By Christina Brown
When I became a stay-at-home mom to our boys, it meant a 40 percent decrease in our spending. And in the years since then, the price of everything from gas to groceries has gone up, up, up! I’ve learned how to squeeze every extra penny I can out of our budget. I view it was my job to make sure I take good care of the family finances. It’s definitely not an easy task (and I’m not perfect), but there are a few places I’ve “found” more money in our budget:
Insurance deductibles. By raising the insurance deductibles on your home and vehicles, we were able to save about $25 a month. We just had to make sure that we kept money in savings to cover that higher deductible in case anything happened and we needed to make a claim.
Tax withholding. If you’re getting a great big check from Uncle Sam each spring, then it’s time to adjust your tax withholding. Visit the IRS website to calculate your exemptions. By adjusting your tax withholding information, you’ll get less of a tax refund, but you’ll put more money in your pocket each paycheck, when you need it. In our case, this put an extra $78 a month in our pockets.
Coupon clipping. A novice coupon clipper can easily shave 30% off their food and household purchases with coupons. But when you learn how to really work the sales and coupons, you can save up to 75% on items you regularly use.
DIY projects. Groom your own dog, cut your kids hair, mow your lawn, haul your own garbage to the dump, and paint your own house. All of these do-it-yourself projects are simple enough to do on your own and can save you some serious money. Search the internet or check out books from the library to help with your projects.. You just might find you have skills you didn’t know you had.
Selling stuff. Our garage was packed with stuff we didn’t need. Our kids were outgrowing clothing at an alarming rate. We had garage sales, we sold clothing on consignment and other odds and ends on eBay.
Internet. The internet is my favorite resource when it comes to saving money. You can use it to watch your favorite television shows and cut your cable. You can use it to save you trips to town by doing banking and bill-paying online. You can use it to search for coupons and deals, find freelance work that will bring in extra income, complete surveys online for money and gift cards, find recipes for inexpensive meals and homemade cleaners, and find frugal solutions to all kinds of household problems.
Being tough. Be tough on every expenditure. Watch your statements and question every fee. Be wary of automatically renewing subscriptions and resist adding any new financial commitments no matter how small. When I was really squeezing our budget during those early months at home, I equated everything in terms of diapers. Those higher insurance deductibles meant I could pay for a box of diapers with the savings. Squeezing money out of your budget is no easy task, and you won’t notice the changes overnight. But when you focus on the small things you can do, it makes the big things seem a little more manageable.
Read more frugal living tips and money-saving ideas at http://www.northerncheapskate.com.