Being thrifty is one thing, but when you have a continually tight budget, necessity becomes the mother of invention. Fortunately, there are always great ways for a mother to save money here and there.
Some of the options to save money you will have tried before. Others might be new or have new twists on old-fashioned ideas that work again. Give some a try to see if they’ll work for you. Some will, others won’t.
Here are 7 ways to save money this year.
1. Manage Your Credit Cards Better
When one of your largest headaches is with consumer debt, it’s a pain. To get help with credit card debt, you might want to try the Tally app. It lets you manage all of your credit cards in one simple app and automate the payments (to avoid forgetting one and incurring late fees). There are also repayment plans to boost your FICO score and the possibility of using Tally+ to lower the interest paid too.
By reducing the cost of debt servicing and cutting the cost of the remaining debt, it’s possible to repay it faster. Avoiding further late fees and increasing payments above the minimum level will speedily clear consumer debt and incur less interest too.
We mention this one first because all other cost-saving measures below can be used to add to an emergency fund and to snowball any remaining debt to get debt-free sooner.
2. Switch Away from Cable TV
The beauty of cable TV is the virtual lock-in with monthly subscription services. Once you sign up and have chosen your TV package, you have a long-term contract. Then you forget about it, use the service, and don’t realize how much it’s costing you. The situation is even worse when you’ve previously chosen a larger number of cable packages.
If you’re not as fussed about the programs that you watch or the movies you see, consider switching to another provider for filmed entertainment. Moving from cable to streaming services like Hulu+, Sling TV, Amazon Prime, or Netflix can drastically cut your monthly bill.
Many of the above providers have their own production teams to create original TV series and movies, plus a selection of mainstream entertainment too. And major Hollywood actors are flocking to them, including previous prime time or cable TV actors too. While the streaming subscriptions are rising in cost, saving $20+ a month is easily possible.
3. Fight the Rising Food Costs
The cost of food is expected to continue rising in 2021.
According to NBC News, the cost of bacon, ground beef, and bread is all up. For instance, Nielson IQ determined that a pound of bacon has risen on average from the previous year at $4.72 to $5.11 – that’s over an 8% increase. Similarly, bread is up to $2.66 per loaf from $2.44 previously, a 9% increase. Similar price hikes have been seen with other types of food too.
For families, it’s necessary to make new decisions about how to cut back. Foreign discount food stores like Aldi and Lidl are becoming more popular with consumers willing to try them to reduce their weekly food bills. Switching away from big-name food brands towards store brands, value brands, and adopting a heavier focus on vegetables can cut costs substantially.
4. Envelope Spending
Envelope budget spending – the idea of dividing up your spending into different envelopes and only spending what’s in them – is an old idea that’s become popular again possibly because of Dave Ramsey.
Controlling spending by limiting what’s possible to spend is effective. The most successful is the ’food and drink’ category if that’s where the family usually finds themselves overspending. However, for your family, it could be a different category that is always the dreaded budget-buster.
While some stores prefer credit or debit card transactions with fewer tills available for accepting cash, it’s still useful to queue up and pay with greenbacks. When spending on plastic, it’s all too easy for the money to run away from you through overspending. Becoming casual about this reality until the bill arrives is common. Instead, by sticking to cash spending, at least for the runaway budget categories, it protects from overspending.
5. Renegotiate Car Insurance Policies
Whether you’ve got one car or two in the family, auto insurance is costly.
Whenever the insurance is coming around for renewal it is a great time to seek to renegotiate for a better rate. If you’ve not made any claims in the past year, then that’s to your credit. But either way, if your insurance is being hiked up this year, don’t accept that.
Phone around or go online to get multiple insurance quotes. Also, consider using an insurance broker if they can save you money vs locating the cheapest policy yourself. Avoid thinking of auto insurance as a fixed cost that’s just got to be paid. It isn’t. Many insurers are competing for your business, so find the best deal for your family.
6. Double Check Your Receipts
It’s not unusual to find mistakes in what you’ve been charged.
It can happen with a monthly variable bill where mystery charges have been added on and you’re not clear about what they apply to. Querying them can be clarifying by confirming if they’re a mistake or something new. If they’re both new and permanent, it should encourage you to look around for a better deal now that you know the costs have risen.
Look at retail receipts before leaving the store. Step to the side and verify the receipt is correct. If you’ve never done this before, it may catch you by surprise how often a scanned item is wrongly charged or added twice.
Also, if you’re following the above advice to pay with cash, then check your change too. Don’t just stick it in your purse and move on. People are human and they make mistakes.
7. Lower the Cost of Your Cell Plan
Seriously assess what your needs are for cellular data. 4G LTE data gets expensive, especially with news sites that auto-play videos attached to articles, which eat in your data plan unexpectedly.
Look for the best deal and be willing to change cell providers. If Verizon doesn’t offer the best deal, consider moving to T-Mobile or AT&T instead.
Consider how much data you need. Look in your phone’s Settings to verify the data used in the past month or check with your current provider’s Dashboard. It should confirm what data you’ve been using. This provides useful information to pick an appropriate plan for you.
Some unlimited plans do limit speeds, for instance, the AT&T Unlimited Extra plan offers “Video Streaming at 1.5Mbps” and other providers may slow internet speeds for high data users under their fair use policies.
Look for new approaches to cut costs. Fighting the ravages of inflation that has reared its ugly head this year is necessary to prevent your budget from going up. By doubling down on efforts to reduce costs, it’s possible to overcome inflation and reduce spending levels. This allows frugal families to survive on less and if there’s money spare, to throw it either into savings, a short-term CD, or repay the debt to cut costs later too.
Avoid complacency because that’s how the cost of living rises, and you fail to notice it. Make 2021 a profitable year for you and your loved ones.