Nine Ways for a Family to Save Money
Balancing a Household Budget
If a family cannot balance its monthly budget, it will be necessary to cut household expenses or to increase sources of income.
Increasing sources of income will involve either the husband or wife taking on another job. This will be very difficult and costly when the family has small children that demand constant care. Accepting a second job will also mean less time with a spouse and children.
I would strongly suggest reducing household expenses so that the monthly budget can be balanced. Based on my lifetime experiences, I present in this hub nine ways for a family to save money.
1. Do It Yourself
My father always preached that if you want a job done right, you will do it yourself. You will also be saving a lot of money using your own labor in accomplishing household repairs and maintenance. Plumbers, painters, and yard workers, for example, can do your work, but you will be paying them at least hundreds of dollars to complete the job.
When I started working for the government many years ago, I couldn't afford to call people for household repairs and maintenance. With the aid of my wife and son, I quickly learned how to do things by myself. This included painting and wallpapering the interior of the house and painting the exterior. I learned how to replace broken window panes and do minor plumbing repairs in the bathroom. Before the start of every heating season, I would also clean my gas furnace burners. When the wind blew some of the aluminum siding off the side of my house, I got up on a ladder and nailed the siding back on. I even remember hanging a new front door storm door with my son. My son and I would cut the grass and also wash and wax our two cars. My dad also taught me how to change car motor oil which I regularly did for many years.
2. Shopping at Discount and Thrift Stores
The average family can not afford designer jeans and other name brand clothing for their children. In saving money on clothing and accessories, I would suggest shopping at discount and/or thrift stores. My parents introduced me to discount stores when they took me to a discount clothing store for beginning of the school year shopping. There I was able to get clothes at 50-70% off the price in regular stores.
In the 80s while living in Maryland, I remember shopping with my wife at K-Mart and other discount stores. Occasionally we would also find good deals on jackets, pants, and shirts at thrift stores such as the Salvation Army and Goodwill Store.
I also remember shopping at discount supermarkets in Maryland. In one of these supermarkets, Box and Save, we could buy discounted food and save even more by providing our own bags and boxes and packaging our purchased goods.
When living in Maryland, I always looked forward to getting the Sunday paper. Although I did enjoy reading the sports and travel sections, I especially liked going through all of manufacturers' promotion coupons which were included in the paper. Some of these coupons offered $1.00 off a tube of toothpaste or $0.50 off a loaf of bread. I would religiously clip and save all of the money-saving coupons for the next trip to the supermarket. It wasn't unusual for me to cut my store bill by $10-20.
4. Eliminate Junk Food, Soda, Beer, and Cigarettes
It's amazing how much you can spend when including junk food, soda, beer, and cigarettes on your shopping list. After I quit smoking and drinking beer in 1995, I was able to save $160.00 a month in addition to the benefit of improving my health. If adults drink and smoke in the house, they are setting a very bad example for their kids and endangering them with second-hand smoke.
Junk food and soda would also be good things to remove from a shopping list. Junk food like potato chips, french fries, and cheese puffs will only make you fat and add excess sodium to a diet. The acid and sugar in soft drinks like Coke and Pepsi will also hurt your stomach, cause weight gain, and lead to diabetes.
5. Reduce Frequency of Eating Out
A family can save a lot of money by eating most meals at home and reducing the frequency of eating out at restaurants. At most restaurants like Applebees and The Olive Garden, you need to spend $15-20 for a dinner. This will quickly add up for a family of four. Even at MacDonalds, you are paying $5-10 for a meal.
6. Brown Bag When Working
For almost 30 years, I brown bagged almost every day when going to the office. By bringing my own lunch to work, I was able to save $20-25 a week on the cost of food in the employee cafeteria. I would usually prepare a meat or fish sandwich with lettuce, fruit, and sometimes a snack on the evening before for my brown bag the next day.
7. Car Pooling
Car pooling is an excellent way to save on transportation expenses to and from work. If at all possible, I would car pool with employees who lived in my neighborhood. Fortunately for three or four years, I was able to share driving with a neighbor across the street and another employee who lived a quarter of a mile away. Each of us would take turns driving for a week. It was a great feeling being able to cut my travel expenses by more than a half.
8. Cut Down on Long Travel Vacations
A one or two week summer vacation is a nice family event, but it should be avoided if you can't balance your budget. The cost for motels, driving expenses, and meals will quickly add up if you are away on a long travel vacation. Instead, I would recommend shorter day trips within the area you live to reduce food and lodging costs.
9. Avoid Out-of-Home Entertainment
A good home entertainment system consisting of a big screen TV, DVD player, stereo, and karaoke is a must for families. By having this, it really isn't necessary to go out to see movies or attend concerts. If you are taking the family out for recreation, I would suggest visiting a free public park and having a picnic. This would be a lot less expensive than paying for movie tickets and the accompanying popcorn and soda.
There are many ways for a family to save money while balancing a budget. Reducing food and clothing expenses as well as unnecessary junk food and entertainment will go a long way in helping a family save money.
© 2016 Paul Richard Kuehn