A new year will soon be here, and with it comes renewed resolution to make lasting changes. If you could use some extra wiggle room in your budget, here are just a few ways to save money throughout the year. Each penny, quarter, and dollar helps (especially with all the fiscal cliff speculation!). You may already do some of these things, but hopefully at least a few of these ideas will spark some fresh inspiration for you.
1. Create a Written Budget
A budget gives you the ability to track your spending and saving—and hopefully to see an increase in savings and a decrease in spending. Without a budget in place, your money will just be running through your fingers with no set objectives. A budget gives you parameters and purpose. It gives you boundaries, and it gives you freedom to live creatively within those boundaries.
2. Use Cash
When you shop with a credit or debit card, you can have your budget in your head and you can do the best to stick with it when you go to the store and check out, but it’s so much easier to go just a little bit over here and there when you’re swiping. You can justify that two dollars you went over your budget to buy something that was a “great deal” when paying with your card. Two dollars might not seem like much, but if you spend two-to-three dollars more every week, that adds up to about $130 in extra spending over a year’s time.
3. Simplify Your Wardrobe
Are you wearing everything you own on a regular basis? If not, why are you hanging onto it? It’s just taking up space in your closet and cluttering your life. Save money and time by paring down your wardrobe to only those things you love and wear regularly.
4. Buy in Bulk
It is often much more cost-effective to purchase meat and staple ingredients in bulk. Call around to local farmers and see what they would charge you for purchasing a quarter or half of a cow. In many cases, it’s at least a dollar cheaper per pound to purchase in bulk. Search online or look in the phone book for nearby bulk food stores or co-ops that allow you to buy items in large quantities. Remember to always check the price per ounce at your local grocery store, though, because bigger is not always less expensive.
5. Have a Meatless Night Once a Week
Meatless doesn’t have to mean calorie-less or tasteless! We often serve breakfast foods for dinner or we’ll have soup and bread. I’ve also learned that you can completely skip the meat in some recipes, like lasagna, ziti, or bean burritos. If you’re not ready to go all meatless, try replacing a third of the meat in recipes such as tacos with beans.
6. Make Your Own Cleaning Products
There’s no need to buy expensive cleaning products. A bottle of vinegar and a box of baking soda are enough to tackle a myriad of household cleaning jobs. MomsBudget.com has an extensive list of homemade cleaner recipes to try.
Crystal Paine is a wife, mom of three, and bestselling author of The Money Saving Mom’s Budget and the e-book 21 Days to a More Disciplined Life. Visit her blog, www.MoneySavingMom.com, for high-value coupons, online bargains, freebies, and practical ideas and inspiration to get your life and finances in order.