More and more families today are spending money every year, and yes while the standards of living have increased, people are not choosing to save money. One reason that families are not putting in the effort to review expenses. The reality is, every family has the ability to cut costs and save money. By freeing up more funds, they can allocate it towards repaying debt.
Though buying food to eat is a necessity, this is one area where families could be more thrifty. Families spend on average about $2,500 on dining out, according to U.S. statistics. If you find yourself, your spouse, and your children eating out 5 days a week, considering reducing it to 3 or 4 days a week; just prepare and brown-bag meals from home, and eat it for lunch. You can save up to $400 to $800 a year by doing this. That extra money saved could help finance a nice vacation instead.
Another significant expense is your home, that is if you own one (a house, condo, etc). Have you considered refinancing? Have you done any research and perhaps find a lower interest rate? You might be able to renegotiate to a shorter time frame. If you are unable to change your mortgage payment, then paying a little bit extra each month will pare down your mortgage faster. Also, don’t forget about your utilities. There are ways to save money here as well. Somethings you can do is update your insulation and weather stripping, or use a programmable thermostat to take save on electricity or heating. Why would you need extra heat when there’s no one home or when the family is asleep.
Transportation is another significant expense for many families. Not only are vehicles (cars, SUV, trucks) expensive to purchase but it’s just as costly to maintain and operate them, particularly with rising gasoline prices. If you live in a city, would it still be effective, as well as being cheaper, to save money by riding a bike, taking the bus or train? Instead of buying 2 cars, would it still be possible to buy 1 and carpool altogether? To save money, you can also combine errands and trips to reduce travel expenses. You can also save money when buying gasoline. Just take advantage of special programs and discounts, if they are available. If you live in a house with a garage, you might be able to save some money by making simple repairs by yourself, rather than paying so much money for a mechanic just to do little things.
Do you know where you bank at could make a difference too? If you have a bank account with a bank that charges too many fees, you can shop around and find a bank that offers no or reduced fee to open a checking account. If you’re not taking advantage of electronic bill payments, then you’re wasting money every month of postage stamps, just to send out a check.
You can also reduce credit card expenses. It’s highly recommended to get or transfer to a credit card with a low-interest rate and either low or no annual fee. Shop around until you find the best deal for a credit card.
Health care is one place where you cannot cut expenses, but you can still save money by taking advantage of special offers and programs. For example, many employers offer a flexible spending account where you can save a little money for out-of-your-pocket medical expenses for buying nonprescription generic drugs.
Reviewing insurance policies and offers can also help you save some money. When did you last compare insurance rates for your home, your vehicles, and yourself? Some other ways to reduce costs is to increase your deductible level or using the same insurance company for multiple coverages (such as your home and vehicles). When you are shopping around for insurance, make sure to talk things out with your current insurance company. Sometimes they might be able to offer a better rate just to keep you as their customer.
Another overlooked expense for many families is phone services, cell phones, cable, satellite television, and Internet access. These areas need to be reviewed. Many of the services have skyrocketed in costs in the last 10 years. It’s not unheard for cell phone bills to reach $100 per month. There are cheaper pre-paid phones to buy if you don’t use your cell phone that often every month.
When you’re trying to save money, it is important to become an active shopper. The Internet today makes it easy to compare prices and obtain product reviews. This could save you traveling expenses for driving from one store to another. Anything else you shop for, there might be a better deal somewhere online.
You should really take the time to review your family expenses and try cut costs whenever possible. Just by making a few adjustments in your family’s spending habits could make a lot of difference down the road.