Money is tight these days, isn’t it? I personally teach a private homeschool group, so our budget is tighter in the summer than the rest of the year, so I know we are definitely feeling the pinch of price increases right now.
1- Track Your Spending
It’s so important to check in with your money regularly. It’s so easy to go to town, end up running late during your errands, decide to get a snack or lunch, then head to finish your errands, go get gas, and the kids need another snack. So easy. But how much did just you spend? That’s why it’s so important to stay on top of your budget.
Creating a budget for every month, and each pay check is not enough. If we are trying to stretch our dollars as far as we can, we have to know what we have. Whether you choose to track on a spreadsheet, use an app, or keep tabs on your banking app, be sure to track where you are, with how many bills still need to get paid.
2- Use Cash
One method that really helped me in college, and that a lot of financial coaches recommend is using cash if you are just learning how to manage spending, or are trying to control it better. We tend to psychologically want to hold onto cash, so it helps us to think twice before spending money.
3- Order Grocery Pickup or Delivery
If you have grocery stores or Walmart close by that offer free pick up, this can be a great way to save money. This eliminates the meandering down the aisles and letting Target tell you what you need. You can be more intentional about what you need, and how much you want to spend.
4- Buy in Bulk (Pay Attention to Price per Unit/Ounce)
Many of us love Costco, because everything tastes better at Costco, but shopping at Costco can help you stretch your dollars because you are paying less per ounce or per unit. However, if you aren’t able to use up the groceries before they spoil, this may not be the best option. When my husband and I first got married, we couldn’t get through the produce fast enough, so we got shelf stable items at Costco and Sam’s Club, and produce at the grocery store.
5- Have a Spending Freeze
If you are trying to save some extra money to go towards food storage or debt, a spending freeze can help. This is where you only buy necessities for a certain amount of time. (A week/2 weeks/A month) This opens an opportunity to take advantage of free entertainment, such as the park, library, or splash pad. It makes time for reading as a family, and cooking together as a family.
6- Cut Down on Food Waste
One way that has really helped our family save money is trying to cut down on food waste. We plan the meat we are going to cook in a week, I try to think about how long it will last, so that I can plan meals that will use it up. For example, if we buy a $5 rotisserie chicken at Costco, we will have the chicken the first night with some veggies, and then use the breasts that are left over in a pasta, Hawaiian haystacks, or tacos. If I’m cooking up hamburger, we’ll eat them in tacos one night, or pasta another. As I plan meals, I look at what produce is leftover, so that we use these up first before we buy more.
7- Meal Plan
Like I mentioned in the previous tip, meal planning is huge to help us save money. We try not to just go buy what looks good at the store. We get paid every two weeks currently, so I meal plan for each pay check. I will make a list, noting extra things that are happening each day. Which days he will be late at football practice or games, when family or friend get-togethers are, or birthdays we’re celebrating. Then I make a meal plan, trying to group ingredients that will need to get used up, without repeating too many flavors, and leaving rooms for leftover nights.
8- Cut Down One-Use Items
Paper towels, napkins, Ziplock bags are handy, but can add up quickly. Replacing them with reusable Tupperware and microfiber cloths can help cut costs.
9- Check Out Coupons + Cash-Back Apps
Using coupons and cash-back apps can help stretch those dollars as well. I use the Honey Chrome extension to search the internet for discount codes when I’m online shopping. Fetch scans your receipts for cash back points that you can redeem for gift cards. (If you sign up with this, you can use my code to get yourself 2000 points to get started J4HE5)
10- Shop Sale Cycles + Case Lot Sales
Certain items go on sale each month. Grocery staples such as baking supplies are usually better prices in December. Case lot sales usually come around March/April and September/October of each year. Knowing when to stalk up on things you use regularly can help you save money in the long run.
Be sure to check out the resources, which have even more ideas to help you keep your family afloat during these difficult days.
- How to Stretch Your Dollars, Living Well Spending Less
- 12 Ways to Stretch Your Money, SoFi Learn
- 40 Tips to Stretch Your Budget You Haven’t Tried Yet, Busy Budgeter