The process of sitting down and creating a household budget can be an enlightening experience. Not only is it one of the few ways to figure out where the heck your money is disappearing to, every month, but it’s a method for identifying expenditures that are wasteful or redundant. Once you’ve created a chart or spreadsheet that itemizes your income, savings, and expenses, you’re in a stronger position to control your household cash flow. Using accounting software, budgeting apps, and/or the services of a qualified financial advisor can also help you gain control over your family’s spending habits.
If your goal is to reduce expenses and stretch your household budget farther, her are a few strategies and tips worth considering:
- Buying in bulk: Some people swear by the savings they rack up by joining and doing their shopping at wholesale buying clubs. Others say it isn’t worth the long lines at the checkout counter, crowded parking lots, and the fact that not everything is cheaper than at regular retail stores. Like any kind of shopping, though, it pays to compare prices and research the best deals. However, it’s not unusual to save from 25% to 50% on a variety of commonly used household items, groceries, and other consumer goods.
- “Coupons” is not a four-letter word — although some people act like it is. Clipping, printing, saving, and organizing discount coupons can be a bit of a nuisance, but when you add up the monthly savings, it’s worth the inconvenience. Stores that offer double coupons and/or accept competitors’ coupons can also help you chalk up extra savings. Taking advantage of advertised specials is yet another way to reduce your monthly expenses.
- Compare notes with friends and family. You can often pick up worthwhile money-saving ideas by simply asking people whose opinions you respect. Nearly everyone has discovered stores, products, websites, businesses, and strategies that have helped them save money. Sometimes the topic is also discussed on social media sites. Most people you know would be glad to pass along their money saving tips, insights, and techniques.
Saving Money on Home Energy
There are dozens of ways you can save money on your electric bill, such as unplugging appliances and turning off lights when you’re not using them. It’s also worth noting that LED and compact florescent light bulbs use significantly less electricity than old-fashioned incandescent light bulbs. Other tips for curbing energy consumption include washing your clothes in cold water whenever possible and setting your thermostat to reduce energy demands when you’re sleeping or at work. Once you start looking into ways to lower your utility bills, you’d be surprised at the number of simple, yet effective things you can do.
A few longer term strategies for saving on energy include converting your home to solar power, replacing drafty old windows with new, more efficient ones, and switching to Energy Star certified appliances, such as clothes washers, dryers, and dishwashers. Although there’s an initial cost that needs to be recouped before the true savings kick in, upgrading can deliver long-term benefits to both your wallet and the environment.