6 EASY Ways To Make Your Cash Go Further In 2017
If being less spendy is top of your agenda for the New Year, now is the time to make a plan.
The truth is, most of us could benefit from tightening up those purse strings... and small changes could make a big difference to your bank balance at the end of the month.
Here are six tips that are guaranteed to help you get a firm grip on your finances.
1. Crunch the numbers
Work out exactly how much money is coming into your household, estimate how much is going out, then get realistic. If you're not using that gym membership three or four times a week, cancel it and walk the dog instead. Takeaway coffees at €2.70 a pop? That's almost €60 per month - enough to make a bigger dent in that monthly credit card bill.
2. Tackle your debt head-on
We get it. Debt is scary and depressing to look at, but burying your head in the sand is not helping. Every cent you spend on servicing your loans and credit cards is one that could be sitting pretty in your savings account. Here's a trick: Pick your smallest debt and aim to pay that off first. Once that's out of the way, start on the next one. It feels good to get back in control.
3. Use the envelope system
If you find it difficult to stay within your budget, it's a good idea to give your debit card a rest for a while. Instead, begin the month by putting all the money you need into envelopes marked 'bills', 'groceries', 'treats' etc. When the envelope is empty, there is no more spending on that category - this alone will help you be more careful in those first weeks.
4. Stop wasting food
Go through everything in your store cupboard (pastas, rice, flours, tinned fruit and vegetables) and make a list of meals you could make using those ingredients and some fresh produce. Shopping for the extra produce only will reduce your grocery bill significantly. You can also make your food go further, for instance: adding a punnet of chopped mushrooms to a 400g carton of lean minced beef can almost double its volume, without losing any flavour - ideal in a lasagne, saving more than €3 per meal. Plus it's healthier!
5. Freeze your spending on activities (for a month)
Call a family meeting and ask everyone to choose a fun activity to do this month. There's only one catch: it must be free. Mum and Dad must be on board too (so the pub, local bistro and cinema are out) and everyone takes part in everyone else's choice. This budgeting trick not only saves money, it's also guaranteed to result in more family time, more fresh air and exercise and more contented kids (being allowed to make big decisions builds confidence and self-esteem). Sample activities include a treasure hunt; camping in the garden; a neighbourhood game of rounders; baking a cake...
6. Shop around
Check out the latest apps available to help you find discounts on your favourite brands. Shopping around can save you a lot of money ion the long-run.
7. Adjust your thinking
If the word 'budget' sounds restrictive, call it financial planning. Keep a picture of your goal in your wallet to look at every time you have a money choice to make: is today's overspend pushing that family holiday or new car further from your grasp? Nip it in the bud!
Do you have some budgeting tips you swear by? Let us know on Twitter @HerFamilydotie.
Image: Mother Hustler coin purse from Lucends on Etsy.