One of my goals this year is to save money and, most important, to learn how to build a smart budget for the family and to stick with it. Spending money in a wise way is a great opportunity for us to have more savings that will allow us to get debt free and to travel more, so I started to search for ways to save money by making smart changes and better decisions. If you want to save more money too, I think you’ll like these ideas! They are easy to implement and could really bring changes in the family budget!
The first thing I learned about saving money is that small changes are important because they can mean a lot in time! For example, not drinking coffee from the coffee shop and preparing it at home may seem insignificant because it means you save only a few dollars. But if you calculate what this change means for your monthly budget you may be surprised how big the total amount is. (I usually buy a Caramel Macchiato from Starbucks that costs 4.75$, so this means that if I buy one every work day I spend a total of 95$ every month only for this)
This is only an example that taught me the importance of small changes, but there are a lot of other ideas that can help us save important amounts of money every month. I have already started to put into practice some of them and I plan to implement all ideas from the below list in the future months. I hope they will be a good inspiration for you too!
I grouped the ideas into two categories: big changes that need some effort at the beginning but once implemented bring a visible improvement in the family budget and small changes that are easy to make and on the long run really make a difference.
1. Start a meal plan
Eating healthy is one of my priorities and I always try to choose only healthy products for my son, but this comes with a high price because organic food is more expensive than the high-processed unhealthier alternatives. I am not willing to make any compromises regarding our healthy eating, but I plan to find ways to spend our food budget smarter and more efficient.
One of the best ideas I discovered recently is creating a weekly meal plan for the whole family. This means less waste and a better grocery shopping list that includes only items we really need to buy.
2. Implement spending freezes
A spending freeze is a period of time you agree not to purchase unnecessary things. For example, you set a two-week spending freeze and for this period you set a budget that you know it will cover only your needs without any additional unnecessary spendings (like buying new clothes, going out for dinner and so on). The goal is to be able to respect this budget and not to spend anything more in those two weeks. It is really amazing how much money you can save this way and it is also a good exercise to show you how much money you spend weekly on items that you don’t really need.
Of course that we don’t want to be always on a spending freeze because we really enjoy the little pleasures like going to a restaurant or buying something nice, but a two-week spending freeze every quarter could mean saving a lot of money without getting frustrating with the restrictions.
3. Postpone purchases and reanalyze them
This was a very useful thing for me to learn because I have always been an impulsive shopper. If I liked something I usually didn’t think twice about buying it (if I had the money to do so). Learning to postpone the purchase and to analyze it again was an important change and it allowed to save money. When I think more about purchasing an item I sometimes discover that I don’t really need it (or even want it) or I find better alternatives that allow me to have a similar outcome with less spending.
4. Make a list of what you want to purchase in the future and keep an eye on discounts
This idea comes together with the previous one. If you want to purchase something and you don’t need that item immediately, it is better to postpone the purchase, to analyze if you really want it and then to put it on a wishlist and wait for the right time to buy it. If you search online for that item, you will probably find it at a better price or with a nice discount in another store, so this research is really worth your time.
5. Transfer money into the saving account after receiving the salary
This is a change I implemented long time ago and it was great for me. Before that, I used to see what amount of money I have in the account at the end of the month and transfer it then in my savings account, but this usually meant that I could save only a small amount. So I decided to make a change and to set a fixed amount of money to transfer each month into my saving account and I made this at the beginning of the month, right after receiving the salary. This prevented me from spending more than I should and allowed me to make the savings I wanted.
6. Create better spending habits
This is an idea that I plan to keep in mind from now on. I read some interesting articles about spending habits and I found out that they are very connected with our emotional state. People tend to spend more when they are depressed or when they go through difficult times, so it’s important to track exactly what makes us want to spend our money and to prevent these unhealthy habits.
The big changes may require some effort and time to put into practice, but you can start with these small changes and hopefully you will be able to see improvements in your savings real fast.
7. Pack the lunch instead of eating out (this will allow you to save a lot of money every month)
8. Use the library for children books (this means less money spent on books and a wider variety of books for your child)
9. Make coffee at home and take it out with you (instead of buying it from the coffee shop)
10. Pack snacks when going out (instead of stopping at a shop or restaurant every time you get hungry)
11. Create a babysitter co-op with some trusted friends (this will save the money you spent on babysitters and still allow you to have some free time)
12. Always use a list when going to the grocery shop (it is amazing how many unnecessary things we get to buy when we don’t have a list to stick with)
13. Use capsule wardrobes (the capsule wardrobe is a way of buying clothes and organizing your closet so that you can save money and still have a lot of outfit combinations to choose from; here is a very nice article about this: How to Create a Capsule Wardrobe (And why it will change your life))
14. Compare prices (every time you shop online it’s useful to compare prices and to choose the site that offers you the best deal)
15. Use coupons (they are a great way to save money and find discounts on almost every purchase you want to make; you can find a very helpful coupon database on the Money Saving Mom website)
16. Plan date nights at home (replacing the times you go out for a date with some stay-at-home dates will mean less money spent and equal as much fun :-); here are some nice ideas for date nights at home)
17. Buy fewer toys (if you have kids you certainly know how much money you get to spend each month for what they need; if you also add to the list of necessary items a lot of expensive toys, your budget will be seriously affected – buying fewer toys is good for your kids too because they will focus more on what they already have and they will become more creative; here are some ideas about decluttering toys and using toy rotation for a better managing of the toys you already have: How to declutter toys: a guide to cleaner rooms and happier kids)
I hope that these ideas will be helpful for you too! I plan to implement all of them this year and I will come back with updates to tell you how this went for us. My goal is to save money in order to be able to travel more and I totally hope to make this plan work!
If you have any other ideas about how to save money I would be glad to find them out and try them!