THUNDER BAY – Making ends meet is a challenge for many families. With rising prices for hydro, and in Thunder Bay another tax hike for property owners coming, the challenge for people on fixed incomes is large.
Today it takes careful planning to make sure your monthly budget balances.
There are many simple things people do, almost without a thought that when you add them up they are very expensive. Those $2 double-doubles that you have three a day – that adds up to $180 a month. For a couple, that is $360 for coffee – for that price you could purchase the best coffee maker on the market, the coolest mugs, and drink the absolute best gourmet coffee at home and work.
Those little expenses can really add up. However often because they seem so small, until you take the time to figure out what you are really spending, it is just easy gone money.
Stores are set up in many ways that entice you to make spur of the moment impulse purchases. Free tasting samples, the general layout of the store, having the kids with you when shopping. Even notice how the store stocks the shelves, so that the items are right at eye-level for a child. Packaging is designed to entice you, and your child. So too is the advertising for cereals, and other items that kids will want.
Think of it this way, those quick things you really don’t need, they can add up really fast.
Watching for specials in the grocery stores, and planning your shopping trips carefully is important – if you want to shift your personal financial zone into a better neighbourhood.
One way to work to a budget is to actually make one. Many people talk about planning, setting up a food budget, and then don’t do that needed work to put a budget together.
Having a food budget, and then scanning the flyers and checking out online coupon sites can help you save money. Often meats are on special and if you plan, you can have great meals and save money too.
Coupons Can Help
Coupons for many common purchases, Pampers diapers, toilet paper, toothpaste, shampoo, and other needed household items can save you a tidy sum.
Visit sites like P&G Everyday to see a selection of coupons. This might be a task for your teenagers. Let them be the coupon savers, it is good training.
While shopping, keep in mind that the more preparation work that someone else does, the more you pay for it in the store. Also remember those quick treats for the kids, a small bottle of chocolate milk often cost more than a two-litre carton.
Consider for example frozen French fries, you can purchase ten pounds of potatoes for about $4.00. A small bag of frozen French fries can run $3.00 for just over a pound. You are effectively paying several dollars a pound for the preparation work.
Those savings add up.
Another good way to save money in the grocery store is to not shop when you are hungry. Mentally, you are going to want to purchase things you can eat right away. Often those items are far more expensive too.
Keep your calculator handy. Work out the price per pound or per serving. Sometimes you might even find that the bigger box, isn’t as good a value as it might seem.
Living within your means doesn’t come easy for many people. Debt levels for many people are climbing.
Keeping your personal spending down will help a lot.