To save money you need to follow two very simple and basic rules – spend less money than you bring in and cut back on unnecessary spending. Living paycheck to paycheck to cover your expenses is a surefire way to run into financial trouble, especially when the job market remains so uncertain. It is almost impossible to get ahead or to put some money aside for savings when you need every dollar you earn to meet your daily expenses and monthly bills.
If you are running short on money or looking for ways to save some money, you will have to make some changes in the way you spend your money. Determine what expenses are essential to your family’s welfare and then cut back on those things you don’t need. Either look for affordable alternatives or eliminate those extras you can live without.
5 things you can live without:
1. All things new
Let go of the idea that everything you want or need has to be bought and has to be new. You can find some fantastic bargains on just about everything your family needs from clothing, toys, furniture, housewares, linens, entertainment, even gifts, at your local thrift and consignment shops, tag sales, used furniture stores, flea markets and auctions. Check out your local library for free loans on movies, CDs, books and magazines, even use of a computer. Recycled, gently used and loaner items can more than adequately substitute for unaffordable high priced items and can save you a bundle of money in the process.
2. Expensive family vacations
Rather than go into credit card debt for that costly trip to Disney World or a week at that luxurious ski resort, save money by choosing a family staycation instead. With overstretched family budgets and the high cost of gasoline, many families are spending quality time on vacations and excursions closer to home including local ski slopes, campgrounds, rivers, lakes, historical sites and other family-friendly attractions.
3. Specialty coffee and bagels
Do you really need that mucho dollars cup of coffee every morning prepared by your favorite barista? You may be spending well over $100 a month that could be put toward an overdue bill or into a savings account. Invest in a coffee maker or espresso machine and make your own coffee. Get a travel mug for the drive to work. Stock up on bagels and cream cheese at the grocery store when they go on sale. You’ll have that overdue bill paid off in no time!
4. Over-the-top holidays
Many families find themselves in serious financial trouble after the holidays. You can have a wonderful holiday season without overdoing and overspending. Limit the number of gifts you give and the amount you spend. Talk to family and friends about setting some limits this year. Rather than buying expensive decorations and other extras, make your own. Also consider home baked goodies for your friends and neighbors. You may find you actually enjoy a more frugal, less commercial holiday season, especially when you aren’t bombarded by a load of bills once the holiday celebrating is over.
5. Major extravagances
Rather than going for that super-sized home with its exorbitant monthly payments, outrageous heating bills and need for a professional cleaning service, why not go instead with an affordable home you can maintain yourself and enjoy without fear of eviction or foreclosure? Instead of that gas-guzzling SUV, save money and get something more environmentally and wallet-friendly. Although your heart is set on that $400 designer handbag, be happy with the more affordable knockoff. Keep in mind that much of the thrill of luxury items can wear off quickly, especially when the interest charges and late fees start piling up.
To save money you have to live within your means, which may require living without some of the things on your wish list. Some compromising here and there will be necessary. You may have to pass on some of your first choices but your second choices may well prove wiser in the long run.