Money Saving Tips For Moms | How To Improve Your Personal Financial Life
We all want a strong financial status so that we can live a better life. A strong financial status is impacted by the amount of savings you have, how much you are setting away for retirement and how much of your money you are spending on expenses.
To build a strong financial portfolio, you need to cut down your expenses. It’s easy to say “I want to cut down my daily expenses” but sometimes it’s difficult to achieve that goal. Either we are not ready, or we are just not 100% committed. To me cutting down expenses is just like trying to lose weight. If we are dedicated, we see results; if we don’t, we hardly see any changes. This is speaking from experience.
I always wanted to spend less and save more but wasn’t serious. I did save some money, but it was only for couple weeks and then I went back to my old spending routine. Finally, everything being so expensive it was time for serious commitments and I really watched where I was spending the most. I did lot of research plus read stories of how others were able to stay committed and were successful in cutting down their expenses and increase their savings. I took notes and followed some of those tips that sounded realistic and achievable.
It’s time to get serious about increasing your savings and achieving your financial dreams. The road to financial security does require taking small steps. First, you need to think about what you want your money to do for you now, and more important, in the future.
This article is helpful for:
— stay-at-home moms seeking ways to save money and bring income into the family
— working moms finding ways of staying home while still being productive and bring income into the family
— work-at-home moms looking for ways to add to their incomes and add saving strategies into their lives
— expectant mothers who are seeking ways to balance work and home life and/or preparing for the long-term cost to their careers leaving workforce entirely
Before we look at the ways you can save money, and to achieve your money saving goal, you need to get the whole family involved. It’s easier to accomplish if you have your entire family member’s support and they are on the same page as you. Here are few tips on how you can get your family accompany you in your adventure of saving money.
Start with your partner or spouse. You and your spouse/partner need to be on the same page to understand the importance of cutting down expenses. Share your goals – I find it easy to write things down when discussing important matters like this one. Your marriage is important so having same understanding between the two is critical to make this work.
Discuss with kids. Once you and your spouse are good with the plan, share it with your kids. Discuss the importance of saving money and why it would help them as well. Share the benefits of saving money, get them excited and show how their support is so important to make it all happen. Here are few tips on how to get them all excited about saving money.
Plan activities together. You need to sit down with your family and share the ideas on how you are going save money. Let your kids come up with creative ideas on how what are the things they would like to do on Friday nights instead of going out to eat. You can watch movie and eat home baked pizza and so forth.
Think about rewards. Set a goal for each week or for every two weeks. When you can save the amount you targeted, reward your family for their commitment. Do something fun! You can camp out in your back yard, watch everyone’s favorite movie and enjoy favorite homemade meal – idea here is to keep everyone committed and appreciate each other’s support.
Make it a game. Create a game to find out who came up with most creative ways to save money. Have them write down and share those with the family and give out little prizes or awards.
By involving whole family in your financial goals will help increase prosperity and harmony in your family. There will be more teamwork with lots of fun!
Let’s look at some practical money-saving tips that you can implement into your life to turn your spending lifestyle around. We are going to look at most common expenses of our daily lives and see what we can do to decrease those expenses and pad our bank accounts.
Remember – it won’t happen overnight, the more we practice the better we will get. While reading this article use a highlighter to highlight some of the things that you find interesting or simply take down notes and share them with your family.
Here are few things you can start doing today to strengthen your financial health:
Money Saving Tip #1: Set a Budget
The best way to achieve any goal is to plan, plan and plan. Planning is very important to eliminate the fear of failure. Just like a map, a plan is used to achieve your goals and objectives. Good planning will save you time, help you make good decisions and avoid failures or disappointments.
The purpose of a budget is very simple – to find out where you spend your money, to find places to cut back so that you can begin to save or increase your savings.
Creating a budget will give you a clear picture of your income and expenses. It is good to keep your budget simple, so you can understand and figure out the numbers accurately. Complicated budget plans can make you lose interest and you may not be able to keep up. When creating a budget be little lenient – by being too strict might make you not stick to it as it could be too much for you. You know yourself better than anyone so create one that you are most comfortable with.
Next create a list of your Monthly Needs and Wants. First, examine your needs more closely and determine if they are really a need or is it something that you can live without. For your wants – be realistic. Do you really need to spend so much money monthly on those items? Are there any other alternatives?
Be sure to follow the budget. Your budget planner will only be valuable if you follow what you have. It is there to help you achieve your goals and do things that you have always wanted to do for yourself and your family.
TIP: Celebrate your success when you reach your monthly savings goal – it will become more fun!
Budgeting is like a foundation or the base. By knowing what your budget is you will have a better control of your money.
Money Saving Tip #2: Limit Eating Out And Spend Less On Groceries
Eating out can be costly. Try to stay in and cook a healthy meal for your family. But there are ways to still enjoy the occasional meal without breaking the bank. Also, sometimes the family needs a change, something different then having dinner at home all the time. Here are few ways you can dine out by staying within your budget.
Skip appetizers and desserts
I know with kids it’s hard to skip appetizers and desserts. This is for grown-ups. Extras like appetizers and desserts really add up the total cost.
Have Snack Before You Go
Now this may sound crazy, but I’ve tried it and it works. If you go starving, you will end up ordering lots of food items. SO, before you leave home, have everyone in the family grab a snack. This will help skip the extras that we just talked about.
Go with Water
Beverages can add a lot to your final bill. Stick with water and save that extra cost. Get water with lemon and it will taste fantastic!
Watch the portion
Some restaurants offer large sized portions, so you can have them remove some items if you think you won’t be able to finish it. This can save you some money. Same for the kids – if one order will be able to feed two kids then order just one.
There are websites like Local, Scoutmob and Groupon that offer vouchers for local restaurants for deals like “buy one, get one free” meals or certain percentages off your bill and so on. Visit these sites to grab those deals and don’t forget to take them with you when dining out.
Kids Eat Free
There are certain restaurants that offer “kids eat free” days so plan your meals out for those days and times.
Discounts for Loyal Customer
Many restaurants have programs where you can get special discounts and deals if you are their regular customer. Ask the restaurant that you go to and see if they offer something like that.
Make Your Favorite Restaurant Dishes At Home
Click Here To Discover the secret recipes from your favorite restaurants & easily cook them yourself!
Brand name items can add up those costs really quick. Try generic version. If you look at the ingredients of a generic item and brand name – you will notice they are pretty much the same. Lots of stores are offering their own brands like Walmart, Target, Costco. While shopping in those stores buy their store brand – it will be cheaper than the other brands.
Here are few ways you can save money on Food or Groceries:
Sometimes reducing food bills is easier said than done. But after looking at some of the ways listed below, you can really save on your food or grocery bills.
Starting with the basics; bag your lunch every day to work and you could easily save $30 a week, which is a savings of about $1,560 per year. The best way to make this success is to first come up with 4 to 5 lunches you can make at home.
You can do all the prep work like cutting, chopping, washing the vegetables, fruits, etc. during the weekend – like on Sunday. Place the chopped ingredients in a container or zip lock. You can also use the leftovers from dinner each night and create lunch for the following day. There are so many websites and books on cooking in the market that includes quick, easy and healthy recipes.
Make your cooking fun – like watch your favorite Television Show while cooking or talk to a friend or relative on the speaker phone, well you got the idea. Make it interesting and you will always want to cook at home.
Before you go out for grocery shopping, always make a list and stick to it. You probably had few times where you just went out to get a gallon of milk, but ended up buying soda, cake, eggs. By creating a shopping list, you will have a better idea of what you truly need, which will keep you away from buying things that you don’t need. Shop when things are on sale – like meat.
Meat can be expensive, but they are much cheaper when on sale. Use coupons whenever possible. You’ll be surprised how much you can save. Purchase items that you need or eat and not something you don’t need, or no one eats at home.
When purchasing fresh produce try to avoid large packages. Fresh produce tends to spoil much faster than the frozen produce. So, go easy on fresh produce. Also speaking from experience, don’t go grocery shopping on an empty stomach. Otherwise, you will be tempted to buy items which are not on your list. Stock on items you use a lot when they are on sale.
If you have decent sized yard, take advantage and grow a vegetable garden. Grow your own tomatoes, lettuce, carrots. Do some research and find out which vegetables will better adapt to the climate that you live in. If you live in a city and don’t have a yard – you can still grow your own vegetables by using pots and placing them out on the patio.
More Tips to Save at Grocery Store
It’s not necessary to fill up your shopping cart. The more stuff you put in your shopping cart the more you are going to spend. So strictly stick to your list and get what you really need. If you need only a handful of items, then grab a shopping basket instead of a cart.
Move fast. If you move slowly you will end up placing items in your cart that you don’t really need. Moving fast and following your list will get you out that store with spending what you had planned for.
Ask about discounts. Items such as bakery, meat or dairy produce expire quickly. Ask the employees working at the grocery store and see if they can mark down the prices on items that are expiring the next day. It doesn’t hurt to ask.
Double check the price. Grocery stores have lots of stuff, so sometimes it is possible that items can be placed in wrong category. And certain prices or discounts apply to a certain size package or certain category of items. So always double check the details before you place them in the cart.
Buying in bulk. Buying items in bulk can save money but you need to be a bit careful. Do some calculations. Will it really save you money or is it cheaper if you buy the same item in same quantity by piece rather than in bulk. Here are few tips on buying and storing bulk buys.
Skip pre-packaged items. Some items like salad mixes or cut mixed veggies are surely convenient. But if you buy the same items and chop them up yourself, you will find that it comes out cheaper to do it yourself. Those prepackaged salad mixes and veggies are expensive.
Save on staples. Stock up on staples, such as pasta, olive oil, and nuts, when they are on sale. These are the items that you probably always need, and they stay good for long time.
Use coupons. When I started using coupons, I realized how much I was able to save. At first, I always forgot to take the coupons with me but then I started using a simple tool “a Ziplock bag” and placed all my coupons in there neatly (used paper clips) so that it’s easy to find and locate them. Place the Ziplock bag in your handbag, so it’s always with you when you are shopping. You can find coupons in local newspapers, mails plus online like couponsurfer.com.
Money Saving Tip #3: Spend Less on Clothing and Electronics
Many of us spend a lot on clothing and electronics. We want the latest fashion and own the latest technologies. Well, the golden rule is if you want to spend less on your shopping then you need to be discipline. It starts off with setting up a budget like we discussed earlier and sticking to it.
It’s very important to note what clothes you really need to buy for you and your family. Do you have outfits that can be mixed and matched with just a new pair of clothing item? For example; you might already have a beautiful blouse but need a new pair of pants to go with it.
This next tip was very difficult for me in the beginning and that is, not taking the credit cards when going shopping. I was worried, what if I find something nice and I don’t have enough cash to pay for. But then I started getting good at it. I only spent what I took with me which made me feel so good and proud. I was staying within my budget! Finally! You can also try just taking cash with you when going shopping. You’ll only spend what you have and would not have to worry about over-spending.
And take advantage of any coupons, discounts or promotions available. Visit the websites of the stores that you shop at all the time and print out the coupons.
Another way to find online coupons is to use search engines and search for a specific coupon you desire. When you find the coupon you want to use, enter the code when you check out and the discount will be applied automatically.
Comparison shopping is important if you really want to save and get good bargains. There are many ways you can research – look at advertisements that come in your mail, visit the store websites, and even newspapers have ads as well.
If you can then avoid TV channels like HSN and QVC. It’s sometimes very tempting and gets difficult to talk yourself out of buying something at a specific price when there are only10 left. Simply avoid those channels and watch something else.
There is no need to visit your favorite shopping websites unless you have the money to buy. If you do have the money, then buy what you need and leave the site once you have completed your transaction. The longer you stay on the website, the more you can end up spending.
Important: Always check your receipt before you leave the store or complete your transaction online. Mistakes can happen, and wrong price can be entered.
Get rid of the old and get new – before you buy new clothes, look at what you have in the closets. Is there a jacket or dress that you bought for special occasion but no longer wearing it? Or that beautiful dress that you bought for your daughter when she was a flower girl? Do you need to keep them? If not, then head out the door to a local consignment shop.
If your clothes are in great condition, they’ll take it. If they don’t then you could try holding a garage sale. At least you will get some money back which you could use to buy new ones.
If it’s okay for you and your family to wear used – You can buy beautiful stylish clothes at the consignment shops and thrift stores as well. Sometimes they have something really nice that you may end up liking. Another option to get cheap clothes is the garage sales. You probably would need to hunt through a lot of undesirable items to find the one you like but they are there.
Shop at the end of seasons or off-season – most of us are traditional shoppers; we buy summer clothes during summer and winter clothes during winter. However, if we start thinking a bit differently we would be able to save 30 to 50 percent on clothing.
The best time to buy clothes is when they are on sale. It sounds weird to think of summer clothing when it’s snowing outside but it can save you quite a bit of money. Simply, the stores need to get rid of all their previous seasonal clothing to make room for new clothes for the next season, so they put them on sale to get them out the door quickly.Again, even though they are on sale, purchase what you really need to make it through the season.
Rent it if it’s going to be one-time wear – Say you have a very special occasion to attend you need a special outfit. Before purchasing one, you need to sit back and think if you are going to wear that outfit again, and if so when? If you think you probably won’t wear it again then try renting an outfit.
Check if there are any local clothing rental places near you and see what type of collection they carry. Many of these stores carry high end clothing. Rent The Runway is an online fashion company from which you can rent outfits for occasions like wedding, engagement party, bridal shower, cocktail party, business attire.
Another way to save on your clothing is by getting your clothes to look new and last for a long time:
#1: Remove stain as soon as you can. The longer they stay on the clothes, the more difficult it gets to remove them.
#2: Read the labels and clean your clothes according to the instructions.
Money Saving Tip #4: Spend Less on Telephone and Cell Phone
The first question you need to ask is if you really need the landline? If you do need it then shop around based on your use and compare the prices. If you only make local calls, don’t sign-up for long-distance. Also, if your cell phone offers free long-distance, you don’t need long distance for your landline either.
Cell phone is a great invention. It is so convenient and allows you to communicate with your family and friends anywhere at any time. There are so many families where each member of the family has a cell phone. Does everyone really need one? Does the 10-year really need one – sitting around the house playing games or texting friends? These are the questions one needs to address first before investing money into cell phone.
Be careful about the contracts – there are some providers who charge an early termination fees if you cancel the services before the contract expires. Another thing to note is if you use your cell phone all the time then do you really need the land line. I have lot of friends who don’t even have a landline because they use their cell phone for everything.
If you do not use your cell phone quite often then consider the pay-as-you-go or prepaid plan. It’s much cheaper. When selecting the service plans for your cell phone, always compare the prices with other providers. Make note of type of plan, price, contracts, discounts, what happens when the contract expires, policy for canceling the services and so forth.
There are lot of information that we find out after signing-up for a plan and get disappointed if that is something we did not expect. So, ask lot of questions upfront and take down notes. Remember text messages are not free unless it is included in the plan you purchased.
If there are cell phones, tablets, iPod and other electronic devices that are in excellent condition and not being used then try trading them for cash. Companies like Gazelle offers risk free services for selling unused electronics. This company has also been featured on CNN and ABC. According to ABC – “Consumers are blown away by how much they can get and usually more than they expect”. Don’t let those electronics sit there and become a clutter – sell to companies like Gazelle and get some cash flowing in.
Money Saving Tip #5: Take Good Care of Your Necessities to Avoid Unnecessary Expenses
Transportation is a huge demand for everyone, for dropping and picking up kids from school, traveling to work, and for other things like shopping, visiting families and friends. However, transportation can become expensive if you don’t take care of your vehicle.
The maintenance, the gasoline, and even the insurance, can end up taking quiet a chunk of your money.
I think the best way to save on gasoline is to ask yourself each time you get in your car – Do you really need to make this trip? Another way to make good use of the trip is to make a list of things you need to do or get so that you don’t need to make additional trips for things you forgot to buy or take care of.
Walk to work if you live close enough. You will not only benefit free exercise but also save a tremendous amount of money. Telecommuting (working from home) if your employer permits will also save significant amount. Take advantage of carpools and rise-share programs.
Do you need premium gasoline? Many car experts believe that you are wasting your money by using a higher grade of gas than the manufacturer recommends.
You already know premium grades cost about 15 to 40 cents more per gallon than regular unleaded. Look at the user guide that came with your car and see what grade is recommended.
A regular maintenance of the vehicle is very important. A poorly running engine will be costlier, and you may end up spending more than you expected. Replacing a dirty air filter can improve gas mileage by as much as 10 percent.
Wheel alignment is also very vital; it saves the tires from wearing out quickly. Get the oil changed on time which will reduce wear caused by friction between moving parts and will remove harmful substances from the engine. Avoid overloading your trunk to save you at the pump.
Changing driving habits can also contribute to reduced gasoline expenses. By driving more slowly, you can save significant amounts of money.
According to research for every 5 mph you reduce on highway, you can reduce fuel consumption by 7%. Use overdrive gears and cruise control when appropriate.
It is very important to review your insurance policies before getting them renewed. Ask your insurance provider ways that you can reduce costs and see if you qualify for any discounts.
If there are no ways for you to reduce then shop around and get quotes from other insurance companies.
Review the premium and coverage very carefully. Ask lot of questions to make sure what is covered and what is not. Sometimes lower premiums are not always the most cost efficient.
For your auto insurance, review your deductible. If you are an experienced and a good driver and if your spouse or other family members also have good driving record, you probably don’t need a low deductible. If you have been a good driver and you own your car outright then consider a high deductible and save on the premiums.
In fact, many drivers eliminate collision coverage if their car is old and paid for. Collision coverage pays for any damages that you cause to your vehicle.
Drive carefully and you will be able to save about 5% or more on your premium. Many insurance companies even offer a deal if you go three years without any traffic violation. Group all your insurance policies with one company.
Having auto, home, life and other insurances with the same company can qualify you for great discounts.
Ask your provider before you buy and see what kinds of discounts they offer. I recently found out that some companies offer teen driver discounts if the teen carries a good grade.
Ask your insurance and see if they offer such discounts. Credit score also impacts your premium. Some insurance companies use the credit score to determine the cost of your insurance premium.
Money Saving Tip #6: Don’t Use Credit Cards Unless It’s Really Needed
Paying off credit cards can be expensive and challenging, especially when money is tight. To reduce the credit card bills, it is very important to know how much debt you have. Note down the amount and the interest rate you are paying for on every credit card you have.
Tracking down the usage of your credit card will also help you understand where and how much you are spending. For example; take a few months of statements and write down the details regarding each transaction. How much you spent on restaurants, how much you spent on clothing, on traveling, on payments, etc. This will give you better idea of your monthly spending.
If you have been paying your bills on time, you can also have the interest rate lowered by calling your credit card company. Some companies also consider your credit score. Call and get the details as to how you can get the interest rate lowered – it will save you a lot plus help to pay off the debt faster.
Speaking of credit score, check your credit reports for errors. You are entitled to request and receive a FREE credit report once a year from each of the three credit bureaus; Experian, Transunion and Experian.
If you have financial problems that you cannot resolve on your own, then consult a credit counselor.
Motivation plays a critical role in reducing the debt. Set goals and stay dedicated. Think of things you can get using the same money that you are using to pay debt. Once the debt is paid off you can save that money to buy a house, take a vacation, remodel your house, and so forth. Make a habit of checking your statements regularly and see how much you owe and how much progress you’ve made.
Owning a credit card is not bad and in fact you can own one without any debt by charging only what you can afford to pay when the bill arrives. For example; if you can pay only $100 max, do not charge more than that amount on your card.
Otherwise, you will end up making monthly payments which will accrue interest. If you can afford it then pay more than the minimum. The longer you take to repay the debt the more interest you end up paying.
Another important thing – always, always pay your bills on time. This will keep your credit score good. Late payments and huge debt balances impact the credit score. Credit score is not only used to qualify for a student or home loan, but many companies use it for background check when you apply for a job. You can get your FREE Credit Score at MyFICO.com.
It’s difficult but you can use your cash from your savings account and pay your debt. You must be saying – yeah right! Well let’s see why it makes sense – you are paying 13.99% on your debt. Is your savings account anywhere near that interest rate? Probably not. Pay off the debt and you will get that 13.99% return without any risk on your part.
Getting a home equity loan can also help you pay off your credit card bills and other debts. If the interests are high with big balances, then using your home equity loan to pay them off is not a bad idea. After most of your debts are paid off, you will have none or very little left and it will become more manageable to take care of them. After paying off the debt put the amount that you have paying monthly in savings and save it for important future needs.
There are also companies out there who can help you with debt consolidation. National Debt Relief has been helping consumers get out of debt and specializes in resolving consumer’s unsecured debts through debt negotiation or debt settlement. They offer a free consultation with no obligation. Also, you can get a FREE report to learn which option is the best for your situation, find out how to resolve your debt without bankruptcy and other information that will help you get out of debt.
If you have more than $10K of credit card, personal loans and other unsecured debts, CuraDebt can also help you. CuraDebt is the #1 rated debt relief company.
Another way to avoid surprises is to read the credit card company’s terms and conditions. They also send out advance notices whenever there are any changes like interest rates, fees, billing, etc. This will help you decide how you want to use the card.
Overdraft Protection – do you really need this? Many credit card companies make lots of money from the fees they charge when users exceed their limit. Try to avoid these fees by opting out of overdraft protection. Benefit – you will not charge more than you should and avoid extra fees and downside is that your card will be rejected if you attempt to charge an amount that exceeds your available credit.
It is true that having a credit card can be quite helpful in needy situations. In that case, I would recommend comparing the credit card offers from the most reputable issuers and banks. CreditCards.com is a perfect website where consumers can easily compare offers side-by-side based on the lowest interest rates, balance transfer offers, rewards programs and other important features.
If you think you do need a credit card then get one that helps you earn rewards everywhere you shop and one that has no annual credit fee or foreign transaction fees like Amazon Prime Rewards card. If you shop a lot on Amazon.com and you have Prime membership then you will get $70 gift card instantly upon credit card approval.
4 Tips for paying off department store credit card
If you were enticed by a department store credit card discount offer, you are not the only one. There are many of us who took that offer to get an immediate discount on the purchase we made. I ended up with almost 6 department store credit cards. At that time, I couldn’t pay off the entire balance, so I made payments. But believe me the interest rate was high. It seemed like even though I was making the payments the balance was decreasing so slowly.
Learning from experience, now I simply deny those credit card offers or if I do get one I make sure I payoff the entire balance without accruing any interest. Here are few tips to help you pay off those department credit cards:
First, stop using it – you must be going “what”! Putting more on your credit card won’t help you pay it off. The best way to do this is to stop carrying with you. Leave it at home.
Pay more than the minimum payment – adding few more dollars to your minimum payment will help you pay-off the balance much faster. You will accrue less interest since the balance will be lower.
Review the statements on a weekly basis – one of my credit cards was getting past due amount added every month and I wasn’t aware. I was paying my bills on time and still it was there. As soon as I noticed that, I called the company and was told that it was added accidentally.
If I hadn’t made that call it would probably be still there, being added to my balance every month. Check your statements at least once or twice a month and make sure everything looks good. Make note when you return a purchase and the amount that should be deducted from the balance.
Don’t get too many of them – there are many department stores today that are offering credit cards and entice you with big discounts. However, having too many credit cards can promote to forgetting to pay them off on time, can impact your monthly budget, can be stressful when you see all those interest rates and hard to manage. Keep only 1 or 2 favorite ones which are easier to track down and manage. Your life will be less stressful.
Final Thoughts on how to improve your financial life
You’re probably already doing some or all the things discussed in this article. If not, then start today, if you really want to improve your financial situation.
Get your loved ones involved and set goals that are realistic for everyone. Create plans. You need a roadmap to show you how you’re planning to achieve your goals.
Saving money is not that difficult. Using the right tools and methods you can improve your financial status and live a lifestyle that you’ve always wanted.
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