No, I am not joking here! The declining value of loonie is not helping at all. Especially now, when we have to pay around $8 for cauliflower head and $10 for few tomatoes then how it’s even possible to think about reducing household expenses. It is possible and we can achieve this goal without sacrificing much on our lifestyles. It gets even more important when inflation is just keep going up. A strong will power and little with planning can definitely help in this situation. You don’t have to follow this article if you are doing well in your life and belong to the upper class, fortunately. Here are 5 simple ways to reduce our household expenses:
- Set a grocery budget
This is well-known fact that grocery is a big expense for most families. We can manage this expense better. First thing, you need to draft a grocery budget. In other words, determine how much you should spend monthly on fresh items, dairy, bakery ……. You don’t have to do it manually anymore. There are quite a few free smartphone Apps available in the market those are very useful to run your monthly budget smoothly. Personally, I use Expense Manager App from android market place. Once you determine your number then it’s important you stick to it. Next question comes to mind is how I know if I budgeted it correctly. Easy fix, ask yourself how much I can afford to spend comfortably based on your personal situation. If a lot of food is ending up in garbage bin every week then you know you over budgeted the whole thing. On the hand, you under budgeted for your grocery if you have not much food left in your fridge at the end of the week.
Once your budget is rolling out smoothly then do yourself another favor, avoid multiple trips to grocery or corner stores. Depending on your personal situation, do grocery once a week or biweekly. You would realize that you able to avoid buying unnecessary stuff on your frequent trips to big chain stores. You would able to save on gas (I know it’s not a big expense at this time but it would change eventually) and, more importantly, it would help you to stick to your budget. Make sure you evaluate your budget and saving after every quarter and adjust it accordingly. You should able to cut down on your groceries 10% to 20% if not more.
- Stop giving away free money to big cable guys
This is my personal favourite. Simply stop handing over monthly freebies to big cable companies. I know personally few people who are paying close to $150 monthly just for TV services even they are on a moderate budget. Now that’s just absurd. You don’t need all those premium channels and packages to entertain your family. Even you tune into some of these channels very rarely and you are paying $10 to $20 for each of these channels monthly.
Okay, let’s move on. Ensure you are on unlimited internet data plan for your home. You are good to go now. Cut the cord on your cable TV and switch to Internet TV. Popular options are Netflix, Hulu Plus, Sling TV, HBO, Crackle TV, and Amazon Prime monthly subscription. They have a rich library of TV content including most popular TV series. Some of these even telecast live sports events. Pick your option whatever best for you. One of this subscription would cost you from nothing to somewhere around $15 monthly.
I understand some of these options are only available on the other side of the border. Don’t get disheartened here. There are quite a few options available if you look around. Another thing, you can buy a Chromecast stick or Smart TV box- Apple or Roku or any other android box if you don’t have smart TV at home. These are useful to watch free news feed, movies and YouTube videos or similar free Apps from your comfy couch. Anyway, if you can’t simply live without cable then downgrade to a basic package and subscribe to one of these services for premium content. Another option, you can simply pick up a free to air TV antenna from Best Buy to watch your favourite local shows or news free of cost. It should not cost you more than 30 bucks to buy a decent antenna. By making these few changes, you should able to reduce your TV bill up to 50%.
- Homemade food is the way to go
When it comes food then there is no substitute for homemade food. I know it’s tempting to pick up your phone and start searching for nearby restaurants for lunch or dinner. It’s easy and convenient for all of us. In the end, these unbudgeted frequent trips to eating places hurt your personal budget badly. Even spending of $10 here and there adds up over time. Personally, homemade food is still an underrated tool towards a healthy and frugal lifestyle. Cooking is more fun than most of us think. I am sure you will do fine if you give it a wholehearted try. Nowadays, the internet is full of free delicious recipes (All Recipes, Food Network etc.) from all over the world. You can always go to Kraft recipes or other similar websites if you feel too lazy to cook a full meal for your family. There are recipes available you can prepare within 15-20 minutes if you are kind of short on time. Other option, you can start your own sharing meal club with your close friends and relatives. Each member of this club can take a turn to cook for all other members at home once a week. It’s like killing two birds with one stone if done correctly. The Same feeling of skip the dishes and relax on the couch with your close ones. Meal sharing practice can be tried at workplaces in small groups with your colleagues. By making some of these simple changes you can reduce your food bill up to 50% if not more.
- There is a cool thing called VOIP Phone service
It’s okay if you haven’t heard of it yet. In simple terms, it’s an internet phone service which uses your high-speed internet connection to make and receive phone calls instead of using traditional public switched telephone network.
Again, double check your internet connection speed and data plan. You are good to go if you have a high-speed unlimited internet data plan for the home. Traditional phone service from big telecommunication companies can cost you roughly $40 to $50 monthly alone on local calling plan and if you add a long distance calling you are looking around monthly charges of $80 or more. Now if you switch to IP phone service then you can have North America calling plan under $30 or unlimited worldwide calling under $40 with all those premium phone features. Isn’t it cool? I know next question comes to mind is how about voice quality. There was a time when the quality of these services was just not up to the mark but not anymore. With technological advancement quality has improved a lot. Now, quality is so good that you can’t really tell if you are talking on traditional phone or IP phone. There are quite a few players out there – Vonage, Primus, Comwave…. Some of these companies now even offer unlimited internet and phone bundle under $50. My personal favorite is Vonage and I am using their service for last 5 years without any real issues. You can even download their App on your smartphone to make long distance calls free of cost (again, watch your cellular data plan). Also, there is a trend now to go without home phone service and run your all family affairs on a cell phone. It’s fine if it works out for you if not then you know there are options out there. These decisions should allow you to cut your telephone bill to at least half if not more.
- Control your Impulsive shopping habits
This daunting task can be achieved with little planning and stronger willpower. It’s every retailer’s goal to attract you for shopping, keep you in their store longer, and turn you into their return customer. In a nutshell, it is a trap to get you on impulsive consumption.
No worries! Here are few simple solutions to get out of this trap. Firstly, avoid frequent trips to shopping malls. Secondly, take a list of specifically required items with you when you go for shopping next time. It’s like going on a mission just to buy absolutely required items within your budget reach and avoid useless stuff no matter how appealing it is. You should able to control your shopping habits and ultimately able to reduce it up to 30% if not more.
Most of these methods worked wonderfully well for me and my friends. Give them a try and let me know how these techniques pan out for you.
Tip: Buy canned tomatoes under $3 and cauliflower florets package under $5 instead of buying them in bulk.