It’s all too easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of daily living, leaving little or no time for management of homes and finances. There’s no doubt that a busy lifestyle drives people towards convenience foods and services, driving up the cost of living. In hard economic times, household finances have to be managed and controlled while still working hard to keep your head above water. Here are some basic tips to help you cut costs at home without sacrificing the things you like and the things that make your life easier.
Plan your meals. Planning meals seems like a laborious task but the advantages far outweigh the actual small amount of time it takes to plan ahead. The key to this is knowing what foodstuffs you have at home before you go for your weekly grocery shopping. By keeping tabs on the contents of your cupboards and refrigerator you can quickly put together a meal plan for the week that will allow you to make good use of what you already have, cut down the amount of waste you will have and lower your grocery bill in general.
Use a shopping list when you go to the supermarket to make sure you buy only what you need for your meal plan and avoid expensive impulse buys. Disorganised grocery shopping will inevitably lead to higher grocery bills and food being wasted at home. Every time you throw out food that has not been used, you may as well have put money straight into the bin.
Discover the joys of the fakeaway. Takeaway food is a staple of anyone with a hectic lifestyle. Not only is it of dubious health benefits but it is also expensive, especially when bought often. A fakeaway is the same meal, prepared at home but usually for a fraction of the cost. Healthwise, you can be sure of what’s in the food when you make it yourself and from a cost perspective, when combined with proper meal planning, making your own Chinese or Indian food can be much more affordable and every bit as tasty. Pre-packed jars of sauces and ready-chopped meat or stir-fry vegetables mean you can combine fast cooking with taste for very little money.
Keep an eye on the coffees. Picking up a great cup of fresh coffee on the way to work is one of the joys of modern living. The range of quality coffee on offer these days is truly startling, but they all cost much more than making your own. Don’t completely cut out the coffee shop but consider limiting your visits to once or twice a week. For the rest of the time why not buy a cafetiere and some good quality ground coffee from the supermarket so you can make your own just the way you like it when you get to work? Alternatively, club together with some workmates and buy a filter coffee maker or espresso machine for the workplace that you can all use. This will allow you to spread the cost of buying coffee between you all and let you try new and interesting blends as others buy their favourites and experiment together.
Have a shower, not a bath. It’s well known that baths use much more water than showers, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that baths will be more expensive as well. Heating the volume of water used in a bath can be considerably more costly than having a shower. It’s widely believed that a five minute shower will use only half of the energy and water that having a bath will. While this might not have an impact on the money in your purse or wallet at the end of the week, it will reduce your utility bills significantly in the long term.
The gym: use it or drop it. How many people do you know that pay for a gym membership but never, or rarely, use it? If you hold a gym or health club membership, it’s probably costing every month to do so. Think about whether you are really getting your money’s worth. Do you use the facilities regularly enough to justify the spend? Could you change your type of membership to save money without reducing your benefits? Could you get access to similar facilities elsewhere at a lower cost? Think also about what exercise you can get for free. A brisk walk is one of the best forms of exercise available to most people and is absolutely free.
With a few basic tips and a bit of thought, most households will be able to reduce monthly outgoings without compromising on the standard of living or even on any of the activities that form part of everyday life. Watching what you spend has to be a basic function of managing your household and is not made impossible just by having a busy lifestyle.