This guest column is from the Miserly Mom:
"Money-saving Tips for the Entire Family
By Jonni McCoy, The Miserly Mom
Bills and expenses are a typical part of life, but some simple changes can go a long way toward saving money. Finding clever ways to stretch the family budget allows for fun activities without breaking the bank.
After I spent ten years as a senior buyer, I had had a difficult decision to make after my son was born. I realized that I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom, but my salary contributed to 50 percent of the family income. That is when I learned first-hand how to manage my family’s budget. Since then I’ve written three books and started a Web site (www.miserlymoms.com) teaching others how to make frugality a lifestyle for the entire family. When I talk to parents about their spending habits, the biggest mistake I hear is how they shop. Whether it's for groceries or vacation, changing how we shop can help our budget.
Here are some tips that over time will help you and your family save money without sacrificing the things that are most important to you.
Some of the most enjoyable experiences my family’s had are the ones that cost little to nothing. We looked for inexpensive and interesting activities for the whole family, such as:
* Take a hike through a park and watch the sunset. Take a loaf of bread and feed the ducks or pick wildflowers to bring home. Press the flowers and use in bookmarks or gift cards.
*Look for free tours at interesting places such as factories and museums. You'll have fun while you learn. Find children's museums or centers with interactive displays. Many are educational (but the kids still have fun).
* Have a contest for the kids – let them be creative. One of my favorites I did with my kids was an egg-drop contest. Kids have to build something that kept a raw egg from breaking when dropped off the playground.
Traveling is a great way to spend time with the family and create memories that will last a lifetime, but it doesn't have to be expensive.
* Find hotels with free airport pick up. This can save you $100 per person. Utilize any complimentary breakfasts or happy hours with hors d’oeuvres.
* When we went to Disneyland, we called the local hotel and asked for local attraction deals. We asked if the local grocery store chains were offering any 2-for-1 coupons for Disneyland. We were able to get some and make our trip even cheaper.
* Instead of emptying your wallet to fill your tank, use a rebate credit card to earn rewards or save money. For example, with the Shell Platinum MasterCard (R) from Citi (R) Cards you earn 5 percent rebates on all Shell gasoline purchases and 1 percent rebates on all other purchases. At today’s average price that is a rebate of 14 cents a gallon. To calculate a trip’s total savings, go to www.877MYSHELL.com to see how much you can save.
Often we are so busy we end up eating out or buying convenience foods which can be costly and unhealthy. We were able to cut our grocery bill in half – that's several hundreds of dollars – by just changing how we shopped and cooked. Here are some simple changes that can save you money:
* Limit your use of coupons. Coupons are for name brand items which cost more than lesser known brands, and coupons are for convenience foods. Use a coupon if the item is also on sale or you really were planning to buy that brand anyway.
* Plan your weekly menu around the sale items on the grocery fliers. This one step can save 35 percent off grocery bills.
* Cook several meals at once and freeze them. It will reduce the chances of eating out when you are busy, and will save preparation time and money when you buy groceries in bulk.
These are simple solutions to enjoy huge savings. As you try out these tips, you’ll find that you can still have a blast as a family while staying on a budget.
Courtesy of ARAcontent
The Frugal Duchess Booktique
The Frugal Duchess of Beauty Store
Book Shop of Fear
The Poetry & Drama Queen
Frugal Jazz & Blues
Frugal Comic Book Connection