Success in managing money can be measured in many different ways, but the ability to live within your means is a one of the best indicators of your overall financial health. The alternative, spending more money than you bring in, is unsustainable, slowly eating away at your financial stability, until debt becomes unmanageable.
As straightforward as the concept is; achieving financial balance isn’t easy. In fact, many families walk the line, treading close to damaging imbalance, month after month. If your personal income struggles to keep pace with your spending, or you simply need to cut savings from your monthly budget, these frugal moves can provide money-saving relief.
1. Cash in on rewards programs and money-back promotions
Cash back offers and rewards programs have become mainstays in the modern retail marketplace. If you’re not enrolled in savings plans with your favorite markets, credit cards, retail stores, restaurants, and online vendors, you may be leaving money on the table. Consumer environments have become so competitive, you can easily compare incentives, to see who has the best deals. Some rewards cards, for example, carry high fees and limit the ways you can redeem rewards.
2. DIY for substantial savings
Whatever the task at hand, doing it yourself, rather than hiring a professional, can dramatically lower the cost of the project. Some examples of do it yourself savings include these frugal moves:
- Property improvements: Painting, light carpentry, deep cleaning and other updates are in-reach for mechanically inclined property owners set on saving money.
- Landscaping: Not only do exterior upgrades improve curb appeal, but well-executed landscaping also adds value to your home.
- Appliance repairs: Various online resources spell-out procedures for repairing and replacing household appliances. In many cases, your owner’s manual and an online instruction video are all that’s needed to save money on the cost of domestic repairs.
- Home cooking: Stepping-up your from-scratch cooking can lead to savings at the grocery store. Inexpensive, basic ingredients yield substantial bang for the buck, so learning to make bread and other staples shows immediate budget relief.
- Gardening: Producing food at home isn’t without cost, but can yield low-cost vegetables, under the right circumstances – especially when compared to the cost of store-bought organic produce.
3. Consolidate credit for affordable payback
The cost of consumer credit may be dragging down your monthly finances. If you are burdened with high interest credit card debt or carry costly balances with multiple creditors, a consolidation loan may help you find savings, without interrupting repayment of your credit obligations. Above all, if debt has grown beyond affordable levels, step-back, stop spending, and explore sustainable solutions.
4. Buy one, get one free
BOGO is not a new idea, but the marketing hook is sweeping retail venues, restaurants and other consumer outlets. As a rule, never buy anything just to get something else for free, but always try to take advantage of promotions discounting things you genuinely need.
To make the most of buy one get one free incentives, learn the discounting patterns practiced by your favorite vendors (Two for Tuesday, companion incentives, holiday bogo events, etc.) and change your consumer habits to take full advantage of sales.
5. Kids eat free
Parents of all ages recognize this longstanding restaurant promotion, designed to draw-in family-friendly crowds. In most cases, the offer is legitimate. Watch out for exclusions like beverages or other add-ons. And since decent restaurants are on-board with the idea, parents can enjoy better-than-average meals, as their kids dine free.
6. Manage your menu for savings
Landing a free meal for the kids is a good start, but achieving frugal food costs calls for further dedication. If your food budget has grown out of control or you just need greater financial accountability in the kitchen, lean on these proven habits of frugal home cooks:
- Use off-brand goods
- Shop with a grocery list
- Plan a menu and buy only what you need to prepare it
- Repurpose leftovers
- Clip coupons
- Enroll in shopper loyalty programs
- Limit prepared food purchases
- Dine in
- Stretch inexpensive cuts of meat
- Eat before you shop
- Shop at more than one grocery store
- Buy in bulk
Using a number of money-saving strategies help families find the resources needed to keep pace with financial demands. For the best results, use these six suggestions to jump-start your own frugal philosophy and start seeing immediate relief in your budget.