This guest post on How To Creatively Manage The Household Budget is brought to you by Hilary Smith.
Every mother has heard these dreaded words, “I’m bored” from their kids during summer vacation and “stick to the budget” almost every day from either her spouse or herself. The first one is easy enough to solve with a new toy or a treat for a restless child, but that can make the second scenario even more agonizing.
Balancing a budget often means going without those little extra treats, like avoiding pricey trips to that expensive coffee shop, when you can brew a perfectly good cup of joe at home for a fraction of the cost. Face it, as moms we’re all used to making all those little sacrifices and are always on the prowl for a good deal, searching out online coupons, promo codes and other extra savings…
But what are some other more creative, less obvious ways, that we can shave some extra dollars on an already tight budget?
I was once guilty of this one myself, falling for discounts that were more deceptive than practical. For example, we may be going to the “Dollar Store” for some extra savings, but they might not be actually what they seem. On Halloween, I figured I’d stock up on a bunch of buck bags of candy and save a bundle. But those teeny-tiny, dollar-sized bags of treats just didn’t add up when compared to bigger bundles that I could get on sale at my neighborhood grocery store.
It depends on the situation and the circumstances when it comes to places that seem like we’re saving big when it might not be the case. Take those big membership warehouse discount stores, while it seems we’re saving a bundle when buying in bulk, we have to remember the cost of the annual membership, extra time spent wandering around their huge store, additional gas and wear & tear on our vehicles driving to a more distant location. Many neighborhood grocery chains are offering specialized deals for in the form of customer loyalty programs that can be just as competitive price wise.
BONUS: The grocery store where I regularly shop offers a gas discount in conjunction with their customer loyalty program that saves me huge at the pump.
TV and Technology
Many consumers are swapping out their expensive cable or satellite providers for much cheaper alternatives. Streaming services like Amazon’s Fire TVStik, Hulu, Google Chromecast, and Netflix are offering almost all the same shows we love, including network television programs and new movies that we can watch on our own time schedule instead of theirs.
While checking prices on technology, take a good, long, hard look at your smart phone plan and see exactly how much data and lines you’re using and why. There’s likely a better deal out there, but be careful of those “blanket” offers that can have many hidden charges.
BONUS: Check prices when they’re advertising special offers and they may be willing to pay off early termination fees or are offering free equipment for more substantial savings.
Ask and You May Receive
My spouse refuses to give up our expensive cable provider (I know I just whined about it before) and since I’m not the one footing the bill, I don’t complain or argue that fact. We have a deal, I pay the grocery and household-related expenses, while my better half takes care of the mortgage and other bills. But recently, when someone had surgery and was out on disability for several weeks, I accidentally took a look at the cable bill, and my mouth fell open in shock.
Since my spouse refused to budge on making the switch, I called the provider, asked to speak with a supervisor and compared prices with them over the phone. I pointed out that we could be paying much less with one of their many competitors and told them a little white lie … that I was prepared to jump ship … right then and there. The manager was happy to put me on some kind of discounted plan with the same services we already had for much less … if I committed to signing on for another two-year commitment.
BONUS: By the way, when the two years is up, guess what, I’m calling them back!
There are more ways we could save money when we think hard about it. We might discover them when reflecting on our daily habits and routines. Being mindful and intentional in each thing we do could save us resources like cash, effort and especially time.
How about you? How do you creatively manage your budget?
Hilary Smith is a freelance journalist and a mother of two. She has a passion for writing about business, but since becoming a stay at home mom, she has been writing more about family, homes, and money related issues.