Following are tips for reducing expenses.
Spend less on energy costs
- Set your air conditioner at 78 degrees rather than 72 degrees and save up to 30%.
- Check your furnace to make sure it is in proper working condition.
- Winterize the doors and windows in your home. Call your local power company and have them do an energy audit.
- Set your thermostat at a lower setting and use a programmable thermostat
- Turn off lights, televisions, and other items when not in use or when you leave a room.
- When you finish using your computer, shut it down instead of letting it run in hibernation mode.
- Keep your water heater at a lower setting.
- Talk to your utility company about a budget payment plan. This plan averages your payments for the previous twelve months of service to determine the amount you'll pay monthly.
Spend less on groceries
- Don't shop when you're hungry. You're more likely to pick up items that you want but don't need.
- Use a shopping list to ensure that you won't forget anything and get only what is on the list.Read the sale papers. It's okay to shop at more than one store if the savings make it worthwhile.
- Get serious about using coupons. Some stores double or triple coupon values to save you more.
- If possible, leave your kids at home. They continually want to buy things that are not on your list.
- Limit your purchases of prepared foods. They are very expensive.
- Bring your calculator and add up the cost of the items in your cart. Don't go over your budget.
- Shop early in the morning on the weekend. You're likely to be more rested and make better choices.
- Cook from scratch and make enough to have leftovers. This approach can save money and time.
- Plan a menu. This will take the guesswork out of daily meal preparation.
- Keep it simple. Elaborate meals are for dinner parties and special occasions.
- Keep your cupboard stocked with the basics. Which items do you use for more than just one meal? Stock up on these when they're on sale.
- Check the unit pricing on the shelf tags. This helps you compare prices on items which are different amounts or sizes.
Save on clothing
- Shopping for clothes in the off-season. The best time to buy clothing is when there is a sale and most big sales occur at the end of the season. As the sale draws to a close, the prices get lower. So if possible, wait until the last minute to buy.
- Shop the outlet malls for good deals on name brand clothing.
- Only purchase what you need to make it through the season.
- Thrift stores and consignment stores are great places to find clothing bargains. You'll find gently used clothing of all kinds at a fraction of the retail prices.
Save on home repairs - do it yourself
- Cut your own grass. A lawnmower will pay for itself in no time, especially in the summer months.
- Ask a friend with a truck to help you get big items home from the store and avoid delivery charges.
- Hire a professional for major things like electrical or plumbing. Shop around to get the best deal.
- Learn how to paint and make simple repairs by asking for advice at your friendly home store.
Save on entertainment
- Instead of going out to the movies, borrow them from the library or sign up for an online service.
- Trade off babysitting nights with a friend so that you can go out without the expense of a babysitter.
- Check out the community calendar for free entertainment such as concerts, festivals and movies.
- Parks and beaches are often free. Take your lunch or have a low cost barbecue.
- Historical locations and museums are often free or low cost to the public. Enjoy them.