This article is courtesy of ParentLife magazine.
Financial experts often separate budgets into fixed costs and flexible areas of spending. Often you can save more readily when you are conscious of the "miscellaneous" items you buy. The following are some money-saving tips aimed to help you in the short term and in the long haul.
- Purchase an older home and make improvements yourself. Or buy a small home that suits your current needs but that can be expanded to meet your future needs.
- Complete repair and maintenance work yourself, such as lawn care, pest control, painting, and carpet cleaning.
- Pay your mortgage biweekly instead of monthly. Payments will remain the same but will save years off the mortgage.
- Lower the cost of utilities by buying appliances with a high EnergyGuide rating. Try to limit the use of heating, air conditioning, lights, and appliances.
- Prepare a weekly menu. List the ingredients from the menu and shop accordingly to avoid impulse shopping.
- Shop once a week to help reduce unnecessary purchases.
- Reduce the use of paper products. Paper plates, cups, napkins, and plasticware can be an unnecessary expense.
- Prepare packed lunches instead of eating out.
- Drive one car if possible. This can be the biggest transportation savings.
- Drive a smaller, low-cost car. The smaller the car, the more economical it is to operate.
- Perform routine maintenance yourself, such as oil changes and lubrication. Regular maintenance prolongs the life of a car.
- Make a list of clothing needs for a year. Shop from the list during off-season sales and at discount stores and garage sales.
- Purchase home-washable fabrics. Clothes that are dry-clean only are expensive to maintain.
- Purchase simple, basic fashions that stay in style longer. Select only a few clothing items that can be worn in combination with others.
Health and Insurance
- Select insurance based on your needs and budget. Secure estimates from three major companies.
- Raise deductibles to reduce premiums.
- Stay healthy by getting the proper amount of sleep, exercise, and nutrition.
- Practice proper oral hygiene for healthy teeth to reduce dental bills.
- Balance your checkbook monthly.
- Do not carry credit card debt. Pay off any remaining debt and use cash to make purchases.
- Open a separate savings account to deposit funds for bills that are not monthly. For example, if your $1,000 insurance premium is paid annually, deposit $80 in the savings account each month.
- Plan vacations during off-seasons.
- Discover creative alternatives to expensive entertainment, such as picnics or visiting a state park or museum.