Stretching your Monthly Income

Make some changes to the way things are done. This may be the only way to have money left over at the end of the month. If the budget clearly shows you are spending more than you want to, or not saving enough, there are several things to try. Not all of them may work for everyone, but some of them might work for you.

*Plant a vegetable garden

*Shop with a list and use coupons

*Entertain at home

*Car pool

*Reduce utilities and services

*Share chores


*Rent out the spare room

*Work from home

*Take an extra job

Plant a vegetable garden

Plant a vegetable garden and save cash on food. Vegetables can be frozen, canned or eaten fresh, have much better flavor than store bought vegetables and can fill the table and freezer. Extra produce can be sold at the farmers market. Even a container garden on the deck or patio can make a dent in the food bill.

Shop with a list and use coupons

Cut grocery bills by shopping with a list and use coupons. Make menu plans for one week, figure out what is in the pantry and what you need to make meals. It is surprising how easy it is to cook when you already know what you are preparing. Cooking at home can be a real joy if the entire family helps and there is the added luxury of home cooked leftovers for lunch the next day. Wal-Mart is a good place to use comp ads, which means they will match ads from another store if they have the identical product and brand.  A store like Aldis can slash food costs by a third or even in half

Entertain at home

Invite friends over for dinner and drinks instead of going out. It can be a great way to save money. Everyone needs a break from the daily grind, and sharing each others beautiful homes is one way to do that. Holidays should not be the only excuse to spend time with friends and family.

Car Pool

Share the cost of gas, maintenance and parking and visit with a friend on the way to work or home. It can be an enjoyable experience. People can learn to get along to save gas dollars.

Look for ways to lower utilities

Hang out laundry to dry in the summer and on nice winter days to make a definite difference in the utility bill. Set the thermostat around 78 degrees in the summer and 73 in the winter, and purchase a programmable thermostat that adjusts temperature settings for days, nights, and weekends.

If every person in the family needs their own cell phone, maybe they can pay some of their own costs. Teens can earn money to contribute to the cost of paying for their phone bill and a portion of their car insurance. With guidance, they can get a feel for how much these things will cost when they are on their own.

Cut the grass yourself

Have family members take turns cutting grass and shoveling snow instead of hiring it done. Yard work can go quickly if everyone pitches in and working together makes the family unit closer. Even little ones can learn how to get the lawn ready for cutting.

Downsize the home

To downsize a large home is not a quick fix but a permanent means to reduce major expenses. A large home can take a lot of maintenance, taxes, insurance, utilities, etc. A smaller house payment means more money in your pocket. Downsizing might be something to consider.

Rent out the spare room

Take in a boarder, and charge $400.00 or more a month for the use of an empty room. If you are single of course, a roommate could be the ideal way to have money left over. Splitting rent and utilities is a great way to cut expenses.

Work from home

If it is possible work from home, there is savings on commuting costs, wardrobe, lunches, and possibly day care. Maybe the boss would consider letting you work four days a week or other flexible hours. Video/audio conferencing are becoming more and more feasible.

Take on a temporary second job

You might take into consideration how far you live from the city hub as it may not pay to drive too far for temporary part time work. Do you have forgotten skills? An example might be tutoring kids in English, math, or music. There are immigrant children all over the United States living in non-English speaking families. They are often struggling at school and many times their parents cannot help them.

Home baked cookies, breads or rolls sell really well at the farmers market. Here is the possibility of a small catering business on the side, or what could turn out to be a large catering business. If you have children, you can swap babysitting on the weekends, so another couple can go out. If every other weekend you sit on Friday or Saturday night, you could charge at least 25.00 or more depending on the rates in your area. If you are close friends with the other couple, take turns and avoid having to hire a sitter at all. If you have writing skills, you may be able to write for internet sites such as Helium.

Some of these changes are small and some are huge. If small change is all that is needed then you are one of the lucky ones. For some, huge changes could be in the near future. There are no easy solutions to the financial problems that many are facing and many are already in crisis, but these are the least drastic and can provide a starting point for many.