It is never easy to reduce your family’s spending. It requires giving some things up or at least changing things and no one likes change. When times get tough however, something has to give and it is possible to make a few changes that will save you money and not really affect your standard of living.
In order to reduce your spending, you have to know exactly how much money you have coming in and how much money is going out. Sit down and make a list of all the fixed expenses that you have. You need to pay your rent or mortgage, taxes and car payments. While you may not be able to do anything about the amount you spend for rent and taxes, you can take a look at your mortgage and car loan rates and be prepared to renegotiate your loan if current rates are lower than the rate you are paying. You have nothing to lose by asking for a lower rate from your lender and a whole lot of money to gain if you are successful.
If you are carrying any credit card debt, check the interest rate that you are paying. Many cards have jumped significantly in the past couple of years. Talk to your credit card company and ask for a lower rate. If they are not willing to lower the rate, shop around and find other companies that are willing to work with you. Bankrate.com has lots of valuable information about credit card rates and offers. Research the cards and make sure that your credit score is flawless. If there are any errors on your credit report, correct it so that you will be eligible for a lower rate.
With the price of gas, it is time to start to think about the amount of driving that you do. If possible, take public transportation. If that isn’t an option, look for someone to carpool with or look for a van pool if it is offered in your area. Keep your car in good repair to maximize the mileage you get. Have your tires inflated to the correct pressure and drive at 55 miles per hour when you can. Higher speeds use more fuel. Combine errands and avoid driving when possible.
Take a good look at your household expenses. Phones are a big expense. If you have both a home phone and a cell phone, consider getting rid of your home phone. There are also Internet phone services that are inexpensive when compared to traditional phone service. What are you paying for watching your TV? How about your Internet access? Consider bundling your services. You can usually find significant savings by getting all of your services from one provider.
Shop around to make sure that you are getting the best rate on your electrical service. Not all providers charge the same per kilowatt hour. There can be a big difference in the prices charged. In many states, you have the right to choose who you get your power from.
Look at all of your insurance policies. If you have your homeowners and auto insurance with different companies, you are losing out on potential discounts. If you have small deductible, raising them can save you hundreds of dollars.
Do an energy audit on your home. Unplug any unused appliances, caulk windows and put weather stripping on your doors. Lower the thermostat five degrees and shop around for the lowest priced fuel. Use high efficiency light bulbs, they use about 25% of the electricity of traditional bulbs. Avoid using your dishwasher, washer and dryer unless you have a full load.
A AAA membership can get you lots of discounts. Movies, museums, the aquarium, be sure that you are getting all the additional benefits that you can in addition to the peace of mind of knowing you can call AAA if you have any car problems. There are AAA discounts available on a variety of travel related services including hotels and restaurants.
If you have a gym membership, it might be time to give it up and get the family into the local park and onto the green way or bike trail. It is a great way to spend some quality time together while you are all getting some exercise and reducing your spending.
Before you go to the grocery store, check the fliers, cut coupons and have a list. Try to avoid impulse spending and consider using store brands. Have one meatless meal per week and for other meals buy cheaper cuts of meat. These can be cooked in a slow cooker and make great, family friendly meals. Pack lunches for the kids at home instead of buying lunches at school and if you are buying your coffee at a specialty shop, brew it at home instead.
These are just a few of the ways that you can reduce your family’s spending. Each family will have different expenses and you need to look closely at your personal situation and the places where you are spending your money. Reducing the amount that you spend can help make your life more enjoyable and a lot less stressful.