Everyone deals with high prices and bad economy. So where is the relief at? What can we do to lower those bills and keep more money in our pockets? Are you one of the many people tired of reaching down into those pockets only to find lint and pennies? Well here are a few steps to bettering your budget:
1. Stop eating out so much!
Believe it or not your money tends to fly out the window with every drive through the Starbucks lane or every time you bite into that juicy Whopper at Burger King. There are many ways around this problem though! Do not worry, you are not going to have to quit buying those delicious caramel cappuccinos or chocolate mocha. You are not going to have to quit eating at your favorite fast food joints either. What you do want to do is to limit how much you do spend out there at those places of interest. Start buying the cafe mixes in the stores. Believe it or not, the dollar stores are notorious for having these in stock. Stock up on them and make your favorite coffee creations at home. Once in a while (meaning maybe once a week at first, then dwindle it down) buy that mocha frap at Starbucks. There is no need to take away all your joys in life, right?
As far as the fast food goes, the same thing applies. Many of the items they make in the fast food joints can be recreated very easily in the comfort of your home. For example: Those delicious breaded chicken sandwiches at Burger King that make your mouth water? Buy the breaded chicken patties from the grocery store (Foodmaxx or Winco is a great place for prices) and buy the cheaper bread rolls there, some cheese of your choice, maybe some lettuce, and Wallah! Home made Chicken sandwich just like the one from the fast food restaurant. And by doing that you have leftover chicken to last you longer than if you bought them separately at Burger King. The price of the patties alone make up for the price of one sandwich at Burger King.
Again there is no reason to not eat out at the fast food restaurants, but again maybe start off only once a week, then after a while just slowly dwindle it down to maybe twice a month. You will be amazed how much money you keep in your pocket after all of this. And just think, this is just the first step of advice towards more money in your pocket! Another helpful hint: If you like to eat out once in a while, Denny’s has a wonderful 2,4,6,8 menu and it does have a wonderful array of different items for the right price. If you are craving an outside meal, try them. It’s worth it!
2. Find local entertainment for free
There are many sources to find things going on in your community that are either free or fairly cheap to attend. Your library is usually a good source for this. One idea that there might be is a local music club, for example one known as JazzFresno exists in the community here. They set up little meetings in the local library that are geared to teach the community different things under the topic of jazz music. They usually follow it up with a free concert, and they always have refreshments waiting for you there. There are also such things as ArtHops, which can be found in many different communities. This is where local artists are allowed to showcase their work within different businesses one night a month. The community goes out and looks at the art and there is usually refreshments and music along with this. It makes for a nice date evening out of the house.
Another great way to save money is to wait to see those amazing blockbuster movies when they hit the $3 dollar theater. If your city has one, it usually shows the movies that were in the big theaters a few months later. For a very small chunk of change compared to the gouging price of 11.50 at the main theater. Waiting just a few months to watch those favorite movies of yours is worth the change in your pocket afterwards. Many other venues are available to you as well: Parks, bike trails, nature walks, community events such as free movies in the park or concerts in the park, and so much more. Check out your city webpage and you will be able to find something to do for free or cheap.
3. The Blasted Bills!
Everyone has them….those pesky things we get in the mail stating that once again we owe something to someone somewhere. Well fear not there are ways to manage this as well. If you have been following the first two steps, already you have extra money in your pocket. Why not get ahead on those bill payments. Everyone is used to paying that min amount due, and let’s face it, why should we have to pay more than that to them each month? Well if you continue to pay just that min amount, the interest continues to rise. If you happen to have extra money from all that saving you have been doing, pick one bill….yes just one, and pay just a little extra to them besides the min payment due. That one bill makes a huge difference. Each month, pick one bill out of your stack to pay just a little more. Even if it is only $5 more than you usually pay, that is $5 less you owe later on, right? Believe it or not, it works.
Another way to cut bills is by checking your local Gas and electric company. PGE has what is called the “CARE program” which changes your bill due to your income information. If you make little enough to qualify, you are eligible for discounts and lowering of your monthly bill. Now when it comes to Cell phones, that is a tricky area. There are companies like Boost mobile, but even though the pay as you go phones seem great at first, the service and quality really is low. So the cell phone area is totally up to you for choosing. A company like AT&T is a good choice in the long run, even though the monthly bill is right under a 100 a month, you get unlimited texting, mobile to mobile (regardless of the carrier) , data, and rollover minutes. It is a nice company and they really are great with customer service.
4. Invite people over for potlucks/parties/game nights
A great way to enjoy company and to save money at the same time is to hold game nights at your home. Have a potluck along with it. Tell your friends to bring one dish of their choosing (usually you want to give a category) and have them bring a game of their choosing. You get to spend time with friends and loved ones, and you have wonderful food and fun at the same time. By hosting it at your house, you start a trend with your friends, and maybe then you can rotate who’s house it will be at for the future game nights. It is fun, inventive, and easy to do. Try it out!
Everyone loves a good vacation, right? Well there are ways to save on travel as well. One of the best ways to save on vacations is those magazines you see at Denny’s that holds different hotels in your state. Believe it or not you really do save a lot of money by booking with those hotels instead of just booking through the main websites. When you go on vacation, find a place that has a fridge, microwave, or even a small kitchen. Then when you get to your destination, either have food from your own grocery store brought along with you or stop at the local one of the city you are visiting. That way you can make your own lunches/dinners/snacks or even breakfasts in your own room. That will save you a lot of money in the long run. A lot of places offer free breakfast if you stay in their hotels as well. When you go out and seek adventure in your vacation site, find those same free entertainment options as mentioned above. Believe it or not there are the same types of free venues in the vacation city just as there are in yours. Check it out. You will be amazed how much fun you will have and spend quite less of the money you planned on.