With the cost of living rising and wages stagnating – a situation compounded for many people by the COVID-19 pandemic – you may well be thinking about effective ways in which you can reduce your household expenses. The idea of sticking to a budget can be intimidating, but luckily there are lots of little changes you can make which will enable you to live a lower-cost lifestyle without feeling like you’re restricting yourself too much. From food costs to utilities, the following tips can help you to save money in all sorts of ways. Read on to find out how!
Review your memberships and subscriptions
These days most of us are signed up to several different subscription services, from entertainment providers such as Netflix to gym memberships. There’s no need for you to cancel those that you continue to get good use out of, but you might be surprised at how many people are still paying for services they no longer use or have forgotten about. Check your bank statements to see if this applies to you, and cancel any subscriptions that you believe to be a waste of money. With regards to those you do want to keep, it’s always worth seeing if you can get a better deal by signing up for a longer subscription or contacting the company to negotiate.
Save money on your food shop
Food is a big expense for lots of families, but there are several steps you can take to reduce how much you spend on your grocery shop. For instance, try to always write out a list before you go to the store, and then make sure that you don’t deviate from it. You can make this easier by leaving the kids at home and not going shopping on an empty stomach. Another trick is to try swapping your premium groceries for a cheaper brand – lots of people find that they can’t actually tell the difference, so it won’t even feel like a compromise! This goes for other items such as cleaning products and toiletries too. Joining loyalty schemes for stores that you regularly shop at can also land you discounts and special offers simply for doing your normal grocery run.
Before making any purchases, it’s worth shopping around to make sure that you’re getting the best deal. This goes for everything from clothes to insurance and cellphone services. A good tip is to look online for JCPenney coupons and discount codes for other retailers you intend to shop with or to time your purchases to coincide with their big annual sales. Buying clothes out of season (for example, a bikini in winter) can also be a fantastic way to land some fabulous bargains, or you could try to find what you’re looking for secondhand in thrift stores or websites such as eBay. Books are an especially great item to buy secondhand, or you can join your local library and read for free!
Consider all your purchases carefully
Impulse buying can be the death of even the best budget, so take your time to think carefully about what you’re buying. Try waiting a day or two to work out if you genuinely need a particular item or whether you were simply being persuaded that you wanted it by clever advertising. A trick to help with this is to calculate how many hours you would have to work in order to earn the money to pay for the product in question – then see if you truly want it that much! For those small but frequent purchases like takeaway coffee, working out how much you spend on them per year can have a similar impact.
Lower your heating bills
Many households are spending more on heating during the winter months than is strictly necessary, and there are a few steps you can take to try and cut down your bills. Firstly, you should fix any drafty areas where cold air is seeping into your home or heat is escaping. It’s also worth considering upgrading to double glazed windows if you don’t already have them. Other tricks include making sure that you don’t have large items of furniture in front of your radiators and blocking the heat, as well as hanging insulating curtains and covering hardwood floors with fluffy rugs. In addition, cozy throws on the sofa can help you to keep warm and maybe be able to turn the thermostat down a couple of degrees.
Use less water
If you are on a water meter and pay for the exact amount of water you use, there are several ways to reduce your usage and, in turn, shrink your bills. For example:
- Take showers instead of baths.
- Use an aerated showerhead that reduces water flow without compromising on pressure.
- Turn off the tap when brushing your teeth.
- Only fill up the kettle or saucepan with the amount of water you need.
- Fix any leaks promptly.
- Use a cistern displacement device in the toilet to reduce the amount of water used when you flush.
- Choose eco modes on your dishwasher and washing machine, and only use these when you have a full load of laundry or dishes.
- Catch rainwater to later use in your garden.
- Keep a pitcher of water in the fridge, so you don’t need to run the faucet and wait for it to go cold when you want a drink.
Reduce your electricity bills
Just like with water and heating, there are lots of ways you can reduce the amount of electricity you use at home. For instance, it’s best to always switch off and unplug your electronic devices (such as TVs and phone chargers) when you’re not using them, as leaving them on standby still uses electricity. Likewise, switching to eco-friendly lightbulbs and turning off lights when you don’t need them can make a big difference over time. In fact, whenever you next need to buy an appliance, try to choose the most energy-efficient model that you can – especially those that see a lot of use, such as fridges and televisions. Over time all of these small changes can result in much lower bills and is also far better for the environment.