Cutting costs doesn't have to be complicated. There are many small, daily steps you can incorporate to save money. These small changes gradually become a comfortable part of your lifestyle, and you will find that your expenses have probably gone down quite a bit. Sometimes all it takes is paying more attention to where your money goes.
Trimming Down the Grocery Bill
Most families today, even empty-nesters like my husband and I, are spending a large chunk of their income on food. It's a good idea to take the time to analyze your shopping and see if there is any waste, and how you can correct it.
1. Eating Out
This is where you will see a big difference right away. How often are you eating out? Which meal is it - breakfast, lunch, or supper? Why are you eating out so much? These are some questions to ask yourself.
Try packing healthy lunches instead of buying them. Is your family going out to dinner a lot or driving through fast-food places? Plan your menus and meals ahead of time, such as freezer meals. They can go right from the freezer to the oven or crockpot to save you time on busy evenings.
2. Eat More "Real" Food
When you go to the grocery store, focus on fresh fruits and vegetables, dried beans, brown rice, and whole grains. You will not only be eating healthier, but will be eliminating packaged foods that cost much more.
3. Snacking Habits
Snack foods are tempting when you are busy. Perhaps you are going through the grocery store after work and you're already hungry. You decide to throw a bag of chips or cookies into the cart and maybe munch a few on the way home just to hold you over till dinner.
These snacks are not only empty calories, but can add a good bit to your food bill if you do this very often.
There are several solutions to this dilemma. You could prepare some nutritious snacks ahead of time to carry with you when you know you are going to give in to these temptations. If your family likes to snack, have some fresh fruits and vegetables cut up in baggies in the fridge. These are easy to grab and eat, which is often the reason we opt for junk food. Or if you still want the sweets or chips, making homemade goodies may be the solution. You will probably get more for your money by making snacks from scratch than you will buying them already prepared.
Soft drinks cost a good bit and are not good for you or your teeth. If your family members drink a lot of pop, you may want to start gradually discouraging this habit. For other drinks, make your own ice tea instead of buying the jugs of it. Set up your coffee pot to come on automatically in the morning so you don't have to stop and pay for a cup every day on the way to work.
Couponing is very popular right now, and with good reason. Many people save a bundle by stocking up and comparing coupons with store sales. One drawback is that you won't find too many coupons for fresh produce and whole grains. Coupons are often more geared to prepared foods. But for items that you are going to buy pre-prepared, coupons can help cut the cost.
Other Ways to Save Money
We spent a lot of time talking about groceries because so much money goes out in that area. But there are some other places where you can make frugal changes.
- Make your own household cleaners. You will find loads of recipes online for all sorts of things from laundry detergent to appliance cleaners. One thing to be aware of - there are some substances that don't mix or can be dangerous when combined with something else. Check this out from an authority site or book before mixing anything.
- Shop for used things. Yard sales, flea markets, second-hand or consignment shops are a good way to find nice items at a very low price. This is especially helpful when you have children that are growing quickly and you don't have a big budget for clothes.
- Household items can also be bought second-hand at these places. You never know what you might find for just a few cents.
For ideas and tips on homemaking, cooking, crafts, family life, gardening, family history, and a touch of the past, visit http://www.oldfashionedhomemaking.com.
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