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The credit crunch may be far behind us but ask most families and they’ll tell you that their finances are not out of the woods yet. Indeed, household wealth for the bottom 50% of US households is around half of what it was prior to the recession of 2008.
The economic realities of the 21st century mean that many households, especially those who have kids, are still feeling the pinch when it comes to managing their household finances. The cost of living has gotten increasingly untenable, especially for those living in major conurbation and living in properties where the rent keeps going up while offering tenants less and less for their money. The cost of raising a kid these days to the age of 18 is hovering just under the quarter of a million dollar mark.
With this in mind, pretty much all of us can afford to keep a closer eye on the purse-strings. The good news is that you don’t have to make huge sacrifices to save money. It’s usually just a case of staying vigilant and plugging any unnecessary leaks in your household’s outgoings. There are some surprising ways in which your household may inadvertently be wasting money. But first…
Budgeting is half the battle
Most of the time, we’re simply unaware of how much money is flowing out of the household simply because we don’t take the time to keep track of it. Carefully managed finances start with a carefully managed budget. When you account for everything that’s coming into and going out of your bank account it becomes that much easier to take control of your finances.
Just take a look at these household budget templates. Any of them will work for you so long as you stick to them. Over time you’ll see your disposable income increase, leaving you able to set some money aside in savings and treat yourself every once in a while.
Once again, doing this doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to make sacrifices. You can still live the same lifestyle, you just need to look at some areas where money may be trickling out of your home unbeknownst to you. Some of these may be obvious to you. Others may be surprisingly… Surprising!
Sure, we all know about how to save money on the little things like your home’s gas and electricity, but we can compare price tariffs on these little essentials all day yet still find money leaking out of our homes on the most essential thing of all… Food! Of course, we all need to eat, but none of us needs to pay over the odds on food. Yet thousands of us do so all the time.
Food waste is a major cause of monetary waste. As a nation Americans waste 150,000 tons of food every day. That’s roughly equivalent to a pound of waste per person, per day.
Many of us buy fresh fruits and vegetables with the best of intentions. The trouble is that we can fail to order our refrigerators properly and it sits unused at the back of the shelf where it slowly rots and is thrown away.
Or we get home after a rough day at work and decide that we’re too exhausted to cook and reach for the Uber Eats app. Digital technology has made it easier than ever not to remain disciplined.
You’d be amazed how much you can save simply by cooking more, meal planning and prepping meals in batches.
Eating more fruits and veggies and less of everything else, especially meat and dairy can also save you a small fortune on your grocery bill while also helping your family to eat healthier. Indeed, a plant based diet could save you over $700 a year!
Still, even if you can’t get by without eating out as a family every now and then, you can still make savings here, too.
We’re long past the days where an internet connection is a luxury or a novelty. Whether we use it to stream Netflix in our down time or facilitate our telecommute, we’re all reliant on prepaying for internet connections.
In most cases you can make savings by bundling your internet, cable and phone packages but this is just the tip of the iceberg. Here are some other useful ways in which you can make savings on your internet connection.
- Get the speed you need. Many households pay for download speeds that are completely superfluous to their requirements.
- Watch the prices of your provider’s competitors. If they can offer a better deal either leave your current provider or threaten to leave. Most providers would rather match or beat a competitor’s price to keep a customer.
- Enlist the aid of a bill negotiation service (yup, they exist) to try and lower your prices.
Most of us in this day and age need a car to get around. While vehicles represent a necessary expense, by no means is this an expense that can’t be mitigated. Most of us know the value in keeping an eye on where to get the best gas prices, but fewer of us are aware that we can save money on gas by ensuring that our vehicles are well maintained.
A poorly tuned car uses between 25% and 33% more gasoline every year. While manufacturers recommend getting your oil and oil filters changed every 10,000 miles, changing them every 3,000 miles can potentially save you a small fortune in repairs and engine wear.
While it’s a no-brainer that your vehicle should have insurance before it takes to the road, don’t make the mistake of assuming that your insurer will reward you for your loyalty. Letting your policy roll over is almost always more expensive than seeking out a new one. What’s more, if you see a better offer out there you don’t have to be stuck with a bad policy. Changing over before your 12 months are up may incur a small charge, but this will usually pale in comparison to the savings that can be made.
Whatever your family’s circumstances, there are always ways in which you can save money month in, month out. And it only takes a few little changes to add up to big change over time.
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