Money Saving Households: Squeezing the Last Pennies Out of a Buck

by Andy Hough

Saving money can be accomplished in quite a few different ways. Whether you‘re into clipping coupons, daily deals, thrift store shopping, or living a simple life, each day brings a new challenge in working toward spending less than you save. Between trying to reduce debt, cut down on utility bills and saving for retirement, it seems that each day it becomes more important to get the most out of every paycheck. Let’s take a look at a few ways I have made a difference with the family budget by planning – and doing a little bit of painless sacrificing.

Food

Bulk buying is a convenient way to save money, and bargains from the meat counter can make for lots of leftovers which are freezer-worthy. Cook once to save time and money the rest of the week. For example, if you’ve found a deal on sirloin, plan the week’s meals around recipes which use beef, then prepare it in such a way as to allow it to be incorporated into several dishes. If you have several containers of pre-cooked meat, making dinner after a long day at work becomes much easier. Weekly meal planning saves gas by way of less trips to the grocery store, as well as energy in cooking. Another way to save on meat is to substitute legumes for one meal a week – or mix half-meat, half-beans into your recipes.

Eat Less, Save More

Intentionally eating less to save money may sound harsh, but the fact of the matter is that most adults eat 2 to three times the recommended portion size for meats, and in general they eat less than the average portion of vegetables or fiber. Consider this fact: one serving of meat should resemble the size of a deck of cards. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Price Index, ground beef prices had risen by 17% by June, 2011. Since meat is usually the most expensive item on the grocery budget, eating the appropriate portion is key to saving money – and maintaining your youthful figure!

Take a Hike…

…Or at least a walk. While gas prices have settled into a somewhat predictable range, one of the bigger line items in many household budgets is still fuel. Many working adults have considered or adopted carpooling or riding the bus or public transit. Walking to work – if you live within walking distance – is not only a great money-saver… it’s good for your heart. If you can’t walk to work due to distance from your job, consider walking during the lunch hour to run simple errands or pay bills. Another idea: telecommuting. If you don’t work from home and can feasibly arrange it with your boss, telecommuting can be an excellent way to save money and gas. Perhaps the boss will go for this idea… or perhaps you’ll need to ease into it. Propose to telecommute two days a week to start. Set realistic goals and meet with your boss to discuss goals, deadlines, and expectations.

Turn It Down, Put It On!

The cost of heating your home can definitely be a stressor during the winter months. Sometimes it’s necessary to spend money in order to save money – as is the case with purchasing cost-effective digital thermostats, installing weather-stripping or caulking drafty windows. Set your thermostats to 65 degrees during the times when no one is at home, and have them automatically adjust to 68 degrees during the hours when you’re around. Overnight, they thermostat can again adjust down to 65 degrees while you’re sleeping. If your family members or roommate complain about being cold, a sweater, sweatshirt, or pair of slippers can usually do the trick.

Overall, the things that we tend to waste money on can be simple to correct. Making a conscious effort to live responsibly – while keeping our finger on the pulse of living comfortably – can help stay on track budget-wise, and keep more of our hard-earned wages in our pockets.

How have you cut back or taken steps to save money in your household?

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