Stretching Your Money
Like most women, I feel like I wear a lot of hats. I’m a pastor’s wife. I’m the mother of three kids. Chauffeur. Cheerleader for my kid’s sporting events. Event planner. Tutor. Volunteer at church. And the list goes on…
In addition to my roles as a wife and mother, I spend my days as an Insolvency Counselor. What that means is I counsel people on budgeting and financial issues.
It’s in this role that I have helped countless people think differently about their day-to-day budgeting and money management. In every situation, I have found only two possible solutions for people who say that they don’t have enough money at the end of the month:
1. Spend less or
2. Earn more
For those looking for a more complicated solution, I apologize – that’s all I’ve got. Because, truthfully, that’s all you need. For those of you saying that’s easier said than done, I partially agree. It’s definitely not easy to earn more, but most of us could probably look more closely at our monthly budget and do something about solution number one.
Listed below are a few ways you can shave a few dollars off the budget each month. I’m not proposing to do every one, but maybe you could select one or two to help in your situation. A lot of people ask me, “Does it really make any difference if I save just a few dollars here and there? Will that actually make a difference?” My reply is simple, “If there’s not enough money at the end of the month, then every dollar counts!”
Ways to save money every month:
- Switch to a bank that has no monthly banking fees. Stop getting money out at those random ATM machines where you are charged for every withdrawal.
- Shop around for other phone, cable, or internet providers. Consider getting rid of your land line altogether, especially if you have a cell phone that has unlimited evening calling. Don’t assume just because you “bundle” your services that it’s cheaper this way. Take the time to call around and get the best rate. Don’t be afraid to call your current provider back and ask them to match any new rate you have found to avoid the hassle of switching providers.
- Get rid of the extra stuff on your phone bill that you don’t really need, like caller ID or voicemail. Remember answering machines? They still sell them and since no one is using them, they’re a lot cheaper than adding voicemail onto your bill every month!
- Get rid of the extra channels and bundles on your cable bill (do you really need all those channels?) We’ve actually shut down our entire cable bill for two months in the summer when the kids are off school. Not only do we save some money, but a strange thing happens: the kids actually play outside!
- Stop buying pre-packaged foods (make more of your own). Not only is it cheaper, it’s healthier too.
- Plan your weekly menu based on the sales at the grocery store where you shop. For example, if ground beef is on sale for a week, then consider making spaghetti and home-made hamburgers that week or freeze the meat that you don’t need for another week.
- Consider buying fruit and vegetables when they’re in season and getting creative. For example, make home-made salsa or pasta sause when tomatoes in season. Chop and freeze green peppers to use for casseroles in the winter. Slice and freeze peaches and use for smoothies or desserts when needed. The possibilities are endless!
- Save some money by buying tortilla wraps and using them for sandwiches instead of bread.
- Bring in flyers from other stores and see if your local grocery store will “price match.”
- Make coffee at home and bring it to work rather than stopping by the local coffee shop.
- Go old school and pack a lunch for work instead of eating out all the time. Heat up some leftovers in the office microwave (and be nice afterward: clean up the microwave after your pasta exploded! Even if you are the only one who uses it every day.)
- One word: Carpool
Carmen Esau is married to a pastor and they are raising their three children in St. Catharines, ON. She works as an Insolvency Counselor. To follow her blog or get more information check out themoneyeducator.com