Making the most of your money is an art form, and can almost be a full time job in itself. We’ve managed to survive on one income for many of the years that we’ve been parents – and there are 5 of us now! Yes, I’ve often had part-time jobs and other side income, but we’ve never used it to pay for our non-negotiable necessities. Instead, we’ve used it for family outings, vacations, extra kid’s activities, and other “fun” stuff. My husband’s income has always been the one to pay for food, shelter, bills and utilities.
As a result, we’ve learned how to stretch our dollar in many ways. Here are some things that you can start doing right now to make your money stretch as far as possible.
- Buy used. Just make sure you’re not actually paying more than you would if you bought the item new. Second-hand clothing stores can be great, but I’ve seen many examples of pricing that is higher than a comparable item at Walmart or Old Navy.
- Buy less. You don’t actually need 42 pairs of jeans, especially if you have a laundry room. If you have to make weekly or bi-weekly trips to the laundromat, you still don’t need 42 pairs of jeans. Stop buying so many!
- Reuse. Find other uses for empty food containers, jars, and gift baskets. But don’t save them just to have them. Make sure you’re getting use out of them, and they’re taking the place of an item you would have otherwise bought.
- Give less. I know this sounds counter-intuitive, but as a culture, we spend so much money buying gifts for people that they may not even use. And greeting cards …? A hand-written note on classic white stationary is much more meaningful, and costs much less too.
- Eat out less. My family doesn’t like this idea very much, but if you’ve got a fridge full of food at home, there’s no real reason to eat out. Dinner at home costs our family about $15 for the 5 of us. That same meal at a restaurant would cost anywhere from $40-$100. That’s a lot of cash saved right there!
- Choose wisely. When you do make a purchase, consider carefully the quality to cost ratio. I’ve heard people say that they would rather spend $100 on a pair of shoes that will last 2 years, than $40 on a pair of shoes that will last 1 year. That math doesn’t make sense. If you’re not worried about money, then go for whatever shoes you want. But if you’re trying to save money, follow your logic through and choose wisely.
- Price Match/Clip Coupons. But remember to only price match and use coupons on things you would have bought anyway. That’s why I love shopping rewards that give money back on what I’m already buying. While I may buy an extra one or two of the same item, at least I know it’s something I’ll use, rather than just lining my pantry with food that will never get eaten, or the brand of toothpaste that nobody uses.
What are your favourite ways to save money without really trying? Leave your tips in the comments!