The average household income is decreasing as companies choose to give small, if any, pay increases to their employees. Many companies are downsizing their staff, and some are decreasing the amount they are paying toward benefits (and passing along the additional cost to their employees).
At the same time, the average cost to run a household is increasing as the price of food, gas, and utilities are on the rise. These trends are alarming.
Now more than ever it is important to watch where we are spending our money. Here are some money saving tips to stretch your dollars.
Save Money on Groceries
Planning ahead and being flexible is the key to saving money on groceries.
Most stores have their circulars online. Take a moment each week to search the online circulars for the items you need to see which stores have the best deals that week.
When you see a fantastic deal, buy the amount of that product you will need for a month or so. Since items generally go on sale every 4 to 6 weeks, if you buy a month worth of the item on those deep discount days, you’ll have enough in your pantry to get you through until it goes on sale again.
Also, make it a habit to base your food menu on what’s on sale that week. It can save you a ton of money.
Grow and Preserve Your Own Food
They say that history repeats itself, so we should study the past to predict the future.
During World War I and II, the price of fruits and vegetables in the U.S. rose dramatically due to food shortages. Victory Gardens were encouraged by the US Department of Agriculture to help ease food shortages and keep produce prices reasonable during the wars.
With prices rising at an unreasonable rate now, we should all plant our own garden. If we become less dependent on grocery stores for our produce, demand will decrease, thereby causing the price to decrease as well.
Don’t forget to preserve your harvest through home canning to fully maximize your savings.
Learn to Cook
The average family eats out several times per month. Between school lunches, work lunches, lattes and family meals out, that is easily $100 a week or $400 a month on only a few meals!
That same money can be your entire food budget if you learn to cook the restaurant food you love to eat. Additionally, you will save money if you learn to create new meals from your leftovers that your family will love.
For example, we buy a large rotisserie chicken a few times a month. For less than $8 for one roaster, our family of four gets 2 meals of rotisserie chicken with sides (think Thanksgiving Dinner), 1 meal of chicken salad sandwiches, and 1 meal of chicken quesadillas. $8 for chicken that can be used for 4 meals is a fantastic deal!
Don’t forget to use substitute ingredients in your recipes to save money. Instead of buying buttermilk that you only need a quarter cup of for that recipe, make your own using an Ingredient Substitutes list.
Additional Ways to Save Money:
Buy in Bulk
As members of a warehouse club, we purchase many items in bulk. It is important to know the regular price as well as the average sale price of the individual items you are seeking prior to buying them in bulk.
Some items, like vanilla extract, can be purchased at extreme discounts (16 oz container for the price of a 2 oz container in stores). Other items, like large bags of chips, you will pay the same price as in stores, sometimes more, when buying them at the bulk food stores.
Know your prices before you go!
Having a supply of food and water on hand for emergency purposes is necessary in today’s society.
Local stores only carry a 3-5 day supply of food and water. Should an emergency arise, the supplies in your local stores will go quickly and it could take a few weeks to fully restock them.
Having a 1 month supply of food and water is required for emergency preparedness. However, a 3 to 12 month supply of food and water is ideal to avoid food price spikes – bought during super sales, through bulk purchases, and by home canning from your own garden, of course!
Refinance Your Mortgage and Shop Around for Insurance
Interest rates are extremely low right now.
Refinancing your mortgage from a higher interest rate to a lower interest rate should save you hundreds of dollars each year. Most mortgage refinances are completed with no out of pocket fees.
We all have multiple types of insurance: car insurance, home / rental insurance, life insurance, health insurance. together, insurance costs us a lot of money each year.
If you have insurance with more than one company, you are probably not getting the best deal.
Shop around for insurance and check with your companies for multiple insurance discounts. Most companies give discounts when you bundle your policies together.
Decreasing your utility costs is another way you can save a few dollars each month.
One thing to consider is your electric bill. Energy deregulation has created an opportunity for customers to change providers and hopefully decrease their electric bills. In reality, the price per month will probably not change very much.
However, solar energy is a realistic way to power your home and significantly decrease your monthly electric bill.
There are many ways to add solar energy to your home.
Do you have Money Saving Tips you want to share? Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org or leave them here in the comments section. I look forward to hearing your ideas!