In today's economy, money is tight. Here are a few tips from PromotionCode.org to help you and your family make each dollar go farther:
•Create a household budget: One great way to save money is to have a household budget. Budgeting is an exercise in setting priorities and making purchases in line with those priorities. If you have kids, involve them in the budget process. They will learn valuable lessons about money management, and their participation may help you avoid arguments when it comes time for the family to make the tough choice not to spend money on the latest game or gadget.
•If you don’t need it, sell it: Just because you have stuff that you no longer need or want doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have value. If you have lots of small items, consider having a garage sale. If you have large items or items that have significant value, post them on Craigslist or eBay. Selling your “extra stuff” not only brings in some extra cash, it also help clear out unwanted clutter.
•Don’t pay retail: Almost anything you need or want can be purchased at a discount. Shopping at discount retail stores lets you wear the latest fashions without having to pay full retail price. Use coupons and buy in bulk whenever possible. Know retailers’ seasonal sale cycles and wait for sales. And shop online. The Internet makes it easier to comparison shop, and many online retailers offer promotions and discount codes that can save you money.
•Be a smart grocery shopper: When grocery shopping, stock up on seasonal specials. You can take advantage of “sales cycles” to save money by stocking up on seasonally discounted merchandise. And don’t go grocery shopping when you’re hungry and try not to take the children with you. Empty stomachs and kids in tow are two things that often lead shoppers to impulsively spend money they don’t have.
•Be a smart Back-to-School shopper: Don’t stray too far from your “needs list.” The urge to buy extra clothes and supplies during the Back-to-School savings blitz is tempting, but acting on the urge can drive up your costs and leave you with little left for those unexpected expenses that always crop up after school starts. Weekly circulars from your local supermarket or drug store often offer discount pricing on school supplies. Kid-oriented stores like Gap and Old Navy offer great deals that are typically updated each week beginning in mid to late July through the end of August, and be sure to check out their clearance sections.
•Steer your kids toward less expensive entertainment options: Instead of going to the theater, rent movies. For the price of one movie ticket, most people can join a movie subscription service for a whole month. Many supermarkets, drug stores, and discount chains also have kiosks where you can rent a movie for $1 per night or less. Encourage your children to read. There are all kinds of books available, including some fantastic book series for kids that will keep them coming back for more. Most books are available at the library, or you can establish a “book club” with friends and neighbors who share the cost of books that you lend to one another. Re-introduce your kids to the things you did as a kid. Arts and crafts are a great way for children to be creative and have fun without having to spend a lot of money. Board games and card games are another great option. And if all else fails, encourage them to go outside and play.
•Avoid the hype when purchasing electronics: We live in an electronic age, but camping outside of Best Buy to get the latest iPhone isn’t the way to save money. Lower-priced electronics from well-known manufacturers will, for the most part, reliably perform the task they were designed to perform. Typically, higher-priced electronics are the newly released models or models with unique and numerous “bells and whistles.” The easiest ways to save money on electronics are to be patient and to not pay for features that you don’t need or will rarely use. As with most purchases, a little research goes a long way towards saving money. Spending a few minutes doing some online comparison shopping and looking for deals and discounts can save you a lot. And don’t forget to check the online auction sites and sites like Amazon where excess inventory or “last year’s” models are often sold at discounted prices.
•Pack a lunch: With some advance planning, you can save big on daily lunches by planning the “lunch week” in advance and buying groceries in bulk. Not only will this save you money on lunches, many of the items you purchase can be used for after school snacks and family meals.
•Brew your own coffee: That cup of coffee you buy on the way to work probably costs you between $2 and $5. On an annual basis, that can easily cost you $400 to $1,000! For much less, you can brew your own premium brand coffee and add just about any flavor imaginable.
•Do it yourself: With the advent of home improvement stores most people can handle simple home improvement projects without hiring a professional. For example, exposed exterior wood is more susceptible to rot and insect infestation. Adding a fresh coat of paint will not only help prevent costly repairs down the road, it will enhance the look and value of your house. A dripping faucet wastes water. Most new fixtures have simple connections that allow the average homeowner to replace them without having to pay a plumber. With a little help from friends, neighbors, family, or the folks at the local home improvement center, there are many DIY projects that can save you money.
•Be conservation minded: Thinking green is not only good for the environment, it’s good for your pocketbook. Save on your water bill by fixing leaks, using water efficient fixtures, and by reducing your water usage – take shorter showers, turn off the water while you brush your teeth, water the lawn early in the morning to reduce evaporation. To save on your electric bill, turn off lights and ceiling fans when you’re not in the room, replace your thermostat with a programmable model and set the temperature several degrees higher when no one is home, check your windows and doors for leaks, and make sure you have sufficient ceiling insulation. Buy online - not only will you save on gas, but you will be better able to comparison shop and to find deals and coupons, which are readily available from many online retailers.
•Look for government-sponsored ways to save: Many states offer sales tax holidays, free energy audits, and appliance rebates. Shopping during a tax holiday will save you about 5-8% on Back-to-School clothes, shoes, accessories, and supplies. An energy audit can uncover a number of costly problems that are simple to fix without spending a lot of money. And if you need a new kitchen appliance, water heater, AC unit, or furnace, make sure to check with your state and local governments to see if they have a rebate program that can significantly reduce your out-of-pocket expense.
•Practice the art of bartering: When buying something like a water softener, it’s not unusual get a discount by naming your own price or by asking for free “add-ons” like a supply of softener salt. Most tradesmen are willing to forgo larger profit margins for the chance to stay busy and maintain a relatively predictable income. Negotiating can even work with retailers, especially if you can point to offers from their competitors.
Previous: New Car Shopping Tips
Next: Holiday Shopping Trends from 2010-11 Portend Big 2012 Sales