Rather than write yet another list on money saving ideas for families, I thought I’d recount some of my own experiences with suggestions from everybody else’s Money Saving Tips for Families list.
So the following are just a few strategies that I’ve employed successfully during the past several years when paying a mortgage, saving for college, and thinking about retirement convinced me to exit various toll-roads and get on the savings superhighway:
1. Bring lunch. For years, I worked at a job that restricted me to two lunch choices -either I could eat at the company cafeteria, or bring my lunch from home. The cafeteria food wasn’t that bad, but it went from cheap to rip-off, when the company replaced their own kitchen with an outside vendor’s.
So, I got really good at packing leftovers. Every day, I brought lunch from home and over the course of those years I saved several thousand dollars in food costs. Probably ate healthier, too.
2. Buy generic. It’s amazing to me that people will buy a brand name over a generic when the contents of the purchase are exactly the same! Look beyond the fancy labels to the ingredients and you’ll often see identical information. So don’t subsidize a company’s advertising budget – which probably accounts for the difference in price.
You can save pennies on thousands of items and dollars on generic drugs. Hey, it all adds up and helps you to manage your personal budget.
3. Go to the library. I love books. For years, I carted around my library whenever I moved. In fact, when I was young and single, they made up the bulk of my possessions. But at some point – probably after having kids – I realized that as much as I loved reading, the books themselves were just filling up shelves and attracting dust.
So now, I do what I did when I was a kid and couldn’t afford books to begin with. I go to the library. I can still read. It’s free and there’s no more space left at home, anyway. I also borrow music CDs and DVDs.
4. Buy a used car. I have never owned a new car. It’s not that I wouldn’t like to, it’s just that it never made sense to me to pay full freight on a new auto that will start losing value the minute the ink is dry on the finance papers.
Over the years, I have bought many used vehicles and have never been disappointed by the cars themselves, or the money I’ve saved – tens of thousands of dollars.
5. Use credit card rewards wisely. Look, the credit card companies are not stupid. They offer rewards mainly to entice you into making more and more purchases on your credit card, hoping that you’ll charge too much to pay your balance in full each month. That’s when they start making their money. But there are ways to take advantage of their offers.
We started charging our groceries on the credit card. We have to buy them anyway, so why not build up our rewards bank? On several occasions, we’ve cashed in points for plane fare. It made the skies seem a lot friendlier.
You don’t have to suffer, or go without, by being prudent with your family’s finances. In fact, the thing about saving money in these ways and many others like them – keeping an eye on the thermostat, turning off unused lights and appliances – is that in addition to actually keeping more money in your own bank account, you develop a sense of pride in your ability to employ the economic system to your best advantage.
Provided by Al Krulik of Debt.Org – America’s Debt Help Organization. Al is one of the lead content contributors to Debt.Org and writes guest posts for a variety of blogs.
Image courtesy of dan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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