Times are tough for many families today. Even with two incomes, family budgets seem to have to stretch even further then ever. Let's take a look at some ways any family can stretch their dollars but still live the lifestyle they want.
Think Before You Buy
Before you buy anything, stop and think about why you are buying it. Do you need it or do you just want it? If it's not a matter of necessity, try putting the purchase on hold for a week. Often, people will forget all about that item after just a few days or realize that they would rather use the money for something else.
If it is a necessary item, such as a new refrigerator, do some research online before you decide what and where to buy. Read reviews from other customers and compare the features of each model you consider. Don't buy anything with a lot of features that you will rarely or even never use.
Slash Grocery Costs
The grocery budget, including personal care and cleaning products, is the easiest place to find savings for most families. The great thing about this is that you don't have to make big changes to see big savings. Contrary to popular belief, you don't have to start buying all generic products or stop buying your favorite foods.
Start with planning your meals ahead of time. When you get your store's sales flyer for the week, see what is on sale. Try to plan all your meals around main dishes that are on sale. Don't buy a pork roast at full price if a beef roast is what's on sale.
While you're at it, try to start planning leftovers. This not only saves money, but can save you a lot of time. When buying that roast beef, get one a little larger than usual and plan to make two meals instead of one. Perhaps Sunday dinner will be roast beef, mashed potatoes, gravy and green beans. On Wednesday, slice up the remaining roast and serve it with the leftover gravy on open-faced roast beef sandwiches, with a garden salad and a loaf of Italian bread.
Do-It-Yourself With Style
Get out of the habit of discarding items that start looking a bit ragged. Instead, think of ways that you can re-purpose or refurbish the tired items into whole 'new' items. Sofa pillows looking a bit sad? Cover them for a couple dollars rather than buying new ones for ten times the cost.
For quick wardrobe boosts for kids or yourself, instead of buying expensive graphic tees, buy some plain ones at the craft store. Using fabric paints, iron-on appliques, or other embellishments, you can have a trendy top at a fraction of the price.
Every couple with young children knows that the cost of babysitting can make an evening out hard to come up with very often. Why not set up a neighborhood co-op with other parents to swap evenings? You take someone else's children one night, they take your kids a few nights later. Both families get a night out without spending double the money.
Don't forget about the time-honored tradition of barter. There are often situations where you can trade services with friends or neighbors. Need your hedges clipped? Ask your neighbor that you see out clipping his own hedges and offer to mow his lawn or rake his leaves in exchange.
Michele Golden is an outspoken and driven blogger together with photographer born and raised in Vermont. Shes at the moment is studying to realize her dream of becoming an independent stock broker to assist those with financial difficulties.