Most families are spending more and more money every year, while saving less and less. One reason is that few household managers spend time reviewing expenses to find ways to save money. But almost every family has places where costs can be cut and pennies can be pinched - and if those funds are then used to pay down debt and save for the future, it could have a dramatic impact on quality of life.
1. Food is one big area where many families can be thrifty. Families spend an average of $2,434 on food away from home, according to the Consumer Expenditure Survey from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
2. Another major expense is your home. When was the last time you looked at refinancing? Can you renegotiate to a shorter time frame? Even if you can't change your mortgage payment, you may be able to pay a bit extra each month which, over time, will help pay down your mortgage faster.
3. Transportation is another major expense for many families. Not only are vehicles expensive to buy but also to maintain and operate. Is carpooling an option for any members of the family- even on a part-time basis?
4. Choosing your bank wisely can be another way to save money. Make sure the bank you use offers free (or low-cost) checking as well as electronic bill pay. Electronic bill pay and a debit card can cut down on your need to use checks and postage; both will save you in the long run and help you better manage payments so you will avoid fees, penalties, and higher interest rates.
5. Cut your credit card costs.
6. Healthcare is not really an area where you can cut expenses, but you can save money by taking advantage of special offers and programs. For example, many employers offer a Flexible Spending Account where you can save money before taxes for out-of-pocket medical expenses for prescription and nonprescription drugs, dental expenses, and eye care.
7. Tuning your insurance policies can also help you save. When did you last compare rates for your home, your vehicles, and yourself?
8. The cost of communication, including local and long distance phone service, cell phones, cable or satellite television, and Internet access can be a major expenditure for families.
Over the next month, take time to review your family expenses and expenditures in each of these areas. Making a few alterations in your family's spending habits will soon make a difference in the overall household budget. North Country Savings bank can offer more helpful advice too. Stop by and see how you can save!