You work hard for your money so, of course, you want to make it go as far as possible. With the cost of nearly everything increasing these days, it is becoming much more difficult to make ends meet. We’ve found that adhering to a few basic financial strategies has helped us to keep our expenses down without feeling deprived. Here are some of the best ways that I know to make your money work for you:
Menu Planning And Using a List When Grocery Shopping
I worked hard to stretch our food budget. Menu planning is a key part of this strategy as well as making a grocery shopping list. While it sounds so basic, actually taking the time to make a list can really help your food dollars go further. Each week I compile my menu plan, check my pantry for what I already have, and make a detailed grocery list of items needed. If it’s not on the list, I do not buy it when I’m at the store. By saving money on groceries, you’ll have extra money every month that you can put towards other expenses like paying down debt, saving for vacation, or investing.
Having An Emergency Fund
To keep yourself from getting into a debt situation, an emergency fund is crucial. Even if you can’t save large amounts of money at a time, even starting with $25 is better than doing nothing. Make a goal to save a set amount each week and before you know it you’ll have your emergency fund padded. An easy way to start your emergency fund is to use your tax refund (or at least a portion of it). Just having that little extra cushion can really help when the car breaks down, an appliance needs to be repaired, or you find yourself in the ER.
Comparison Shopping For Everything You Buy
I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to comparison shop before you buy anything. We have a rule in our household that any time we purchase something over $100 we have to comparison shop first. We usually like to check at least three other sources for a basis of comparison. It’s even more important to shop around when purchasing insurance, a mortgage, refinancing your home, or even getting a credit card. Don’t throw money away; be sure you get the best price by shopping around.
Reduce (or Eliminate) Unnecessary Spending
Sometimes you can just find yourself in an automatic spending mode, without really even giving conscious thought to your purchases. Make a choice to reign in spending. Cancel cable channels you don’t want and gym memberships you never use. (I’m guilty of both of those myself, but my husband and I regularly review any automatic purchases to see if we are still using or needing the service.) For impulse spending difficulties, stay away from places or situations where you are tempted to spend.