Tips to Staying on a Tight Budget Without Driving Yourself Crazy

This blog post was written by James Daniels, a freelance writer, tech geek, and avid reader. I especially find it useful because these are tips that take very little time to implement and can pay off quickly.

If you feel like you are constantly stretching your pennies until they scream, take heed: with a few adjustments and tricks, you can make living on a tight budget less of a burden. Check out the following ideas that should give you more money left at the end of the month:

Look for Ways to Have Fun on the Cheap
While you want to treat your kids, and yourself, now and then, you probably know how quickly a movie night at the theater or dinner out can deplete your bank account. Instead, rent a movie from a local kiosk for a buck or so and pop your own popcorn and buy soda on sale at the store. Check your local museums, parks and other recreation spots to see if they offer free or reduced price days, and as the weather warms up watch for free concerts in the park and outdoor movies. Invite friends over for a potluck dinner and ask everyone to bring along a fave dish, or go on picnics in the park with your family.

Purchase Services at a Flat Rate Whenever Possible
A good way to make a tight budget work over time is to buy services at a flat rate. A great example of this is your cell phone service. T-Mobile offers flat rate plans for the latest iPhones that are one price and offer unlimited talk and text for everyone in your family. This way, rather than worrying each month about what your smartphone charges will be, you can count on the same budget-friendly amount every time. Other companies that often offer flat rates are the electric company — they may offer a monthly bill that is based on your average use over the year — the gas company, water and garbage pickup.

Ask for Reduced Interest Rates on Credit Cards
High interest on credit card rates will really chip away at your monthly budget. If you owe money on your cards, call each company and ask for a lower interest rate — the worst they can say is “no,” and if you are a long-term customer with a history of paying your bills on time, they may very well say “yes.” You can also be on the lookout for balance transfers at zero percent interest and move your credit card debt to those cards. Of course, the faster you pay off your cards, the more money you will have to keep in your own wallet, so look for items around the house that you could sell or maybe take on a second job temporarily and put the extra income toward your debt.

Stock up When Things Go On Sale
You love a certain type of coffee and your kids love to eat cereal morning, noon and night. When your fave foods go on sale, try to purchase enough of these items to last your family about six weeks; this is the average sale cycle at most grocery stores. While it might seem like you are spending way more than usual buying up 10 boxes of Cheerios at $1.47 a box, it definitely beats running out and having to buy them at the usual price of $4.99 a box.

Review your Budget Every Month
A tight budget is not set in stone. Take some time every month to review your income and all of your bills. Track your expenses at places like the grocery store and if you find that you are spending less to feed your family, take the extra money and put it toward your debt or into a savings account.

See my disclaimer.

Penniless Parenting

Mommy, wife, writer, baker, chef, crafter, sewer, teacher, babysitter, cleaning lady, penny pincher, frugal gal

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