It's always nice to have a little breathing room in your budget and you can get it by making some small changes in how you spend your money. The great thing about this approach is that it doesn't require any big sacrifices and that makes sticking with these spending changes much easier.
Get Your Groceries for Less
Beyond clipping coupons, there are a number of easy ways to cut your grocery bill:
- Buy the store brand of basics like pasta, eggs, flour and butter. Some cost significantly less than name brands.
- Skip individual portion snacks and make your own by parceling out snacks into small containers or plastic bags.
- Avoid buying groceries at convenience stores. The cost for common items like milk and bread can be nearly double what it is at the grocery store.
Save on Kid Stuff
They're the apple of your eye, but having children can be an expensive proposition. Here are some ideas to help you save without scrimping:
- Choose generic baby formula. All baby formulas made in the US must meet the FDA's nutrient standards. In fact, many generic brands are made by the same companies that make the name brands.
- Swap clothes and sports equipment with friends as your kids grow or decide they really don't like football after all.
- Start a babysitting co-op with friends. Parents take turns watching each other's kids for free.
Have Fun and Still Save a Few Dollars
With movie tickets at around $8 a person, a night out can get pricey fast. Here are some tricks to help you spend less and still have fun:
- Get your movies from the library. Some lend DVDs for free or for a nominal fee. Another option is to skip costly cable movie channels and get a basic Netflix or Amazon streaming subscription.
- Early Bird deals can cut the cost of eating out. Or go out for lunch instead, where menu items can be 25% less expensive.
- Look for free admission days at local museums, zoos and other attractions.
Get Where You're Going for Fewer Dollars
Transportation expenses can add up quickly. But there are simple ways to tame those costs:
- Carpooling to work lowers your gas and parking costs, saves wear and tear on your car, and it's good for the environment. Or try public transportation.
- Skip the premium gas. Unless your car absolutely requires premium, using mid-grade gas can save you a dollar or more per gallon.
- Take advantage of gas rewards programs. Many grocery stores offer programs where you get money off gas based on how much you spend on your groceries.
Savings You Can Find Around the House
There are ways to boost your savings account balance that don't involve looking for change in the couch cushions:
- Wash your clothes in cold water and air-dry them on a rack. There are also at-home dry cleaning kits that cost less than going to the drycleaner.
- Consider using rechargeable batteries. Though the initial cost is higher, if you use a lot of batteries, you could save money over time.
- If you can afford it, pay an extra $100 a month on your mortgage. You will save on interest over the life of your loan.