As the nation rebounds from a recession, many of us are a little bit more cash conscious these days. Here’s a few instant ways to help you trim back your household spending in 30 days without sacrificing the things that you really need and want.
Lunch: If you have children, one way to scale back spending right away is to stop giving them lunch money, and start packing lunches yourself on a daily basis. Yes, it’s a little more work, but your wallet will thank you for it. Poll your children about their favorite things to eat or try to match the school’s lunch menu. Then go shopping at your local warehouse club and purchase a supply of paper lunch bags in the color of your choice, cold cuts, drinks and snacks–better yet, skip the prepackaged drinks and invest in a fashionable steel thermos and fill with a water based drink. If you don’t have kids, skip ordering lunch at work, and paper-bag your mid-afternoon meal in advance before setting out the door in the morning. The supply of paper bags, cold cuts, snacks and drinks will last a few weeks and even months.
Food Shopping: Check your local supermarket’s flier online or in your newspaper before creating a shopping list. Most food store sales start on Friday, Saturday or Sunday, so buy and stock up only on items that are on sale that week. Then buy store brand essentials, eggs, milk, bread, etc. (Most store brand or generic items are made by brand name companies). Instead of shelling out money for expensive, premade juices in large containers, opt for purchasing your favorite drinks in powdered or frozen concentrated form that you can mix with water at home. The advantages of these concentrated drinks aside from cost, is that they take up less space in your refrigerator, you can store several in your freezer and you can use them as you need them. They’re frozen, so the expiration date is way out on the calendar.
Eating Out: If you really must eat out instead of replicating your favorite restaurant meal at home, try to scale back by eating out to half the time you normally chow down at eateries each month. One of the biggest money makers for restaurants is drinks. Sure, entrées cost money too, but patrons usually order more than one beverage per person when sitting down for a meal. This artificially inflates the final tab. A healthy and free alternative to keep your restaurant bill to a minimum is to simply order water–refills are always on the house.
Household Electricity Usage: Most apartments and homes have more rooms than inhabitants, why should your home be completely lit in the evening? Save on your electricity bill by turning on the lights only in the rooms that you are actually using during the nighttime. If your home has several recessed lights in each room, opt for using a lamp from time-to-time. Also, run your appliances after dinner time and in the early morning. Most utility companies offer power usage discounts at these times.
Viveca Woods is a wife, mother of two and an entrepreneur based in southwestern Connecticut. She has been a frugalista as long as she can remember.