I don't need to waste anyone's time with statistics about the rising cost of living. I also don't need to bore anyone with facts about how hard it is for a family to dig their way out of debt.
I'm sure you all feel like the job market is as steady as the latest big Hollywood couple's relationship. And that rising gas prices continue to eat away at more than your savings.
Life isn't easy, that's for sure, but luckily there are easy ways for families to save money. Actually, there are countless ways, but in this article I'll focus on three areas: food, clothes and entertainment.
When grocery shopping ask yourself: "Is it worth buying the name brand? Or, should I try the off-brand that costs less?"
For me, the answer is usually "Yes."
More often than not, off-brand foods are just as good as the well-known and better decorated packaged foods. In reality, that extra cost is just for the pretty box.
Next, ask yourself: "Can I make this just as easily?"
This question is one my husband and I ask when we're faced with foods like tortillas, marinara sauce and even buttermilk. You'd be surprised how easy these items are to make or to find a cheaper replacement.
Next question is: "Can I live with having mainly canned and frozen produce more than the fresh?"
Buying frozen or canned produce isn't as tasty as the fresh kind, but it certainly saves money and helps them last longer if you don't eat them fast.
However, if you insist on having plenty of fresh produce, keep in mind that fresh produce is much cheaper, and tastier, when you buy them in the season they are naturally picked.
For example, strawberries' season is early summer, and apples are ready at the end of summer through early autumn. You may have to go without some of your favorites for a while, but keep in mind what you save in the long run.
As you look at your clothes, and even your kids' clothes, think about where you get them and ask yourself: "Am I willing to buy clothes from the clearance racks, second-hand stores, and yard sales? Am I willing to arrange a clothing swap?"
You won't always find the clothes that are of the hottest styles, but since when did the latest fashions look good on everyone?
I've been shopping like this for a long time, and I certainly don't have any complaints with what I've found.
It's definitely nice to go into a thrift store and find a cute dress for me, two pairs of jeans for my husband, and good shoes for my son, all while spending less than thirty dollars.
With the rising cost of movie tickets, and food at the concession stands, nights out to the movie theatre are probably becoming few and far between for many families.
You may have enough money to go out and see a new movie, but before you go, ask yourself, "Am I patient enough to wait until this movie is available at the library?"
Finding new movies to watch outside of the theater is rather simple:
Go to your local library and get a free library card. Then, place holds on the new movies you want to see, and then look on their shelves for movies you may never have heard of, or find some oldies you love.
While doing this you might even find your library has your favorite television shows on DVD too. I, for one, certainly don't miss the commercials!
Doing this may even help you cut out cable from your monthly bills altogether. What would you do with that extra $50 per month?
Now, again, what I've mentioned to you is just the tip of the iceberg in saving money in these areas. There are many more ways to save that can be discussed and discovered.
For example, what about your phone? What about cable and internet?
Remember, entertainment doesn't stop with movies and electronics. Look outside your home and see what your community offers; there are museums, festivals and so much more. Most of the time, these community activities won't dig into your pocket that deeply, or at all!
Keeping an eye on every penny that goes in and out of your pocket can be tiring. If you are always asking yourself, again and again: "Do I really NEED this?" and then saying "no," even though you have wanted it, is hard.
But, before you get to the end of this article, give yourself something to celebrate, like a simple date night with your sweetheart, and don't always deny yourself a treat now and then.
After all, life shouldn't be all about saving money for big things; don't forget about enjoying and creating smaller moments that bring laughter and enjoyment as well.
I'm Candilyn Young and I recently graduated from Metropolitan State University of Denver with a degree in Technical Theatre and a minor in Writing. I am working towards being a first time published author of young adult novels and plays, and whatever else I am inspired to write. I enjoy life and getting the most out of it. I travel whenever I get the chance with my husband and twins. My goal is to see as much of the world as possible.