No matter how much we make, it always seems that we need more. Many of us remain in a constant struggle to make ends meet. I’m a stay-at-home mom to a family of four, living on a ministry salary, so I’m certainly not immune to this struggle, but I have found a few things that help. Here are 12 money-saving tips that work for my family. I hope they help yours as well!
1. Reuse whatever you can. For example, use an egg carton or old tackle box for a jewelry holder, nail and screw organizer, or desk organizer. Use old socks or shirts for dishrags. Use conditioner for shaving cream.
2. Buy in bulk. But beware. Make sure you're actually getting a good deal. Compare amounts as well as prices.
3. Don't use coupons—UNLESS they actually save you money. Many times when I use coupons, I buy things I don't really need. Or I buy a name brand instead of generic and end up spending more. If you can use coupons and actually save money, go for it. But don't use them UNLESS they save you money.
4. Buy generic. Most things taste exactly the same anyway.
5. Plan your meals in advance and eat in more often. I plan an entire month's meals at the beginning of the month. This keeps me from going through a drive-through simply because I don't know what to fix.
6. Use a grocery list. And only buy what's on the list.
7. Never shop hungry. It'll help you not give in to those cookies that are begging to be bought.
8. Use a budget. The time invested in the first few months is well worth it. Sure, it’s a pain in the beginning. But once you’ve developed a system, you’ll find that you’re not only aware of where your money is going, but also able to give and save more. Budgets aren’t supposed to make you feel trapped. They’re supposed to provide you the freedom to spend your money only on those things you really want to spend money on.
To get started, track your expenses for a few months. Then, by looking at your typical spending habits, make a detailed budget. Here are a few categories you might need to include: housing, car payment, insurance, groceries, phones, utilities, cable, spending money, vacation, eating out, birthday presents, Christmas, gasoline, giving money, etc. Based on your typical paycheck, divide your income into categories so that every dime is accounted for before the month begins. One thing to remember as you prepare your budget—your expenses cannot exceed your income.
9. Consider homemade gifts.
10. Pay with cash, not credit. For some reason, paying with cash hurts more. Paying with cash causes you to think harder about purchases and make sure they are really worth the cost.
11. Plan ahead for once-a-year expenses. Here are a few categories you might want to add into your budget every month: Christmas, new tires, car tags, property taxes, and car insurance. Simply budget a certain amount of money into these categories every month and store the cash in an envelope or special savings account.
12. Give. I know it doesn’t really make sense. How can giving money away help you save? I don’t really have an answer for that other than this: the Lord promises that when we give to Him, he will give back to us. Granted, it’s not always in money. But sometimes it is.
What are some of your money-saving tips?
If you’d like to read more tips from me, I have a free downloadable document at my blog: http://www.lindsey-bell.com. Stop by anytime. I’d love to chat with you more!
Lindsey Bell is a non-fiction author, stay-at-home mother to two wonderful little boys, wife, and blogger. You can find Lindsey online at her main blog: www.lindsey-bell.com and her miscarriage blog: www.livingwholeagain.blogspot.com.