Financial situations can change dramatically without warning, and have enormous effects on your household’s spending money. Whether your main breadwinner has lost their job, had work hours reduced, or you’ve lost the second income in your family, there are ways to make ends meet even when the going gets rough.
Get Frugal with $5 a Week
A while back, a reader shared this problem with me. She described how, after many years of two incomes, they now have only $5 a week leftover after paying for necessities. She had gone back to school, leaving their family of 5 to get by on only her husband’s income.
We may forget how tight a budget can be if we’re not in an extreme situation right now, but it is a real possibility for many and a current reality for others. How can you possibly get by when you pay for your bills and necessities and have only $5 per week leftover? Get frugal!
10 Tips for Tightening the Household Budget
1. Learn the difference between needs and wants. This can be difficult when you’re used to having a little flexibility in your shopping budget. When that flexibility disappears and you have to cut back your budget, identifying needs and wants becomes crucial.
2. Forget brand loyalty. Buy the cheapest brand that will meet your needs, whether it’s a generic, a store brand or a brand name on sale. This is not about disliking your favorite brands, so don’t feel guilty for leaving them behind temporarily. Sometimes price and value have to come first.
Even a teenager that thinks they have to have a certain brand of shampoo can be taught the importance of forgetting brand loyalty. How? Let them (make them) ration their “expensive” shampoo over an entire month! Chances are when they see how hard it is to make expensive products last a reasonable amount of time, you won’t hear as much complaining when you buy several bottles of the 99cent shampoo instead!
3. Gather coupons. Ask friends and family to save coupons for you, cut coupons out of the newspaper, and print free coupons online. Many companies, like uPromise, are now offering e-coupons that can be loaded directly onto your grocery store card.
4. Use coupons only when it’s cheaper than generic. Check the prices carefully. Very often, a generic or store brand is still a better value than buying a name brand with a coupon.
5. Cook with cheaper ingredients. World famous chef Gordon Ramsay may be foul-mouthed, but he sure knows a thing or two about being frugal in the kitchen. He identifies how restaurants are losing money by using expensive ingredients, and helps them find cheaper ingredients that will make good substitutes. You can do the same in your kitchen!
6. Request and use freebies. There is an abundance of free items online, from toothpaste to food to laundry detergent. Home Ever After lists the best free samples every week, so start requesting them today and see your mailbox fill up with free things you’ll never have to buy again.
7. Don’t be wasteful. From throwing away leftover food to doing extra loads of laundry, we can all identify areas in which we are wasteful. Tighten up those areas: for example, use bath towels more than once to cut down on unnecessary laundry. That ONE simple action will save you water, electricity, laundry detergent, money and time!
8. Save on heating costs. Save money on heating fuel overnight shows how a little investment in quality supplies will cut down your heating costs.
10. Learn to do things yourself (DIY). Services provided by professionals can be very costly. If you learn to be self-sufficient and take care of those chores yourself, you’ll save money by paying only for materials. Learn these DIY projects: unclog a drain, replace a broken window pane, change the oil in your car, and more.
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