If trying to save as a single person is tough, saving as a family unit brings forth an entirely new set of challenges. Small expenses and little emergencies seem to add up before you know it, emptying your bank account like a punctured tire. It can take time to adjust to budgeting for a family, but once extra expenditures are cut out, you'll find your finances can easily be streamlined. Saving means being conscious of every area of your spending, scaling back where you can, recycling what can be reused, and getting creative with how and where you invest your money.
Trim back small expenses so you can save more with our budgeting tips for families that fall across five main categories.
Saving extra on food hinges on one thing: meal planning. By planning meals, you can lessen your trips to the grocery store, limit the amount of food that's wasted, and cut down on eating out. Put aside time on the weekends to plan what will be eaten throughout the week. Stick with mostly tried-and-true recipes, and stay away from those that call for unusual ingredients that you'll only use once and toss. Have a list when you go to the grocery store and stick to it. If possible, leave the little ones at home to avoid picking up unnecessary expenses they may eye on a whim. Buying in bulk, particularly for household products and nonperishables, is also a great investment.
To begin, have as few vehicles as possible—one, if you can. This cuts down not only on gas money but insurance and upkeep costs too. Have a friend at work you can carpool with? This will save your stress levels when it comes to rush hour traffic, streamline mileage on your vehicles, and, of course, cut down on fuel prices. If public transportation is available in your area, this is an even better option to consider.
Looking for a way to entertain with the kids that doesn't cost a bundle? There's nothing like enjoying the outdoors. Round up the family for a day trip to the beach, lake, or forest for a picnic. Biking or hiking are great ways to entertain at little cost and will encourage a little exercise and fresh air. For another endless means of entertainment, don't overlook your local public library since you can take out books as well as movies. Make a night of it with popcorn and s'mores at home, and forget the pricey cost of going to a theater.
Utilies can rack up before you know it, so cut expenditures in small ways. Try to replace a couple showers a week with baths instead—an environmentally friendly alternative, as well. Clotheslines are another excellent investment. Not only do they save on utility costs, but they extend the life of your clothing as well. Of course, stay conscious of energy usage. Make sure unnecessary lights stay off. Try to also keep the heater and AC set as specific degrees so they aren't being constantly flicked on and off.
One of the easiest ways to save on cleaning supplies is by cutting out any and all disposables. That means paper towels, disposable wipes and pads, and single-use dishware should all be exchanged for reusable alternatives. Microfiber cloths can replace most disposable wipes and high-quality dish brushes can take the place of sponges. Keep cloth napkins on hand, and toss them into the wash after use. Paper dishes and plastic utensils are convenient, but the extra minutes it takes to clean a set of dishes can save you big.