You have scrimped and saved, revamped your family’s budget several times but you still can’t get ahead at the end of the month. Consider these 10 great financial tips and tricks to make your families finances go further.
Spending less than you earn
The sooner you start saving for retirement, the better. Here are some numbers that should motivate you: if two people put $25,000 into their retirement savings over the years and one starts saving smaller amounts at age 25 and the other plays catch up with larger deposits starting at age 45, by the time they both reach the golden age of 65, the person who started 20 years earlier comes out roughly $40,000 richer than the late starter!
Plan a budget
How much money is coming in the door? And how much is going out? You can’t begin to manage your finances until you have a sense of this. Various applications such as Mint.com allow you to easily track your finances, budget, set personal spending goals, set spending alerts and more. When you sync your various chequing and saving accounts, investments, etc you have got everything in one place, and that makes it easy to stay organized, monitor your money, do more with your money and achieve a more solid financial future. .
Spend less than you earn
The bottom line is that if you spend money you don’t have, you go into the red (debt) and once your in debt, you have to crawl your way out which is obviously tougher the deeper you get. Avoid this vicious cycle by being disciplined and using credit wisely.
Start and emergency fund
The most common financial adviser’s mantra is “pay yourself first”. No matter how much you owe in student loans or credit card debt and no matter how low your salary may seem, it is always wise to find any amount of money in your budget to put into an emergency fund every month.
Having money in savings to use for emergencies can really keep you out of trouble financially and help you sleep better at night, knowing you have a nest-egg for any unexpected expenses. Also, if you get into the habit of saving money and treating it as a non-negotiable monthly “expense”, soon you’ll have more than just emergency money saved up: you’ll have retirement money, vacation money or even money for a home down payment. Try to put in a high-interest savings account, a certificate of deposit or a money market account. If not inflation will erase the value of your savings.
Find affordable housing
A household paying 30% or more of its pre-tax income for housing is considered to have affordability problems. Sure a big house on a big lot would be nice, but can you afford it? Many banks and lenders have loan calculators which factors in your down payment, interest rate and other variables and provides a rough monthly mortgage amount. Don’t forget to include hydro, taxes, maintenance and all the other expenses required to keep your house standing.
Remember: money can’t buy happiness
Don’t fixate on becoming wealthy and owning a German luxury automobile. The old saying, money does not buy happiness stands true. Just find something you love to do, and do it to the best of your ability.
Save on trips to the grocery store
A great way to shrink your weekly grocery bill is to start couponing, or take your current coupon use to the next level. Pairing coupons with sales is really not as hard as it may seem. Just take a few minutes to look over the grocery ad and print or clip coupons for the items on sale, “Likeing” a company or product on Facebook or registering on manufacturer’s websites (such as Greco or Johnson & Johnson). You will most likely receive coupons sent directly to your inbox or sometimes even a welcome package in the mail
Another grocery related tip is to try skipping your trip to the store this week and instead force yourself to make use of what you already have in the pantry. There’s a good chance that you have enough canned food and boxed mixes to feed the family for a week. You’ll clean out the pantry and have the money you would have spent on the week’s grocery bill still sitting in your chequeing account.
Get free stuff
There’s a whole world of free things available on the Internet. Sites like heyitsfree.net, thatfreebiesite.com, freebabystuff.ca and totallyfreestuff.com update their sites daily with the latest coupons and freebies available to almost everyone. Register your diaper box codes at Pampers.com to collect points that can be cashed in to be used toward toys, gift cards and more. Also, join “birthday clubs” at your favorite restaurants and wait for your mailbox get filled up with free appetizers, drinks, and treats on your big day.
Auto Insurance – taking 15-20 minutes to compare quotes online may reward you with a cheaper alternative. Experts say we should do this every three years, especially if we undergo a lifestyle change, like relocation or change in vehicle. Also make sure you take advantage of any discounts your insurer may be offering. If you like your current company, contact them with a lower rate you’re being offered elsewhere; they may be willing to negotiate a better deal to keep you as a policy holder.
Cellular – Eliminate outrageous, and often unpredictable, cell phone bills by opting for a pre-paid phone plan as opposed to one that bills you depending on the number of minutes or texts you use. As you make calls or send texts, the charges are deducted from your account. When your balance is low, you can simply add money to the account. Try contacting your current cellular or cable provider to see what they’ll offer you once you explain you are not satisfied with the price you are paying.
Be energy efficient
Not all families have the financial means, nor the know-how to install a new low-flow toilet or a tankless water heater. However, you can make simple and affordable changes such as switching to LED lights and low flow showerheads to help to lower utility bills. Local power companies may also have government subsidized energy audits will replace basic energy inefficient items for free.