I was at CostCo the other day and was talking about Multiple Egg Baskets blog and how I was trying to blog about personal finance items that mattered to Canadians and I was offered a few tips from the women at the frozen food aisle. I hope that you enjoy:
Today it is very hard to raise a family off of two incomes, much less one. This is intended for those people who need a little help in ways to make ends meet. Below is a list of things you can do to help you make the most of your situation, whether you are a single parent, a two parent family with one staying home with the children, or you are in a situation where one of the parents just got laid off. This list will make an incredible difference in the amount of money you spend and the amount of money you get to keep for your family. Let’s begin.
1. The first thing you need to do is to not put yourself any further in debt than you already are. Debt can be a wonderful thing if you are in need of a house for your family, but if you already have a house then don’t borrow anything else. Not even for a new car. New cars are not necessary. They depreciate in value as soon as you drive them off the lot. A good used car will fit your family’s needs just as well. Take all your credit cards and cut them into shreds. Lots of credit cards today carry an interest rate of 21% or more, depending on whether you have made any late payments or not. Start paying all your credit card debt down and never pick up another one again. It’s very easy to sign your name to a debt and it takes a lifetime to erase it from that same debt.
2. When you go to the doctor and need a prescription filled then always ask if they have a generic for the prescription. Generic drugs can cost half the price of name brands. This will save your family big time.
3. When you go grocery shopping, always by the store brand products instead of the name brands. Lots of store brands are made by the name brand makers and just have a store label on them. This will allow you to buy your family more of the foods they love.
4. Never go grocery shopping if you or any of your family members are hungry. This will cause you to buy more groceries than normal.
5. Always make a grocery list before leaving for the store. Never buy anything that isn’t on your list. Calculate what your groceries are going to cost you before you go and buy them. If your cost runs over the amount you can afford, then delete some of the unnecessary items on your list.
6. When it comes to your children’s clothing, hand-me-downs are a good thing. This will save you hundreds of dollars in the long run. If one of your children grows out of something and your smaller child will be able to wear it in the future, then put it in a plastic trash bag and label it with your smaller child’s name and the date. Place it in your building, storage facility, or closet. Later you can go back and see if those same clothes fit your child.
7. Go to yard sales. You can find slightly used and sometimes new clothing at yard sales. Lots of times they only cost a dollar or two. This can save you all kinds of money.
8. If your children need health or dental insurance, it is provided by the state if your income doesn’t exceed the income limit. Your local social service department provides the forms available to apply for this insurance. It pays all doctor and dental bills for your children. This can be very helpful, especially if you have a very sickly child in your family.
9. Your local health department will give your children all their vaccinations for free. All you have to do is make an appointment and take their immunization records along. The health department also has a department that helps you provide formula, baby cereal, and juice to your baby or milk, cereal, grits, eggs, cheese, juice, dry beans, and peanut butter to your other children.
10. If you are pregnant, you may qualify for free health insurance for you and your baby also at your local social service department. All you have to do is take a paper to prove your pregnant with the due date of your child wrote on it from your doctor to the social service department. There they will go over your total income to see if you and your child qualify. If you don’t have a doctor yet, you can get a pregnancy test done at the health department for around ten or fifteen dollars. There they will determine your due date and give you the proof slips you need to apply.
11. Cooking big meals in a big crock pot will also help in making sure there is plenty of good hot food to eat and will save you time and money on your power bill.
12. Limit your luxuries. Cable vision and satellite TV are not necessary to run a household. They usually are showing the same movies over and over again anyway. You can go out and rent new and old movies from your local library for free or you can go to your local video store and rent only the movies you want to watch. This is better than paying for movies you don’t want to see or have seen already.
13. If you have addictions like smoking, drinking, or doing drugs then kick that habit to the curb. You could give your family a whole lot more and be around longer for them if you were not spending so much on trying to kill yourself slowly. Love them enough to love yourself, quit!
14. Don’t eat out every night of the week. It costs less to cook meals at home than it does to eat out and you know you are getting good wholesome food that is prepared safely if you do it yourself.
15. Use florescent light bulbs. They use less power and have to be replaced less often than regular ones.
16. If you have lamps then use them instead of your regular lighting. Some ceiling fans have four bulbs and that uses more power which makes your power bill go up.
17. On days when it is cool outside raise all your windows instead of running your air conditioner. You can even put a fan in the window to circulate the air if you want to, this will still use less power than running that air conditioner.
18. If your children are young, you can save money on your water bill by giving them all a bath in the same water. Older children seem to object to this because they feel it is nasty to wash after each other.
19. You can visit dollar stores and purchase items that you normally use a whole lot cheaper than other stores.
20. Watching TV together not only promotes family time but also saves power.
21. You can have your own yard sale to make a little extra money and get rid of the items around the house you never use anyway.
22. Buy things that are on sale if you use them regularly, if you don’t then don’t buy them just because they are on sale unless they cost the same as a similar item you normally buy.
23. When shopping for your meats buy family packs of meat then separate them into meals when you get home and put them into the freezer. This will save you money because family packs are cheaper.
24. Drink more tea and less soda. Tea is cheaper to make, lasts longer, and is better for you than sugary sodas.
25. Limit your family’s snacks to one or two a week. This is better for their health and their teeth, not to mention it will save on your grocery bill.
26. Grow your own vegetables. If your family likes vegetables you can grow them yourself and freeze or can them for later.
27. Let your children ride the bus to school. This will save you time and money. Gas isn’t getting any cheaper these days.
28. Always turn off all lights and electrical appliances when you leave a room. Teach your children to do the same.
29. If you must have Internet service, subscribe to dial-up. It’s a lot cheaper. If you don’t want to for fear of your phone line being busy, then PeoplePC offers an Internet Call Waiting service for free for 30 days then after that it will cost you $6.95 a month if you chose to keep it. With this service you can answer your phone while on the Internet by just the click of a button so you’ll never miss a call again. If you don’t choose to keep it they give you Caller Id. on your computer for free. So, the next time someone calls you and you are on the Internet you will know that they have called and you can call them right back after you get off.
30. If you have to go into town then do everything you need to do for that week in one trip. It saves time and gas.
31. If you must have a cell phone then get a pay as you go phone. This will eliminate that monthly bill and you only pay for the minutes you use.
32. If you can do something yourself, don’t pay someone else to do it for you. Example: If your husband knows how to work on your car, don’t pay the local garage to do it instead. It saves money when you do things yourself.
33. After each meal, always wrap up the leftovers and put them in the refrigerator. Wasting food is wasting money. You would dare throw your money in the trash.
34. Do not ever pay a babysitter to keep your children if you or your partner is at home, or you have a relative who is willing to watch them for you. In most family situations the grandparents are very eager to keep their grandchildren.
35. While at the grocery store, always use any coupons you have on hand for the merchandise you are purchasing. But, never buy an item just because you have a coupon for it. Only buy it if you regularly use that item. You can find lots of coupons in your local Sunday newspaper.
36. You can save hundreds of dollars by hanging your wet laundry out on a clothesline.
37. You can make a little extra money by keeping other parents’ children while they work, especially if you or your partner stays home with your own children.
38. You or your children can offer to cut the neighbors’ yards for some extra money.
39. Wash all your dirty laundry in cold water.
40. Carpool to work or church if you are able to do so.
41. If you have pets, then give them their vaccines yourself. You can order them through the mail and do it yourself a lot cheaper than you can go to the vet and pay them to do it for you.
42. Some phone companies have an extended calling plan, where you can call anyone within an extended area for one flat rate. This is usually cheaper than paying for all your long distance calls. Call your local phone company and ask them about theirs.
43. Always turn your heat down before you leave your home. There’s no use to keep it warm and cozy if you’re not there to enjoy it.
44. If your local waste facility is close to your house, then take your trash off yourself. It is cheaper than paying someone to come out and empty your cans for you.
45. Never try to keep up with the neighbors. So what if they cut their grass after every rain. You are saving money by cutting it when it needs to be cut.
46. Pay all your bills on time to avoid any late fees or interest. They can really add up in no time at all.
47. Always wear out the clothes you have before going out and buying new ones. Your old clothes will just sit in your closet taking up space if you have new ones to wear instead. Everyone would rather wear new clothes.
48. When you have a dinner with other family members, ask everyone to bring a dish with them. This will save you money and put lots of variety on the table.
49. If you take your family on a picnic, make your own food to take with you instead of buying it on the way. A cooler of drinks goes further than a single drink in ice for everyone.
50. Limit your family outings to once or twice a month, but make them count.
I hope you find these pointers to be very helpful in helping you and your family meet all your needs. They have been very helpful to me and my family. Lots of people ask us how we do it. Here are the answers.