New adventures, new us, new travels, new memories, a new approach to budgeting tips for families!
Working out a military family finance plan may turn out to be a hassle (as everything in our lives tends to get a tad bit more complicated), and we’ve been doing a good job so far.
You see how I said “a good job”? Well, I wanted to work on getting it great for more than one reason.
The biggest reason is that I wanted to have more control of the funds in our budget is:
- Investing in better quality food,
- Having more family travels (you can make them less expensive, but they put a burden on a budget of a family of four),
- Teaching my kids how to be smart with money.
Read about my even bigger project as of lately – making the biggest list of military discounts!
Also feel free to check our Funky Frugal Mommy amazing list with all kinds of tips to follow.
Another cool resource is a guide on choosing the best 401k by Sofi.com: https://www.sofi.com/learn/content/ira-vs-401k-which-is-best-for-you/
So, here are some kickstarter tips that my family is planning on implementing over the coming weeks and making the most out of our financial situation:
1. Pay off debt.
If you’re reeling from the weight of credit card bills, student loans or other debt, a budget can help you see how to dig your way out. Always allot enough money to pay more than the minimum payment due.
Depending on the seriousness of your debt problem, you may want to get help from a credit counseling agency. Some credit counselors are unscrupulous, though, and you’ve got to be careful not to sink even deeper into debt after seeking such help.
You can check counselors’ credentials and be connected to agencies that have made a commitment to certain professional and ethical standards.
Read also: Managing The Emotional Effects Of Being In Debt
Read also: 6 Ways To Get Out Of Debt
2. Give yourself a buffer.
What’s the most you ever spent on your utility bill? Build that highest number into your monthly budget. Also, build in set amounts for emergencies and for “mad money” you can spend any way you want.
With those contingencies covered, you’ll feel more comfortable investing a designated amount monthly – something everybody should do in some way, shape or form on a regular basis, even if the investment allotment is small.
Read also: A Comprehensive Guide To Conserving Energy At Home
3. Have a goal.
Whatever your goal may be – a home purchase, a remodeling project, an exotic vacation – it can help you find the discipline you need to squirrel away money by a certain deadline. Reflect on a goal you truly want to meet and resolve to do it.
Read also: Tips For Inexpensive Family Travel
4. Document and Track Your Expenses
This is often an eye-opening task. Many of us have no idea how much of our money is being burnt upon frivolous expenses. For this reason, it is extremely important to consistently monitor and put on record how and where your money is being spent.
Without knowing this, you’ll never be able to recognize where you’re overspending and where you can afford to cut back. It’s important to be very diligent with this, down to the dollar if possible.
Many times we will overlook the smaller expenses, like that morning coffee and donut, and these various small purchases are often the unnoticed culprit. So at least for the first few months of trying to establish a budget, document every expense.
Try getting an old notebook that you don’t use anymore or use one of the many smartphone apps available if you prefer. This way, you can systematically identify and cut unnecessary expenses if you see that, for example, a 3rd of your income goes to eating out or forgotten snacking.
Read also: The Lending Mag
5. Gift giving
Set realistic budgets for each of the gift-giving occasions you have over the year (Valentine’s Day, Easter, anniversaries, birthdays, baby showers, Christmas, etc.) and add them up. Don’t forget to add in expenses for gift tags, wrap, postage (both for orders and for shipping to the recipient).
Then add up the total and divide it by twelve. This is the amount you will need to put into your savings account each month to cover these expenses. Track the savings and expenses on a spreadsheet to ensure you don’t overspend. This may result in a little less money in your wallet each month, but it means you will have the cash when you need it and you won’t be paying off your gifts with interest for months to come.
Read more about gift giving tips on castleviewacademy.com.
6. Discount Does Not Equal Saving
A fellow blogger, Alli, shared a smart one – don’t be fooled into thinking you’ve saved money just because it’s on sale! You can check out her equally great piece on saving money here.
7. Change Where You Shop
Looking at lower cost grocery stores like Aldi, Save-a-lot, and Lidle, shopping at thrift stores for clothes and pawn shops for household goods will save you a ton of money on things we’re used to lazily paying full price for. It takes a little extra time but it’s worth it if you’re trying to lower your spending, share Jen from SavingWithSpunk.com – she and her family managed to pay off 78k on average income
8. Use Unconventional Methods
From fee Walmart Gift cards to actual ways to getting free money, you can actually find so many (somewhat weird) methods to make and save. My friend Todd at MoneyHax.com is all about how you can save more through unconventional methods. They’ve published ways on how to save on groceries, online shopping, and much more!
9. Be Decisive
Successful people (and debt-free people) act fast and decisively. They do not waver in their decisions because they truly believe that what they are saying is right, shares Edwin from SaveTheBill.com.
10. 401k loan is Still a Loan!
Gary from The Dollar Stretcher shares that many people think that a 401k loan is like borrowing money without cost. After all aren’t you just paying the interest to yourself? While there are advantages to borrowing from your 401k there are costs as well. The first cost is that the lower interest rate that you like as a borrower means that your 401k account is growing at a slower rate. And that effect is multiplied by the time you retire. So the $1000 you save in interest costs today could cost you $2k or more when you retire.
A more immediate risk occurs if you can’t pay back the loan. Any money that you don’t pay back is subject to an early withdrawal penalty (10% if you’re not 59 1/2) and will be added to your taxable income.
One final risk is that if you should leave your job (quit, be fired or laid-off) the entire loan is due at once!
11. Do You Really Need That New Thing?
Before you buy anything, ask yourself if you really need it. If you determine that you do need it, can you buy it used? If so, then buy it. If you don’t really need it, wait a while before making the purchase as you may forget about it after a while and realize you can live without it, as shared by Pam from Pennysaverblog.com
12. Make it fun!
When my wife and I were getting out of debt, we were on a super tight budget. We would have date nights where the goal was to see how little we could spend. It was actually a lot of fun. We missed those dates so much that we’ve done it since we became debt-free. Budgeting can be fun if you know your end goal, Kalen of MoneyMiniBlog.com shares.
13. Planning is the key!
Glenda from Expatpetitemom shares that the best thing about planning especially with the month-long groceries, packed lunch or snack for your kids to school is that you have the great chance of scoring lower prices or promotions. Not to mention great discounts when buying in bulk. You will be focused only what you really need or buy as you already come up with a plan or a list. Honestly, and I know you will agree to this, last minute trips to the groceries or just buying the thing when you need them can be more expensive when you factor in the unexpected elements such as gas, time, or other mishaps when unplanned.
14. NEVER pay full price!
Always look to see if there is a discount code online (my fav website to find them is Retail Me Not)
or an offer like 10% off or free shipping, if you sign up for the company newsletter – shares Nicole from Bless their Hearts Mom. For example, I recently used a 30% off coupon at Kohls, on top of their sale price, AND had a free shipping code, which brought the price down from $16 plus $6 shipping for a dance skirt for my daughter down to $6. But don’t use a coupon or sale code as a REASON to shop if you’re on a budget- use it to SAVE you money on what you ALREADY
were buying, otherwise, you’re killing your budget!
15. Stop Dining Out
Just cutting back on Starbucks trips alone can save a bundle of money, and meal planning or always having your family’s favorite staple food items on hand to make homemade dinners will save you from having to stop off for fast food or Jamba Juice after soccer practice. Speaking of Jamba Juice, if you always have frozen fruit on hand, there are countless delicious smoothie recipes online and you will save money whipping up your own smoothies at home (and it’s fun)! Another tip: when I make dinners I typically stretch the meal into the next day’s school lunch. So if I make pasta, I get out to lunch containers at the same time and fill those to pop into the kids’ Planetbox the next morning. In a way, it’s like getting two meals for one. Also, cutting back on sweets and juice can save some dough. If your family must have juice, consider filling 1/4 of the glass with juice and the rest with water––diluting it is healthier and makes it last longer.
– Beth from Petite Planet.
16. Don’t Be Afraid Of A Budget Plan
When I first set out on my journey to get healthy and lose over 100 lbs and the recently diagnosed Type 2 Diabetes, I knew that whatever weight loss method I chose – it would have to be for life. For me, that meant no exercise, as I knew I wouldn’t keep it up for life. That’s how I was able to lose over 100 lbs, Type 2 Diabetes, and keep it off for over 7 years.
It’s the same thing with a family budget. Don’t shoot to save $50k in 6 months. Make sure you make realistic, easy to hit goals, that you can maintain. Budgeting doesn’t have to be scary and there are a variety of ways to do it. Choose the best method for you and dig in. You can do it!
– Dian from Grocery Shop For Free.
17. Stop using credit and debit cards for small purchases!
Instead, set a monthly limit for those spontaneous treats for the kids, afternoon lattes and other goodies. It stops overspending on incidentals and also lets you better evaluate how much money you might be able to cut back in little ways to add more to your savings!
18. Try out a spending fast
My biggest tip for living on a budget is to try out a spending fast. Where for any amount of time you simply don’t buy anything extraneous! While we built our home I put myself on a personal spending freeze (for about 6 months and counting) with the exception of buying refills of makeup and it was so eye-opening. To see how little I really needed to be spending, how much of my purchases were just out of boredom or to treat myself, and how I can be confident at that party even if I don’t buy a new top for it. It might sound silly but it was a huge wake-up call for me and will forever change how I spend money!
19. What Do You Need?
We have a large family (2 adults and 6 kids) on only one income, so keeping track of expenses is something that has been very useful for us. One thing that we’ve done is just change our spending mindset from a “what can we cut?” to “what do we need?”. When we first created our budget, instead of looking at all the things that we were spending on and figuring out what we could cut, we started at $0 and only added the things that we felt were NECESSITIES. At the end of our experience, we still had money left over for savings. Knowing that we had stuck with necessities made it a lot easier to stick to our budget and also leave some money leftover for fun things!
20. Don’t buy, make it!
If you need bed sheets, pillows, curtains, washcloths, shopping bags, or tablecloths, make them from fabric that is sewn. There are many tutorials on Pinterest that you can use to learn to make them. Of course, it won’t be difficult, because it only involves straight stitches, without complicated patterns. You only need to buy fabric and other materials. This has made you save more than 100% of the money you use to buy fabric.
21. Be You (aka Ignore the Joneses)
Often, it is the comparison trap that has us running out to buy something or do something that isn’t necessary. Cultivate your own family culture with things that truly matter to the unique individuals in your home. Everything from music lessons to sports teams, from toys to vacations needs to be looked at objectively to decide if those things reflect your family’s culture, or are they a better fit for the Joneses. Get comfortable with who you are, and own it! It will make financial decisions so much easier!
22. Have an Emergency Fund.
Living on a budget
might seem like this is almost impossible to do, but with the other tips included and from experience I know it is. Emergency funds are there for when you suddenly find you or your kid in the emergency room, or your car breaks down and you need to get to work. By having an emergency fund, you avoid going further into debt when the unexpected happens.
23. Budgeting Is A Lot Like Dieting
Budgeting is somewhat like dieting. It’s not about going crazy with some fad diet that only lets you eat celery. Instead it’s more about making lots of smart daily choices that gradually change your mindset and then that changes the outcome. Like avoiding a big monthly gym payment by taking advantage of free resources like YouTube videos or walking in the park. Then if you fall off the wagon, you aren’t stuck paying useless bills.
24. Use Deal Sites For Christmas Shopping!
Buying birthday gifts and Christmas gifts when you are on a budget is hard! That is why you should follow deal sites and pick up great deals on clothing, toys and other items all through the year when there is a great buy! I always have my gift closet stocked with all the great deals that I find and it is never a strain on my budget!!!
25. Always research your purchases
We have this nifty, accessible resource called the internet – use it! Before making any purchases, do your research. Are you able to find it at a more affordable rate? Perhaps a lucky sale? An internet search can take a few minutes and save you a lot of money.
I never make a purchase until I follow these steps:
- Read reviews – make sure the item is worth the cost
- Compare prices
- Find coupons or discounts
- Look into second-hand sales – you never know what you could find
– Ronnie from Home Life Abroad.
26. Use LEDs
Replacing old incandescent light bulbs with energy-saving LEDs is an immediate way to start saving money. That’s because LEDs are more than 10 times as efficient as incandescents, so they’ll start cutting how much energy you use as soon as you flip the switch. Another great reason to use is LEDs is because they last so long – up to 10 years, depending on the light fixture. Sure LEDs cost a little more money up front, but you’ll make it back in lower utility bills in no time at all.
– Diane from Big Green Purse.
27. Cut Your Electric Bill In Half
By simply shopping around you can reduce your electric bill in one phone call. Thus cutting down on your monthly expenses. But there are also some incredibly easy ways to cut down on your electric bill buy just doing a few things around your home. You can read more about it here.
– Amy from Mainly Homemade
28. Balancing The Kids’ Allowances
My kids are getting to the ages where they want to have some of their own money to save and purchase things they desire. I know there are varying views on the parenting strategy of giving an allowance, but I think, like most parenting practices, it just requires balance. Offering an allowance without any responsibilities or providing too much of an allowance may result in entitlement or other unwanted consequences. But, not offering an allowance to a child at all may impede authentic learning and valuable practice in the essential skills of money management. I’ve found that finding a balance between these extremes, by offering an age-appropriate allowance tied to extra chores beyond the child’s set family responsibilities, works best for us. And using an app the kids can collaborate through helps this easily-distracted mama keep track of it all.
29. Shop around
No matter what you are looking to purchase – new shoes or your next family vacation, always compare the prices and look for alternatives. For example, if you are looking for new shoes for your kids, check online stores like Amazon. Different colors of the same model often vary in price tremendously. Why pay 60 USD for a pair of blue shoes when you can get the brown ones for 25 USD… The same rule applies for flight tickets, for example. Check alternative airports, cheaper airlines, or maybe less popular departure times. We never purchase anything on an impulse; it always pays off to shop around first.
30. Get the kids involved!
It’s never too early to teach your kids about money and budgeting. Don’t set up a budget for your child; let her work through this task herself. The budget process is an invaluable experience. If you tell her what she’s got to spend on this or that, she’ll never learn how to make smart money decisions on her own. It’s especially important to teach teenagers about budgeting. Use our free budgeting worksheet to get them started: https://www.familyeducation.com/printables/parenting-tools-printables/teen-budget-worksheet
– Katie from Familyeducation.com
31. Buy a Deep Freezer
There are examples where investing anywhere from $50 to $500 upfront can save you big in the future. The first is buying a deep freezer. If you live in an apartment or move a lot, then consider buying a small, cube deep freezer, which you can often get for around $100. If you have more space then you might invest in a larger freezer (or two as in my case). The freezer allows you to buy whole organic chickens, part of a cow, organic dairy when it’s on sale, and load up on frozen fruit when its in season. Buying the whole animal and buying in the season will pay off quickly and allows you to buy better quality food when its the most affordable.
32. Plan your meals based on foods that are on sale
A great way to save on the groceries is to plan your meals based on foods that are on sale. Also, make sure to stock up on foods and non-perishables when they go on sale!
33. Don’t eat out all the time
It’s easy with kids but then you end up spending more on food that month than expected. So meal plan on Sunday and shop for ingredients so you know you will cook at home and then designate one night a week to go out to eat or do take out. Your wallet will thank you!
34. Have Your Kids Pitch In!
As a kids’ cooking teacher online, I find that families save money when their kids can pitch in! Simple things like buying whole carrots that the kids can cut instead of baby carrots saves 50 cents a pound (which in our family adds up to $75/year!) and bigger budget lines like not eating out a few times a month because the family is sharing responsibility can really make an impact. Try our free knife skills and safety class for kids
to get your family started on saving – and building life skills that will impact your kids’ health for decades to come!
35. Save Your Change
One of the easiest ways to save money is to keep the change whenever you pay in cash. I always round up to the nearest dollar and set aside the difference in change. You’d be surprised how quickly it adds up. Plus, ask your bank if they have a program that automatically does this for your checking account. Many national banks have programs that transfer the difference in change to a savings account for you.
36. Time is money!
… and if you want to SAVE some, you might have to spend it first. Once I started planning my budget I realized that the time I spend cleaning my house and doing various chores would be much better spent If I started writing my blogs and doing freelance work instead, cause I would actually earn more.
If you put it down on paper, it is clear what you needed to do – hire help!
The math is pretty simple – if I hire a cleaning housekeeper and I pay them $10.97 per hour (which is the median pay rate for this profession in the US, according to payscale.com) and I earn $16 per hour as a blogger, (also median according to payscale.com), I will earn 5.03$ per hour. To be honest, this is five bucks more in comparison to 0 an hour I would earn if I did the cleaning myself.
It might sound crazy, but it is actually pretty logical. It’s all about seeing your time as your most valuable resource.
37. Try a zero-based budget!
There are more than a few budgeting philosophies out there, but quite honestly most people I’ve had the chance to discuss budgeting with treat budgeting as if it’s really just about restricting how much you spend. While discipline is an essential ingredient, budgeting money you “hope” you’ll have never works for the long run. When you budget your actual spendable money only, you’ll immediately see where you stand.
A zero-based budget means you budget every dollar you have, and fill your priority “must haves” spending first. The first step is to identify your spending patterns, and then identify where your money is going by priority. Hint: paying your car loan is going to be a must have priority, vs catching the new “Star Wars” at the theater. When you’re putting the money you actually have towards your must haves first, you’ll find you’re far less likely to find yourself short on those must haves every month.
– John from Iggsoftware.com
38. Consider Downsizing
There are many benefits to downsizing. There’s less work to do, an opportunity to finally get organized, less maintenance, and less stress. On top of that, you will ultimately save money and often make some in the process.
If you can’t purge everything, consider a storage unit for the extra, personal belongings you simply can’t part with. It will ultimately be cheaper to pay your monthly storage bill than for a physically larger living space that requires more cleaning and maintenance. You will benefit from your new and improved quality of life.
39. Check Your Accounts Regularly
You need to look at your accounts on at least a weekly basis (if not more often). It’s tempting to leave them to the end of the month or near payday but more often than not there is a payment or expense that we don’t recognize and you can spend more time figuring out what it is rather than working on the rest of your accounts.
40. Save by Selling!
As a mom of two, I’m always on a budget. As you can probably imagine, children are constantly outgrowing clothing and other gadgets. Selling gently use items to local consignment shops is a great way to save money. I also encourage parents to join social media groups where they can swap items and share other ways to save.
41. Entertain the kids with nature
No need to rush out for expensive games to keep kids busy in the holidays when there is so much to be enjoyed in nature. From Den building in the woods to nature crafts and games. For examples, here’s a fun nature piñata game
that you might like to check out.
42. Barter. Partner. Trade.
Find someone that can add value to your life so that you don’t have to break the bank getting what you need. You certainly have a way to contribute. Why not improve the value of your life and the value that’s in your pocket, by teaming up with someone and helping two folks at once?
43. Start Growing Food!
My family saves money by growing as much food as we can in our garden and sourcing what we can’t grow from local farmers, whenever possible. For instance, this fall, I was able to purchase large quantities of storage crops (potatoes, winter squash, turnips, carrots, beets, parsnips) at wholesale prices, and fill the trunk of my car with apples from a nearby orchard for $50. We store the food in our basement or root cellar and it lasts for most of the winter, forming the foundation of many hearty stews and soups.
44. Use coupons and cash back on every purchase
If you’re strategic, you can save money on every single purchase you make! When shopping for groceries, try using the Checkout 51 app, which rewards you with cash back for buying certain products. Just open the app and take a picture of your receipt. For online shopping, get an account with Ebates, where you’re rewarded with up to 10% cash back on every purchase, and use RetailMeNot to find additional coupons. Finally, use a cash back or points credit card for all your shopping. You MUST be disciplined in treating the card like cash and paying your bill each month to avoid interest, but the reward can be up to 3% back on everything you purchase! You can learn more in our guide here
45. Spend less money than you make
If you don’t spend what you have wisely, you won’t be able to control a large amount of money wisely. Why is spending less money so important? Spending less money is important because money truly doesn’t last long when we get a hold of it, then when we get older and need to buy something we won’t be able to buy the things that we need, because we didn’t spend our money wisely when we were younger. And if you’re asking yourself, ”how do I save more money?” There always is a way to save money, just look at your budget and see what you can cut back on and see if you can buy the things you need cheaper. Another way to save money is to wait for what you want. You don’t need something instantly to make you feel ecstatic, and what you can do is put money to the side and buy the things you want at a later time.
– Casey from CaseyStubbs.com
46. Pay your bills on time
It’s easy to let bill payments slip – life is busy and perhaps you don’t have enough to cover them one month. But where possible do try to pay on time (or even early – ask whether suppliers offer early payment discounts). When you pay on time, not only do you save yourself sleepless nights worrying about bills, but you’ll avoid being penalized with charges and added interest. Plus you’ll protect your credit score – giving you access to better financial products and rates in the future.
47. Automate your savings
I use Digit to automate savings. You can save for a rainy day or set up specific savings goals like saving for a vacation. Digit.co
uses artificial intelligence to monitor your bank account and automatically set aside savings based on your income and spending history. This automation makes saving easy.
48. Turn your hobby or skills into a freelance business
You can easily turn your passion for writing, your knowledge of grant writing, knowledge of a second language, etc… into a nice little side business that can make you an extra couple of hundred dollars to even thousands per month, and with very little extra effort. Who knows, there are many people that have done this and turned their little side business into their full-time job, leaving them much happier and free to do what they want to do.
On top of all of the other benefits starting a side freelance business has, there is also the added security. If you or someone in your household loses a job, you already have something in place that you can use to help fill that gap by simpling ramping up your efforts and working a little harder.
49. Buy Groceries in Bulk
Find a restaurant supply store and buy your meat in bulk. I do this and cut and freeze the meat myself. I get it much cheaper this way.
50. Cook wisely/Get the most out of your food
Learning how to minimize food waste is a great way to save! Learning to maximize uses for food helps us stay on budget and still eat well. For example, we save vegetable scraps in a freezer bag to make soup stock. Onion trimmings, celery ends, carrot peels are all great for adding flavor to stock. When the bag is full, I put the vegetable scraps and maybe the bones from a roast chicken or turkey into my slow cooker, cover with water, and let it cook overnight. After straining, the stock can be pressure canned or frozen and really comes in handy for making flavorful homemade soups in chilly weather! Since I already used the vegetables and roast for a meal, the stock has no added cost. It also helps to think beyond the meat and two meal structure. Grilled chicken breast can give you one meal if served as the main with a side, but you can get two meals if you chop it up or shred it and use it for rice bowls, salads, tacos, sandwiches, or even pizza topping. The best part, once you start planning like this, you cut meal prep time because the work done for one meal stretches for 2 (or more!).
51. Save Money While Cooking And Use Every Last Bit of the Produce You Buy
You spent money on beautiful veggies, so try not to waste any of it, including the scraps that most people throw away. I save all the carrot peels and ends, onion peels, garlic skins, scallion stems, celery ends and leaves – basically anything that would taste good in soup. I keep them in a “scrap” bag in my freezer (a gallon ziplock freezer bag). Once the bag is full I make a vegetable stock or bone broth. Making bone broth or stock is super easy in a slow cooker (it’s a true dump recipe where dump the veggie scraps in, add water, leftover bones, some seasoning and a splash of vinegar). Once the broth is made, I keep it in mason jars in the fridge or freezer. I use the broth as the base for soups and sauces, or I drink it warm in a mug when I’m feeling under the weather. Here’s the recipe for my easiest ever slow cooker bone broth
– Ilana from Stylishspoon.com
52. 52-Week Challenge
A few years ago my family was invited to go to Mexico for Christmas with my extended family. The plan was to go on a vacation together and enjoy fun activities together instead of spending money on random gifts. The kids were all teenagers so they were totally ok with this plan. We would spend gift money on activities like zip lining and snorkeling. To help us save for the trip we set up a 52-week challenge
jar at the beginning of the new year. Every week we put $20 in the jar. By December we had $1000! The whole family participated in the challenge. Our teenage daughter even contributed with babysitting money she earned. It was such a great feeling knowing that we could do a lot of fun things in Mexico and not have such a huge credit card bill at the end of the trip. And the best part? Our daughter really understood the value of the dollar and how hard it is to earn and save money.
53. Bigger Stores Doesn’t Always Mean Better Prices
My tip is shopping at bigger department stores do not always give the best discounts. Don’t forget to shop those little boutiques online.
54. Plan parties wisely
The costs of hosting can quickly add up, but this doesn’t mean you should skip planning birthday parties and other fun gatherings. Instead, look for ways to host for less, including opting for single-color supplies (from plates to favor bags) you can use for multiple events and considering joint birthday parties for multiple kids.
55. Repurpose or update old or existing items
A way I save around the house is repurposing or updating old or existing items in the house instead of replacing with new. For instance, I painted our home’s oak kitchen cabinets white instead of replacing them and I made DIY pillow covers for the throw pillows that came with our sofa.
– Lauren from Mom Home Guide
56. Set a monthly grocery budget
Set a monthly grocery budget, and then break it into a weekly grocery budget. Shop for groceries online once a week. The website will show your tally as you add groceries to your cart. Once you reach your budget, check your cart (and remove or add items as necessary). Keep the total at your weekly budget, and then checkout.
57. Keep an inventory of items you regularly buy
To keep my groceries in budget, I keep an inventory of items we regularly use on a spreadsheet. I hang a printed copy of the spreadsheet on our refrigerator and highlight items as we run out of them. When I go shopping, I buy items from this list.
58. During travel is to eat as if you are a local
We are a family that loves to eat and our best tip to save money during travel is to eat as if you are a local. Go to a food market and pick up local bread, cheese, and cold cuts and take it to a park nearby and you’ve got yourself a perfectly delicious lunch that’s on budget.
59. Use an App
I swear by an app called: TrueBill; it helps lower your monthly bills, gives you an overall total of how much you spent through out the week and keeps an account of the different bills coming out every month. This app has saved me thousands from even magazine subscriptions I forget to cancel. And its FREE. Having an app that does the work for me in saving money?! Is a game changer.
60. Use a Monthly Budget Worksheet
This Free Monthly Budget Worksheet
gives a handy place to organize your monthly finances and create an organized monthly budget. Keep your finances on track by documenting your actual income, expected income, and the difference, as well as your expected expenses and your actual expenses and the difference between the two.
61. Choose cheaper ways to spend time with your family outdoors
Instead of spending money to go to theme parks and places with entrance fees, how about taking your family to go public places that are free like the park?
62. Create Low-Budget Family Traditions
Creating family traditions helps families to create memories and have quality bonding time. The family traditions do not have to cost you any money; things like a home Friday evening movie time is a great low budget way to spend time together. Everyone has to agree on the movie to watch or you agree to have different members of the family choose according to a roaster. Ever since we started these the children look forward to our family movie times. We have added more activities and they are all low budget; some of them include having a jam session where we play oldies and dance at home; go swimming together at least twice a month etc.
The idea is to cultivate a habit of spending time together as a family and enjoying each others’ company by doing various activities that all members of the family enjoy together.
63. Take weekend trips closer to home
Our strategy as of late has been to take weekend trips closer to home. So we can have adventures and get out of the normal routine…but not have to spend lots of money. It’s surprising how many fun places are 2-3 hours away, where we don’t have to take off from work much or spend money on air travel.
64. Rely on cash for all spending money
We typically rely on cash for all spending money, to make sure we don’t go crazy and blow out budget while traveling.
65. Do house exchanges
We’ve done a house exchange a few times, and have LOVED it. Not only do you really get to experience a trip from a local’s perspective, but your stay is basically free. We used homeexchange.com, but my brother and his wife have been using Intervac for years.”
66. Budget In Some Money For Random Spending
Regardless of your budget we all like to spend a little money on our wants instead of needs. In my household budget I include some money for random spending. No matter how little or how much your budget allows for that…take it out in cash! I find when using my check card it’s easier to spend more money than when I physically have it in cash. It doesn’t matter if you’re budget allows for $10 or $200 a month for extra spending it’s important to keep track of that random spending and it’s easier to do it with cash. Once the cash is gone you know you have spend your limit and every know and then if you don’t spend it all you get a little extra the next month.
67. Pay in cash when you can
My money saving tip is to try to go old school and try to pay in cash when you can. For example, only bring out a certain amount of cash when you go out for a night to make sure you don’t overspend. Do the same for a shopping trip (especially at Target!) Seeing your cash money physically diminish might help you become more aware of how much you spend.
68. Buy dry items in bulk
Buy every dry item ( grains, flour, salt, etc) in bulk. Then store your grains and other dry items in plastic bins with lids.
69. Don’t overindulge your kids
So one of the biggest mistakes parents are making with their children when it comes to money is they overindulge their kids. And it doesn’t matter if they have a lot of money or if they don’t have a lot of money, they seem to want to overindulge, they think it’s a natural thing for parents to want to do because they love their kids and they want to give them what they can. But sometimes you have to not do that so that they can understand the real value of a dollar.
– Gregg Murset, CFP at KidsInTheHouse.com (here’s a link to the video where he explains the tip in full length)
70. Re-evaluate all your subscriptions
A tip that really helped us during our recent move was to re-evaluate all our subscriptions. We decided to cut cable, which until that point was a bit unheard of for us. But getting rid of the bundle package with the phone line that no one was using and the cable channel plan was a huge help to our relocation budget (and at that point we still had a house we needed to sell). Now we just have internet services, Netflix and Hulu. And Amazon Prime. We watch what we want, we don’t feel like we’re missing anything, and often find we watch less TV than we used to. Everyone wins.
71. Impulse Buys
At the start of each year, make a list of what home improvement projects you will tackle, larger items you need to purchase, and day trips or activities your family will take. This allows for fun new experiences but keeps you from doing things impulsively. Plus, it gives you experiences to look forward to doing throughout the year!
– Michelle from Homeschool-Your-Boys.com
72. Communication is Key
Encourage your family members to keep the lines of communication open. Revisit your why and goals. Express thoughts and feelings. For example, if your son is frustrated that he can’t get the latest and greatest pair of sneakers, invite him to talk about it. Acknowledging and accepting how he feels allows him to be heard. Then, you can work on a plan with him to earn the money for that purchase or how to deal with the situation as is.
Saving money is fabulous but can get frustrating. When your family members feel safe talking about how the experience is going, you can process and work towards a solution to make it better for all.
73. Meal Prepping
This has saved our family SO much money, it really blows my mind. Not to mention saves us loads of time, energy, and keeps us eating healthy! We love to meal prep as a family on Sundays. We make a trip to the grocery store, collect all the ingredients we need for the week, and then spend a couple of hours cooking everything! Cooking, cleaning, packaging once for the entire week saves SO much! We also calculated the cost of each meal and it comes out to about dollar a meal. You really CANNOT beat that. And the meals are healthy, fresh, and delicious! We love to cook, so we always make it a challenge to have a tasty new meal each week. I could never go back after experiencing the pure joy of quickly heating up a delicious meal, no cooking, no cleaning. And the amount of money we’re saving?! Goodbye. No brainer.
74. Kids are really simple creatures
I think my best budgeting tip would be that kids are really simple creatures. They don’t need a fancy toy or fancy holiday to make them happy, so don’t overstretch yourself trying to give them something they don’t necessarily need or might take for granted.
75. Don’t be afraid to buy USED
I know it’s a tough pill to swallow for some parents, but I learned quickly that kids clothes may as well be disposable.
In some cases, Babies and Toddlers wear their clothes one time before they no longer fit into it. Why pay for brand new clothes when you guy buy someone else’s one time worn clothes for a fraction of the cost?
There are sites online that allow you to buy and sell your children’s clothes. I usually like to sell my kids barely worn clothes and use that money to buy someone else kid’s barely worn clothes. It makes me feel a lot better when their clothes gets ruined or when they don’t get a ton of wear out of it.
76. Move to “no credit cards”
We’ve moved to “no credit cards” in order to create and stay on budget in our family. This means planning shopping trips with lists and bringing enough cash just to pay for what we need, and meal planning was a start to help us budget when it came to food. I no longer meal plan, because our plans often changed and threw the “plan” off and would sometimes lead to wasted food if something was defrosted and can’t be used. Meal planning also became a chore and I didn’t want to spend any more time doing that each week. Instead, I stock my pantry with non-perishables we love, and our freezer with our favorite meats and veggies (all bought preferably on sale), and remake favorites depending on our mood and schedule that day. It’s led to saving money, less wasted food, and a menu of items we know we love (and don’t mind eating often). Easier for me too!
77. Ask For Help If You Need It
Be aware that it is not uncommon to feel overwhelmed by financial planning particularly when you are trying to do the best for your family members. You do not have to go it alone. There are organizations like Turn2Us where you can check that you are getting all the welfare benefits you are entitled to along with grants that exist for people who are struggling. If you have debt issues, there is absolutely no shame in seeking help from free money advice organizations such as the Citizens Advice Bureau or Christians Against Poverty. As with all life issues sometimes we need somebody to hold our hand a bit in challenging times and seeking support is a sign of strength, not weakness.
78. Adventure Together!
Don’t spend a lot of time and money on travel that has you standing in lines for a long time, i.e. Disney World, 6 Flags, etc. Everyone wins when you can get out and adventure as family oftentimes at zero cost to the budget. There are 4 seasons of offerings no matter what corner of the world you travel to and with a little creativity, you can decide just what to do. Families spend a lot less when they take to natural scenic physical based adventures. After all, the worst day out in nature is better than the best day waiting in line and spending way too much money on a chaotic and cramped experience! When we travel we make sure to pack the small stuff that makes a difference and gives us easy options like rackets for tennis, shoes for hiking, suits for swimming, stretch bands for exercise or bikes for healthy commuting. The bottom line is that travel can be a “fit camp” or a “fat camp.” There are a lot of other side effects of our choices which eventually “cost” us if we don’t take care of ourselves during travel. When booking your next adventure start by seeing how close in proximity you can stay to trails, hot springs, beaches, parks, courts and more. Get the whole family moving together in awe and wonder at their surroundings. Spend time, not money, on some serious adventuring soon!
– Rebecca from Fit Catholic Mom
Want to add a great family finance tip to this list? Feel free to reach out!
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