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3 Expenses You Should Never Sacrifice In Your Household Budget

frustrated woman with a paper and calculatorIf you believe that budgeting is one way to get out of debt, then you should understand the importance of creating a household budget. A lot of Americans are dealing with debt – some of them are managing credit wisely while others are failing at it.

After the Great Recession, we have come to realize just how important it is to have a budget plan. It can help you control your expenses so you can put aside more money to pay off your debts. The extra money can even be sent towards your savings. It can also help you avoid a lot of financial dilemmas in the future. It can help you understand why you are in a particular financial situation and how you can get out of it.

Why do we need to cut back on our budget

Taking a look at how Americans spend their money is a great way to help us understand our financial habits. According to TheAtlantic.com, the majority of the household budget is spent on food. Now, the majority of our budgets go to housing costs. Among the things that grew in percentage in our budgets include healthcare and entertainment expenses. These details will all be evident in your budget and it is important for you to analyze them so you can determine the changes that you need to make in order to improve your financial situation.

In most cases, people who are forced to use a budget plan are those who have a need to cut back on expenses. The main reason for that is debt. We had to cut back on a lot of things because we need to increase the amount allotted for our debt payments.

In an article entry on ReadyForZero.com, they mentioned a statistic from Experian that revealed the average monthly debt payment of consumers. In 2010, the monthly debt payments of Americans range between $763 to $1,285. If the average household earns between $4,000 to $4,500, their debts take up 20% or so of their income. They only have 80% left to live on. With utilities, food, transportation and other expenses, how can the average American household survive?

This is why a lot of us create our household budget for the purpose of cutting back on expenses.

3 expenses that you should not compromise in your budget plan

But while there are so many things in our usual spending list that we can trim down, there are those that you need to exert caution when trying to cut back on them. There are certain entries in our budget plan that we should never sacrifice.

Healthy meals

The first is healthy and nutritious food. Even if the processed food is cheaper, it is not worth it to risk the health of your family just so you can save a couple of dollars. You still need a well balanced diet and that is something that you should never compromise. If you want to trim your food expenses, you may want to cut back on eating out. These cost a lot more than what you will spend if you cook your meals at home. And when you are out shopping for food, make a list of what you need. That way, you can forecast in your household budget the amount of money that you will need to ensure that your family will eat healthy food always. Here is a video from HowCast about how you can feed your family healthy food even when you are on a tight budget.

Doctor prescriptions

When the doctor prescribes you medicine or treatments that you need to get better, you should not skip on this just so you can trim your household budget. If you have to save, go and ask your doctor to prescribe generic medicines. But do not skip a dosage or take a lower one just so you can save. Get the savings you need elsewhere and not your medications. Your health is a top priority. If you do not take care of it now, it might get worse and cost you more money in the process. One of the best ways to deal with big medical bills is to avoid them by taking care of your body.

Personal hygiene

There are so many things that this can cover. For instance, buying a very cheap make up just so you can save on money and end up getting an allergic reaction is not really the wisest of moves. Proper hygiene is something that you need to be careful with. Try to get deals for toilet papers, and similar products but do not buy nameless brands without making sure if it is safe for you. In the end, it might cost you a healthy body if you sacrifice proper hygiene for the same of making budget cuts.

How to fix your budget plan if it is not working

If you are already implementing a household budget and you realize that things are still not improving, you may need to reconsider your budget plan. Here are 5 steps that you can follow to help fix it.

  1. Track your spending. In most cases, when your household budget is not working, it only means there is something wrong with your expenses. Of course, it always pays to take a look at your income too. Maybe you based your budget expenses on the wrong income. But even if this is the case, you still have to take a look at your expenses. Forbes.com and other authority sites have listed some budget software programs that you can use to track your spending.
  2. Compare your spending with your existing household budget. Once you have tracked your spending, compare it with your budget and see where you are spending a lot of money on. This will help you see where you should cut back on or where you should adjust the amount in your budget.
  3. Analyze why you are overspending. If there is a particular category that you are guilty of overspending, you need to ask yourself why that is so. Is it because you do not have self control? Or is it because you simply made unrealistic cuts in your budget?
  4. Do something to stop overspending. When you have identified the reason why you are overspending on a particular category, you need to correct that or cut back on something else to meet your budget limit. If you are overspending on food because you keep on eating out, then you need to cut back on that and opt for home cooked meals instead. Revise your household budget according to your plans to stop spending beyond what your budget dictates.
  5. Commit to the new plan and observe. Be disciplined in following your new plan and see if it works for you now. If not, then you need to go back to step one and analyze your budget plan once more.

Making your household budget work will involve a lot of changes in your habits. You have to look deep into your financial habits so you can determine if that is what is causing you to fail in your finances. Sometimes, it is not really the debt that is the problem. It is our own behavior when it comes to our money. We need to learn how to change our behavior and that is the only way that we can implement a budget that is effective in improving our financial situation.

8 Ways You Can Lower Grocery Expenses

If you are trying to lower your household budget, one of the first things that you can look into is your grocery expenses. Actually, your food budget in general can be easily trimmed if you really want to. You just have to begin by implementing smart spending while grocery shopping.

There are so many options for you to lower your food costs. All it really takes is an understanding of your options. But before we can take a look at the different ways you can cut back on your grocery spending, let us understand the shopping habits of American consumers first.

The American grocery shopping habits

woman holding a bag of groceriesAccording to an infographic published on the SuperMarketNews.com, consumers who are trying to weather a financial problem is most likely to cut back on their household budget. One of the things that they will cut back on is their grocery expenses. The survey was done in Q3 of 2013 – just when the debt ceiling was about to happen and the government shutdown was looming in the horizon.

The survey revealed that consumers are changing their shopping habits in anticipation of a looming financial crisis. With families in particular, 54% will begin trying lower priced brands to cut back on grocery expenses. Not only that 40% will look for coupons online while 45% will go to multiple stored to find the lowest price for their usual purchases. Millennials are also noted to do the same. 55% will try lower priced brands, 43% will shop at different stores to get the best prices while 39% will look for online coupons to help with their grocery shopping.

In another infographic that is published on the InfographicList.com, the following details are revealed about the grocery shopping habits of consumers.

  • 60% shop in supermarkets while 19% shop in mass merchandisers and 6% in warehouse stores.

  • 36% of consumers do their grocery once a week, 26% do it multiple times a week, 24% shop a few times a month. 8% buy groceries once a month while 6% buy it every day.

  • 44% use debit to pay for their grocery expenses. 25% use cash while 19% use credit cards.

  • According to men, 64% of the grocery is done by them while women say that 81% of the grocery is done by them.

It should be interesting to note that when there is a financial crisis, consumers are willing to find options that will help them cut back on their grocery expenses.

8 tips to help you lower your grocery spending

But the question is, how can you lower your grocery spending? As long as you implement a good amount of smart spending, it is possible to shop and save at the same time. Here are 8 ways that you can cut back on your grocery expenses.

  1. Know your budget. Always set your budget and stick to that before you go to the grocery. It pays to know your boundaries so that you can keep your spending within the limit. If you really want to save on your food and grocery budget, this is what you should be focused on. You have to strictly separate your wants from your needs. When buying products, start with the necessities and set aside the wants. In the checkout counter, pay for the needs first. If there is anything left in your budget, then you can get the wants.

  2. Plan your grocery errands. It is also important to plan your grocery shopping so that you can maximize the time, effort and money you will spend. If you do your grocery once a week, you should plan your meals on a weekly basis. You can do this as you create your grocery shopping list. It will allow you to buy products in bulk so you can save on cost. Always check your pantry before going out. This is to ensure that you will only buy what you really need. Also, keep an open mind about leftovers. You can maximize the cooking time if you cook a big meal at night and then eat the leftovers the next day. It will minimize the effort of cooking.

  3. Schedule your shopping. It is also important that you consider the time and your physical condition when you shop. It is said that when you shop when you are hungry, you tend to get more products that what you really need. Also, you have to take advantage of the sale and promo events of the grocery store that you love to shop in.

  4. Try to get discounts wherever you can. This can be done by joining memberships and loyalty programs. If you shop at the same store over and over again, it pays to join any membership that they may offer. These are great sources of discounts and freebies. Or you can go online to get coupons that you can use while shopping.

  5. Opt to buy generic products. In most cases, name brands will only cost you much because of the company behind it. But if you scrutinize the product, they are not much different from the generic ones. Best of all, they come cheaper too.

  6. Refrain from buying prepackaged products. Most of us want the easy way all the time. This is why pre-packed food and products appeal to us. We want cooking at home to be very easy – that is why we buy them sliced or diced already. While it can make things easier, they will end up being more costly. Just buy the whole product and do the food preparations yourself.

  7. Look at the bottom rack for cheaper items. Grocery stores will always push the expensive products on the shelves that are within your eye level. These shelf spaces are usually paid for and you can be sure that these costs are passed on to you. Try bending to see the products at the lower shelves. You may find great bargains there.

  8. Give your storage some thought. We want to encourage you to buy products in bulk but only if you have the storage space for them. You will not be saving on grocery expenses if the food your bought at a discount goes to waste.

Habits that can go side by with your grocery savings

Apart from the tips that we have mentioned, there are also certain habits that you can practice that will really help you cut back on your food budget in general. Here are 3 of them that we highly encourage you to implement.

  • Mind what you eat. Opt to eat healthy food that is cooked at home because if it not only cheaper, it will help take care of your body. Americans love to eat fast food meals and this can really take its toll on your body. Based on the data shown on InfographicsArchive.com, 500 million Americans eat fast food meals every day. The same infographic also stated that too much consumption of these meals can lead to mental problems like depression and anxiety. If you are mindful of what you eat, you will not only save on food costs, you can also save on healthcare costs.

  • Grow your own produce. This tip will depend on what you can grow at home. If you live in a condo unit, you can put herbs in a pot and that can save you money on herbs and spices. If you have a backyard, try to grow tomatoes, potatoes and other green leafy vegetables. That will eliminate the need to buy these produce in the grocery.

  • Bag your leftovers. We’ve mentioned earlier that you should keep an eye on leftovers when planning your meals for the week. You may want to include the food that you will bag for the office. That will also save you money on your overall household budget.

Cutting back on grocery expenses is really quite simple but it will take a lot of getting used to. Even if you think that the saving per product is small, it will all add up in the end.

Here is a video from National Debt Relief that has tips to teach you how to setup a budget for your household.

Learn To Save On Food: Take The Food Stamp Challenge

woman taking out money from walletWe are always looking for ways to save money today. Regardless of your income and your financial situation, saving is in the forefront of our minds. Who wants to waste money anyway? In fact, even shopaholics get into trouble with their spending because they always give in to sale events – even when they do not really need it. Their reasoning is they want to save by availing of that discount. Of course, we all know that what they are doing is actually the opposite. But nevertheless, it goes to show that we all strive to save.

One of the areas in our lives that we are careful to cut back on is food. We want to save on food but we also do not want to sacrifice the nutrition that our family needs. But did you know that there are many ways to cut back on this expense category without compromising the health of your family? Abundance of food intake does not necessarily mean you will be healthy. Sometimes, it leads to obesity and we all know that never leads to good health.

How the Food Stamp Challenge can help you lower food costs

If you want to find out how you can save on food, why not do the Food Stamp Challenge? The Food and Research Action Center explains that this is when you try to live the life of low income Americans when it comes to food costs. Based on the FRAC.org site, participants will live the challenge for at least a week. They will live on $4 per person per day – at least for food. According to the site, the participants find it hard to choose the food that they will eat while sticking to the $4/person limit and still eat healthy.

According to FeedingAmerica.org, the average gross income of a low income family is $744. The net income is at $338. In some households, the usual expenses of child care, health costs and shelter amount to $331. That leaves them with less than $10 for food. Most of the people availing of Food Stamps have children, elderly or disabled members in the family. They are referred to as the vulnerable families.

Also called the SNAP, these food stamps really help these households feed their family without compromising the other important expenses in the house.

FRAC is only one of the many organizations that support this effort to educate people about the food problems of low income families. This challenge became popular through the effort of FRAC allies when they did it back in 2006. Politicians, students and the average members of the community have tried doing this to understand how difficult it is to keep healthy while living on small resources. After all, food is not the only expense in our household budget. We also have to spend on housing, cars, education and other expenses.

Learning how to save on food costs will help you get started on lowering your monthly expenses. To better understand the value of money and good nutrition, we strongly encourage you to do the Food Stamp Challenge.

Low cost food to buy when taking the Food Stamp Challenge

The main challenge for participants is usually knowing what to buy. While you want to stick to the $4/person budget, you also want to make sure that you will not deprive your family of the nutrition that they need. But how can you do that with the budget provided?

EPI.org, the official website of the Economic Policy Institute identified that food takes up 9.6% of the average household budget. The website shows that the average food expense based on the number of family members are as follows:

  • One parent, One child: $369 (food); $3,949 (household expense)

  • One parent, Two children $546 (food), $5,017 (household expense)

  • One parent, Three children $735 (food), $6,175 (household expense)

  • Two parents, One child $598 (food), $4,688 (household expense)

  • Two parents, Two children $754 (food), $5,389 (household expense)

  • Two parents, Three children $921 (Food), $6,557 (household expense)

Although this is the fifth expensive expense on the list, a lot of people tend to waste too much money on it. In some cases, they spend more than what they should because they opt to eat out more than necessary.

If this is the type of lifestyle that you lead and you seriously want to encourage your family to save on food expenses, then the Food Stamp Challenge should be a great place to begin. The first thing that you need to do is to start cooking your food at home. Brown bag your lunch and avoid those take out lattes for now.

While that will help you cut down on food costs, it might not be enough to keep your expenses within the $4/person budget. That means you have to make wise decisions about the food that you will buy.

Here are some of our suggestions for cheap food that are still very nutritious.

  • Brown rice. This food intake takes long to digest so you can really get your fill despite a small consumption. That is because it is very rich in fiber. It is not as expensive as the other alternatives and it is rich in minerals, antioxidants and vitamins.

  • Beans. This is a great alternative to the brown rice. You can buy it in bulk and it will last a long time. Bulk buying saves you a lot of money so this is a great idea to stretch your money. When you cook it, 4 cups will expand to become 9 cups. You can flavor this with a lot of spices so it can be use in a lot of dishes. For the nutritional benefits, beans are rich in fiber, protein and it can provide the body with iron, magnesium, zinc, potassium and copper. It is low in fat and also sodium. It is a great way to stay healthy and keep your costs down.

  • Green vegetables. Broccoli, kale and spinach – these are all rich in nutrients and will protect you and your family from a lot of diseases. Lettuce is also a great way to stuff you up and keep healthy without spending too much money.

  • Potatoes. This is one of the most versatile vegetables that you can cook in various ways. It is rich in Vitamin C, fiber and potassium. Potatoes are known to be fat free and is a great way for people to start losing weight in a healthy way. But if you fry them, they will become less healthy.

  • Frozen vegetables. This is a great way to buy in bulk and make it last. These are usually frozen when they are at their peak so they retain the flavor and nutritional value. They will not lose their ripeness while in transit like some fresh vegetables do.

Consider these food options when you go to the grocery next time. This will help  you complete the Food Stamp Challenge and still keep healthy.

As you strive to save on food, to complete the challenge, you will slowly realize the many ways that you can be a smart spender. It should be a great feat to be able to shop and save at the same time. All it takes is some knowledge on how to do it, planning to guide you through it and discipline to help implement it. If you have these, then you should now have any problems to cut back on your expenses.

If you really want to be smart with your money, you have to do more than just save on food costs. To help you do that, you need to create and implement a budget plan. Here is a video from National Debt Relief to help you budget for your household.

Lower Energy Costs At Home Despite The Polar Vortex

frustrated man with billsPeople who are trying to save money on their monthly expenses are usually trying to lower energy costs. This is one of the categories in a household budget that you can cut back on. There is always an alternative for the sources of energy that we usually require. In most cases, we use it to keep warm during the cold winter days or cool during the hot summer season. For the cold, we can use fire and for the warmer climate, we can simply throw open the windows to let the air in the house.

The US Energy Information Administration released a forecast last October 2013 that showed expectations of a higher heating energy consumption in over 90% of households. This is the forecast in the EIA.gov for the months starting October 2013 until March 2014. The expected average cost per household will be as follows:

  • Natural gas: $679 for the whole winter season. This amount is an increase of 13% compared to the 2012 cold season.

  • Propane: $1,666 for the whole winter season. A 9% increase compared to the same season in 2012.

  • Electric heat: $909 for the whole winter season. A 2% increase from last year’s winter consumption.

  • Heating oil: $2,046 for the whole winter season. 2% lower energy cost compared to last year.

Of course, these changes in price are mainly because of the increase in energy prices. But based on recent news, it seems that this forecast may be even more than what was expected. With the polar vortex sweeping across the country since late last week, lower energy costs will be very hard to achieve at this point.

How the polar vortex is expected to raise energy costs

Based on an article from the USNews.NBCNews.com, the polar vortex, although it will start to go closer to normal today is still affecting more than half of the US population. Heating costs are still expected to rise and it is not expected to go down anytime soon.

It is still expected to be quite cold in the central and eastern part of the US as the lingering effects of this weather phenomenon will continue. On Tuesday, January 7, the temperature went below normal in dozens of cities.

The polar vortex is air that came from the North Pole that went further south that it usually does. The blame is being pointed at climate change and global warming and experts are saying that it might be a reasonable assumption. But despite the cause, we are all focused on how this particular drop in temperature will affect the beginning of our year.

All of these should make you wonder about how your household budget will spike this January. Considering the cold temperature outside, people are scrambling to keep their homes warm and toasty. Reports have been made of death tolls rising because of the extreme cold brought about by the polar vortex. You do not want health costs to add up to the worries that you have so making sure that the family stays warm during this time. According to the same article cited above, the cold temperature is more dangerous when combined with the gusts of wind and snow drifts.

Combined with the holiday debt that most people acquired late last year, the polar vortex is bound to make things a lot more complicated for the average American family – at least financially speaking. You have to consider the effects of the cold in your home too. It may be time to start checking for damages incurred when spring season comes in. Be prepared to shell out more money to keep yourself from borrowing money just to afford all of these future expenses.

What to do to keep your energy consumption down to save money

While the polar vortex in itself is far from being a financial concern, you cannot deny the effects that it will bring to your household budget. The main effect is actually on your plans to lower energy costs. No doubt about it, this will be a major challenge considering how cold it really is outside.

But thankfully, there are tips that you can use to help keep your costs down this winter time. It all begins with efforts to go green. If you did not know, saving the environment has surprising financial benefits.

Here are some important considerations to keep your costs low and still keep warm.

  • Bundle up indoors so you can lower your thermostats. Try to lower the thermostat between 60 to 70 degrees. This will help you lower energy costs by 5%. Lower it even further when you will be leaving your house for a long time.

  • Use your thick comforters while sleeping so you can lower the thermostat at night.

  • Put towels, a long pillow or even newspaper under the door to keep the heat inside. You can do the same for your window sills.

  • Use compact fluorescent light bulbs so they last up to 12 times longer than the usual. Turn off the lights that are not in use.

  • Change your thermostat into the programmable one to help regulate the heating system in your home.

  • Make sure the furnace filters are clean. A dirty filter will restrict the flow of air and that will cause you to spend more on energy.

  • Try to avoid using the exhaust fans when not necessary.

  • Make sure water leaks are fixed.

  • Turn off appliances that are not being used. Do not let them go on standby mode.

  • Buy energy efficient appliances to replace your old ones. Make sure these have the Energy Star logo.

  • Put your water heater to normal (120 degrees Fahrenheit) if you can manage it.

  • Use rugs on the floor. They can help insulate the floor and make walking a lot more comfortable.

Since the effects of the polar vortex is expected to decline in the next few weeks, you may want to see how you can lower your energy costs exponentially. It is understandable to try to stay warm because there are deaths related to this weather phenomenon after all. you do not want to sacrifice the health of your family. But once it is over, we still have a couple of winter months ahead of us. Try to lower your energy consumption as much as we can.

Here are additional tips that you can benefit from when you implement them during the cold season.

  • Make sure you use non-toxic substances like clay cat litter, stove ash or sand when de-icing your surroundings.

  • Protect your vehicle from the cold season too. You do not want to add car repair in your growing list of expenses.

  • Save the ashes from your fireplace. You can use that later on to fertilize your garden.

  • Use your old newspapers as logs. Get a broom stick, roll it in newspaper until it is big enough in diameter. Soak it in water and leave it to dry overnight. You can use it as an ordinary wood the next day.

  • You do not have to heat non-insulated parts of your house if you do not have to. These places include the storage sheds, garage, attics, etc.

  • If a room is not being used, you can just close the door to keep the heating system from working on places where it does not have to.

These tips are all meant to help you lower energy costs during the winter but make sure that you keep things in moderation. If you really need your home to be warm, do not sacrifice the comfort and health of your family. There are other ways for you to cut back on household expenses.

Family Finances: How To Deal With Kids Moving Back In

two people arguingDebt is really a big nuisance in most American household. The bigger it is, the more problems you will face. The effects of debt to your family is really something terrible and you want to keep that from happening.

The recent recession changed a lot of things about the average American family. We are not only talking about the family finances but also the living conditions. Usually, young graduates are quick to move out of their parent’s home to seek out financial independence. But with the current economic situation, more and more of them are beginning to delay this. Some of them are even moving back in.

With the combined problem of student loans, credit card debt and tough employment conditions, graduates seem to be finding it hard to venture out on their own. This is seriously affecting the family finances of most Americans.

Financial difficulties are pushing Millennials to move back home

In a recent research done by the Pew Research Center, 36% of young people who are between the age of 18 to 31 are currently living in their parent’s house. That was based on a 2012 survey. Most of them moved back home after graduating from college.

A lot of these Millennials moved back so they can start saving up before venturing out on their own. Some people tried but failed to get a job that is enough to support themselves financially. Regardless of the varying reasons, it is evident from the statistics that the main reason is an economic related.

College students are burdened with two debt problems, student loans and credit card cards. These can add up to be a significant amount. Even if the graduate is able to get a job immediately, they will be unable to put aside money for savings if they continue to live out on their own. It will be difficult for them to get a firm foothold on their financial dreams if they opt to prematurely live on their own resources.

At the same time, parents will be able to put in more money into their own mortgage and other debt payments if they have their kids chipping in the household budget. This is especially helpful if they are already retired.

These are only some of the scenarios that led three out of ten Millennials moved back in their parents house when the recession happened a few years back. While it seemed like the most economical option for all, it still put a strain between relationships – especially when family finances are on the line. The independence that adult children experienced when they were on their own is hard for parents to deal with. At the same time, Millennials feel like their parents are trying to navigate their lives once more – just like when they were kids.

How to rearrange your household budget

As difficult as it may be, there are ways for parents to cohabitate peacefully with their grown up kids. It all takes some calm meetings and a merging of family finances.

Here are three things that we suggest you do.

  • Boost up communication. For the parents, they have to understand that their kids are all grown up and they should be given a say when it comes to household management and rules. Ideally, this has to be done as soon as the kid moves back in. Talk about personal boundaries so you avoid offending each other. Even if it is the parent’s home, it is only proper to give the child a voice. That is one of the ways they can be trained to think for themselves.

  • Learn to give and take. With all kinds of relationships, there must be a compromise. Make sure you give and take so that no one is abused. Understand that both of you have needs and home quirks that has to be respected. If there are rules that the child wants to change, parents should hear them out. The children, on the other hand must always respect the fact that the home is under the ownership of their parents. And being the elder one, they should be kept in the loop when it comes to any financial decisions.

  • Create a new household budget. In most cases, you do not have the same income pouring in. It can be bigger for the kid or the parent. Regardless of that, you must be conscious enough to be fair when it comes to pitching in the household budget. Always be considerate when you are combining family finances. To avoid any misunderstanding, discuss who gets to pay for what. Or how much money should be put into the household fund.

Apart from the family finances, parents and children should share responsibilities to make both living conditions pleasant for everyone. Both love each other anyway and it should be an easy thing to do. There is no better person to give help than family members – just make sure that it will not be abused in any way. If you need to create a new budget plan, you can always look into new templates. Use Google Drive to search for new templates that will work well for the both of you.

Saving Tips For 3 Major Categories In Your Household Budget

home with a dollar signIf you are looking for ways to save money, you know that the best way to start is in your household budget. There are many areas by which you can save and that is what we will be focusing on. After all, the bulk of your monthly expenses can be found within your home. Regardless if you are saving for a future purchase or you are trying to solve a debt problem, your home holds a lot of opportunities to free up these extra funds.

Of course, there is always that option to earn more. While that can work just as well (or even better), there is nothing like cutting back on expenses to teach you the right habits that will keep you from incurring more debts. That includes budgeting, a bit of frugal living and smart spending. Given that, it is always a good idea to incorporate a bit of cutting back on expenses to seal your debt free life.

Tips to save on your home expenses

Before you can even think about cutting back on your monthly bills, start with your home first. When we say home, we mean the actual place that you are living in.

Downgrade to a smaller home

In most severe debt problems, consumers usually had no choice but to give up their homes. There is this trend called the Tiny House Movement and it is all about people opting for really small home just to cut back on spending. The benefit of a smaller home is you get to spend less on just about anything – especially utility expenses.

For someone who has a family, that may be bordering on the extreme but the point here is you should reassess if your home is too big for your needs. If you can downgrade into a smaller house, that will really slash your bills significantly. Just think about what your family needs. If there are only 4 of you (couple and 2 kids), a 3 bedroom home could give you enough space. You don’t have to live in a 5 bedroom house.

Prepare for repair and maintenance costs

Another way for you to save at home is by preparing for any repair and maintenance costs. Do not forego the regular maintenance check ups of your appliances and fixtures. Maintaining expenses are cheaper compared to what you will spend when they end up breaking down on you. You should know the schedule of each appliance and the estimate lifespan of the equipment that you use at home. That will help you anticipate the costs of buying a new appliance or equipment.

How to maximize your food budget

The next major category in your household budget is your food budget. There are so many ways that you can cut back on your food costs. Allow us to enumerate some of the most helpful and effective tips we have encountered in the past.

  • Make use of your kitchen. Take out all those recipe books and cook your meals at home instead of eating out. You will save loads on your food budget this way.

  • Learn how to create food from scratch. Try to learn how to bake bread, cakes, cookies and even simple desserts. Making them at home will help you cut back on your food money too.

  • Bring a brown bag to work. When you cook for dinner, why not make a few extras that you can pack for lunch tomorrow.

  • Plan weekly or monthly meals. Knowing your menu for the next few weeks should help you save money because you can buy your food in bulk.

  • Always make a list before going to the grocery. This will help you stick to your budget and will keep you correct any impulsive buying habits.

  • Try to grow your own produce. It does not have to be like a farm but if you have a small patch of land, try to grow a bit of vegetables and fruits that you can serve at home. At the very least, you can grow herbs and spices. These can be cultivated in small pots and placed in your kitchen window.

Techniques to keep your gas and utility costs low

The last category that we have is a combination of your gas and utility costs. Let us discuss them separately.

Saving on car and gas expenses

Gas prices are rising and you may want to ensure that you will only spend what you need. Here are some useful tips.

  • Choose a fuel efficient vehicle.

  • Make sure your car is well maintained and scheduled for tune ups.

  • Check the pressure of your tire regularly because it affects your gas mileage.

  • Don’t leave your car idle if you don’t have to.

  • Group shopping errands so you can cut back on trips to the store.

  • Learn how to drive the right way will help you lower your gas expenses. For instance, accelerate slowly, coast (lift your foot from the gas) during traffic jams, avoid driving too fast/slow, and maintain a steady speed while driving on highways.

Opt for energy saving tactics to save on utilities

Energy saving will not only give you savings, it will also help the environment by decreasing your carbon emissions. Try to compute your energy consumption by using various energy saving calculators online. You can start by visiting the website of the US Department of Energy, specifically the page for the Federal Energy Management Program to have access to various template computations.

Here are other ways you can save on your utility bills.

  • Turn off lights when not in use.

  • Conserve water.

  • Refrain from leaving appliances on standby. Unplug when not in use.

  • Buy a programmable thermostat to help regulate the temperature at home.

  • Wash clothes in cool waters to save on energy.

  • Keep the registers and doors shut for unused rooms to save on your heating and cooling expenses.

  • Switch to more energy efficient appliances and equipments. If you budget can allow it, switch your old appliances or equipments for the energy saving ones so you cut back on your expenses.

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