Christmas is over and you may be feeling the burn of the overspend. I know we are feeling that and here are some of the steps we are taking to save money and get our budget in order. I’m going to share with you 10 money saving hacks to help your budget.
1. Account for everything
I realized that we hadn’t updated our Quicken file since the end of September. It’s so easy to overspend when you are not tracking what you are spending. We use Quicken to track our personal finances. We track all of our checking, savings, credit cards, debts, and bills. There is so much more you can do with the software as well. If Quicken is too much for you, there are web based programs such as Mint that will connect to your accounts and give you updates automatically. Keep in mind if you don’t know what you’re spending, you can’t do better.
2. budget billing options
Look into options to switch over to budget billing for your utilities. Here in the Chicago area our gas goes up in the winter to heat our homes and our electric goes up in the summer to cool our homes. In order to help manage those spikes you can sign up for budget billing with your utility. They will take an average of what you spend over the year and split it up monthly so you can plan ahead what you will have to spend each month.
3. negotiate better rates
We are able to lower our gas and electric rates here by getting a better rate through a different supplier. Basically we choose who we want to supply our electricity or gas. We would still call ComEd or Nicor with any problems but we are able to get better rates through an ARES supplier than we do through our actually utility company.
An ARES or Supplier is a business that sells electricity to residential and/or commercial customers in a competitive market.
Our electric contract was getting ready to expire. We were currently getting a rate of .06 per kWh. If we did nothing they were going to renew us at .09 per kWh. Most companies around here are offering around .0869 per kWh. When I changed companies I was able to sign a 3 year contract for .0729 per kWh. I figured with the way prices are rising its best to lock things in right away as low as possible. And the same goes for your internet connection. Look up the best satellite internet in your area and choose the plan that suits your budget best. Honestly, if you can’t get a better rate than what you’re already on, always try to take your business elsewhere. For the electricity contract, I even happened to find one with no early termination fee. Having no early termination fees is definitely one of the great money saving hacks.
4. cut services you may not need
Months ago we signed up for T-Mobile home internet so we could cancel our Xfinity internet. We found that T-Mobile was just not enough for our family but we were still using it for some of the connections in our house to save data load on Xfinity. Last week we upgraded our Xfinity to unlimited and I canceled T-Mobile today. Ends up saving us money overall and it’ll be nice to get that cell phone bill back down again!
Maybe you’re addicted to streaming services. Do you REALLY need to subscribe to every service there is. Many of us cut the cable cord so we can save money and then the big networks caught on and every single one of them decided to start their own streaming service with exclusive content. Most of them offer a trial period. If you want to see something that is exclusive on one service, use their trial period and binge watch then cancel at the end of the trial period.
5. sign up for auto pay
As long as you know you will have the money in the bank, you can save a lot of money on your bills by signing up for auto pay. Our cell phone company gives us a $30 a month discount just for signing up for auto pay. Just remember you need to make sure the money will be in the bank or you’ll end up spending more than you would have saved with fees when you go negative in your bank.
6. menu plan
Another one of the great money saving hacks is menu planning. When you plan for your meals not only does it make dinner time much easier because you aren’t scrambling to figure out what to eat, but it also saves you money. You can check sales while making your menu as a great way to save money or even shop your pantry to cut your grocery bill in half. I know there are many nights we don’t make the meal we planned which leaves those ingredients on the shelf for a later date.
7. cut out take out
With a family our size it can cost up to $100 or more to eat out for one meal. That could be a whole week’s worth of groceries! When we do eat out, we tend to get the Costco pizza from their food court. It’s $10 per pizza and two will feed our family with leftovers for lunch the next day. If you want to eat out, keep it to special occasions or find the cheapest way to do so.
8. try the envelope system
By categorizing and paying with cash you can save money. If you don’t have enough money in your envelope to spend on something, you can’t buy it! You can get the book The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey to help get you started.
9. sleep on it
Stop the random impulse purchasing. If you want something, make a list or add the item to your cart and sleep on it. Wait AT LEAST 24 hours before purchasing. If it’s something you really want, see if you can find it cheaper somewhere else. Being mindful of your purchases will definitely help you save money.
10. turn your thermostat down
We have been keeping our thermostat at 65 this winter. Sure, it’s cold in our house, but we all put on extra layers and cuddle with blankets. One way to create a closer family is to make it so cold that you have to cuddle, right?
What are your favorite ways to save money in your household? What would your 10 money saving hacks to save your budget be?