Adam Jacob has provided this guest post; he is a contributing writer on FrugalDad.com. Frugal Dad offers financial advice and coupons and deals.
Let’s just get this fact out there: running a home is not cheap. The daily costs of living are only getting higher and living on one income is becoming increasingly difficult for each generation. We can think back to those before and how seamlessly individuals then seemed to survive on one income. When you are trying to make each pay check stretch to impossible lengths it can be hard not to be a tiny bit bitter. However, like most challenging things in life, one should rise to the task rather than shrink from it. If you are immersed in household management and starting to feel overwhelmed by your tight (or failing) budget, there are many things to do to help cut your daily costs.
1. Put that videogame/designer purse down.
There is a lot of interest these days in ‘frugality’ and many families have adopted a ‘less is more’ philosophy. If you were to sit down and take a good look at your bank record, how much of your monthly budget are you spending on things that you really need? You may have to make some hard choices in order to save some money. Maybe you don’t need a bottle of wine every time you make pasta. Maybe you really could do without a 3D television in your bedroom. The key is to honestly ask yourself if you really ‘need’ what you are buying before you spend money on it. You will be surprised at how much you can save.
2. Clipping coupons does not make you weak.
Spending an afternoon clipping coupons can make you feel very old, very quickly. However, when you swallow your consumer pride and decide to shop sales you will be surprised at how self-satisfied you‘ll feel. Taking the time every week to find coupons can save you a great deal of money. In fact, a ‘first time’ coupon clipper can expect approximately 15% savings on their initial grocery bill. More seasoned clippers even enjoy up to 50% savings every time they shop. You may find yourself regretting all the times you paid full price instead of sacrificing a few minutes to find a good deal. Some excellent sources for couponing are:
Junk mail and flyers: stop recycling them and start perusing
Magazines: many of the traditional ‘woman’s’ magazines such as Redbook, Family Circle and Good Housekeeping have many manufacturers coupons every month
Online research: join the coupon revolution and look for deals on one of the many free coupon sites online
3. Don’t pay for anything you don’t need.
Many of us don’t realize how many extras we are paying for every month that we really don’t have a use for. Check your insurance policy, cable and phone bills to see if there is anything you can drop without affecting your well-being. For example, experts agree that extras such as extended warrantees on appliances, flight or flood insurance and rental car insurance are all things that most people can do without.
4. Bundle up.
Once you’ve trimmed your insurance down, take a detailed look at your utility bills. Do you really need to be paying off two bills every month or will your provider bundle your services? Many companies are now offering special deals if you put all your media in their hands. By combining your phone, Internet and cable into one bill with one provider, you may be able to save a sizable amount of money. This gentle ‘whittling’ of your services is guaranteed to make a difference in your bankbook.
5. Turn that light off when you leave the room.
We’ve all had family members who never turn on a light or spend the entire winter in a multitude of sweaters rather than turning the heat up. It’s time to join them. If you are not in a room, don’t turn the light on. If you’re not using an appliance, unplug it. If you’re chilly, put a cardigan on rather than cranking up the gas fireplace. Not only will you save money, you’ll be helping the environment as well.
Anyone who has stayed at home for any length of time will tell you that household management requires a great deal more skill than is required for sweeping or folding laundry. A home does not maintain itself and the job is more demanding than most people might think. There are few people that would walk into a job interview for this position with utter confidence. Be proud of yourself for making the sacrifices it takes to run a household frugally and well. It may not pay as well as you’d like (or at all) but having a well run home and the money left over to enjoy your life is a reward in of itself.