If you've been putting off making a budget, vow to do it in 2011!! It's almost the start of a new month which is the perfect time to start working on your budget. You can tweak it each month if you have to but then you'll be on your way to living more frugally! Here are some tips that will help you spend less money in 2011.
- You won't have everything you want and neither will your children. Your priority as a parent is to supply your children's needs. You may just have to accept that your children won't get everything they want. Of course, this may not make your children happy. I know parents want to be able to get everything for their children (I am already like this and our kids aren't even old enough to ask for stuff yet!) but kids have to learn they can't get everything they want. Growing up I can remember making pages and pages for my "Santa" list. There was no way my parents would be able to buy me all that stuff. My sister and I never got everything we wanted and we turned out alright.
- Learn how to fix stuff. You may have to learn how to "Do It Yourself" out of necessity. We have done this with several items around our house. For example, after I backed our truck into our chest freezer and the freezer went straight through the dry wall? (cringe!!) Stephen talked to his dad and looked online, and came home one afternoon and fixed it himself! Savings of a couple hundred dollars! He learned how to change the brakes on our cars so we don't have to pay for that. Savings of a couple hundred dollars each time! Of course there are some things that are just too big for you to fix, and of course you should call a professional for those things so you aren't paying to fix something and then paying someone to repair your "fix". :)
- Cook at home. I absolutely love to cook. I have always loved it but love it more since we've had kids because it's my alone time! Haha! If you are a less than enthusiastic cook but need to do it for financial reasons, just start with the basics. You can make a roast for your whole family for less than a couple of dollars per person. You can invest in a bread machine to make your own bread. I even bought a new bread machine at a yard sale a few years back for under $10. I haven't mastered it yet, but that's one of my goals!! If you do love to cook, one of my favorite things to do is find recipes I love at restaurants and try to duplicate them at home. The first time I ever did this was making Applebee's baby-back ribs. They cost $12.49 (at the time) in the restaurant and I made them for approximately $3.73. This is a lot of fun for me too.
- Buy second hand. You can get so many things at thrift store that are in excellent condition and can save lots of money. There are certain things I just won't buy, like bras and underwear, and some things that are very hard to find, especially if you need something very specific. When Brianna was born I bought clothes for her in bigger sizes when they were really, really cheap. I bought several pairs of shirts and jeans for less than 50 cents. If it was a much bigger size I never paid over 50 cents. Now I am grateful because I found a bunch of those clothes the other day - size 2T - which she is about to be able to wear! I'd much rather buy a pair of jeans for 50 cents three years in advance than have to pay full-price because I didn't look ahead. You can even go to Play It Again Sports for used sports equipment, get books from the library rather than buy them (and rent movies from some libraries too; not sure which ones in our county have this option), get gifts in excellent condition, and toys for your kids.
- If you can borrow, don't buy. I can't count the amount of items we've borrowed over the years - generators, pressure washer, lawn mowers, books, clothes, toys, etc. If you need it, you should try to ask around before you invest in it. You can also join the Yahoo group MooreLeeFreecycle. You can request items you need and if someone has it and is willing to give it to you for free, you can get it! I have gotten several items this way including coupons, craft supplies and toddler meals!
- Grow your own food. I know you can't do this all year, or at least we don't, but during spring and summer especially you can grow so many things! We have found that the best things that grow in our soil are squash, okra, cucumbers, zucchini, and herbs. That's not a huge selection but it saves us some money at least!
- Search out cheap entertainment. Our county is growing enough that we usually have things going on at libraries, or the community college, or the arboretum in Pinehurst. You have to search these things out or hear them by word of mouth but if you can find cheap events for your whole family it's worth the effort!
What are some of your tips?