The following is a guest post…
Soaring living costs and high rates of job cuts mean that many American families are struggling to make ends meet. It also means that people have to find more ways to cut back on their budgets. Here are some tips that can help you keep your monthly bills down.
Cut Down on Treats
Going out for dinner or splurging on new items is nice, but it can eat up a lot of money that would be better spent on more important things. In America, the average person spends ten percent of their disposable income on eating out alone. The money you save by cutting down on these treats can go toward debt payments, late bills and other necessary expenses, or it can be saved in case it’s needed later.
Use Cash or Checks
Many money-saving experts are now recommending that you make your purchases with cash or check instead of credit cards. Paying with cash or check means you actually have the money in the bank to cover the purchase, rather than borrowing with a credit card. You’ll become much more aware of how much you’re spending when you can’t just swipe a card. Ordering checks online is quick and easy, too.
Save a Bundle
Television and cell phone plans aren’t necessary, but many families benefit from them enough that they don’t want to give up these services. Unfortunately, they can be very expensive unless you shop around carefully. Look for the cheapest TV packages available in your area according to your needs. If you frequently talk to family overseas, you may also want to consider signing up for an international plan with your phone company to save on long-distance charges.
Making ends meet also means changing your shopping habits. Visiting higher-end stores and purchasing national brands can really drain your wallet. Consider taking your business to discount stores. Their low overhead and quality store-branded products can shave hundreds off of your grocery bills. Also, look for discount bins at any store you go to. Grocers often put discontinued, slightly damaged or near-expired goods in a special place and mark them down significantly. It’s possible to fill your entire pantry with canned goods and other foods cheaply this way. In addition, pay attention to the sales announced in weekly circulars. These will make it easier to plan your grocery budget for the week.
Are the kids out-growing their clothes again? Is your favorite pair of jeans on their last leg? If so, don’t be so quick to head out to the mall. Brand-new clothing costs a lot of money, especially if your children are hitting growth spurts. Instead, visit your local thrift store or second-hand shop. Here, you can find gently-used, even designer clothes for next to nothing.