Circumstances are usually the only reason we tighten our financial belt around here. This time is not exception. As I was digging deep into the budget to see where we could purge, I got a rude awakening. If we had just done this earlier, we would have been able to save enough money to build that nest egg we have always been talking about.
1. Turn off the cable. Even if you just do it for one year, you will be able to save around $50 per month (more for most people). If you HAVE to watch the game or that special show, make it a night with friends or family. Other wise, find some new interests besides the television. Totals saved in our family will be $600.
2. Stop eating out. Take the time to pack your lunch or pack a picnic if you have late practices or games. Fast food for a family adds up quickly. Doing it every week (or twice a week for most of us) will break your bank. Savings for our family will be $1000.
3. Make your own coffee. Stopping at the local coffee shop is more expensive than you might realize. At $3 a day, you could save $750 just drinking home brew.
4. Cut the cars – especially if you don’t need them. There was a time when having more than one car was important for our family, but not anymore. If we can bite the bullet and only have one car we will be able to save $1000 in insurance and $350 in car expenses.
5. Ditch the clothes. If you’ve never purchased clothes at a thrift store then you are truly missing our on an adventure. Even in our small town, the second hand shops offer great selections of quality cloths at incredible prices. Instead of spending $50 on a pair of jeans, stop by the second hand shop and get some for $5. The savings for our family is $550.
6. Make it from scratch. If you don’t know your way around the kitchen then it is high time you learned. Pre-made meals will cost you 10 times what a scratch meal would cost. Another benefit of scratch cooking means you can double the recipe and give some away (instead of buying expensive gifts). Savings for our family is around $1200.
7. Shop in bulk – when you need it. I even buy children’s gifts in bulk through Oriental Trader. It means that I have gifts for unexpected parties or last minute projects (limit your self to one bin or shelf). I also use these gifts for treats when the kids are extra helpful. Savings for bulk buying is about $300.
8. Learn to freeze. IF you package food right you will be able to buy large quantities and use them through out the year. This is great when you stumble on a meat sale at your grocery store (or your neighbor, who hunts, offers you some of his kill). I have also discovered that many vegetables freeze great – for use in cooking. So does cheese and butter. I even freeze sandwich fillings (meat and cheese together) when I can find good deals on those items. Savings for our family is $500.
9. Turn down the heat/ turn up the air. These bills alone (especially during extreme weather) can be overwhelming. Saving just $10 per week (by adjusting by two degrees) will make a HUGE long term difference. Savings for our family $520.
10. Give the gift of creativity. When our money was so tight we couldn’t afford an idea, much less actual items, we gave our son a rope for his birthday. It was to be used to make a rope swing for him on his playground. Something we did together. Five years later, it is still being used. He has also used pieces to make several other swings in the same tree. All the great remote control cars and gadgets have been broken or discarded, but this $10 rope has lived a long and joyful life! Savings for out family is $300.
Saving money doesn’t have to be something you do during a crisis. If it becomes a way of life then you can do things that you would never have dreamed possible. What would you be able to do with $7,000 each year? Odds are pretty good that you already have that money available; you are just choosing to spend it in different ways.
Start today making choices that will give you and your family the life you have been dreaming about.