Simple Ways to Cut Your Budget's Bottom Line

Take Charge on 02.29.12
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Photo: 401K/Creative Commons

A few months ago, after a lifetime in the corporate world, my husband decided to strike out on his own. While I was happy for him being his own boss and all, it meant that there were going to be some very big changes on the homefront -- most evident, our income. 

The first thing we did was take a big red line to our family budget, cutting out all the things that were "extras". But the truth is we were still going out to dinner too much and buying things we didn't need. So we sharpened the pencil even more. Can I tell you a secret? Another round of cuts may be in the offing.

So where did we cut back? Well outside of the obvious ones like eating out and discretionary spending there were these old standbys:

1. Turn down the thermostat. I mean turn it way down. Buff and I work in the kitchen, which, with all the windows, tends to be the warmest place in the house. So as soon as the kids leave, we turn the thermostat down to about 65. It's a little on the cool side but nothing that can't be immediately remedied with a sweater. Don't heat the entire house if the entire family is not in it. We also did a quick insulation check up at the beginning of the season, spending a few bucks to fix problem areas.

2. Grocery shop with a list. I know this sounds very basic but how many of us don't do this? Or we get in the store and "modify" it as we make our way through the aisles?  We lay out the meals for the week, figure out what we need (in detail) and shop from the "road map".  

3. Shop the perimeter.  That's where you'll find the fresh ingredients like vegetables, meat and dairy products. The meals we plan and cook are made from ingredients closest to their natural form. We do a pretty decent job of steering clear of processed foods which is good for the bottom line (and our bottoms).

4. Use coupons. Honestly I used to have a hard time seeing how the time spent on these would amount to anything but I get it now. And I see it!  When we head out to the warehouse store, list in hand we also have an envelope full of coupons. The trick here is to only use the coupons on stuff you would buy anyway. Also check online for downloadable coupons.

5. Pay cash for everything. This was almost a foreign concept for me, sad to say. But there's something about paying cash -- feeling, respecting the money and what it buys -- that makes you more aware. Where we used to charge everything, we now charge next to nothing. We're also more aware of our gas consumption, choosing to walk places if we can, instead of jumping in the car. Following these simple steps has saved us about 10 percent on food and energy over the last several months. And as we all know, every little bit helps.

I know there are a lot of other ways you can save at home, these are just a few. What do you do to make a difference?

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