Budgeting—it seems like the more everyone talks about it, the less people actually attempt it. Still, there’s no denying that saving money is a completely attainable goal for any family, regardless of size and income. Just because the Joneses are spending themselves into oblivion doesn’t mean you have to follow suit. Here are a few great ways you can save money, starting today.
It All Starts in the Head
Although it’s really not that difficult to save money, it isn’t effortless. The most important first step you must take is to give some serious thought to the way your family spends and how much easier life would be if you could get a handle on your finances. After all, unless you have a desire to change, you never will, and any strong desire only grows after it’s been nourished by plenty of thought.
Are you looking to get free of debt, or have you decided you can no longer put off planning for retirement? Do you have children who will someday be hoping for help going to college, or are you ready to finally prepare for that long-sought overseas trip that has never been possible because of your tight budget? Whatever your reason, make sure you dwell on it regularly to keep your resolve strong enough to prevent you from relapsing into old habits that have tied you down up to now.
Along with evaluating and meditating on your reasons to save money, it’s vital to spend time setting up a game plan. You can do this by writing out a budget, putting down some goals, and tracking every purchase you make to evaluate where things can be tweaked.
Another great way to save money is simply by planning all your meals ahead of time, writing out a detailed grocery list, and refusing to splurge during the week on lunches or take out dinners. Not only will planning your meals save you big in your budget; it will also save you valuable time and effort.
With a weekly menu plan, you spend all your time wondering “what’s for dinner” at one time, and you’re able to focus your efforts so that leftovers can be delicious. For example, one night you could put a chicken in the crockpot. In the morning you could remove the meat from the bones and save it for at least three good-sized meals, such as chicken and rice, chicken salad, and chicken pot pie. You could return the bones to the crockpot, cover them with water, the juice of one lemon, and some seasonings, and by the time you’re ready to start dinner in the evening you’d have some homemade chicken stock ready to strain and add to your recipe.
Be Willing to Get Humble
Although it’s hard to lower your standard of living when you feel others expect you to maintain a certain quality of life, the fact is that there are seasons of life that will require you to be more frugal than at other times. If you have reached a season like this, take heart: It’s not permanent. In fact, if you can tighten your belt enough to regain control of your spending, you might find yourself in better shape than you ever dreamed.
One great way to “get humble” in your finances is to be willing to frequent thrift stores. Although you may cringe at the idea, it’s likely because you haven’t found one worth visiting. Many thrift stores offer excellent used merchandise at incredibly low prices, and many times you can find certain high-dollar items with the original price tags still in place. Take time to shop around for a thrift store that meets your needs, and don’t feel embarrassed that you no longer waste exorbitant amounts at the department stores. In case you haven’t noticed, re-purposing is in vogue; go with it!
Get Quotes on Large Purchases
Another great way to save money is to shop around. You’d be surprised how much you could save by checking with different companies to find the best rates on insurance, phone plans, and many other subscription services.
Some other great ways to save are to make use of rebates and coupons for items you already planned to buy, spend your vacations closer to home, and attend family-friendly events where food is served to save you money on a meal. To save money even while you spend money, order checks online and use them to make payments, avoiding card processing fees. Instead of renting movies or going to the theater, visit the local library—you’ll be surprised how much is available without your having to spend a dime.
Tightening your budget doesn’t have to mean misery. In fact, you might discover that implementing some of these tips results in new habits that stay with you long after your finances are back on track. After all, when you’ve found a good thing, why go back to old habits?