According to a study by USA TODAY, up to a third of Americans are finding it hard to pay for basic expenses. The living costs are ballooning while income remains the same. This can be challenging for families living on a small budget due to the high cost of living and stagnant wages.
Fortunately, with creativity, you can still make ends meet and have a little left over for savings on your rainy days. Here are our top 3 money-saving secrets for families on tighter budgets. Keep reading.
1. Set A Simple Budget And Stick To It
It may seem obvious, but budgeting is one of the most important things you can do. Planning a budget involves sitting down with your spouse or partner, determining your monthly income, and evaluating it against your regular expenses. Then, finding ways to trim your expenses to live within your means.
It may mean giving up some luxuries, but it will be worth it in the long run. In creating a family budget, you must first establish a goal. Examples of common goals to tackle household financial problems include;
- Paying bills on time
- Improving your credit score by getting out of debt
- Setting money aside for a big purchase.
Upon deciding on your objectives, write them down so that you can always refer to the points and stick to their achievement. Budgeting isn’t complete without a tool or software. Even if you’re not tech-savvy, you can download simple apps on your app to assist with budgeting. If you’re feeling too old-school, a simple excel sheet will do.
Then, organize your expenses under the following categories;
|Utilities||Rent, cable tv, phone, electricity and postage|
|Entertainment||Gift shopping, vacation and dining out|
|Debts||Credit card payments, loan payments, student loan|
|Emergencies||Medical bills, renovations, car repairs|
After organizing your expenses, compare them against your income and find out if you have any money left for savings. If your budget has a deficit, you’ll need to reorganize your expenses and start over again.
There are probably many things in your budget that you could do without. It’s time to rethink and evaluate your spending. For example, you can ask yourself these few questions.
- Do you need that high-cost cable package? Could you get by with a simple package, Netflix, or even no cable?
- Do you need to pay for a gym membership? Could you work out at home or go for walks outside instead?
- Are you on a federal loan? Can you find better options if you are a postgraduate student? Probably going through Grad PLUS explained articles and speaking to a professional in the field can help you know if the interest is affordable.
After evaluating your expenses, you can decide where to cut back.
2. Compare Prices
Some people fall into the whim of impulse buying without comparing prices and getting the best deals. Whenever you need to buy something, take time to shop around and compare prices. You’d be surprised how much money you can save simply by taking the time to look for the best deal.
Don’t be afraid to haggle either; many sellers are willing to give you a better price if you’re persistent.
3. Look For Free and Cheaper Entertainment Options
Just because you have a small budget doesn’t mean your family or children should always be bored. There are plenty of free entertainment options available in cities and states across the country. For example, the entertainment calendar is bustling with activities all year round if you’re in Iowa. From classic rock Ron Diamond and The Nadas to Country Gold, you’ll enjoy it without spending a dime.
Take advantage of free events in your community, visit parks and museums, or rent movies from the library instead of going to the theater.
Also, you can go camping in your backyard, do family yoga, make forts in the house, have a game night, or play balloon volleyball. You can also choose budget alternatives such as visiting Cedar PointOhio or Kings Island and escape the priced-out theme parks
Living on a small budget can be challenging, but it’s not impossible. With a little effort, you can meet your expenses and even have a little left over each month. By following these tips, you’ll be well on your way to surviving and thriving on a tight budget.