The state of the economy has forced many people to rethink things they once considered necessities. Everything from date night to cable bills and family outings are now considered luxuries, while not so long ago, they were considered necessities. Even phones are now on the chopping block when it comes to making sacrifices that will benefit the family budget. Here are some ways that you can cut back on many expenses without having to sacrifice them altogether.
Date night is really not something that couples can afford to forgo. It is essential to a couple’s relationship that they spend time together without the pressures of work and children to contend with. However, you don’t have to spend a lot of money for a fun date. For babysitting, you can either allow your older children to babysit (perhaps in return for additional privileges), or trade babysitting with friends who have children close to the same age as your own. When it comes to going out, find things to do in your town that are cheap or free to do. There are even many websites that will give you free restaurant gift certificates for reading their emails and doing surveys. Use things like that to make your date nights cheap or free.
Family time is every bit as important as date nights. While the movies or a dinner out may be financially disastrous for many families these days, there are many alternatives that won’t break the bank. Try a picnic at the park, or even a hike on a local trail. If you are stuck in the house because of inclement weather, you may want to try instituting a family game night, or even a family movie night. This gives the family time to have fun together without it having to cost an arm and a leg.
Certain Brand Names
Every family has certain brand names that they just will not compromise on. It may be because of quality, either real or perceived. It may be just what they are used to. Whatever the reason, they do not wish to sacrifice those brands. Actually, in most cases you don’t have to anyway. Between coupons and watching for sales on their favorite brands, you may be able to get the name brands that they love for the same prices or even less than the store brands. They just have to make sure that they stock up when the sales come around. A three to six month supply is usually enough, maybe a year’s worth, but that is about all you really need.
When tough times hit, many people choose to cut their Internet access. This is something that may be the equivalent of cutting off your nose to spite your face. While the Internet certainly does cost money, it can also make you money. If you like to write, you may be able to develop that talent by writing to various revenue sharing websites including Yahoo! contributor network, and Helium.com. You can take surveys for a little extra money as well. Most of these things will not make you rich, but they will make enough money to pay your Internet bill, and possibly a little bit more.
Phone or Cell Phone
For some families, cutting down to just a land line, or just a cell phone is not an option. If you have children in school, it really is important to have both, as you want to be able to be reached no matter where you are. However, if you need to have both, there are ways to do so without breaking the bank. Pay as you go cell-phones are cheaper in many cases than regular plans, and will help you to keep your budget under control. You also only pay for the minutes you actually use, which can be very helpful. As for a land line, there are a couple of ways to do this. If your family budget is very low, you may be able to qualify for a special low cost plan with your local phone company. If your income is too high to qualify for that, however, but not high enough that you want to have a high bill, you can get service that is for local calls only for a fraction of the price of long distance service. Just use your cell phone for long distance calls.
Cable is a luxury, not a necessity, but that doesn’t mean that you have to live without it if you really want to have it in your home. In the case of cable, there are ways to make it possible without breaking the bank, too. In this case, keep your eye on the bill every month. Make sure they are not sneaking in extra charges, as cable companies tend to do. Also, don’t buy more than you need. If you don’t watch anything beyond the basic channels, just get the basic service. If not, get the cheapest package that has the channels that you need on it. If you are in a place that allows the satellite dishes, check the prices on those (including checking for any hidden costs) to make sure that you are getting the most for your money. Also make sure that you are counting the cable bill as part of your entertainment budget. Keep in mind, too, that if you don’t mind waiting until the next day for certain shows, you can watch them online.
While many of these things are considered luxuries, they are not necessarily things that you have to go without. Saving money is one thing and it is important, but be careful not to suck all the enjoyment out of your life when you do.