1. Plan Your Meals
Meal planning is an important way your family can meet budget! Use a crockpot instead of fast food, or plan a quick meal. Supermarket specials for that week can help plan your menu. Recipe sites and food blogs can help provide variety and new ideas. Shop with a list and only buy what’s on the list. Shop once a week or less. Extra trips add extra purchases! Remember…your children have less will power and more persistence than you do, so try to leave them at home.
2. Reuse, Reduce, & Upcycle
Some paper products are disposable, out of necessity, but some can easily be replaced by reusables. Try cloth napkins, either purchased or made by hemming squares cut from old tablecloths or worn-out clothing. If you’re having a baby soon, consider cloth diapers. The initial cost is high, but they make a wonderful shower gift! Often a cheap washcloth or dish towel can replace a paper towel. Buy second-hand when possible from craigslist, thrift stores, or yard sales, and use your creativity to make new things from old.
3. Use the Library
A trip to the library can be a big budget-saver, especially if you return things on time. Many free programs are a fun outing for your children. Bestsellers for you, children’s books at every level, audiobooks, and even free movies to borrow extend the boredom-busting resources available. Some libraries have board games and educational toys available for families to borrow.
4. Create a Budget with a Household Budget Worksheet
These are available from many online sources. If you’re computer-savvy, money management software can help track your expenses. Be sure to set aside savings for irregular expenses, gift-giving, holidays, vacations and emergencies. You can look into an automated savings account so the work is done for you, as a specified amount is taken right out of your paycheck, making saving more painless. Make a plan to get out of debt and avoid those interest costs!
5. Change Your Habits
Daily lattes? After-work drinks with friends? Eating out? Cigarettes? Cut them down or out. You’ll be healthier and so will your typical family budget.
6. Go Green & Save Energy
This doesn’t necessarily involve an extra expense. Turn off unneeded lights. Set your thermostat higher in summer, lower in winter. Every degree makes a difference. Combine trips to town, or use a bike when you can. Shorten showers. If your area allows, use a clothesline to dry your clothes.