Most households face income limitations, so staying in the black calls for balanced spending. In practice, however, outgoing spending obligations sometimes eclipse the amount of money coming-in, leading to cash flow shortfalls. If your income is relatively fixed and your expenses sometimes challenge your ability to keep up with payments, cutting costs is your best path to firm financial footing. Use the following proven methods to stretch household income.
Find Household Savings around Every Corner
Make It if You Can – Consumers buy an endless variety of retail items, from dog food to used cars. And while it probably doesn’t make financial sense to build your own car, making dog food could be a realistic money saving idea. For consistent savings, substitute cost-effective homemade versions for expensive items found in stores. If you sew, for instance, make kids clothes, to sidestep retail pricing. And if your skills include woodworking, take a stab at household furniture. Of course, raw materials cost money, so if saving is your primary goal, do a thorough cost analysis, before counting on reduced costs.
Rein in Child Care Spending – Caring for kids is expensive, so daycare and other costs should be evaluated for possible savings opportunities. For example, many public facilities now offer child care services, without added cost. Your gym or health club, for instance, may be willing to watch over your children as you put yourself through the paces at their facility. For general workday child care needs, parents must do the math, to determine the most cost effective approach. In fact, child care is so costly, some families cannot balance their books with both parents working full-time. Short of reducing the number of hours spent on the job, families also find savings working with home-based daycare centers, which are typically less expensive than large-scale commercial facilities.
Control the Cost of Credit – In addition to paying ongoing monthly payments, borrowers absorb the cost of interest and finance charges. Unfortunately, these add-on expenses can be enough to challenge affordability, keeping you one step behind financial equilibrium. If your outstanding debt takes a heavy financial toll, review your options, with an eye toward reduced costs.
Your credit rating weighs heavily on the terms and interest rates offered by lenders, so it is essential to monitor changes and know your credit status. Armed with a favorable credit score, you may be able to refinance or take-on a personal loan, in order to lower your APR or reduce the size of your monthly payment. At the very least, consolidating high-interest credit card debt, to a loan with a better rate, is sure to yield financial relief.
Manage Food Costs Like a Pro – Chefs know the importance of controlling food costs – it can mean the difference between a restaurant’s failure and profitability. For a more cost-effective kitchen, home cooks can take a lesson from the pros, using the same sort of discipline to keep costs down. To save money on food, start with a well-executed shopping list, each time you go to the grocery store. Without it, you’ll likely spend money on things you don’t need, leading to spoilage and waste within your pantry and fridge. Armed with a written wish-list, on the other hand, pinpoint shopping will keep your larder well-stocked, without creating waste.
Maintaining a grocery list will keep you honest at the store, but meal planning is the key to crafting a useful shopping budget. For the best results, plot your course as far ahead as comfort allows, striving to establish your supermarket needs at least a week in advance. Before heading to market, consult your menu and take inventory of items already on-hand. That way, you’ll fill-in needed blanks, without buying more than you need. As you plan your menu, be sure to account for leftovers, which are easily repurposed into money saving dishes.
If yours is like most households, money saving opportunities are always welcome. Whether through increased self-sufficiency or better financial planning; brighter days are ahead for families committed to maximizing their financial resources. To start saving money today, look closely at your spending habits and make minor adjustments, as needed. Without sacrificing your standard of living, it may be possible to immediately reduce interest charges, food costs and child care spending.