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Top Secrets for Dealing With the High Cost of Living

L.M. Hosler has had a self education in money management. She has always had to stretch the budget with coupons and smart shopping ideas

Pot of soup makes several meals

Pot of soup makes several meals

Tips for Living Better While Saving for the Future

Today's economy has more people than ever struggling to make ends meet and keep a roof over their heads, along with the necessities of life. Many are despairing of things ever getting better and their lives ever improving. And as unbelievable as it may seem, there are people in America who do not even have these essentials, so feel blessed if you are lucky enough to have a job, home and food on your table. If you are blessed with a steady source of income, it is important to make that income stretch as far as possible.

Following are some tips for keeping more money in your own pocket.

First, it is important to distinguish between things you would like to have and the things you actually do need. Things you need include food, water, shelter, plumbing, clothing, and utilities. These are the basic things you need to survive. The new car, furniture, and electronics fall in the "Things I want" category. Once you have secured the necessary things, then you can think about spending money on the items that you desire.

Now, let's take a look at some of those tips that can help you to save some of your hard-earned money.

Feeding your family can get very expensive.

Feeding your family can get very expensive.

Saving On The Grocery Bill

Groceries prices have been rising for some time now and will most likely continue to climb so it is important that you budget and do everything you can to save money at the grocery store. Here are some tips to save you money when shopping for groceries.

  • Start by planning your meals for the week or the month.
  • Check out the store's sales flyer. You may want to make some changes to your menu in order to take advantage of sale items.
  • Plan to buy large cuts of meat that will make several meals.
  • Buy bulk items that have a long shelf life or bulk meats that can be frozen.
  • Clip and use coupons but only if they bring a name brand down to the store brand price unless there is a big difference in the quality.
  • Cut out expensive sweets, chips, and snacks which will help improve your health while reducing your grocery bill.
  • If you have room for a garden, consider growing your own fresh vegetables and also learn how to can or freeze extra vegetables.
  • Learn to cook.
  • Leftover soups, meats, casseroles should be frozen for easy meals at a later time.
  • Breakfast can be cheap and simple to make instead of making a hurried trip through a fast-food drive-through. For example, french toast, pancakes, and muffins can be made ahead, frozen, and take just a few minutes to reheat in the mornings.
A home garden can provide healthy and tasty vegetables and can save on your grocery bill

A home garden can provide healthy and tasty vegetables and can save on your grocery bill

Save on Transportation Costs

Transportation is another big slice of the budget so look here for some money-saving possibilities.

Look into Alternative Transportation

First, when possible let your car sit and find alternative methods of getting to where you need to go. Taking the bus, walking, riding a bike, and carpooling will all save you gallons of that expensive gas as well as making your car last longer and fewer trips to the auto repair shop for expensive repairs.

Get Insurance Discounts

Then call your insurance company and have them review your policy to see if they can save you some money. I know someone who did this and saved $500 a year. If they can't offer you a better and cheaper policy, then check with other insurance companies. Maintaining a good clean driving record will also save you lots of money.

Learn How to Fix Your Car

Anyone who can do minor repairs and maintenance on their own vehicles has the advantage of saving quite a bit of money by not having to take their vehicle to a garage which can be quite expensive. Keeping your car clean and well taken of will pay huge benefits.

gas prices can get so high

gas prices can get so high

Cheap Fun Ideas

Years ago, before the electronic age, people did things that cost little but were fun and helped to keep them fit and entertained. Here are some ideas:

  • Visit the library for free books and movies
  • Go to the park and take the kids
  • Visit more with family and friends
  • Walk or ride bikes with the family
  • Play cards or board games at home with the family and friends
  • Watch for free plays or concerts in your area
  • Take up a creative hobby such as gardening, crafts or arts
  • Get involved with a neighborhood project
  • Volunteer with others to make your community a better place

These are but a few suggestions but if you notice, many of these suggestions involve family fun which is a very valuable side benefit.

Cable TV Is Not A Necessity

No doubt about it, cable television is expensive and so are the satellite dishes. For some people, television is no longer worth what we are being charged. One way of beating the cost of cable is with a ROKU player, which streams through your DSL modem.

If you have one of the newer televisions it hooks right up to your television so you don't need to watch on your computer. With this little box, which costs between $50 and $100 dollars, you can get many free stations and movies. Netflix is available as well as Hulu Plus, but these channels require subscriptions. There are other paid channels and news channels available. I bought one of these ROKU players, and I am well pleased with it. Another way of saving on cable is by reducing your package and having fewer channels available.

Utilities

Other ways to save money are on utilities which are a necessary part of life but who doesn't hate opening those bills and seeing those rising bills? We can't even imagine what life would be like without water, electricity, phones or cable television but we can cut their high costs.

Phones

Cell phones are here to stay and most people rely heavily on those phones, but do you also need the landline then? You can certainly do without the smartphone and the costly data plan. Do you really need the text feature? Check out some of the prepaid phones also. Some of those are giving some really good plans that are quite a bit cheaper than a contract phone.

Electricity

Electric costs can be lowered by setting the thermostat lower for the winter and wearing heavier clothing those months while keeping the thermostat higher for air conditioning during the summer months. Use lower wattage, energy-saving light bulbs, and turn off lights in rooms not being used. Instead of using the clothes dryer, invest in some clotheslines, and hang your clothes outside. They will smell good when you bring them in also. Run the washer and the dishwasher only when they have full loads. Washing clothes in cold water only will save on hot water.

Internet

Now if only I could find a way to lower my internet bill when I only have two choices. Well, I suppose I have a third choice if I were to consider the slower pace of dial-up internet, but that won't work with my streaming television.

Extra Income Can Really Help

You may want to consider trying to earn some extra income to pay off some bills or to manage to save for some of those wants on your list. This is a short list of some ideas for earning some extra income.

  • Try finding a second part-time job
  • Clean out closets, the attic, and the basement of unwanted and unused items you no longer use and have a yard sale
  • Maybe find some babysitting or elderly care jobs. There are usually cleaning jobs available also
  • Can you sew or do crafts that other people may be interested in buying
  • Encourage children who are old enough to start earning some money of their own

This is only a small list of ideas for making some extra money. I am sure there are many other ideas of ways to add to the family income. After you have found a way to make some extra money, think about ways to make that hard-earned extra money work for you. If you have credit card bills, it would be in your best interest to pay those off with the extra income. Or you may think about investing the extra money so that it earns more money for you.

Find Discounts on Clothes, Furniture, Etc.

There are many other ways of reducing expenses in your budget. Shopping yard sales, flea markets, and thrift shops can save you tons of money on clothes, household items, and furniture.

In addition, I can buy my clothes at retail stores when they come on sale. For instance, generally after the 4th of July, you will see summer clothes going on sale. If you wait a little longer, stores in my area will reduce those summer clothing down much further, as far as 70% off. The same thing goes for winter clothing.

After January, stores are making room for their summer clothing and by the end of February or March, you will see those winter clothes marked down. One year I shopped at a major store and managed to buy five pairs of nice, brand name shorts for $40. That's eight dollars a pair for shorts that were $39.99 a pair.

Conclusion

Cutting your expenses while adding extra income to your budget can make your dollars go so much further. The money you are saving can then be spent on the items from your " Just because I want it list." Over time these savings can add up and help you to reach goals you may otherwise never be able to reach.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2013 L.M. Hosler

Comments

L.M. Hosler (author) on January 28, 2015:

Thanks for commenting. Very true about cutting out the landline phone. I don't have a landline but sometimes when I misplace my cell phone I wish I had an old landline phone with a cord.

Dr Penny Pincher from Iowa, USA on January 28, 2015:

Liked your tips- cutting cable or satellite is a great way to immediately start saving around $100 per month. Also cutting your landline is a way to save around $10 or so more and you won't miss it at all if you have a cell phone.

L.M. Hosler (author) on August 27, 2014:

Hi John

I am so glad you enjoyed the article and thanks for the compliment. I hope the information was helpful.

Johnd338 on August 27, 2014:

Thanks so much for sharing all with the awesome info! I am looking forward to checking out far more posts! eefedgdadddk

L.M. Hosler (author) on August 23, 2013:

Thanks for the encouragement ladydeonne.

Deonne Anderson from Florence, SC on July 23, 2013:

Your suggestions for saving money are very clever as well as practical. I have book marked your hub for future reference. Voted up and useful.

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