Is your daily routine leaking money?
A good way to find out is dissecting one typical day. Here’s how that day might look for Joe, an average modern individual. He’s busy, a hard worker, proud of his family and all they’ve achieved together. But Joe, like many, hits the snooze button a few times every morning.
In a rush, he skips breakfast; instead stops on the way for a large coffee and a pastry, eating in the car. Music eases the stress of his commute with favorites on shuffle courtesy of paid satellite radio.
At lunch, Joe enjoys a courier delivered super sized combo burger meal, calling home to see what the family wants for dinner. A quick call later, take out from another favorite eatery will be on the table when he gets home. The family enjoys a movie on cable as they eat, and Joe hits the hay before starting a new day in the cycle.
It should for many people. Millions of families travel round a modern life carousel. Going through a daily routine filled with choices and activities guaranteed to bleed money away at every turn. If this is your life, it need not go like that. Don’t drown in red. Try using these effective tactics and free resources to put your cash back where it belongs.
Any plan for economizing must start with thinking about how, and why you got where you are. Unhealthy spending choices accumulate, and for many people it isn’t so much poor thinking as it is not paying attention. Little things creep up on you and you think, “Oh, that’s only $10 a month. We can afford it.” Too many little things that don’t seem expensive quickly add up to become a problem.
The first step: take an honest look to locate where you need to make better spending choices. How could changing your daily routine make a difference? Be honest with yourself. It is surprising to discover how much you can save. A simple change like getting up earlier to make your own breakfast or pack your lunch can save you thousands of dollars every year.
Ditch Convenience Foods
Over 85 million people eat fast food every day, according to Centers for Disease Control research. Like Joe on his morning rush, you may buy a coffee and sandwich most mornings. It probably costs five to ten dollars, depending on the coffee you choose and your food option. Just changing your routine to breakfast at home and making your own coffee can put $2000 to $3000 a year back in your pocket.
Packing lunches and eating at home does more than save money. It also improves your family’s health and helps fight obesity.
Budget Busting Entertainment Costs
Cable TV, streaming music and video apps, satellite radio in the cars; these things all add up to some serious spending pretty quickly. Entertainment and leisure time expenses can sometimes be a touchy subject. Some think ESPN, cable news or their favorite movie channel is a necessity, not a luxury.
However, it costs an average family over $200 per month to have cable TV.
Is it worth thousands of dollars yearly to get two hundred channels your family won’t watch?
There are better entertainment alternatives that will put those wasted dollars back in your pocket. Some, like gentle exercise, reading a book or family games time are also better for your health and general wellbeing.
Reduce Expensive Entertainment Costs
It’s a sobering fact that now the average cable bill costs more than the rest of your utility costs combined. Try some of these cost saving alternatives instead.
Ditch cable TV in favor of free local TV and less expensive streaming TV services.
Services from Disney, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, CBS and many more are available for low monthly fees. Look for bundles to save even more. You’ll typically spend a fraction of the average cable bill cost and can still enjoy most of your favorite programs and films. Note: you still need broadband Internet service to stream content.
Find low cost or free options for relaxing at home.
Dust off your video collection and have a movie night. Buying more DVDs need not be expensive. Many online book sellers carry a great selection of lightly used films and TV shows at discount prices. Try having an occasional backyard movie night. Light the fire pit, eat some hot dogs and popcorn. Just hang a sheet and project your favorite family movies.
Read a book or a newspaper.
Here’s a great opportunity to enjoy your quiet time for free or at very low cost. Digital books are easily available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Apple Books, among others. There are also many online newspapers or magazines to look through. Search for free eBooks, or browse online discount book sellers for low-cost paperback versions.
Visit online libraries.
For real savings, you can’t beat free. Your local public library, or another one nearby, probably has an online portal to check out books. Getting a digital library card is simple, and it’s amazing to discover the vast number of books, tutorials, research material and streamed film and audio available. Check out your municipal and regional library websites to learn more.
Open Library.org offers thousands of books in every genre imaginable for free. The sign-up is simple, and it costs nothing to sign up and read the books digitally.
A similar site, the Digital Public Library of America, is more scholastic in focus. Membership offers access to a wide range of publications on topics for education, family ancestry research and lifelong learning. Visit dp.la to discover more.
Try taking a short afternoon or evening walk with your partner or children. It’s a pleasant way to relax at the day’s end and builds a hearty appetite for dinner when you get home. Relationships grow stronger, fitness improves, and it makes you feel good enjoying the quiet evening together.
Menu Planning Smart Shopping Help
Planning and budgeting are important for keeping costs in line. The United States Department of Agriculture provides a helpful resource for planning meals, packing healthy lunches, and saving food dollars. Visit ChooseMyPlate.gov to explore all they offer. They even have a special guide to food planning during a pandemic.
Nutrition.gov is the place to go for access to sample menus, advice on healthy eating, and smart food shopping tactics. You can find the farmer’s markets in your state and discover tasty, new recipes to try in your own kitchen.
Budgeting and Money Management Help
MyMoney.gov is a powerful resource for building an effective budget. They offer a useful selection of free online financial calculators, checklists and budget building worksheets.
Take the time to Inspect your current expenses. Making changes is not always easy, but the rewards are there. With a little planning and cost-conscious thinking, you can start putting those wasted dollars back in your wallet where they belong.
These ideas and resources are a good starting point. There are many more public and government provided programs and resources that will help you manage your situation at home and your specific needs. Do some research online using site:.gov and site:.edu at the end of your search phrase to help find legitimate solutions. These will help weed out spammy search results and people trying to sell you something.