Begin with a budget.
As basic as it sounds, evaluating your current expenses and being honest with yourself is the best place to start. Are you spending more money on wants than needs? Are you having to rely on credit cards to get by? Have you been remembering to save as well as spend? Once you have a sturdy plan in place, you can start figuring out where to cut unreasonable spending.
TIP: Don’t know where to start? Check out 10 Budgeting Basics for more info!
Start with your home expenses.
Before renting or purchasing a home, research the neighborhood. It may cost less to live in an area that is more rural or further from downtown. If you do choose to rent, find somewhere with as many utilities included as possible. Once your home is established, look for ways to save around the house.
TIP: You can save 3% on your heating and cooling bill for the year by lowering or raising your thermostat one degree.
Are you travelling efficiently?
If your car has seen better days, start shopping BEFORE it breaks down. By waiting for the worst to happen, you may not allow yourself enough time to research, find financing and choose the most cost-effective vehicle for your lifestyle. When purchasing a vehicle, look for something that is fuel efficient and has affordable replacement parts.
TIP: Another option may be to check out your local public transit options if you live in an urban area.
Analyze your family’s healthcare needs.
When selecting health insurance, think about the medical needs of your family. For example, if you have children and one has asthma, it may be best to spend more on your monthly premium for better coverage to lessen the blow of large, unexpected medical bills in the future.
If you find yourself struggling under the weight of a large medical bill, try to find financing from a reputable lender before the debt is sent to a collection agency. You may pay interest, but you will protect your credit history and possibly avoid related judgements and garnishments.
You can be frugal AND eat healthy!
The key is to shop for produce that is in season. If your favorite fruit or vegetable is higher in price, consider switching to the frozen or canned options during the winter months if possible. Speaking of substitutions, look at your grocery list to determine which goods can be swapped for generic brands.
Sometimes saving money can be as simple as evaluating where you buy your groceries. To avoid spending money on unnecessary items, skip the one-stop-shop convenience stores and buy food from a grocery store. By doing so, you can avoid those last-minute impulse purchases that were not only your list, especially when shopping with kids.
Be a responsible pet owner.
When you bring a pet into your family, you are choosing to add another dependent to your household. Instead of buying a pet on a whim, save and plan for ALL of their expenses. Look beyond the purchase or adoption fee and remember the price of food, toys, vet bills, etc.
Besides the pet “startup” costs, try to save some extra money to replace items that can be damaged or destroyed during the training process. If you are a renter, review your lease prior to getting a new furry friend as there may be extra costs or fees required by your landlord.
TIP: Consider purchasing pet insurance to help alleviate the cost of heavy medical bills.
The little things add up.
Look at all of your extra monthly costs and evaluate your wants and your needs. If money is still tight, it may be time to take a break from certain expenses or hobbies. Do you have unnecessary subscriptions? How often do you use your streaming services and/or cable? Can you do without a product or service for a few months to build up your savings account? Going without for a short period of time can give your financial makeover the boost it needs to thrive!