Do you often wonder when you will ever have enough money to take your family on that much needed vacation? Finally get started on your kids’ college fund? Finish that home improvement project that is dragging on forever? I am right there with you! Living on one income with a family of four definitely requires thought and hard work. This year, I have been trying to be more intentional in my efforts to save money for my family. In this post I will share with you 5 things that I have done, and that you can do, to save your family hundreds of dollars.
- Review your budget or set up a budget if you don’t have one
If you don’t have a budget you MUST set one up immediately!!! Whether you have two kids and a dog, are a single parent, or live with your parents, living without a budget is like throwing money out the window. If you don’t know how much you are spending, you are sure to overspend and get into a load of debt. It is also hard to be intentional about saving money if you don’t know where to start cutting costs.
Once you have a budget, you can take a good look at all your bills and expenses over the last few months, or even years, and identify areas that that can be adjusted and improved for the upcoming months. It was only after I reviewed my family’s budget that I was able to identify some of the areas that needed improvement and take action to save my family some cash.
If you have been meaning to set up a budget but don’t know where to start, check out this FREE budgeting template and tutorial that I prepared for you. There are also different apps and software you can use to help you in this area. Even if you hate math, you have no excuse to let your money go unmanaged.
2. Reevaluate your mobile phone plan
The first thing I noticed after reviewing our budget was that we were paying WAY too much for our mobile phone services and some things needed to change. After finding our phone bill and looking over all of the charges and usage history, I realized that we were on a plan that had a lot of unnecessary features.
Who needs to pay for unlimited data when you only use 3GB? I also found out that we were being charged $10/month for one of those free trial subscriptions that had already expired.
So here is how I made a change: I searched my provider’s website for the current plans to get an idea of what promotions they were offering to new costumers. To my surprise, they even had a tool linked to my account to help analyze my current plan and make an alternative offer. I also visited the competition to see what they had to offer. I drove to the store and after it was all said and done, we signed up for a plan that is more suitable to our needs and, both my husband and I, got to replace our old phones with brand new ones with no out-of-pocket expenses.
By doing this, we will be saving about $50/month, or $600/year on our bill in addition to gaining brand new phones! Most carriers will accept your old phones and give you a credit on your next bill.
3. Reevaluate your need for cable TV
Here are some questions you can ask yourself as you reevaluate this expense. How many channels do you watch? How many channels do you pay for? Would you get more out of a cheaper subscription service rather than paying for all the channels? or better yet, can you cut this expense altogether?
At our household we do not own a TV. This may sound crazy, but ever since we got married 8 years ago, we have not had one. The only reason I mention this is so you know it is possible to survive in this century without cable and save a good deal of money every year. Nowadays you can pretty much watch anything online with very limited commercial interruptions, and sometimes none, anytime, anywhere.
This year we continued to stand by our decision not to own a TV. Considering that the lowest cable TV package in our area is currently running at about $45/month, we will be saving about $540 this year. This is probably one of the decisions that has saved us the most money since we have been married.
4. Reevaluate you Internet plan
As more and more companies move their services online, having a reliable internet provider is almost a requirement in our days. But, how much is too much to pay for internet service?
As I was reviewing our budget and expenses over the last few months, I noticed that our internet bill almost doubled at the end of the year. It turns out our internet provider decided not only to increase their prices but also charge us rent for the modem they installed at the beginning of our contract almost 2 years ago.
Before I called our provider, I did my research. I reviewed our bill, looked up current offers on their website, and called the competition to see what they were offering. Last, I called my internet provider and talked to them about my concerns. Sometimes these conversations are not very pleasant. I remember I had to stand my ground and remind them that they were currently offering the same service at half the cost to new costumers and let them know that their competition was also offering similar services at a much lower price.
After an intense discussion, I hung up the phone with a new plan that was twice as fast as before for $30/month less than what I was paying. That is $360 per year!!! We also returned the company’s modem and bought our own which will pay for itself almost twice over this year with the money we would be spending on the rental.
5. The Good Old Garage Sale/ Craigslist
This step is not so much about saving money as much as making some extra cash.
With growing kiddos around the house there is always something that has been outgrown or is no longer being used. Clothes, toys, or even furniture such as cribs, dressers, strollers, playpens, the list is endless.
This was our first experience with a yard sale and I confess that I was a bit anxious about it when we started but, after a while, it was actually exciting to see that other people were interested in our old stuff enough to pay money for it. Although we didn’t have a lot of things, we made almost $100 in a few hours.
We pushed ourselves out of our comfort zone, decluttered the house, involved the kids in a new family activity, and made some extra bucks. What is not to love?
What are some things you have done or are currently doing to help your family save money? I would love to learn from you, please share in the comments below.