Frugal Living 101

4 Hacks for Stretching the Family Budget

Family expenses can run high, and it may seem challenging at times to stay on budget. After all, there are often home repairs, car repairs, medical bills and more that seem to develop out of the blue. To better plan and budget for unexpected expenses and to continue to live successfully on a tight budget, you need to strategically keep your regular expenses as low as possible. These tips can help you to more successfully accomplish your financial goals.

Only Buy Items on Sale

Most items go on sale at some point. This includes everything from toilet paper and shoes to furniture and vehicles. For all items, only buy the essentials, and avoid buying frivolous items that are not necessary. Always shop around to compare prices, and only buy items that are on sale when possible. Remember that you can also buy consignment or used items to save money on the things your family needs.

 

Find Affordable Ways to Spend Family Time Together

Between dinners at restaurants, movies on the weekends and more, it can seem like most of your family activities cost a small fortune. The reality is that you do not have to spend much money enjoying time together, and in some cases, you do not have to spend any money at all. For example, you can plan a fun family game night or a movie night at home. You can also all pitch in to make dinner together. For example, making personalized mini-pizzas one night could get everyone in the kitchen working side by side. Other budget friendly family fun can include visiting local parks, National Forests, historical places, etc. Lodging can be one of the most expensive parts of a family vacation so consider using AirBnB and getting a whole house and splitting it with friends or family.

Plan Your Meals Strategically

Eating at home is almost always cheaper than eating at a restaurant. Consider that a family of four could easily spend $80 for one meal together at a casual dining restaurant, and this same $80 could be used to buy groceries for the family for several days (or for a whole week if you are a pro at how to shop frugally). To ensure that you always eat at home, plan your meals for the week each weekend. Make a shopping list strategically, and be prepared to head to the store in the middle of the week if you run low on essentials. Remember that you are more likely to go out to eat when your refrigerator is practically empty. To save even more invest in a chest freezer. These only cost a few hundred bucks and can easily save you that much in less than a year. The key is to buy all your meat when it is on sale (see tip #1). You can also buy the larger “family” size packages and then split it up into meal size portions before putting it in the freezer. That way you are always eating meat at the sale price and never paying full price for meat (which is easily the biggest chunk of your grocery bill).

Look for Coupons for Home Maintenance and Repair Services

Between your water heater, HVAC system, plumbing features and more, many of your home’s systems and components require regular maintenance efforts from time to time. With regular maintenance, you may be able to curb repair issues, but some repair issues may still develop from time to time. Anytime you need maintenance or repair services for your home, look for contractor coupons and discounts, like those from HELP Plumbing, Heating, Cooling and Electric. You should also shop around to find the best rates overall for the services you need.

While saving money on your family’s expenses can seem elusive and even impossible at times, you can see that there are actually practical and realistic steps that you can take to avoid overspending. Keep these tips in mind as you move forward so that you can keep more of your hard-earned money in your bank account.

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The world is a magical place for kids. It’s a place of astronauts, princesses, and wonderful adventures. To them, money is just a thing that Moms and Dads use when it’s time to go out for ice cream. That’s all well and good, there’s no need for kids to know how to refinance a home (yet), but kids are smart, and it’s important that they know how to use money wisely. The best way to show them, is by showing them how money works in their life.

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A great way to show kids the value of saving money is by teaching them about goals. First, start by giving them a small allowance or allowing them to do extra chores for cash. Then the next time you take your kids to the store, ask them if there is a big toy they would like to get (something in the $20-$30) range. When they find something they really like, let them know that they don’t have enough money for it yet, but if they save up the money and don’t buy anything right now, that they can get their new favorite toy later. Once they get a bit older you can use the same idea to teach them about credit.

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