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Five Smart and Easy Ways to Save Your Family Money

Setting financial goals for your family can be exciting and overwhelming. It’s empowering to work towards saving for your family’s dream vacation or eliminating debt such as a car payment, but when your family budget is already tight, finding ways to improve your finances can seem daunting.

Good news! There are everyday ways that you can implement into your family’s lifestyle that can help you save money. Here are a few easy strategies that will prove fruitful for both your home and your bank account.

1. Clean out your fridge and freezer each week

Before you roll your eyes at this suggestion, let me explain. Research shows that people in US households toss out a staggering 150,000 tons of food each day! The average American family of four spending $ $10,995 per year on food. A considerable amount of waste could be prevented if we commited to monitoring foods like produce, dairy, and meat and using them before they go bad.

Schedule a day once a week (the day before or day you plan to grocery shop is ideal) and take inventory of what groceries you still have available to prepare family meals. This allows you to take advantage of a slightly bruised zucchini and end-of-package cheese slices that you can turn into a delicious quiche for dinner rather than spending a small chunk-of-change on takeout pizza. Don’t forget the freezer. Those frozen drumsticks can be thawed and marinated for tomorrow’s Sunday dinner along with that bag of red bliss potatoes that have been sitting on your counter for weeks now.

A considerable amount of waste could be prevented if we commited to monitoring foods and using them before they go bad.

Make this a weekly habit and not only will you be able to serve your family tasty dishes, you can put the money you save toward something meaningful for your family.

2. Review your family’s monthly subscriptions

It’s the little things in life that can truly make a difference! That goes for those small, innocent payments you make each month for our family’s entertainment—Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, gym memberships, music streaming services, Dollar Shave Club, and so many more.

List all your family’s subscriptions and see what your monthly total is. Decide which ones really make a difference for your family and then look at trimming the rest. You might be surprised to find out how much money you're spending on subscriptions you rarely (if ever) use!

3. Commit to decluttering your surroundings

A home filled with paper piled on countertops, loose laundry, a gaggle of knickknacks and tchotchkes, and drawers stuffed with gadgets and items that have no real purpose can be one of the biggest money drains of all. 

When your living space is organized and functional, it sets the tone for everything else in your family’s life.

Look around your entryway, kitchen, family room, and even your garage. Are things neat and orderly, or do you have to dig every time you need to find your tennis shoes, the dog’s leash, and your car keys?

Clutter robs you of:

  • Time. How much time do you waste constantly searching for everyday items?
  • Space. Clutter can hog valuable counter and drawer space that should belong to items you use all the time. (What happens when you can't find your car keys or—say it ain't so!—reach the coffeepot?)
  • Money. Just when you give up and buy a new duster, that's when the old one shows up. Am I right? And if you misplace your bills, that could result in late fees.
  • Peace of mind. When your family lives amid chaos, you're constantly stressed about finding items, or you feel guilty that your home isn't in better order. 

When your living space is organized and functional, it sets the tone for everything else in your family’s life. This doesn’t have to be an awful project. Get excited about how amazing you and your family will feel when everything has a place. When you eliminate the mess throughout your entire home (garage and shed included!), you’ll have a new lease on life. Disposing if things you bought and rarely used will also may you more mindful of what you purchase in the future.

There are dozens of recommended decluttering methods available, but my favorite is inspired by organizing guru, Marie Kondo. The way she goes about getting her clients organized involves a multi-step process that involves sorting by item category rather than by room. The KonMari method mandates that you only keep the items that bring you joy. (But remember, throwing out your bills because they don't bring you joy is a bad idea.)

RELATED: Clean, Organize, and Declutter with Marie Kondo's Magic: Part 1

4. Buy secondhand

A savvy way to save serious money is to shop secondhand stores. Not only can you find designerclothing at half the price of the original sales tag, you can score amazing finds for your home. There needn’t be a stigma about shopping thrift stores. Many have a boutique-like feel with knowledgeable, professional sales staff who are eager to help you and your home look better for less. In addition, you’re helping the environment by recycling!

Shopping secondhand is one of 2020’s hot parenting trends. Besides local thrift shops and consignment stores, there are plenty of opportunities to shop online. E-Bay, Swap.com, and ThredUp, and Facebook are a few of many online choices that offer a variety of top-notch styles for less.

5. Create an energy-smart home

Be mindful of turning the lights off when you leave a room or keeping your thermostat set at 68 degrees during the winter. To some, those types of things are already habit. But for many others, conserving energy isn't necessarily top-of-mind. The average electricity spent in a household per year is $1,368.36 and studies show that 35 percent of the power used is actually wasted.

Fortunately, this waste can be corrected. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that the typical household can save 25 percent on utility bills by implementing energy-efficient measures. (Put that towards your family’s vacay!) These tips include replacing light bulbs with energy-efficient alternatives and properly insulating your home.

You can perform a do-it-yourself energy audit, and many local energy companies will also assist with a professional energy audit. Moneycrashers also offers some helpful tips in 10 Ways for How to Save Energy at Home Now – Save $2,500 Per Year.

With a money-saving mindset you’ll soon find other creative ways you can spend less and save more resulting in valuable time with your loved ones.

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Cool Tips to Save Money on Utility Bills

http://www.shutterstock.com/pic.mhtml?id=317891591& data-cke-saved-src=lb-12645926 src=lb-12645926Bruce Lubin is the co-author of the best-selling Who Knew? series of household hints books, with his wife Jeanne. They’ve written more than a dozen books that have sold more than 5 million copies.

You may have seen Bruce sharing his clever and money-saving tips on national TV, like the Today Show and the Hallmark Channel. Now, Bruce and Jeanne are also hosting a brand new podcast on the Quick and Dirty Tips network, which goes by the same name—Who Knew?. 

[Listen to the interview using the audio player in the upper right sidebar of this page or on iTunes, Stitcher, and Spotify; for Spotify, just search the app for "Money Girl."]

Free Resource: Laura's Recommended Tools—use them to earn more, save more, and accomplish more with your money!

Some of the cool tips Bruce and I talk about in this interview include:

  • Knowing which appliances cost you the most and how to use less energy 
  • A clever tip to cut the time it takes to dry your clothes by 25%
  • How to hack your water bills
  • Tips to cut back your air conditioning usage but still stay cool
  • How to keep your kitchen from overheating during the summer
  • Ways to get your entire family on board to save energy—especially teenagers

See also: How to Save Money on Your Electricity Bill

Cool Tips to Save Money on Utility Bills

No matter if you own a large house or rent a cozy apartment, this interview will help you cut the cost of energy and water and save money on your utility bills. Here are a few great tips from our interview:

With today’s high efficiency dishwashers and washing machines, the expense is really heating the water. So wash everything as cold as you can. 

Q: What are the appliances that suck the most energy? What are some tips to use less energy with them?


Bruce: Dishwashers, but it’s really the dry cycle, which uses steam. De-select the Dry Cycle, or, if you have an older dishwasher, just open the door at the beginning of the dry cycle.

Dryers too—use a large towel to reduce drying time. Check your dryer’s screen: the lint from the screen in your dryer may not be enough to make sure it is running as efficiently as possible. The fabric softener used in dryer sheets can get caught in the mesh, even if you can’t see it. To be sure you’re completely cleaning the screen, remove it and clean it with warm, soapy water and a brush. Leave it out to dry completely before placing back in your dryer.

Q: What about saving water?

Bruce: Back to dishwashers—you should actually wash pots and pans by hand (usually)—you save up so much room and you don’t have to do Pots ‘n’ Pans mode.

With today’s high efficiency dishwashers and washing machines, the expense is really heating the water. So wash everything as cold as you can. You also may want to lower the temp you keep your hot water heater at. We recommend 120º F, which is plenty hot, even though many water heaters come set at 140º.

Other than that, low-flow showerheads and other faucets are a must! Definitely worth the price. Just ask at the hardware store.

Q: What about teenagers taking long showers? 

Bruce: Give teens an incentive to take shorter showers—5 minutes added to their curfew for every 1 minute they shave of their shower time. (Or 5 minutes more of time with their phone at the end of the night, etc.)

Q: What about tips for saving money on air conditioning?

Bruce: Keep blinds closed during the day – people probably know that! But also, close all closet doors, and seal off rooms you aren’t using. Use duct tape if your vents don’t close. And, make sure your windows and doors seal properly—that can save you big.

Q: Any other tips for saving energy?

Bruce: Believe it or not, MOST electric companies charge you more for electricity during peak times, which are usually between 4 and 8pm. Google the name of your electric company and “peak pricing” to see if yours does. If possible, keep your AC off during these times, and do more laundry and other electricity-intensive tasks during non-peak times.   

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