During this difficult time of financial recession, all of us have tried our best to cut back on our spending and made sacrifices to save as much as possible. It seems however, that despite our best intentions, our efforts seem not to be bearing fruit. If this is the story of your life, here is a list of 20 money saving tips for families that may help you and your family stretch your dollar a little further.
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1. Go with a bank that doesn’t take your money
I think its ridiculous that banks charge us when they are the ones using our money to make money. If your bank charges you fees left and right, find one that doesn’t. There are plenty of smaller banks that don’t charge maintenance fees.
2. Be a Smart Energy Consumer
You can make energy saving easy by being mindful of simple tasks in your home. Time your showers, switch off your lights, take a bath instead of a shower and switch off your fridge at night. You don’t necessarily have to install a new tank-less water heater or a low flow toilet to be energy efficient. Teach your children about energy conservation and watch your utility bills take a nose-dive.
3. Move back into one family home
In 1999, a Pew Research Center study established that 6.6 million American homes are now multi-generational, with at least three generations being housed under one roof. In as much as it would seem like a last resort, tough times do call for tough measures. The research concluded that the main cause of this housing shift was the housing crash and the poor economy. When life gives you lemons, make lemonade!
It is quite interesting how much closer families are becoming once they start enjoying the advantages that come with their current living circumstances: shared expenses, free baby-sitting, and encouragement during hard times, free advice and savings from shared shopping.
4. Buy Second hand
Buying second hand items may require some getting used to, but once you figure out just how much you can save for the same branded items (only a little older). You can get second hand books, toys, furniture, video games and household appliances.
By buying from thrift shops and local garage sales, you will not only save money but also help support the local economy, or help a struggling family whose only way to make ends meet is to have a garage sale.
5. Find alternatives to paying that mortgage
Approximately 11.1 million Americans have found themselves with an upside down mortgage. Simply put, you find yourself owing more on the mortgage than what your home actually costs. Approach your mortgage provider for a loan modification, to enable you manage to pay smaller monthly installments for a longer period of time.
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If this option is unavailable to you, consider negotiating to sell your home at a price lower than what your remaining mortgage costs, also referred to as a short sale. This may require you to think this through and make a decision that is in the best interest for your family.
There is a government program designed for persons who successfully complete a short sale called HAFA (Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives), where you receive $3000 to assist you after the sale. Before making a decision, talk to an attorney to find out what options are available to you.
6. Allow Advertisers to Place Ads on your Blog
In case you have a blog page; find a way to maximize on what you are getting out of it by monetizing your page. There are several pay-per-click ads that are run through Google and Yahoo and end up on your blog, based on your key words.
For example, if you blog on organic cooking, advertisers in the sustainable cooking industry will be prompted to post their ads on your page. This is not a get rich quick opportunity, unless of course, your blog has a lot of traffic on it.
7. Find and Use Freebies
The internet is a haven for free items. There are many freebie sites available that constantly update their blogs with the latest freebies, coupons and benefits available to everyone.
If your child is still in diapers, register your diaper box codes at Pampers.com to collect points that can be redeemed for gift cards, toys or photos. You could also join “Birthday clubs” at your favorite restaurants and you will receive free treats on your birthday.
8. Clear the Groceries
At the end of your week, avoid the urge to go grocery shopping for the coming week. Try to make use of what is still left over from the previous week.
You will be surprised to find that the leftovers that you toss out every time you get a new batch will be enough to feed your family for an extra two days or three. You will also be able to clean out your pantry and use all the canned foods and mixed boxes that would otherwise expire.
9. Buy generic brands
We all know that generic brands contain the exact same ingredients that their expensive counter parts, so why not save your money by simply switching from buying brand names to buying generic. Of course, you can’t do that with everything, but when it come to things like grocery, you can save serious money on groceries by simply buying generic brands.
10. Plan Your Meals
Those unplanned meals at McDonald’s in the name of being spontaneous (or somebody being lazy and not wanting to make dinner) are the bane of every frugal family’s existence.
Instead of getting a healthy meal for less than $2 per person, we go ahead and order enough food to feed a family of fifteen, splurge then leave half the food on our plates. We then get home and feel guilty because our wallet will not allow us to forget that we truly are an insane bunch of idiots! Take time to plan for your weekly meals in advance, to avoid the dilemma of not knowing what to cook.
11. Entertain Kids at Home
Having the kids at home doesn’t necessarily have to end up being a financial fiasco. In as much as we would like our children to entertain themselves with the best there is, our financial situation may not allow us to partake in these expensive activities. We could compensate by opting to do some simple things in the neighborhood that may not have as much impact on our bottom line.
Try leaving the sprinkler on during the summer and sit back and listen to the squeals of laughter. A good old board game, a movie night in, become park critics, and move around from one park to another and award points for the best and worst. All these can be done at little or no cost and leave you with healthy well adjusted children.
12. Switch from Vacation to Staycation
Planning for a vacation can be an expensive affair. So instead of planning to go out of town for a few days, you can take a few days off school or work and take short trips to historical sites, camping grounds, museums, hiking trails and day time movie theaters in towns close to where your family lives. These day trips will save on lodging expenses and will enable your family to enjoy spending time together even when times are tough.
13. Invest in Reusable Items
Instead of buying disposable items which may be convenient but most often more expensive, try switching to reusable items that would last longer in the long run. Replace your paper towels with washable clothes. Invest in a water filter and aluminum water bottles to save up on the cost of buying plastic water bottles. Before getting a disposable item, find out if there is a reusable option.
14. Coupon, coupon, coupon
Recent statistics show that an average family (2.5persons) spends $3000 annually on grocery shopping. The best way to save money is to use coupons. Investing your time in collecting and organizing coupons can go a long way in reducing your grocery bill. You could pair your coupons with sale ads will dent your grocery bill even further. Register on manufacturers’ websites and “like” them on their Facebook pages to receive discounts on their products or get their coupons sent directly to your email.
15. Smart Shopping
For those who tend to overspend every time they enter a store, smart strategies such as couponing will help you reduce the impact of your spending.
An important yet overlooked strategy is to draw up a shopping list and doing the entire shopping at one go. The quick trips to the store to buy a forgotten bag of chips or gallon of milk will inevitably lead to your buying unnecessary items.
Do not forget the amount of gas you are wasting when you make those trips to the store. Try to leave the children at home next time you go shopping. They will most definitely demand for toys and snacks you had not planned to buy, throwing your budget off the rails.
16. Shop Around for Your Insurance
Instead of renewing your insurance cover immediately it expires, take a few minutes to go online and compare quotes from different insurance providers to find one that is more affordable. Experts recommend that you do this every three years especially if you buy a new vehicle or relocate to another area.
Take advantage of any discounts offered by your current insurer. Find out if you can get a lower rate by giving them a comparison of what may be on offer from a competitor. They may comply to keep you as a policy holder.
17. Turn a Hobby into a Business
Although starting a business during a recession may seem like the worst possible idea, some experts believe that this is the best time to do so. The reason for this is because most large companies are cutting down on costs by cutting down product lines, services, employees as well.
Although it will be difficult to get a bank loan, but if you can establish your business in spite of these challenges, then you will take advantage of the entire market share left behind by the downsizing companies.
Some well-known companies in the US such as Microsoft and Walt Disney Entertainment started when there was a down turn in the economy, look where they are now!
After deciding on what product or service you want to provide, use websites such as HireMyMom.com to develop your profile and apply for jobs. Using your skill set to earn you an extra dollar will go a long way in boosting your confidence to endure through the hard times.
18. Ask your credit card provider for a rate reduction
This is one of the simplest things one can do to save some money, yet people rarely do it. Pick up the phone and call your credit card provider. More often than not, you will be able to get a reduction of some kind.
19. Visit the Local Library
Take your children to the local public library, where they are able to take home free movies, books and audio-books for a limited period of time. As soon as they are through with reading or watching them, make another exciting trip to the library to get a new batch.
20. Watch your phone bill
The easiest way to control your capricious phone bill is to change your post-paid bill to a pre-pay plan. This will mean that you will only be able to call as long as you have some talk time available on your phone. Before long, you will be careful about exactly how many calls you will be making on a daily basis, and just how long each call will be.
A good example of a pre-pay package is AT&T’s GoPhone plan; you begin by depositing a certain amount of money into your account, before using the service. The amount reduces depending on the number of calls, call durations and number of texts received. You replenish your account whenever the funds become too low to make a call.
Find out from your service provider what he can offer you in terms of pre-paid packages. If he has none, consider switching to a provider who has such a plan.
Please feel free to leave a comment and share with us if you have any other money saving tips for families.