With the economic climate still precarious and most families still having to cut their cloth according to a tighter budget, a lot of people are finding that they are having to seriously adjust their spending habits for the first time in their lives. Now that money is tight and credit unavailable, a great many people are having to keep a track of exactly how much they spend every week and having to make cuts in what they spend their money on. This might mean buying less clothes, cutting out one or two evenings out or reducing the amount the family spends on junk food. This can, to many people be very distressing and humiliating, but it doesn’t have to be that way. In fact, with a bit of careful thought it is possible to turn the whole process around and actually make saving money fun. This article will outline a couple of ideas how to do exactly that.
Firstly, think about how you get around. Travelling by car is probably one of your biggest expenses, particularly as the price of gas shoots ever higher. One way to fix this is to look at all of your journeys every week and work out which ones are necessary and which ones are unnecessary. If you work fairly near your home you could start going to work by bike instead of by car. Not only will you save a fortune in gas, you will also get fit to boot! Similarly, instead of taking the family out in the car every weekend, why not change your routine to include the occasional family day out on bikes? Fun, good for the family and best of all, free!
When it comes to getting the family to save money there are a number of tricks you can use but the best way of making saving fun, particularly with the kids, is to invent some kind of saving game for you all to play. This might be done by setting challenges – who can go for the longest period without needing any money or spending any money aside from the bare essentials, for example. If you are on your own then you could set yourself a challenge when you go to the grocery store – to reduce your bill by 25% for example. Put any money that you save into a special savings account (or a jar) and see how much you can raise in a year.
One way of making savings at that grocery store is to change how you eat as well. Try getting a few friends together each week and taking turns cooking. Whether it’s a bunch of friends or a bunch of families the result is the same – both a great deal of savings in your budget and a more sociable entertaining schedule! Also, make larger portions of shared meals and then freeze them to snack on during the rest of the week.
Finally, look at how you spend your spare time. Are your hobbies and pastimes expensive? If you go to the movies a lot (which is ridiculously expensive these days) then get into the habit of taking your own drinks and popcorn rather than buying it at the theater. Or better still, don’t go at all and start watching everything as a family at home on DVD. Instead of going to expensive theme parks go to free museums and instead of expensive sports events go to the park and play sports with your kids. Doing all of this will not just improve the quantities in your accounts, it will also improve the quality of your life.
Esther is a financial journalist and business blogger. She writes about all areas of personal finance affecting the consumer from tax relief to credit and store cards to factoring receivables.