More and more households lately are tightening ther financial belts. Perhaps you have recently lost a job, or are struggling just trying to make you old income strech to cover ever-increasing gas and food prices. Maybe you are trying to keep up with your mortgage or tackle your credit card debt. Here are some ideas to help in cutting back your unnecessary services, non-essential purchases, and make your dollar stretch a little further.
One of the first places to start is to write out where your money currently goes. What are your monthly bills or other financial obligations? What expenses do you have including gas, food, and entertainment costs? Include your financial goals, such as extra money you should be paying extra each month for getting down your credit card debt or saving for retirement. Compared to how much income you have, this will give you an idea how much per month you need to cut from your budget to be able to reach your goal. From your list of monthly expenses, where can you cut back?
For your first month of budget planning, make a list of all your expenditures, including your food bills, gasoline purchase, and entertainment costs. Then go back and tackle each of those costs with a plan on how you can cut back.
Entertainment Budget Tip: Do you have a cable/satellite bill? If you have high-speed internet, you may be able to eliminate your cable/satellite bill altogether by signing up for Netflix, Hulu, or other online services which stream movies and TV shows to your computer or other compatible devices (including XBOX). Usually their fees are a fraction of the costs of cable. The montly price of Netflix to stream movies and TV shows is currently less than $10 per month. Many network channels also make their shows available through their websites, including their news shows. If you can watch it on your home computer you can easily watch through your home television. If you have the newer HDMI output on your computer and an HDMI input on your home television, this is as simple as using a single HDMI cable to run both the picture and sound to your television. Then you can watch all internet content including YouTube videos and website content on your home theater system.
Food Budget Tip: Are you eating out or eating at home? The average family has hundreds of dollars per month that can be cut from their food budget. If you are new to cooking or just need some fresh ideas, check out Recipes and Tips for Healthy, Thrifty Mealsfrom the US Dept of Agriculture Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion. There are many simple meals to get you started. You can trim a lot of money from your food bill by avoiding pre-processed items, and the healthiest meals are those you make from individual ingredients.
If you want some more ideas and are not sure where to get started, you can build a serious recipe database for yourself with a little work online. Check out the Free Recipe Books listed at here and be sure to visit SNAP-Ed Connection's new Build-A-Cookbook to use the Recipe Finder to create your own personalized cookbook. Search by ingredient, and add recipes you have selected from the Recipe Finder database. With a little work, you can create a nutritious meal plan to fit your budget.