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Ways to Save Money on Must-Haves
Saving money seems to be on every ones mind these days with the decline of the economy. The American dollar is having to stretch much further then it ever had to before. In this article I will go over some ways to save money on things that you need and have to have in order to survive.
If you have your homeowners insurance and taxes paid through an escrow account through your Mortgage company then you probably feel like there's not much to do to bring your Mortgage payment down. I recommend calling around yearly and getting quotes on your homeowners insurance. Check to see what discount you are eligible for. A lot of companies give discounts for having an alarm system, having dead bolts, having smoke alarms, combining your car and home policies, and even good credit discounts. It won't hurt anything to call and get a quote. Also check to see what your options are on refinancing to bring your interest rate down. Several companies are offering refinancing with no cash needed. It does bring your payment down but it also brings your over all loan back up to the purchase value so be cautious of that.
Check with your utility companies to see if there are any discounts that you're currently missing out on. Some electric companies offer budget billing which means they average out a years worth of your bills so you pay the same amount no matter what time of year it is. Some places give discounts if you pay in advance or if you have automatic bill pay and even paperless billing.
Also try to cut back where you can. Get an updated thermostat that will keep your house cooled when your home but not so much while you're at work. See if your electric company offers free energy audits where they come into your home and check your windows, doors and air ducts for any repairs that need to be done that are costing you money on your power bill.
Food is a requirement to survive and it's hard to cut back on your favorite items in order to save money. I recommend writing down your dinners for the week and any other items needed for bagged lunches and snacks so you don't over-buy at the grocery store. Create a budget for how much you can spend per week on food and try not to go over.
Couponing can be overwhelming and sometimes a complete waste of time but if you have a favorite item check their website to see if they offer printable coupons. There are also several websites/blogs that will compare store ads to current coupons to help you maximize your savings.
Try to compare stores in your area to see if they are offering any good sales. Always go where the savings are. Stock up if you can when items are cheap.
Clothes can be a hard thing to save money on because if you need something you need it. I am an avid clearance shopper and I hate buying clothing if it's not on sale; especially for my kids. For children I buy the next size up when they go on sale at the end of the season that way next year I already have their seasonal items purchased and usually for 50% less. I do the same thing with their shoes; when I see shoes on sale or on clearance I purchase a bigger size and eventually they'll use them and I don't have to run out looking for new shoes and then spending a fortune. Black Friday to New years seems to be when the best sales are for clothes. Also, check different websites for store discount coupons.
Create a Budget
Sit down with your spouse and lay out all your bills and expenses and create a budget. There are tons of budget templates online that are free to use and you basically just type in your information and it calculates everything for you. The major part in this is to stick to it. Try to have a portion of your paycheck automatically debited into a savings account for emergencies (if it's automatically taken out you're more likely to save it). Set a savings account goal for yourself and see if you can complete it. My Husband and I tried this several years ago and have been doing it ever since: we figure how much we spend at Christmas time and we divide that up per month and we save that much money per month and at Christmas we aren't scrambling to buy 4 kids Christmas presents with no money. This theory can be done with any goal; a new car, an emergency fund, a new tool, a new purse, a day at the spa, etc.
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