are obvious, such as using discount coupons and not shopping when you’re hungry, while others are not as widely known.

If you habitually buy more expensive name-brand products without having a specific reason for doing so, it might pay to experiment with generic or store-brand grocery items. When you compare the prices, the savings can really add up! In some cases, there is a noticeable difference in quality, but in countless other instances, the store-brand products are on par with the well-known name brands.

One question to ask yourself is this: “Why pay substantially more for name-brand products when all you’re really doing is helping huge corporations pay for their immense advertising budgets?” Your challenge — and this can be worth the effort — is to determine which store-brand products are comparable in quality and which ones are not worth the savings. In many cases, the difference in quality is negligible (or non existent), but the total savings from comparing prices can easily add up to $5 or $10 per shopping trip — and who amongst us would voluntarily throw away a ten-dollar bill every time we went grocery shopping!

It’s also interesting to note that many supermarkets tend to stock their more expensive products at eye level. By shifting your glance to the higher or lower shelves at the store, you can often spot money-saving bargains that would have otherwise escaped your notice. While you’re at it, it also pays to check out the expiration date on products so you don’t end up wasting money on items that have been sitting around for a while. A big frustration that we’ve all experienced is getting home and realizing that a perishable item we picked up at the grocery store expires tomorrow — or even worse, yesterday!

Here’s a money-saving tip that not everybody thinks of: If an advertised sale item has been sold out, you can often get a “rain check” issued to you, which will entitle you to the discount price — even after the sale is officially over. You may have to get it from the customer service desk or a manager, but if you’re determined to be a savvy grocery shopper, it’s worth the extra few minutes.

One of the easiest, most automatic ways to save money at the food store is to join your supermarket’s “loyalty program”. It goes by different names at different places, but once you sign up, the discounts, coupons, and special offers keep coming your way! Taking a few minutes to glance over your grocery store’s weekly newspaper insert can also point you in the direction of worthwhile savings opportunities.

Saving with Coupons – Beyond the Grocery Store

Everyone knows about coupons for everyday products we buy but did you know there are ways to save at places like the home improvement store, clothing stores and restaurants? Beyond the sales and promotions that these places have from time to time, there are websites that have extra savings waiting for you!

Many of the couponing websites have daily or weekly emails you can subscribe to that have links of the best deals on the web. From coupons to restaurants, to online offers at places like Shutterfly, there is always something waiting for you to save on. Two great emails with valuable resources are the ones from www.couponmom.com and www.coupondivas.com. Check them out!

There are variety of websites out there that can help you save on the web. www.slickdeals.net has any item you can imagine for some great prices; www.nomorerack.com has everything from clothing to jewelry to home furnishings, all at insane prices; and www.shopathome.com has coupon codes you can use for online shopping to save just like you had a coupon in store.

One of the best ways to get emails full of savings is to sign up with your favorite store’s website. You will not only be notified with the latest sale, but you will get exclusive coupon savings. Even some places, like Target, have weekly texts with coupons you can use on a variety of items, as well as coupons you can print from their website.

Finally, using your reward points from those credits cards can help cut down on costs as well. Since most awards you get get with your points take tens of thousands of points, why not redeem your points for a gift card instead? They usually start out at 2,000 points and can help you cut the cost of that new sweater or Saturday night date night.

Paying full price on purchases is not a necessity. No matter that your favorite store is, or how you like to shop, with all the options out there to save, what are you waiting for?!

Saving with Coupons – The Basics

Times are tough for everyone and saving everytime you go to the store can really add up. Most people don’t realize the true value of a coupon, or how to use them to their full advantage. With a little bit of time, on average you could save 20-30% during each grocery shopping trip and 50-100% each time you go to the drug store.

The trick with getting more bang for your buck is matching coupons with the weekly sales at the supermarkets and drug stores. For example, shampoo is on sale for buy one get one free, and you have a coupon for $1.00 off 1 item. If the shampoo retails for $5.00 you will get 2 shampoos for $3.00 (2 @ $5.00 – $2 off in coupons). That’s a savings of $7.00! This applies to any item you would buy at the supermarket or drug store. And by stocking up on an item when it’s sale price plus coupons make it a great deal, help you to avoid running out and having to pay full price.

In addition, some stores have additional savings such as doubling the value of a coupon, or in store coupons that you can use with a manufacters coupon. For example: Walgreens has Bonus Rewards were you earn points on products you buy that add up to money off future items. CVS has Extra Bucks which are like cash off your total. Both drug stores have their own in store coupons (CVS prints theirs on the bottom the receipt or from the kiosk in stores, Walgreens has a monthly coupon book) which can be used with a manufacter’s coupon. Find a good week, there is potential to use a manfacuter’s coupon, an instore coupon and Extra Bucks on a sale item to get it pennies (at CVS for example)!!!

There are a variety of websites that can help you get started as well as give you guidance on what coupons you may have to match with the sales. To name a few: www.couponmom.com, www.hip2save.com, and www.coupondivas.com are great places to start. The savings are endless, you just have to reach out and grab them!