Today’s post was written for you by my frugal-fabulous friend Debby McGrew.
Debby writes for Debt.org, America’s Debt Help Organization.
Take it away D….
The decision to go on a budget can be a very unpopular one in your family. No one wants to give up the fun things that make life enjoyable, but a loss of income or rising expenses can mean a choice between cutting back or spiraling into debt.
Luckily, there are a few simple ways that you can save a lot of money without changing your lifestyle too much. See if a few of these tips would work for your family:
Clip Some Coupons
It’s amazing how many people don’t bother with coupons, especially now that newspapers are going out of style. This is an easy way to save big on essentials, though, and is actually easier now than ever before.
Many coupons are now available online, so you can just print off the ones for stuff your family uses and go right to the store. There are also digital coupons you can submit at checkout using your phone number. Many grocery stores now take competitors’ coupons, which means less work at finding a coupon specific to a store or item.
Using coupons won’t feel like you’re cutting back at all, because you’re getting all the same stuff, just at a lower cost. That frees up more money to use for fun stuff.
Buying brand name items often means paying more money for the same product. While some brands do matter—Coca Cola vs. a store-brand cola, for example—in most cases, you can get the same quality for less by purchasing a generic.
This is especially true for items like paper towels, pet food and even prescription drugs. It can even be true for the dread of every parent: Clothes.
Outlet malls and stores like Marshalls or Ross can be a godsend for the budget-conscious parent. You can often find high-quality, brand name clothing at these types of places if you look carefully and go often enough to catch the good deals before someone else does.
Shopping online is another great resource. Without the overhead and inventory costs, stores online can afford to offer incredible deals on clothing and accessories.
It takes some extra work, but shopping around can help you find ways to make your kids look just as cool as their friends at a fraction of the price.
Turn Eating Out Into a Party
Eating out is a fun activity, but it’s also one of the most expensive. If you don’t want to sacrifice the experience of eating out with your family, you can try to find a way to do it smarter.
Getting takeout (to save on tip) and supplementing takeout with groceries (buying the chips at the store when you get tacos, for example) are ways to still “eat out” without breaking the bank.
An even better idea, however, is to host a cookout or a party. Have everyone you invite bring a dish, so the cost is shared around and grill some food in the backyard. It’s more social, cheaper and more fun. Plus, you have plenty of ready hands to help clean up.
Cut the Cords
One of the biggest fixed expenses a family faces is the triple threat of the phone, internet and TV bill. You might think that you’re just stuck with this non-negotiable cost, but in fact there are ways to make the same service much, much cheaper.
The home phone is the easiest thing to ditch. Almost everyone nowadays has a cell phone, so putting everyone on a family plan and ditching the home landline can save a lot of money every month. If you feel like you absolutely need a home phone line, however, there are options.
Voice Over Internet Protocol, or VoIP, is a technology that sends telephone calls over the Internet instead of through phone lines. Using a company like magicJack can save you hundreds of dollars while keeping the same service. You even get to keep your old number.
Skype is another option. For a cheap monthly fee, you can get unlimited phone calls around the entire world. This beats traditional phone company long-distance options by a mile.
TV is an even bigger expense than phone service for many people. Even if you aren’t willing to ditch your cable or satellite for some rabbit ears, there are still a few ways you can save money.
Monthly streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu Plus are becoming a great way to cut your TV provider out of the equation. With a computer, an Internet connection, and an HDMI cord to connect your computer to the TV, you can watch almost any popular show on your own schedule, without commercials.
The only kinds of television not covered under such streaming services are sports games. If your family has sports fans, you can still watch them without cable, you’ll just have to pay a bit extra and get NFL Game Rewind or an NBA League Pass.
Between Netflix for movies, Hulu for TV shows, and individual streams for sports games, you’ll never even know your cable TV is gone—except for all that extra money you have in your pocket.
Online shopping is the wave of the future. Websites like Amazon.com, Overstock.com, and eBay.com can help you find amazing deals on all the things that you would buy anyway. Not only can you save on price without sacrificing on quality, you’ll actually avoid the sacrifice of all that time you normally waste driving out to the store and looking around.
You can also consider buying an Amazon Prime membership, which lets you save on shipping if you use the site enough to make up for its yearly cost. Prime also includes a Netflix-like subscription to streaming movies and TV, so you can kill two birds with one stone.
It can seem like a downer to have to suddenly start pinching pennies and cutting back on fun expenses. But if you can use a few tips like these to save money without sacrificing fun, budgeting will become that much easier.
It’s me again ladies (Tiffany). What did you think of Debby’s tips? Good right? Now that you’ve read the post, I have some success-work for you. It’s like homework, but its purpose it to insure your success.
If you are determined to get your family on the right financial track:
1) choose one of Debby’s tips
2) within 24 hours, take one action-step related to that tip.
3) share the tip you’ve chosen and the step you plan on taking with me in the comments below.
I’m here to support you. Let’s get on the road to financial freedom together!