If it feels like your expenses are growing faster than your income, a few simple strategies at home may keep more money in the bank account. Cutting back to save money often brings to mind meals of Ramen noodles, lighting the room with candles or huddling together for warmth. While these extremes are always an option, less drastic strategies save money across different spending areas, adding up to a significant savings.
Heating and Cooling
Adjusting the thermostat a few degrees isn’t the only way to save on home heating and cooling costs. If the electric and gas bills are still high, consider other alternatives. Choose landscaping that protects the home from the hot sun. In the summer, keep the blinds closed when the sun shines directly in the windows to keep the house cooler. During the winter months, open the curtains and let the sun shine in for a little extra warmth. Check for drafts around windows and doors which can leak a lot of air from the home. Consider adding insulation if your home lacks it. Some energy companies offer rebates on projects such as insulation that help conserve energy. These money-saving strategies not only help your bank account, but they help the environment by using less energy.
Simple adjustments to your dining habits add up to savings for the family. Snacks packaged in individual servings are appealing, particularly with children. To save money, purchase a large package of the snack, which are typically a better value, and place individual servings in plastic baggies. Put the baggies back in the original container for a quick snack that’s already perfectly portioned.
Clean and cut fruits and vegetables when you get home from the store. Everyone is more likely to eat them if they’re already prepared. This prevents them from being forgotten in the back of the produce drawer where they’re likely to rot, thus wasting the money spent on them.
Make your own snacks instead of purchasing them at the store. Homemade snacks often taste better than the store versions. Make a large batch of cookie dough, scoop them as dough balls onto a baking sheet and place them in the freezer until they’re solid. Store the frozen cookie dough balls in a freezer bag for baking at a later time. This trick also works well for homemade pizza dough, casseroles and the dry ingredients for your favorite homemade pancake recipe. Not only do you save money, you save time when you’re ready to eat the frozen items.
A date night with your spouse or friends is essential to keeping your sanity. By the time you pay for a babysitter and the date activities, the evening can cost quite a bit. To save money on child care costs, set up a babysitting swap with other local parents. Take turns watching the children so everyone gets a night out without paying for a babysitter. Some churches also host Parent’s Night Out babysitting events, asking only for an offering in exchange for a few hours of babysitting services.
If you only work part-time, a child-care swap with another part-time mom is something to consider. If your work schedules allow it, you can watch her child while she works. In return, she watches your child while you work.
The cost of movie tickets, meals at restaurants and other popular forms of entertainment add up for families. Instead of heading out for family entertainment, set up your own venue at home. Put a fancy tablecloth on the kitchen table, create menus and have your own restaurant at home. Shut off all of the lights and create a home movie theater, allowing the kids to pick the movies. Make homemade bowling pins out of two liter soda bottles for a night of bowling. Entertaining the kids at home also saves money on gas and results in great memories for the entire family.
Toys and Clothes
Most kids grow bored with toys rather quickly. Instead of constantly purchasing new toys to keep them entertained, secretly hide a box of their toys for a month. When you bring out the stashed toys, the kids will feel like they’re new again. Continue hiding toys and bringing them back out for a free set of new toys.
A toy and clothing swap with other parents leaves all participants with new items without a hefty price tag. Each family donates the clothes and toys that no longer fit or interest their children. The items are then swapped with other families who participate.