It can seem like it’s almost impossible to save money in today’s highly expensive world. No matter where you turn, it seems like there is always a reason to spend money that you just can’t avoid. After all, we have financial responsibilities that are not getting any cheaper as the days go by. You are spending more and more money month after month, and it can certainly feel as though it’s impossible to have anything in savings.
As bleak as it might seem, there are certain things you can consider doing that can help you to save some money each month. Over time, you can put some of that savings toward debt payments or investments to start to build wealth. It might not happen overnight, but when you follow some simple tips, it is possible to increase your monthly savings.
Below, we are going to dive into 10 things that an average household can do to save money starting right now. You will find that all of these are relatively simple, but they also happen to be highly effective.
Tip #1: Reduce the Grocery Bill
The first thing we’re going to talk about is grocery shopping. Whether you have two kids or six kids, or it’s just you and your significant other, this bill can get quite high if you aren’t careful. Fortunately, there are some ways that you can trim the bill when you head to your local grocery stores.
Make a List
You don’t want to spend a lot of time wandering around the grocery store trying to find what you need. This often leads to spending more money as you find things you don’t need, but your mind somehow makes you feel you need.
Keep track of your consumables and the items that you need to buy and then add them to your list. Have a working shopping list before you enter the store and plan your route through the store.
Look for Coupons and Apps
Coupons might be cliché, but you’ll find that they really can be quite helpful. You can still find coupons in a lot of the Sunday papers and online, but one of the best things about today’s technology will be the store apps. You can find apps for the stores you shop at, which will often have digital coupons.
You can have the app’s barcode scanned when you check out and get the savings that you would normally get through the standard paper coupons. When you learn to coupon right, you can reduce your grocery bill substantially.
Buy in Bulk
Here’s another good tip to save money if you have the option. Try to find stores that offer bulk purchases, as this can often allow you to save a lot more money. Places like Costco and Sam’s Club, for example, will often have bulk toilet paper, coffee, pasta, school supplies like notebooks, and more. If you don’t have one of those stores in your area or something similar, there is always the option to shop online and buy in bulk.
Don’t Go Grocery Shopping When Hungry or Stressed Out
When you shop and you feel stressed or you have hunger gnawing at you, guess what happens? You are going to end up buying more than what you need. You will buy items that aren’t on your list, and you will probably buy things that are expensive and unhealthy for you. It’s a bad idea all around.
Have a snack before you go to the grocery store. To reduce stress, try to head to the store at a time when it’s not too busy. This way, you won’t have to contend with others.
Don’t Grab Brand Names Without Checking the Price
A lot of people are accustomed to picking up brand-name items when shopping. However, a lot of times you are paying for the brand, not the product. There may be store brands that can help you save money. Always look at the price, including the price per ounce (or another unit of measurement) to ensure you are getting the best deal possible.
How much money do people waste on food each year? $100? $500? According to a study from 2020 published in the Nutrition Journal, the number is a lot higher—$1,300. This is a substantial amount of money, so start to be more careful regarding just how much you end up throwing out. Curbing waste is a good way to keep more money in your checking account.
Tip #2: Make Meals Rather than Eating Out
Our next tip also deals with food, as this is where a lot of families end up spending a substantial amount of money each month. Often, you end up spending a lot more than you realize because even those little expenses can start to add up.
Below, we’ll look at a few examples, and see why it’s better to cook your own food at home and to plan your meals ahead of time.
How Much Are You Spending Eating Out?
Let’s say that you are a family of four and that you all go out to a restaurant once a week. You and your spouse go out for lunch from work three times a week. While this might not seem like much, let’s get some basic numbers.
Maybe you spend $60 for a meal for four when you go out to a restaurant or order takeout once a week from an eatery you like. Let’s say that you and your spouse each spend just $25 for your three lunches out during the week, for a total of $50.
When you add this up, you are spending $200 a month on lunches and $240 on eating out with the family each month. That’s a total of $440.
Now, you have to think about all of those other little incidentals. Are the kids buying lunch at school? Are you stopping for coffee in the morning or snacks at the gas station? All of those little food expenses can start to add up over time. You could quickly find that you are spending $500 on eating out during the month.
Cooking your meals at home is going to cut down on this expense substantially and allow you to save money. Of course, every household is different. Some might end up spending more while others could be spending less on eating out. Regardless, part of your savings plan should include reducing the amount you are eating out.
Why Should You Plan Meals?
It’s always a good idea to plan your meals ahead of time. Family life can be hectic, and it’s sometimes hard to think about what you are going to make at the end of the day if you don’t already have it planned or even pre-prepared.
When you aren’t prepared, it can often make people fall back on the easy option of picking up something on the way home, which we already know is going to increase spending. Meal planning also means it will make grocery shopping easier since you know exactly what you need.
Tip #3: Reduce the Number of Subscriptions You Have
Now, you need to look at the number of subscription services you currently have including your streaming services. These costs start to add up and could make saving money more difficult.
Paper and Digital Subs
First, consider any magazine or newspaper subscriptions, whether they are paper or digital. Do you need them? You can probably get all or most of the same information online without needing to spend anything at all.
Next, think about all of the various streaming services you are using. Sure, you cut costs by canceling cable TV, but the streaming costs can add up. Audible, Spotify, Netflix, Disney+, Hulu, Paramount+, and countless others might seem like a good deal. They can be, but you have to remember that you are generally going to be paying $10 to $20 for each of these services. You could end up spending hundreds of dollars on these services.
You don’t want to be without any entertainment, of course, but you will want to rethink just how many of these services you have. Cut back on the streamers. Choose only those that you use regularly. If you have Spotify, instead of using the premium plan use the free ad-supported one.
Box subscriptions for everything from pop culture items to shirts, outdoor products, and everything else imaginable are popular, but they aren’t necessary. Cut those monthly box subs if you still have them to save money.
Tip #4: Use Rewards Cards If You Are Going to Use Credit Cards
Ideally, you will limit your use of credit cards if you want to start saving money. However, we all know that having credit cards today is necessary for many things including emergencies and building credit, so you can have a good score on your credit report. Just remember that you need to pay off that credit card debt.
If you are going to use a card, you should make sure you opt to use a rewards credit card. The type of rewards card you choose will depend on where and how you spend money and where you want to save.
There are reward cards that can help you save on groceries, for example. Some can give you money back when you spend on groceries. Others can do the same thing with the gasoline that you buy. Over time, those rewards can start to add up.
There are many different sorts of reward cards available, so you will want to find the ones that work best for your particular needs whether it’s gas, groceries, travel, or even cash-back rewards just for spending.
Tip #5: Find Affordable Entertainment Options
One of the areas where a lot of families end up digging into their checking and savings accounts and spending too much money is entertainment. It does have the potential to be expensive, especially when you include things like vacations. However, it doesn’t have to be quite so costly. There are some ways to enjoy some relatively cheap entertainment.
Head to a local park or take the family hiking. There are often cheap and free activities in cities and small towns across Texas, such as street fairs, free concerts, free movies in the park, etc.
Instead of taking a vacation, make it a staycation. Go fishing, go camping, and do some things that you’ve always wanted to do right where you live.
It could also be fun to learn a new hobby or to invest in a few games the family can play together and that can provide a lot of entertainment. Tabletop roleplaying games, for example, are a one-time investment that can produce countless hours of great memories for very little cost. You could also learn different types of artistic hobbies, such as painting, gardening, writing stories, etc.
With a little imagination, there are plenty of entertainment options. There are even free streaming services that are ad-supported, like Tubi that you can use.
Tip #6: Hold a Neighborhood Swap Meet
Here’s an idea that can work well for some neighborhoods or some large family and friend groups. These swaps are not like a traditional swap meet. For example, you aren’t going to be buying or selling anything. Instead, it will be the true meaning of swap.
Everyone brings items they have that are in good condition and that they no longer need. Then, they get to swap those items with others, which is one of the more interesting ways to save money. You can get items you need and make sure other families have what they need all without spending anything.
Of course, it doesn’t always mean that everyone will find exactly what they need, but it can help with saving money.
You could have it be just for kids’ items only, such as clothes or supplies for school, or even toys. You could also have the adults involved and include clothes for adults, shoes, and even appliances and tools. Perhaps you have a second mower you don’t need, and you could swap that for a microwave that you do need. No money changes hands, but everyone goes home happy.
Tip #7: Think Thrifty
Instead of going online shopping, it’s time that you started to change your spending habits and think thrifty. What does this mean? It’s simple, and it can help with money management because you are spending less.
Instead of buying things brand new, head to a thrift store and buy used ones. You can find clothing, furniture, and other types of household items that are usually in good condition and that are much cheaper than buying new.
You can also shop at discount stores and buy scratch and ding items. They will work just as well, but they might not be aesthetically perfect. However, this option is great for saving money.
Reading can be some fantastic and cheap entertainment. However, books have the potential to be expensive. You have a couple of options on how you can save money and be thrifty with your reading material. First, of course, is taking a trip to the library rather than buying brand new.
What if you like e-books? Some libraries have e-book lending options. Also, you could look at Kindle Unlimited. It is a subscription service, but it provides you with countless titles that you can download and read on your Kindle for a low price. This could be great for heavy readers.
Tip #8: Pay Down Debt
If you have bad spending habits and you are spending too much from your checking account or on your credit cards, you will want to try to curb them. You also want to make sure you are paying down debt as soon as you can. Otherwise, you are paying interest that is essentially wasted money that could’ve been going into your savings account instead.
While it’s an unfortunate truth that you will need to carry some debt if you want to maintain and improve your credit score, you need to keep your debt low, so you don’t overextend yourself. You could, for example, put your monthly groceries on the credit card and then pay it off each month.
If you have high credit card bills right now, you might want to use some of your savings to pay them down. Even better, you could use your tax refund. Pay it off ASAP, so you can avoid paying interest.
Tip #9: Prepare for Rainy Days with an Emergency Fund
Even though the sun often shines in Texas, we all have bad days that turn into bad weeks or months. Try to prepare for them as best you can. You will want to have a savings account to help with this.
Ideally, you will be capable of putting away a little bit of money each week, especially if you are following these tips to improve your family budget. It should leave you with extra cash, which can then be used to go right into your savings, where it can be helpful for emergencies.
You don’t have to put a lot into your emergency fund at the start. 20% should be the goal, but this isn’t possible for a lot of families in the beginning as they are getting a better grasp of the family budget. It’s okay to start with less. 10% or even 5% is going to be more in your emergency fund than was in there yesterday.
Just make sure that you keep this as an emergency fund until you have enough in there that you can start saving for other things, such as a down payment on a home, so you don’t have to rent. The sooner you start saving the better.
When it comes to saving, you should get a separate savings account just for rainy days. This will keep it separate from the checking account and any other savings account you might have for other purposes.
Tip #10: Find Ways to Save Energy Around the House
This is a massive expense for many families regardless of household size. Fortunately, there are some things you can do that will help you save money on your monthly energy bill. You will find that most of these happen to be quite easy, too.
While this might sound simple, it can be effective, especially in the long term. You can use LED or CFL bulbs. They are going to last a lot longer, they are more durable, and they use less energy.
Don’t Use Appliances in Peak Hours
During the peak hours of the day, you are going to be spending more on appliances than if you use them during the off-peak hours. This simply means that you should wait to use your washer and dryer, dishwasher, etc. until after 7 p.m. or before 10 a.m.
Of course, you could cut the energy costs further by foregoing using some of these appliances at all. For example, dry your clothes outside or on a rack inside the house, so you aren’t spending to run the dryer.
Another appliance tip is to try to use energy-efficient appliances. You might not have the money in the family budget for a new appliance right now, but when the time comes for a replacement, choose those that are energy efficient.
One of the great things about Texas is that the energy market is deregulated. This means that you could be saving on your energy bill by changing providers. Of course, you will need to wait until your contract with your current provider is up, and you will want to make sure it doesn’t auto renew.
Take the time to shop around and look for others who can provide you with electricity for your home at a better rate. Of course, you also need to be sure that you read all of the fine print. If you aren’t sure of what you might want to choose to help you save, you can always spend some time talking with an expert.
These are just some of the ways you can save energy around the home, which will in turn help you save money each month on your energy costs.
Put the Tips into Action Today
With these 10 money saving tips, you and your family can work toward a better, stronger financial future. Use them to help get your family’s budget in order, but don’t stop here. Keep looking for other ways you can start saving even more each month. Knowing how to live frugally and having that extra money around for a rainy day will give you some peace of mind.