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Creative Ways to Save on Monthly Expenses

Having a family can be expensive, especially if you have several children. The costs of rent or a mortgage, utilities, insurance, car payments, clothing for the whole family, fun activities and school-related expenses can quickly add up. To be able to put away money for your retirement, emergency situations and your children’s college funds, you need to find ways to save money. Finding creative ways to cut costs, can help your family find financial security.

1. Reduce Energy Consumption

save-energy-id-10079766You don’t have to completely change your lifestyle to reduce your energy usage. It is often the little things that will save you the most money over time. You can reduce energy by turning off your faucets (saving hot water and pump run time) when you aren’t using them; washing your dishes by hand instead of running your dishwasher; turning off lights when you leave a room; setting your thermostat to 78 degrees in the summer and 68 degrees in the winter, using CFL or L.E.D.  light bulbs and taking shorter showers. By getting everyone in your family on board with your plans to save energy, you can help your family not only reduce costs but teach your children valuable habits as well. Taking time to do home maintenance tasks, such as putting in new insulation and caulking any leaks, can also help you to save on energy. Some utilities provide free home energy audits, so you can find out ways for your family to be more energy efficient. This will allow you to be able to develop a comprehensive plan for reducing energy usage.

2. Cell Phone Savings

Save on Cell PhonesCell phones can quickly become one of your biggest household expenses, especially when you have to buy phones and plans for every member of a large family. Some companies, like Mint SIM, know how important it is to find a cell phone plan with savings for multiple lines.

Many companies offer family plans, which allow you to pay less for each line than you would if you had separate plans. These plans often come with minute and data-sharing options. This can be important if you have one family member who plays games a lot and another who texts all the time. Family plans can also allow you to have more control over your children’s phones. With these plans, parents are often able to monitor their children’s minute and data usage, block numbers and set online filters.

3. Take Advantage of Free Offerings

A number of organizations provide free services and events at different times of the year. You just have to know when and where to look for them. In most cities, museums and art galleries have free admission days. You may have to go during the off-season or on a weekday, but you will be able to get out and have fun with your family at no cost. Some festivals will offer free admission or buy-one, get-one-free deals.

Restaurants sometimes have free offerings or special deals during special holidays or special occasions, such as Mother’s or Father’s Day, Valentine’s Day or guests’ birthdays. There are also lots of restaurants where kids eat free certain days of the week or you can get unlimited appetizers at some different ones too. Just do a search in your area for restaurants where kids eat free.

You can find out about other free events, tickets and food through local events websites, message boards, blogs and newspapers. Word-of-mouth can also be a good way to learn about and share information about free offerings in your city. By networking with other families, you can help each other.

4. Save on Shopping Expenses

Creative ways to Save MoneyShopping trips can quickly become expensive if you don’t have a plan for saving money. By gradually changing your spending habits, you can save money on items such as food, clothing, hygiene products and household items. One way to cut costs is to actively look for deals. Another is to not waste food… i.e. eat your leftovers instead of throwing them away, grow your own fruits and vegetables in a garden, or even feed kitchen and garden scraps to your own chickens.

“Scope out” your Sunday paper for coupons, use online promo code sites, search online sites for deals, buy items in bulk, purchase brands that are on sale and shop around for better prices.

Meal planning can help you to be a smarter shopper because you will be less likely to make impulse purchases. Try to plan out your shopping trips so that you don’t have to take your children, if possible. You can save money on entertainment expenses by finding things to do at home. Pop some popcorn and rent a movie instead of taking your whole family to the movie theater or have a board game night. Another way to save money is through purchasing used or repurposed items from secondhand stores. While you will want to look over furniture, articles of clothing or toys you are purchasing, you may find a bargain on something that has been gently used.

While you are going to spend more with a family than you did during your single days, you and your spouse can take steps to save on costs. To be able to cut costs effectively, you have to make sure to include every member of your family in the process. By involving them in cost-saving efforts, such as meal planning and energy saving, you will be better able to put away money every week in savings, retirement and college accounts.

Bio: Rachelle Wilber is a freelance writer living in the San Diego, California area. She graduated from San Diego State University with her Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Media Studies.  When she isn’t on her porch writing in the sun, you can find her shopping, at the beach, or at the gym. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook: @RachelleWilber; https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100009221637700

Light Bulb image courtesy of Suwit Ritjaroon @ freedigitalphotos.net
Cell Phone image courtesy of  Pong @ freedigitalphotos.net
Chickens photo by Timothy McMahon