As a family grows, so does the cost of maintaining it. Expenditures on food, clothing, transportation, and nearly every area of family life escalates through the addition of others to the home and inflation. For most households, this increase in spending begins to put a strain on the household budget. Finding ways to reign in these expenses can become a priority if the family is to thrive through the ups and downs of the economy.
Learn to set the thermostat to a more energy favorable temperature.
Everyone like their house to be cool in the summer and warm in the winter. The extent of that cooling and heating is relative to the lifestyle of each household. The first step to controlling these costs is to find a temperature that your family can tolerate that is at least a few degrees away from your optimum. This will mean learning to wear more clothing indoors in the winter and less in the summer. It may also require some less expensive alternatives like fans to put more climate control in some places than others. A permanent move of 5 or more degrees will make an immediate and noticeable difference in your monthly utility bills.
Resist the urge to turn your thermostat up and down when you are at home.
If you have a programmable thermostat, set the program to make energy efficient changes to the house temperature for times when you will be away for an extended period like for work. You may want to make similar programmed adjustments for sleeping times with the heating. However, just because you come inside from vigorous work or exercise is not a reason to crank the air conditioning down to refrigerator level.
Do your grocery shopping in bulk at discount stores.
Everyone likes the little bump in quality that often comes with purchasing major brands of various products. Sometimes, it is possible to get these brands at significant discounts during sales or by buying in larger quantities. Take advantage of these opportunities.
Buy private label brands when practical.
However, when the preferred brands are not selling for a good price, switch to private label discount brands to economize. Unless you have learned that these brands have serious quality issues, buying them will cut large portions of your grocery bill in half. Always buy meat in larger quantities and separate it out for freezing and long-term storage when you get home. Many times the difference between buying 2 pounds of hamburger and 10 pounds can be a savings of up to a dollar per pound.
Reduce the amount of snack food available in the pantry.
Not only is it healthier to have less impulse eating items available, it saves tons of money. Resist the urge to toss in boxes of snack cakes, cookies, and pricey crackers into the shopping cart. Doing this will bring an instant drop in your checkout costs at the grocery store. It should also help you control your weight and eat a better quality diet.
For adults try to buy quality clothing on sale or clearance over discount garments.
Better made clothing lasts longer and looks better than the cheaper brands. Because adults many times keep their wardrobe items for several years and rotate them through the seasons, having better quality makes good sense. For children, this is not always the best option because of growth and damage. In larger families or families that pass clothing to smaller relatives as it is outgrown, buying better quality dress clothes can be a great way to go to maximize the benefits from each dollar spent.
Do not make unnecessary trips.
A lot of fuel is spent for extra trips to the store or the fast food restaurant. Learn to combine trips. If it is not an emergency, delay making a trip until you can have several stops to build a route. Work with family and friends that live nearby to combine trips in this way, too. You can pick up items at the store for a neighbor when you go for yourself or vice versa.
Use alternative forms of transportation when it is practical.
Taking mass transportation can be great way to cut costs if you live in an area that is adequately served. Carpooling is another excellent choice. Do not overlook using a bicycle or walking when it is practical to conserve on commuting costs or short trips. This not only saves money, but it is generally healthier, too.
Use a budget.
This is not always a popular plan, but it makes a big difference in your household costs. Work hard to make your expenses fit into your budget or do without if it is not essential to staying alive or staying afloat financially. Include in this budget a weekly allowance for your personal spending. This will reduce the temptation to head to an expensive restaurant for lunch or to buy an item on a whim that is not needed. When your allowance runs out, your spending has to stop. Do not be embarrassed to tell others that you are on a budget if you must say no to participating in an activity because of money.