You need to cut your household budget! Maybe you need to beef up your rainy-day savings account. Maybe you don’t even have rainy-day savings. Maybe you’re saving up for a new car, or a big trip, or your kid’s college tuition. You need to cut the budget, but you’re not sure how to do it. Here are some trade-offs that help you save big on your household expenses.
Cook at home instead of eating out. Cooking at home saves lots of money. True, you don’t get the whole restaurant experience of ordering, being served, and walking away from the dishes, but you do get nutritious, delicious food. You can control the ingredients and the portion sizes. You can make it fresh and cut the sodium. You can linger over your meal without feeling guilty that someone else is waiting for your table. Did I mention you save a lot of money?
Walk instead of the gym. You don’t need a gym membership. There are so many ways to work out in healthy and fun ways without paying for a place to exercise! Walk or run through your neighborhood (my quest: to walk with my dog through my entire town. We drive to the spot where we stopped the day before, do our daily walk, and keep a big printed map posted on the fridge where I color in our progress each day.) Chase your kids around and play tag. Shovel snow in the winter, rake leaves in the fall, and mow the lawn in the summer. Check out exercise DVDs from the library or find online yoga workouts on YouTube. Go to the municipal pool if you like to swim-many of them have low-cost “memberships” or monthly deals that make swimming well worth your while. Take a bike ride. Make your own barbells and lift weights.
Library instead of the mall. You love to drift around the mall, people-watching and picking up things or your family, except those mall trips inevitably add up to a lot of cash. Explore your local library. True, you won’t find those cunning little designer shoes (that’s what the consignment store’s all about!) but you will find lots of free entertainment for you and your family. Free DVDs, all the books you could dream of reading, educational material-it’s all at the library. Story hour for your tots, chess club for your kid, anime book club for your teenager-it’s all at the library.
Make money at home instead of shopping online. I deeply, dearly love to shop online, but I love making money even more. Start a little side business to earn some extra cash instead of indulging in a potentially expensive hobby of shopping online. Sell stuff you make, like jewelry or homemade quilts or sturdy wooden toys. Instead of shopping for yourself and watching your funds dwindle, concentrate on buying something at a discounted price that you can sell for full price online. (I paid for my expensive grad-school textbooks by selling used books on Amazon. Seemed like poetic justice to me!) Provide a service, such as tutoring or after-school care for local kids. You don’t have to go in big on working at home, just substitute old time-wasting habits that cost you money for making money with your time.
Frugal trade-offs really pay off. Try these surefire ways to beef up your budget.