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Budgeting, Part 3

Now that you’ve started the steps to budgeting and know how to organize your budget and develop a spending plan, it’s time to discuss ways to make cuts in the budget. This is my favorite part of budgeting and the most influential to family finances. I enjoy finding ways to save money and this week I wills share a few ideas to decrease your spending. Please leave me a comment with any other money saving ideas you have or how useful this list is for you.

The Basics
* Control impulse buying. Is it a need or a want? Try leaving credit cards at home and only carrying cash when shopping. Once the cash is gone, you’re shopping trip is done. No overspending allowed.
* Buy used. You can find good, inexpensive furniture, clothes and books at yard sales, consignment sales or online at craigslist.

* Use coupons and price match. I save about 40% on my groceries by combining coupons and price matching. I post the top price matching deals for the Omaha area every Wednesday on this blog.
* Purchase generic brands. Sometimes, even with coupons on name brand items, the generic brands are still cheaper. Make sure you check the cost per ounce or per unit to make sure you get the best deal.
* Avoid excess trips to the store or in-between trips for one or two items. These little trips add up fast.
* Plan menus and shop with a list.
* Never shop hungry. You will buy more food.
* Eat out less. Just think of how many groceries you can buy for the cost of one meal at a restaurant.
* Make your coffee at home and avoid those expensive $4 lattes.
* Pack your lunch, or your kid’s lunch or husband’s.

Around the house
* Energy Efficiency. Insulate your home, use low energy bulbs.
* Review your phone service. Could you cut your cell phone plan? Do you need both a home phone and cell phone? If not, consider eliminating one of them.
* Plant a garden. You will have fresh food in the summer and save money on groceries.

* Eliminate or reduce cable TV. Now with digital TV, you’d be amazed at how many channels you can get for free with an antenna and a converter box.
* Check for local free activities. Check local newspapers for free concerts, museums or festivals.
* Plan a “pot luck” with friends rather than going to a restaurant.
* Go out for lunch instead of dinner. Lunch is usually 1/2 the cost of a dinner. (That is if you are still going out to eat.)
* Use the library to borrow instead of buying books, subscribing to magazines or renting movies.

Miscellaneous Money Gobblers
* ATM charges. Use your bank’s ATM machines or find a bank that doesn’t charge ATM fees.
* Gym fees. Do you use the gym enough to warrant the cost?
* Say ‘no’ to bottled water. Switch to filtered water, it’s cheaper and better for the environment.
* Avoid vending machines. Pack your own snacks and drinks for when you’re out and about.
* Trade services. For example, maybe you could babysit, clean, design a web page or tutor in exchange for car or home repair instead of pay a hefty bill. There’s even a barter section for trading services and products on craigslist.

These are some ideas to help you trim your spending. There are many more things you can do and this list is just a few examples of ways you can make small changes to save money. I’d love to hear your money saving ideas or even testimonials of what you’ve done to save money. Please, leave a comment.

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