These days we’re all looking for ways to save money, and if you’ve already created a household budgeting system, you’re well on your way to living frugally like a pro. However, there are always ways to make your paycheck go even further, even if it means getting a bit creative.
Here are eight things that you can easily stand to cut from your household budgeting, without foregoing the things you love.
Most of us buy at least a few of these throughout the month, and it’s not hard to understand why. They are fast and convenient, and usually quite tasty too. From microwavable lasagnas and chicken dinners to frozen pizzas or cold pasta salads, the choices are endless.
Unfortunately, these ready-made meals lack the basic nutrition that our bodies need, and are usually chock-full of preservatives, additives and artificial flavorings. On top of this, they are also far more expensive than simply buying the ingredients needed to prepare the meal yourself.
With a bit of extra planning, you can enjoy the same convenience for far less and it’ll be healthier too. Things like pasta salads and stir fries can be whipped up in no time at all, and you can even prepare these things in advance the day before or in the morning, so that when you arrive home hungry and tired, you can put it straight on the stove or in the oven.
Making more food than you need and freezing it for another meal is also a great way of ensuring that you’ll have “fast food” on hand when you need it.
Meat can be quite the household budgeting buster, especially if you are buying higher quality, organic meat. A survey carried out by Packaged Facts showed that Americans spend over 142 billion dollars every year on beef, chicken, pork, turkey and lamb.
Along with the huge expense, too much red meat is unhealthy for you and if you don’t watch your intake, it could lead to a wide range of medical complications.
Even if you aren’t a vegetarian, you can shave a huge chunk off your monthly household budgeting by simply cutting down on the amount of meat you buy and consume. Things like beans, lentils, eggs, tofu and paneer are great substitutes for meat and will cost you far less.
Try planning a meatless meal every other day of the week, and look up new recipes to spice up your food prep. You can enjoy delicious low-cost meals like quiche, tacos, palak paneer or vegetable stir-fries with tofu.
If you are still buying yogurt instead of making your own you have no idea what you’re missing. Yogurt has a number of great health benefits because of the good bacteria it contains, and it is easier for your stomach to digest than milk.
Store bought yogurt, especially if you are buying the sweetened or flavored kind, is less healthy because it preserved and generally contains additives and sugar. It’s also far more expensive than simply buying milk and making your own at home.
Junk food isn’t generally very expensive, but it can be eating into your household budgeting in other ways by causing illness, obesity or teeth problems, which will make you miserable and cost you thousands of dollars in healthcare.
Things like potato chips, microwave popcorn, cookies, cakes and candy bars have very little nutritional value (if any) and what’s more, they don’t even fill you up properly so you end up eating far too much, and then skipping on your regular meals.
This doesn’t mean you have to forego snacks altogether, but paying a bit more attention to what you are putting in your body will save you money and your health.
Make your own smoothies and fruit shakes, and bake homemade cookies and cakes to take along while on the go. Regular kernels of popcorn cost far less than microwavable popcorn, and you can flavor them however you want.
This may not seem like a huge expense, but everything adds up, and if you have kids you’ll probably go through far more napkins than you intend to.
Using cloth napkins that can easily be washed is a far better way to deal with table spills and messy eaters. It will be more of an investment initially, but you’ll have them forever and they tend to look nicer than flimsy paper napkins.
Again, this is probably not one of your biggest household budgeting busters, although store bought stain remover tends to be rather pricey and often doesn’t always live up to expectations.
Simple things that you probably already have in the home, like salt, baking soda, aspirin and vinegar make excellent stain removers and are more environmentally friendly too. There are plenty of useful websites that offer tips on how to remove tough stains with simple household staples.
Buying or even renting movies can really add up at the end of the month. So instead of buying the latest DVDs to watch, sign up for an online service like Netflix, which allows you to watch movies online and also delivers them to your home by mail, after which you simply return them.
Magazine and newspaper subscriptions
Newspaper and magazine subscriptions can add up to a lot of money, and these days you can get all the latest news online for free.
Most magazines also offer you the option of subscribing online, and the price for doing so is far cheaper than getting a paper copy. By cutting magazines and newspapers from your household budgeting, you’ll also be saving the environment because less paper will be printed.
Of course you can still buy a magazine or paper while at the grocery store every now and then, but if you are paying for an internet connection anyway, you may as well use it.
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