It is no secret that life is more expensive today than when our parents were growing up. How can we offset soaring prices without sacrificing quality of life? Here are a few tips to help you save more:
1. It is no surprise that credit cards represent a trap for many people. Incentives such as “earning” frequent flyer miles or free internet access are only “free” if you can pay off the balance every month. Otherwise, you end up on the losing end of the stick, paying interest rates in the double digits. It makes more sense to save for that ticket to visit the Caribbean or your relatives than to rack up frequent flyer miles on a card you can never pay off. Tip: Only use credit cards if you know you can pay off the balance at the end of the month.
2. Electricity doesn’t come cheap. Heat-producing appliances such as dryers and refrigerators burn up enormous amounts of energy. Tip: Consider purchasing an energy saving appliance. Turn down the refrigerator in the cooler months. Hang your wash outside instead of using the dryer. It will save you money, and the clothes smell fresh!
3. It is tempting to spend a lot of money on the weekends “because you deserve it.” That may be true, but you may not be able to afford it, too. Tip: Instead of that expensive weekend at an amusement park or that ski trip that costs a bundle, take a bike ride with your kids or check out a new park to go sledding. You’ll get some exercise and needed fresh air while creating memories with the kids.
4. Children usually like to draw. If your little Picasso is eating up all of your expensive computer printer paper, think about this. Tip: Consider using paper bags or recycled office paper for some of their artwork. They work fine for collages, and they are free. An added plus? You’ll reduce that pile of bags in the pantry that keeps growing, and you’ll save several trees.
5. Spending time away from the kids is essential, but babysitters can be expensive. Tip: Consider swapping babysitting with a neighbor, at least some of the time. It will reduce the cost of going out with your partner, and you’ll benefit from a night on the town for less.
6. Good picture frames can be very pricey. Tip: Purchase one stable picture frame for the kids’ annual school photos. Keep the old photos behind the frame to compare prior years’ pictures. An added benefit? You have all of the school pictures in one place!
7. Entertainment need not be expensive. Tip: Rent a video instead of attending a movie in a theater. Invite your friends and have a potluck supper. Now you’ve multiplied the fun without the extra cost of parking, movie tickets, and refreshments!
Life can be beautiful. It doesn’t have to be expensive.
To learn other thrifty tips check out 12 Ways to Pay Less.
Christine Louise Hohlbaum, American author of Diary of a Mother: Parenting Stories and Other Stuff, http://www.diaryofamother.com is a freelance writer living near Munich, Germany with her husband and two kids. She holds a B.A. in Political Science from Smith College and an M.A. in International Relations, German and English Literature from the University of Constance, Germany. When she is not leading a toddler playgroup or writing, she likes to dance, sing with her kids, and generally frolic.