If the phrase budget cuts, conjure up visions of your family eating beans and rice for the next month, think again. Simple budget cuts can create significant savings. It takes a bit of planning and creativity, but you can make budget cuts without your family even noticing… too much.
12 Budget Cuts That Your Family Will Not Mind
1. Use energy-efficient light bulbs
Who would have thought you could save money by simpling changing your light bulbs? It’s true! Using an incandescent light bulb for five hours a day for one year costs you approximately $16 depending upon where you live in the U.S. But if you use an LED light bulb for the same length of time, it costs you only $6 a year. Energy-efficient LED bulbs’ initial cost will be more, but your overall savings using them will be significant. It’s a simple way to cut your budget, and your family will be none the wiser for it.
2. Online grocery shopping
Online grocery shopping has become famous for its convenience, but you can also save money using these services. Buying your groceries online helps you to see exactly what you’re paying for each so you can stick within your budget. Grocery stores place items strategically at the end of aisles, so shoppers will pick up things when they walk by. Your impulse buying will go down when you buy your groceries online. Choose online grocery services that off coupons or free delivery, if possible.
Another option is to use your grocery store’s delivery service or pick up service. These services are free. All you do is order the things you want and arrange a delivery time. Or your store will do the shopping for you and all you need to do is pick them up. Most grocery stores have specially marked parking spots where you park, and someone brings your groceries out to your car.
3. Thrift store shopping
Thrift stores are packed with budget-saving items. Buying gently-used clothing is an easy way to save a bundle on clothing for your growing kids. Choose a store that is clean and well maintained. Charity organizations often run these stores, so you’re helping your community while saving money at the same time.
- Clothing-Used clothing is excellent for growing kids. You can find slightly worn teeshirts, skirts, dresses, shorts, and jeans at thrift stores. Be picky though, don’t buy your kids used shoes-it’s not good for their feet. Kids grow so quickly. It’s great to find functional used clothing for a fraction of the cost of new.
- Sporting equipment-Many thrift stores sell gently used sporting equipment. Avoid buying hats or helmets for hygienic reasons.
- Household items- Dishes, glasses, wine goblets, and serving bowls are sold cheaply at a thrift store. Sometimes you can find a set of brand new dishes that have been donated from a large store.
- Other things-Gently used toys, pictures, candle holders, jewelry, and books.
4. Limit eating out
Eating out with a family is expensive; it can quickly trash your budget. Try taking your family out to eat once a month instead of once a week. Or you can order a take-out pizza from your favorite pizza place, using coupons if they offer them, instead of taking the whole family to the restaurant where you’re sure to spend more money. Find restaurants that offer kids-eat-free night or two dollar tacos once a week. Be strategic, most restaurants have coupons or exclusive deals, but you will need to shop around for them.
5. Purchase flawed fruits and vegetables
Several online companies are selling imperfect fruits and vegetables. This produce often comes straight from local groceries but was rejected because it wasn’t perfect looking. You may get some misshapen carrots, but the produce is fresh and tastes great. These companies usually charge you a fee depending upon how much produce you want, so you won waste what you buy. The produce is conveniently delivered to your door, so you’ll save time as well as money.
6. Kids take their lunches
Another simple way to cut your budget is to have your kids take their lunches to school. Purchase good lunch containers,so the food stays hot or cold. There are many well-made boxes with convenient compartments. If your kids really want to buy lunch at school, arrange for them to buy once or twice a week. The school sends out the monthly menu so you and your kids can plan ahead what meals they want to buy.
7. Shop around for good cell phone prices
Your cell phone company may cut you a deal if they think you’ve decided to go with a switch cell phone carriers. You can also save a lot of money by switching to one of the smaller cell phone companies that use the same towers as the four bigger companies.
8. Keep a well-stocked pantry & create a weekly menu
Meal planning is a great way to save money. When you plan your meals, you won’t impulse buy or waste food. Plan your meals, then make a shopping list. Go to the store with your list in hand and only buy what is on the list.
Another great way to save is to have a stocked pantry at all times. This is helpful for last-minute cooking, baking, or when guests drop in. A stocked pantry should include:
- Baking goods-flour, sugar, baking flour, baking soda, vanilla, chocolate chips, yeast, and corn starch.
- Oils and vinegars-Olive oil, vegetable oil, coconut oil. Balsamic, apple cider, and white vinegar.
- Spices-Salt, pepper, kosher salt or sea salt, basic spices you typically use.
- Rice, Beans & Grains-Oatmeal, brown rice, white rice, quinoa, black and pinto beans, chili beans, pasta (assorted types your family likes.)
- Potatoes and onions
- Canned goods-Tomato sauce and tomato paste, canned diced tomatoes, spaghetti sauce, beef or chicken stock, canned chilis, salsa, canned corn or green beans.
Go through your pantry once a month to see what you need so you can keep it stocked up at all times.
9. Use those leftovers
Using leftovers will stretch your food budget. You’ll need to plan ahead so you can make use of your leftovers in the best way possible. See what proteins you plan to use that week, then think of various ways you could use the leftovers for other meals.
Here are some suggestions if you made
- Left-over baked chicken turns into chicken tacos
- Leftover rice turns into stir-fried rice (include scrambled eggs for protein)
- Spaghetti turns into spaghetti pie (freeze it for next week)
- Leftover hamburgers can chop up and turn into shepherd’s pie or hamburger mac and cheese
Your family won’t notice that you’ve stretched your food bill, but you will when you see the savings adding up.
10. Shop around for cheaper internet
Another way to save on your family budget is to shop around for cheaper internet service. Call your internet provider telling them you’re thinking of moving to another provider for a such-and-such rate. They’re motivated to keep you as their customer, so they’ll be willing to negotiate with you.
11. Join a warehouse store
Warehouse stores are great places to save money. Buying in bulk saves money and means you’ll make fewer trips to the grocery store. Many warehouse stores accept coupons, so you get double your savings on food, paper goods, diapers, and household items. Most warehouse stores charge you an annual fee, but you will easily get your money back. It’s a simple, painless way to cut your budget, and your family won’t notice… unless you make your them carry in all the stuff you bought.
12. Batch cooking and menu planning
The National Institute of Health recommends cooking your meals in batches to save money. Cook extra batches of taco meat or spaghetti sauce and then freeze them so they’ll be ready to pull out when you need them. This not only saves you time but also helps you resist the urge to order out when you’ve had a rough day at work. Create a two-week dinner menu. Then create your grocery list from your menu. Even if you decide to change a meal out from one night to another, you’ll have all the ingredients you need. This way, you have a plan, but you have some flexibility without going over your budget.
Final Thoughts: Budget Cuts Need Not Be Painful
There are so many simple but strategic ways to cut your budget. Your family won’t notice most of the little things you do. Whether it’s switching out your light bulbs to more energy-efficient ones or shopping at large warehouse stores to buy in bulk, small budget cuts can save you big bucks.
Use your creativity with leftovers and give your internet provider a call to see if they’ll offer you a better deal. Shop around for restaurants that offer special eat free nights for your kids, or use their coupons for discounted buy one, get one free item. There are lots of ways that make small budget cuts, so why not get started today?