For the last three weeks, we’ve been talking about ways to eat well on a budget, with tips on reducing the amount you spend on food purchases. With food and gas prices on the rise, though, there are plenty of other ways to trim your budget as well.
Here are some of the things we do to save money each month:
1. Stay Home
Sometimes the simplest way to reduce the amount you spend is to simply stay home. You’ll save on gas, impulse purchases, snacks while you’re out and more.
2. Use Reusable Rather Than Disposable
We live in a disposable culture, where you can find disposable versions of pretty much anything. It may seem overwhelming to switch to cloth rags rather than paper towels or to use real dishes when entertaining rather than disposables, but the costs — and environmental impact — of disposables really add up over time.
3. Homemade Cleaning Supplies
I shared several tips for making homemade cleaning supplies last week, and I know I’ve saved hundreds of dollars over the years by using vinegar rather than commercial cleaners!
4. Simplify Your Personal Care Routine
Our linen closet used to be stocked with a variety of scented lotions, hair care products and more, but over time we’ve really simplified down to the basics. Dr. Bronner’s castile soap (I love both the almond and citrus scents) is a great alternative to baby soap and body wash, and coconut oil is an amazing natural moisturizer for everyone in the family. We buy a few other products as well, but we really don’t buy a lot of extras or variety these days.
5. Adjust Your Thermostat
We keep our home at 61-63 degrees during the winter and at 76 during the summer, which saves us a lot of money on our monthly utility bill. Even a couple of degrees can affect your bill, though, so try adjusting your thermostat by a degree or two at a time rather than making a huge adjustment right away.
6. Lower Your Utility Bills
While there are things you can do at home to lower your utility bills — such as adjusting the thermostat — we’ve also had a lot of success by just calling and asking providers for better rates. Many times they’ll offer a discount with automatic bill payment or when you combine your telecommunications services.
7. Limit the Amount of Clothing You Purchase
I’ve never really been a clotheshorse, but I have been tempted to buy every cute outfit I see for the girls. As we’ve purposefully limited the amount of clothing that we keep for each of them, we’ve definitely saved money on new purchases as well.
8. Make Eating Out a Special Occasion
We love to eat out as a family! That said, we only go out to eat once every two weeks or so, which is certainly a lot less expensive than eating out three to four times a week. As much as we enjoy it, the costs of eating out can quickly add up if you’re going often.
As a side note, if you are going to eat out, make sure you’re prepared to tip well for good service. It’s not the waiter’s fault that you’re on a limited budget, and it’s not fair to skimp on the tip just because you’re trying to save money!
9. Combine Your Errands
For us, the temptation to “run to the store” has been eliminated simply because we live so far away from any stores. But even if you live in the suburbs or an urban area, look for ways to combine errands rather than running to the store each time you need one or two items.
10. Borrow Instead of Buying
Instead of purchasing everything new, look for items that you can borrow from friends and family instead. You obviously don’t want to take advantage of other people’s generosity, but this can be a good option for items you only need to use once!
What else do you do to stretch your monthly budget?