Wednesday, September 8, 2010
Budget Baby Steps
Here are a few, painless ways to make small changes in your household that will have a positive impact on your budget.
*Don't turn up your nose at store brand products (both edible & non-edible).
I always bought the store brand version of every food product I could: cereal, peanut butter, milk, cheese, bread, frozen vegetables, etc. I really don't think there is a much of a difference in the taste of foods. You will save a considerable amount of money if you switch to store brand products. I never go above a weekly grocery budget of $150 for a family of four and that includes non-edible products. When my kids were little and ate smaller portions, that amount was $90. You could easily save $5 by buying the store brand toilet paper over the national brand. Try the disposable razors and save $5 as well. There's $10 right now.
*Use your clothesline on sunny and/or breezy days.
Take advantage of the free solar energy!! I have four clotheslines set up and can easily fit three or four loads of laundry on them at once. The sun doesn't have to be shining brightly--as long as it isn't humid or raining the clothes will dry. Breezy? Even better! You'll be saving electricity and extending the life of the garments.
*Carefully review utility bills for accuracy and errors every month.
Recently, we received our phone bill and I noticed a new charge of $16. It was for a service that I did not request and when I questioned the phone company, they said it was added when I went online. I disputed it and it was promptly removed. Had I not been paying attention, I would be paying an extra $16 each month. Know exactly what you're paying for and do not delay questioning new charges or ones that you do not understand.
*Pay your bills on-time. Take advantage of online banking and bill pay if your bank offers it.
This means by or before the due date. I was often paying late charges on utility bills because I was frequently mailing out payments late for silly reasons like not having any stamps on hand. Since I began paying bills online, I have not had one late fee charged. As soon as I receive a bill, I schedule it for payment. I save about $80 a year on postage and have the peace of mind that the payment is already taken care of. I love, love, love this service 'cause it's free!!!
*Consider switching to a high-yield checking account.
Yeah, so you've been banking where you go since you were a kid and everyone is so nice to you when you stop in but they're not paying any decent interest rate on your account. So what do you do? You shop around. There are a lot of banks that offer high-yield checking accounts (some right now around 2%). Switching banks is not as scary as you might think and a great bank will make the transition as smooth as possible. Some even offer incentives such as giving you credit for your previous institution's debit card and unused checks. Make a few phone calls to local banks or visit their websites for special promotions.
I hope that these suggestions will help you to implement some small changes to benefit your budget. They have helped me tremendously over the past several years and I'll be sharing more as we continue on this journey.
What changes have you made that have had a positive impact on your budget?
Thanks for stopping by,