December 31, 2008

How to Stick to Your Family Budget

Creative Commons License photo credit: Skelekitten

There are many ways in which family budgeting can be utilized and maintained. Write down the family expenses and income. Decide where you can eliminate some of the more expensive items you buy.

Here are some suggestions:

  • Buying groceries in bulk (Buying groceries online can also save you money. Click here to save $10 on groceries online.)
  • Use coupons whenever possible
  • Buy grocery items on sale
  • Buy generic products in supermarkets and drug stores
  • Keep the lights off when not at home
  • Use energy saving appliances, such as air conditioners and refrigerators, etc.
  • Keep the room temperature at your home at the minimum level
  • Cut up all credits cards, except one
  • Call credit card companies and ask for a lower interest rate
  • Pay with cash as often as possible
  • Put money into a CD account
  • Buy savings bonds
  • Invest your tax refund in an educational IRA
  • Put all of the change you’ve accumulated at the end of the day into a large glass jar
  • Walk more often, rather than driving
  • Talk to a financial consultant to determine if your budget is appropriate to your income

Once you have set a budget, you have to stick to it religiously. Try not to borrow any money unless absolutely necessary. If you do take out a home equity loan, shop around for the best interest rate. Keep your home and furniture in good condition; the last thing you need when on a budget is to have to expend additional dollars for home improvement.

There are several online sites who offer savings deals with online merchants or coupons for different supermarket items. If you need to buy something always check eBay first. When shopping for clothes and footwear, choose clothing warehouses or inexpensive stores to save money. By the way, they do offer brand named items for less.

If these are not available in your area, the major stores always have sale days every week. For Christmas, begin shopping in February, when sales are aplenty. Start a new tradition by buying your kids one expensive gift, as opposed to many. You can also give them items they can use for school as well as accessories they can wear.

For college bound kids, shop online for books. Most college bookstores are very expensive. Save where you can by purchasing used books. Check out the many financial aid services being offered, as well as Federal loans. As mentioned above, utilizing the ESA or the 529 Plan may be to your advantage.

Go to dollar stores to buy incidental items for your home. They also have apparel which you can purchase for your younger kids, as well as school supplies. Or visit Costco or BJ’s wherein you can buy in bulk, and save. WalMart is another place where you can save money as well. Payless offers you unique savings on shoes and sneakers. Instead of buying the more expensive cell phones with unnecessary cameras and text messaging, look into family plans which offer phones for free.

Call your telephone company regularly to determine if there are special rates being offered. If you have cable or satellite, determine what you can cut down on in that area. Some cable companies, as well as telephone companies, are now offering a three-in-one service: cable TV, phone and Internet service. Check to see if it is cost effective for you to use this service.

Remember, too, that as parents, we have to insure we have the best possible health and insurance coverage available. The last thing we ever want to do is burden our children with added expenses when we become old. Look into term and whole life insurance.

Research different companies and determine which coverage meets the needs of your family. The same holds true for auto insurance. Scout around; perhaps you can save on your current coverage by switching to another company. If you have an old car, you will no longer need to pay for collision damage.

Budgeting isn’t easy, but it is necessary in today’s economy. No matter how hard we work, we never seem to make ends meet. However, if we budget early on, and set a realistic and reasonable goal for our families, it can make all the difference in the future of our children and ourselves. Recommended: Mom’s Talk Network Guide to Family Budgeting

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Alexis Rodrigo