If there’s one thing we all can agree on, it’s saving money.
I haven’t met anyone yet who was so keen on not saving money at all. Well, I’ve met many shopaholics and impulsive buyers, but to be fair to them, it’s not as if they are depleting their resources on purpose. They just couldn’t help but buy nice things, but the desire to save even just a little amount of money is there.
So let’s talk about saving money and how to minimise household expenses.
It’s a bummer to see the bulk of our income going to household expenses, isn’t it?
We can change this by following these tips:
10. Re-evaluate your grocery list.
Let’s start with the grocery list because, let’s face it, groceries cost a lot – probably the biggest bulk of the bulk mentioned above. If you don’t have a grocery list, which means you just buy whatever you feel like buying at the store, please make one. This will keep you from getting stuff that you don’t really need. At all. And then you can re-evaluate your list, which I will be explaining next.
For everyone who keeps a grocery list, it’s time to re-evaluate. Go over your list once, twice, even thrice (depending on how your kids are behaving, of course). You can divide the list into, for example, two categories: must-have and can do without. What products in your grocery list do you absolutely need? What unnecessary and unhealthy products should you stop buying?
Here are more tips for reducing your grocery bill.
9. Make your own products.
Here at SAHM, we are big fans of DIY. We love making our own products for several reasons. For starters, it’s a great way to save money. Usually, the cost of making a product is less than buying a ready-made one. Second, by making your own products, you can have better control of the ingredients that go into what your family is using. Third, making your own products is a fun activity! You can make these products while bonding with the kids.
8. Use bundled services.
If your household is like any other household, there’s a good chance that you’re using a home phone, a number of mobile phones, and an internet connection. I’m sure these services are costing you a good amount of money, am I right? The good news is that there’s a simple way to save on money. Instead of availing and paying for these services individually, try to look for providers that offer bundled services. You will not only save up on money but also minimise transaction costs and time.
We have 50 (yes, 50!) simple ways to save money here.
7. Spend your money on essential staples.
The difference between frugal and cheap is that the frugal spends wisely while the cheap doesn’t spend at all. To be frugal, you need to take note of the things that are making your life a whole lot easier. These are the staples, the essentials, and you need to invest in them. For example, some pantry staples include vinegar (which can be used from cooking to cleaning) and vegetables (which need to be as fresh as possible — if you have access to organic vegetables, the better).
It is best to not scrimp on these staples because if you do, you may end up with food and products that are bad in quality. The little amount that you saved from scrimping is no match for the possible medical expenses. So choose wisely – for staples and things that you absolutely need (this goes for clothes and appliances, too!), it’s better to spend a little more on high-quality choices.
Oh, and we have a list of essential pantry staples, too.
PS: This also goes for clothing choices. Instead of buying crappily-made trendy pieces, invest instead in timeless pieces like crisp white shirts.
6. De-clutter and pay it forward.
A common mistake a lot of us make is accumulating stuff that we don’t even use or need. This is a habit that needs to be stopped because of two reasons. First, having too much stuff prevents us from being able to distinguish the things we truly need from the things we’re just keeping out of convenience. This habit of keeping this for silly reasons also clouds our judgement when we shop. We fail to recognise our basic needs from petty wants.
Second, having too much stuff just makes the house a lot harder to clean. Right? Right?
Try to make an inventory of all the things you own. Just like what you did to your grocery list in Number 1, divide these things into categories: regularly used, sometimes used, rarely used. For items that you haven’t used in 2 months or more (these include clothes, toys, everything!), you need to face the truth that you won’t be using them in the near future either. It’s time to put them together into a box and donate them to people who will surely use them.
Read more about de-cluttering and paying it forward.
5. Buy groceries in bulk.
Let me tell you a secret: buying things in bulk is one of the easiest yet most effective ways to minimise household expenses. I mean, it’s a no-brainer. A single item, let’s say a roll of toilet paper, costs more than a pack of 10. Companies generally sell bulk packs more cheaply because these packs incurred less packaging and, in some cases, manufacturing costs. Again, no-brainer. You can observe these the next time you’re shopping. Notice how a $5 item becomes $3 or even less when bought in bulk. Buy in bulk, repeat, see results.
You can also read more about buying in bulk and how Jody affords to be a stay-at-home mum.
4. Use water and electricity wisely.
Water and electricity are absolute must-haves as we cannot function properly without these utilities. However, it is also easy to take advantage of these services. I want you to take inventory of how you use your water and electricity too. Do you use them only when needed or did you and your family get into the habit of wasting precious resources?
Conserving water and electricity doesn’t need to be complicated. You can begin by practising basic habits like turning off the tap and light bulbs when not in use. You can also adjust your thermostat to conserve power. Instead of using the bath tub, you can use the shower.
3. Don’t be afraid to try generic brands.
Another common mistake that many of us make is buying only brand name products when their generic counterparts are just as good and cost a lot less. Did you know that brand name products typically cost 25% more than generic products? Think of how much you will save if you keep buying the generic.
But here’s the catch: you need to make risks when trying out these generic brands. An easy way to make the decision is to check the label. There are a lot of brand name products that have exactly the same ingredients as their generic counterparts. Thus, the only thing that makes them more expensive is the name. But you may want to go easy on food items that go bad easily. Like what I mentioned in number 7, there are certain things that you cannot scrimp on.
Read more about brand name vs. generic products.
2. Set a budget and stick to it.
I cannot stress hard enough how important making a household budget (and sticking to it!) is. Just like a food diet, a budget is a money diet that allows you to plan how to use your income wisely. Without one, it is very easy to spend money like a mad woman (or a mad man) without any sort of control. Not having a budget causes people to buy and hoard unnecessary things, have buyer’s remorse, and be buried in piles of debt. (These are more reasons why budgeting is important.)
There are different styles of budgeting (the envelope style is a crowd favourite), but the things that you need to include in your budget plan remain roughly the same. For newbies, you can take inventory of all of your sources of income and all of your expenses. Expenses may include monthly bills, food and groceries, education, mortgages, car-related expenses, entertainment, and charity.
We have a whole section dedicated to budgeting. You can start learning about budgeting there!
1. Plan with the entire family.
Last but not the least, remember to include your entire family in planning to minimise household expenses. I know we’re all superheroes in our own right, but without the help of our family members, we will never have a smooth-sailing household. Everyone needs to contribute. For example, they can pledge to turn off the lights when not in use. You can all sit together and hold an executive meeting when setting the budget. You can all agree on which grocery items are absolutely necessary and which you can do without.
Including the family reduces chances of resentment (especially if your family is not used to budgeting). More importantly, because they are consulted, all family members feel important and, therefore, will know that their opinions and contributions are valued.