The following are some ways that you can tighten your budget and save money at the same time:
- Donate or sell unused items. Every year you should go through your closets and your belongings and determine what things you have not really used during the past few months or year. You will always find a number of items in your house or in your wardrobe that are no longer needed. It may include clothing you are no longer using, unneeded furniture, if you're downsizing, unused electronics, or even jewelry that no longer appeals to you. Don't discard these items. Turn them into cash. You can do so by having a garage sale. You can also donate them to a charity and receive a tax deduction.
- Spend less on groceries. There are many ways to save on groceries. Use an online coupon website to receive discounts for the items you purchase the most. Buy generic items instead of brand names. They work just as well and often cost much less. Buy bulk items with friends or neighbors. You can obtain far more bang for your buck that way. Shop at more than one grocery store to take advantage of reduced prices. Be sure to sign up for customer loyalty discount programs. These programs can save you money every time you shop.
- Reduce your TV plan. You can always cut down your cable television plan. Some people even consider canceling their cable subscription completely and rely on Netflix, HULU, and other streaming services to provide them access to their favorite TV shows or movies. Don't forget the library. The local library will have a vast selection of DVD’s of your favorite shows, movies and music.
- Save money on utilities. You can do so by micromanaging your household. Turn off the lights when you're not using them. Make sure that you're shutting the doors to the outside and the doors to the outside remain closed – always a challenge when you're dealing with children. Turn up or turn down the thermostat when you're not in the house or when you're at work each day. Unplug any devices that are rarely used during the day. These appliances may still be "on" even when you have turned them off. Use a power strip to quickly and easily shut or switch off such appliances.
- Reduce eating out. Eating out is always very expensive. Get together with some friends and have a revolving monthly dinner at each other's homes and each individual couple can bring a dish. Also, don't be afraid to brown bag school lunches or work lunches. Brown bagging is now in and you can find many recipes for soups, sandwiches, and salads to make at home and bring to work or send to school with your children.
- Use the library. The library has a vast array of free services. They offer books, DVD’s of movies, music, and programs.
- Swap babysitting. If you have children, you undoubtedly will have friends with children of similar ages. Use each other as free babysitting services and have planned kid-free dates. You can save money and help your friends at the same time.
- Use the 10 second rule before you purchase any item. Each time you pick up an item that you have not usually purchased in the past, take 10 seconds and think about why you are purchasing this item and do you really need it. If after 10 seconds you can't answer yes to either of these questions, then put it back.
- Quit using credit cards. Leave your credit cards home for an emergency. Credit cards often are motivators for spur of the moment purchasing or impulse buying. Also, using credit cards makes it easy to lose track of what you are purchasing and not keep within your monthly budget.
- Drink more water. Drink more water in a reusable bottle. Let's face it: water is healthier for you than most of the beverages that you will buy during the day. Tap water generally is as healthy for you as bottled water. Consequently, it's free. You can save money and feel better at the same time.
- Avoid the mall. The mall is a great place for people watching and getting together with friends. However, it is also the mecca of impulse buying. Consequently, use the rule of thumb that my father taught me: "Don't go shopping unless you actually have something to buy".
Don't try to use all of these suggestions at once. However, if you start instituting one or two at a time, you should see some benefit in reducing your expenses and increasing your savings.
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