If your household budget is stretched to the breaking point it can be tempting to forget about the future and simply focus on making the present as comfortable as possible. Regardless of your financial situation, it is a good idea to try and put a little bit aside, no matter how small. Here’s some ideas on how to do just that.
A helpful trick to try and help you save is to visualize the end result, rather than simply just squeezing a bit of extra money out and putting it away aimlessly. A good way to do this is to label jars and put money in the one which you want to focus on. For example, you might have a ‘holiday pot’ and a ‘Christmas pot’ or maybe even a ‘wedding pot!’ Seeing money accumulate towards a specific goal can be a great motivator – perhaps even stick a photo on the pot if it helps.
Energy efficient habits can, of course, help you save money every month when the utility bill comes around. Here’s ten tips from the EPA for doing just that. You can also save money by paring down your wardrobe (it also saves time and maintenance, and gives you some up front cash for selling gently used items).
Birthdays and of course Christmas put an extra strain on finances and finding enough cash to buy presents and festive food can take all of the fun out of the occasion, but it doesn’t mean you can’t have a fun, frugal Christmas. And for those with children clamouring for the latest toy, the pressure can be immense. A Christmas pot can help ease the expense, but it’s better spreading the cost to make special occasions easier on the bank balance. Picking up toys and presents in months when you have a bit of spare cash, or buying gifts in the sales and tucking them away, can both be great ways to help lessen the blow.
Signing up for supermarket loyalty cards and saving up your points can also be a wonderful source of money, which can be used to either buy foods for special occasions or gifts.There are also lots of websites which offer vouchers and coupons, providing reductions and discounts. Check out Blissmo, for green coupons, for instance…you can get some great deals on wholesale stuff and send those as gifts to friends when holidays and birthdays come around. Whether these are used to help pay for gifts or perhaps to reduce costs during the year, to free up more cash to save, they can be an easy way to cut spending without sacrifice.
Even if you’re not saving for Christmas, stockpiling food can be a good idea, just to help during times when you have less money. If there are good deals or offers on at the supermarket on food which will keep a while, such as tins or cupboard supplies, buy more than you need and save the rest.
Bulk buying is also a cheaper way to shop than buying food individually. Check out Vibrant Wellness Journal for great recipes using bulk items you can find in the bulk aisle at your local health food store. Food inflation has been particularly high, rising way higher than the cost of living, making a lot of ingredients and foods very expensive. Purchasing a larger portion, making a batch and freezing them individually, not only helps to save money in the longer term, but it also makes providing a nutritious meal much easier on those days when you are in a hurry (or just plain tired!).
There’s a growing trend in the market towards homemade items and green, eco-friendly crafts, which is a real help for anyone on a budget. Whether it’s Christmas, birthdays, another special occasion or simply for use around the home – thinking how you can upcycle your unwanted items can result in truly unique results. The trick is to be constantly thinking about different uses for things; for example, last year’s discarded Christmas cards would make perfect gift tags. You could even use old wrapping paper, cards or other trinkets to make your own Christmas tree decorations – and children will love the opportunity to get involved in making these!
Forward financial planning is an imperative part of managing your finances. While it is particularly important for Christmas and other special times of the year, the principle is just as relevant during daily life. By taking steps – however small – to make provisions for the future, you will help to ease the pressure on your bank balance, just when you need it the most.
But if money is really tight and you need a more long-term solution, you could try dealing with financial problems with a Debt Management Plan. This could help you repay debts at a more affordable rate and free up a little extra cash each month.
This post was supported by Baines and Ernst, a debt management company located in the UK.