Here are some money saving ideas which, if adopted, will cut down on your monthly expenses whilst still maintaining a reasonable standard of living and as far as possible maintaining the lifestyle you are used to.
Of course some compromises will need to be made along the way but they will be "informed compromise" which will go a long way to keeping all the family happy
As always, I like to try and keep things really simple so each of these examples involve a basic 3 step process which is outlined as follows:
- reviewing your current spend
- cutting out what is not absolutely necessary
- making wise and informed spending choices over what is necessary.
Just go around the house this evening and look at how many lights you have on and switch off the ones that are on but have no reason to be. That is a first step - then consider the following list:
- Look at the lighting you do have - it is cheaper to run a couple of lamps (for instance) than overhead halogen spotlights which cost a fortune to run and are expensive to replace
- Use energy saving lightbulbs and lamps
- Look at how often you boil your kettle and just use boil the amount of water you need at the time
- Review when you need the heating on and whether there are alternative ways to "keep warm"
- Consider switching appliances off overnight rather than just having them on standby
- Consider switching suppliers - or approach your existing supplier with an intent to switch - as you will often get better deals when you switch (or threaten to switch). Do your research though, sometimes the switch can be more hassle than it's worth
- Review and consider any grants available in your area for insulation or new boilers and way up against the efficiency of your current system
2. Eating at home.
If you go out regularly, or are reliant on takeaways, you will save a fortune by cooking at home. The good news is that your meals don't have to be particularly fancy, just healthy and nutritious..
- Pasta dishes, casseroles and bakes are really easy meals to cook and many can be prepared in advance
- Also consider taking sandwiches to work rather than having a canteen or "eat out" lunch
- In order to avoid getting stir crazy set yourself a goal of just eating out once a month. Budget for it and you won't feel so guilty, but even then there are ways you can save money.
- For instance,consider cutting down on the amount of drinks you have with your meal as these are often the biggest items on the bill. Maybe just have one and ask for a jug of water on the table
- Also make use of offers which are bound to come round from time to time - so it may not be a case of eating in your favorite restaurant all the time - but at which restaurant has the best offer on to attract you as a customer (eg: two meals for the price of one)
3. Review Your Cable and Satellite TV Packages and Subscriptions.
Your cable package might include all available channels, but how many of them do you really watch?
- Instead of cutting out your cable expense altogether, go for a cheaper package with all your favorite channels.
- Again, ring your cable supplier and tell them you are going to cut down channels or even leave altogether - you will be amazed at what sort of deals they can do to keep you as a customer. we recently rang up our satellite supplier to cut down on the expense and expressed our intent to leave and move to the free options, and we were given 3 months free subscription.
- Add one or two more movie nights a month. Mix it up with renting movies to watch at home or borrow movies from friends rather than going to the theater
4. Cut Down on Gym Expenses
Many people like the gym because it gives them an incentive to exercise, and even if this is the case you can look at cutting down on your gym subscription by reviewing what offers your gym has.
- Do they do some sort of family offer? or an off-peak offer which might be more cost effective
- If you are away from home with work a lot and staying in hotels then use their gym facilities and cancel your subscription at home - just go for a run at weekends
- Go for runs, go for walks, get a fitness DVD to workout at home - there are lots of ways you can keep fit at home without relying on that expensive gym subscription
5. Review Your Clothes Budget
Have a look at what you spend on clothes - both for yourself and as a family - and consider steps to reduce it. Sometimes it will be a mindset change
- Do we all need new winter coats every year or will last years last another year?
- Make use of "hand me downs" and second hand clothes from friends and family
- Outlet malls are really useful - you can often get designer items for a fraction of the price
- Use store loyalty and points cards and look out for sales and "red letter days" when stores have specific sale items
- Consider working at home more and make your suits and business clothes stretch further
- Consider whether your shoes can just last that little bit longer .....
- Sit down with your kids and give them a clothes budget and explain that is all you can spend. If they are older encourage them to work so they can pay for any extras themselves
Again, cutting down on your clothes spend is all about reviewing your current spend, cutting out what is not absolutely necessary, and then making wise spending choices.
Hopefully I have given you a few money saving ideas that you can adopt without affecting your lifestyle too much. Often it is a mindset thing - if you focus on saving money you will find many ways that you can do it and it is usually addressing areas where you currently overspend on stuff you don't need or are just simply being wasteful ...