Saving money in 2015: Part 1
Ways to save at home.
It is the New Year and there is no better time to start saving! This series will highlight a variety of ways to save money in your daily life, which will help create opportunities for achieving your financial goals and developing an emergency fund. This article will identify numerous ways to save money on the home front.
You can achieve savings on groceries/food with small changes:
- Meal planning can save you time and money. Create a weekly meal menu, organize your grocery shopping around this menu (i.e. food list, coupons, stores, etc.) and allow time for food preparation (i.e. weekends and evenings). When possible choose meals that you can “expand on” during the week for example: hamburgers on Monday, spaghetti on Tuesday, etc. For a variety of meal planning tips visit the USDA. Don’t grocery shop when hungry and make sure you bring your grocery list!
(Tip: For suggestions on monthly food costs per family size visit the Official USDA Food Plans: Cost of Food at Home at Four Levels.)
- Eat out less often and bring your lunch to work. According to amerciasaves.org, if eating lunch out costs $5 but only $2.50 to make at home, then you could create a $500 emergency fund in a year with money left over. If you do eat out periodically, seek coupons whenever possible.
(Tip: It is recommended that an emergency fund should equal 3-6 months of your total monthly expenses.)
- Choose your coffee wisely:
Purchasing a regular cup of coffee will cost you a lot less than an expensive coffee drink. To save even more, invest in an insulated coffee mug and bring it from home.
Review and reduce heating and housing costs:
- Contact your local electric or gas service to inquire about free or low-cost energy audits. An energy audit may identify inexpensive ways to reduce heating and cooling costs. To learn more about energy audits, visit Energy.gov.
- Weatherize your home. Caulking holes and cracks can help reduce heat loss in the winter and cool air in the summer. Local hardware or home improvement stores may have inexpensive products that can help with home energy efficiency. For additional weatherization tips, visit Energy.gov.
- Americasaves.org encourages consumers to assess their housing situation and related costs: are you paying for more space than you need, are you living close to your place of work if possible to reduce travel expenses, and if you are a homeowner, should you consider refinancing your mortgage to a lower rate and term?
Be a thrifty shopper to keep clothing costs down:
- Consider shopping at discount or outlet stores versus department stores, and use coupons when possible.
- Consider purchasing used clothing at discount or thrift stores or garage sales. Some groups and neighborhoods are even organizing clothing swaps as a way to keep clothing costs down.
The next article in this series will provide additional money saving tips for recreation, communication and family gatherings.
For a variety of financial resources, including how to develop a monthly budget, visit MI Money Health. In addition, Michigan State University Extension offers money management and homeownership classes. For more information about classes offered in your area visit MI Money Health.
Other articles in this series: