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Unfortunately, as wonderful as saving can be, it's not always as simple as it seems. Most parents have countless bills to contend with each month – some bigger than others. Unless you're lucky enough that you have an amazing income, you might find it hard to target="_blank">discover saving opportunities and still pay all of your expenses on time. Fortunately, we have some top tips that could allow you to scrape a little extra cash aside for your family when you're working on a tight budget.
Look at Your Mandatory Monthly Costs
Some of the things you pay for every month are a must-have in your home, like utilities (gas and electric), health insurance, car insurance, and food. However, just because you need to buy those things, doesn't mean you need to accept that the deal you have right now is the best one. One of the easiest ways to start saving money is to compare your options and look for better deals.
Reducing the amount, you need to spend on car insurance, while still ensuring you have the same amount of coverage can give you extra money for savings without affecting your lifestyle. You can even consider switching to a different provider for your broadband, and getting more speed from your connection, for a lower fee. Comparing the costs for your monthly supplies is something you should be doing on a regular basis. You'd be surprised how many families continue spending more than they need to on their bills, just because they forget to explore the market.
Handle Your Loans
Loans are some of the biggest headaches for any family to deal with. The last thing you want is to be paying interest every month when you could be paying towards your child's future education. However, loans are also something that most of us will need to think about at one time or another. The good news is that you could potentially reduce the cost of your loans with a little research.
For instance, if you have a student loan or other expenses that have been dragging you down for a while, it might help to refinance that loan with a private lender. Refinancing your loan from Earnest can give you access to better deals than you had available to you when you were first graduating. The less you pay on your loans, the more money you keep for yourself. Don't forget to check out your mortgage costs too. That's another kind of loan that you can refinance if you're low on cash.
Deal with the Food Bill
Aside from housing expenses like gas, electricity, and your rent, your food bill is probably the most expensive cost you have to deal with every month. Although you can't cut down on food like you would other expenses in your life, you can reduce the amount you spend on items you're going to waste. For instance, you should always have a list with you when you go shopping.
Writing a list means that you can check which resources you already have at home and ensure that you're not buying doubles of any products. A list can also help you to plan for the meals you're going to have each week. This makes it easier to determine what sort of leftovers you could use to make lunches the next day, or whether you can buy items in bulk to handle multiple meals. Even changing your eating habits slightly can make a huge difference in your life. For instance, cutting back on meat with one vegan day a week does great things for the planet, and it could mean that you end up spending less on expensive fresh and organic meat options.
Switch to Cash
Have you ever noticed how easy it is to spend money these days? All you need to do is flash a credit or debit card and you're done. It's the same for many of us online. Once we've already bought something from a company, our payment details remain saved on the system for months to come. That means that you just press a button and you're through the checkout instantly.
Switching your regular daily expenses to cash will make it easier to keep track of what you're really spending. If you leave your credit cards at home when you go to work, and take a specific amount of money for your lunch and coffee, then you can't spend any more than what you've already budgeted. This can help you to get out of some bad habits. It's also helpful to use cash for groceries because planning in advance should give you an idea of how much you need. This will ensure you're not tempted by end-of-aisle deals or offers just because you're hungry.
Make Small Changes
Ultimately, making a huge difference to your budget as a cash-strapped parent doesn't have to be an amazing overnight transformation. Although it might seem like you have a lot of work to do before you meet your budgeting goals, little steps will help you make progress a lot faster than you'd think. For instance, if you can cut just five dollars a week from your grocery bill, that adds up to $20 in total each month. Deciding to reduce the amount you eat pizza with the kids from a fast-food place to just twice per month could save you around $40 a month if you usually get one takeout a week. Think about the little changes you can make that won't feel as difficult for you and your children. If you implement small changes slowly, you're less likely to be overwhelmed by the sudden change in routine.