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9 Ways for a Family to Save Money

Paul was born and grew up in Wisconsin. He is married to a Thai and living in Thailand. He has Swiss, German, and Austrian ancestry.

Tighten your budget with these nine habits.

Tighten your budget with these nine habits.

Balancing a Household Budget

If a family cannot balance its monthly budget, it will be necessary to cut household expenses or 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 the 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 article nine ways for a family to save money.

1. Do It Yourself

Dad 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 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 sidings 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 father also taught me how to change automobile motor oil which I regularly did for many years.


2. Shopping at Discount and Thrift Stores

The average family cannot 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 the beginning of the school year shopping. There I was able to get clothes at 50-70% off the price in regular stores.

In the 1980s 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 bags and boxes and packaging our purchased goods.


3. Use Coupons

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 the manufacturers' promotion coupons that 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 food 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.

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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 the 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 at least $15-20 for dinner. This will quickly add up for a family of four. Even at MacDonalds, you are paying $5-10 for a meal.

6. Make Lunch at Home and Bring It to Work

For almost 30 years, I brown-bagged almost every day when going to the office. By bringing my 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 slice of meat or fish sandwich with lettuce, fruit, and sometimes a snack in the evening before for my brown bag the next day.

7. Carpool

Carpooling is an excellent way to save on transportation expenses to and from work. If at all possible, I would carpool with employees who lived in my neighborhood. Fortunately for three or four years, I was able to share the 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 to be able to cut my travel expenses by more than a half.


8. Cut Down on Long 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 of 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 in 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 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.

Saving Takes Practice

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.

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.

© 2016 Paul Richard Kuehn


Paul Richard Kuehn (author) from Udorn City, Thailand on October 20, 2017:

Thank you very much for commenting! I appreciate your comments!

CC from Untited States on October 19, 2017:

Good ideas , I appreciate your post

Paul Richard Kuehn (author) from Udorn City, Thailand on November 11, 2016:

I appreciate your comments, Meg, and do agree that line drying laundry is the best. This what my wife and I do.

Paul Richard Kuehn (author) from Udorn City, Thailand on November 11, 2016:

Self sufficiency is very important for all, especially those who don't have much of an income. It's great to read that you and your husband are doing your own household and car repairs. Having your own garden also saves on the food bill.

Paul Richard Kuehn (author) from Udorn City, Thailand on November 11, 2016:

Thank you very much for the comments, Josah. I am pleased that you like this hub.

DreamerMeg from Northern Ireland on November 09, 2016:

Hi @Jodah, we don't own one either, even in green Ireland! So it's line dry or hang over an airer if it's raining.

John Hansen from Gondwana Land on November 09, 2016:

I second that tip, Meg. We don't even own a tumble dryer.

DreamerMeg from Northern Ireland on November 09, 2016:

Good suggestions for saving money. I would add another, to line dry the laundry, instead of using a tumbler dryer. Great saving on electricity and the clothes are fresher.

Mary Wickison from USA on November 09, 2016:

These are excellent suggestions. My husband has become very handy since we have moved to Brazil.

Between the two of us, we do all the household repairs, almost all the car repairs, and gardening.

I have become so frugal, I can squeeze a week's worth of dinners out of one chicken.

I think it benefits everyone to pitch in and know they aren't reliant on others to survive.

John Hansen from Gondwana Land on November 09, 2016:

Great advice here, Paul. I already do most of these things to save money, so I endorse what you suggest.

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