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With a new year rapidly approaching, many people are looking ahead at how they can improve their finances over the coming twelve months.
Christmas can screw the budget up big time and leave you looking for ways to improve your family’s finances in the coming year.
Look no further! I’ve put together this list of 47 practical things that you can do to improve your family’s financial situation. Most are simple and even if you only act on a few, you’ll be further ahead next year than you are today!
Ready? Let’s do this.
1. Attack Big Budget Drains
Check over your budget for major drains. Overspending on certain things (ahem…groceries…), recurring payments that you could drop, expensive internet packages etc.
2. Start Driving With Uber
Becoming an Uber driver is an awesome way to put some extra cash in your pocket. I was in Chicago a while back and used Uber several times. Our drivers ranged from full time to those who were just tring to pick up a few extra bucks on their way somewhere. Most of the drivers we had were pretty enthusiastic about the money they make.
Unfortunately Uber’s not yet an option where I live but I’m looking forward to trying it out when they eventually get here!
3. Slash Your Grocery Bill By Making Freezer Meals
We started doing this last year. On a good Saturday two people can make 20-30 freezer meals no problem. Cooking a lot of meals at once allows you to take more advantage of sales. It also saves you time cooking dinner every night!
Check out this article for more ways to save money on food!
4. Trade Vehicle In For Something More Fuel Efficient
Let’s be honest here – some of you are driving big, inefficient cars and don’t need to be. If you’re driving a gas guzzler, consider trading it in for a smaller, more fuel efficient car. You can even fit a family of 5 in a sedan if you really try!
5. Upgrade Your Current Car, Instead Of Upgrading To A Newer Car
If you’re thinking of upgrading your car to get a certain feature, why not just upgrade your current car? Power locks and windows, GPS, Bluetooth, heated seats and many other goodies are available as aftermarket add-ons.
6. Save Every Receipt
Always track what you’re actually spending, rather than how much money you saved. Saving money on something that you didn’t need to buy is still spending money. Always keep your receipts to track where your money is going.
7. Ditch Cable For Netflix
1994 called, they want their shows back… Seriously though, if you’re watching cable rather than Netflix, you’re spending a lot of extra money and missing out on some great shows. Love the news? Most news channels can be watched online.
8. Voip Phone
I don’t know anybody who uses their home phone much anymore, but some don’t want to ditch it completely. Consider switching to a voip phone. Some plans are only around $20 per year.
9. Make Equal Payments On Utilities
Utilities can throw your budget off big time. Our electrical bill is often double in the winter what it is in the summer. Most companies have an equal payment plan to help you keep your budget on track and make sure you’re not going to miss a payment because your bill was too big.
10. Swap A Couple Of Meat Meals For Veggie
Nobody needs meat with every meal! Why not swap a few meals per week for vegetarian equivalents? There are lots of great veggie protein sources that are less expensive than meat. Chick peas are one of my favorites.
11. Pay Off Credit Cards
If you have the cash on-hand, pay off any credit card balances that you have. Carrying credit debt from month to month gets expensive fast, even if you have a decent interest rate. T
12. Divide Bonuses Up Monthly
Expecting a bonus this year? If your budget is tight, why not divy it up into 12 and add it to your monthly budget instead of spending it all at once?
13. Cut Subscriptions
Have a look over your subscriptions and cancel anything you’re not using. Hosting plans, magazine subscriptions, online tools you’re not using etc. If you’re not using it regularly, there’s no reason to be paying for it.
14. Take 52 Week Money Challenge
Want to save $5,000 in a year? Check out the 52 week challenge. It’s great exercise for the mind to try and find creative ways to come up with the deposit every month!
15. Sell Something You Don’t Need To Buy Something You Do
Instead of just buying something new, why not finance the purchase by selling something you don’t use much? This is a great way to buy tools. If you have something that you only bought for one project like a tile saw, why not sell it to pay for something you need right now?
16. Buy Fewer, Higher Quality Clothes And Commit To Take Care Of Them
I’m terrible for buying low-quality clothes. This year I’ve started buying better quality stuff and committing to take care of it. A nice pair of leather boots can last years and years if taken care of.
17. Purchase Clothes That Are More Useful
Basically, maximize your investment by purchasing clothing that goes well with lots of things. A bright red jacket might be nice for one occasion, but if you wouldn’t wear it to work or out with friends, you’ll never get it’s maximum value.
Related: Are expensive shoes worth it?
18. Buy A Used Deep Freezer
Every now and again stores offer an amazing sale on expensive things like meat and cheese. The best way to really take advantage of these sales is to have a deep freezer and buy a lot of the stuff while it’s on sale.
19. Learn How To Cut Your Kid’s Hair
It’s not that hard to cut kids hair. I had never cut hair in my life and I did my son’s hair a while back after watching a few YouTube videos. Get a decent pair of scissors and a comb and you’re good to go.
20. Know What Staples To Buy At Costco
Some things are way cheaper at Costco. Diapers, wipes and TP are all things that I only buy from Costco. Cereal and cheese are good ones as well. Be careful though, if you’re not careful it’s really, really easy to spend hundreds of dollars on things that you didn’t know you wanted! It’s best to go to Costco with a list and stick to it!
21. Refinance Your Student Loans
Why not look into refinancing your student loans? Have you checked out LendEDU? They will help you consolidate and refinance your loans. You might be able to get a better rate and lower payments!
22. Take Advantage Of Company Benefits
Use up your health benefits! You never know when you’re situation might change so you should be using up your dental and other benefits every year.
23. Slow Down And Stay Off Your Phone While Driving
Hands up if you like paying speeding tickets? That’s what I thought :). Being more responsible while driving can save you lots of money.
24. Ride Your Bike More
Gas and insurance are expensive, leg power is free! If you live within cycling distance of your job, consider riding, at least when the weather is nice.
25. Insulate Your Home
A can of insulating foam is only a few bucks at the hardware store. It’s a good idea to find places where air can escape to save money on your heating bill.
26. Take A Staycation
Going to Hawaii or Mexico is really expensive. Why not do a staycation this year? Offload the kids to their grandparent’s place for a week and explore your own town. Eat out, watch movies and save money while doing things you typically wouldn’t in your hometown.
27. Learn To Negotiate
Almost every big purchase is negotiable. Even some smaller things like thrift shop finds can be bartered down. Honing your negotiating skills can save you a fortune over time.
28. Stop Paying For Banking
Are you still paying banking fees? Check out offers from local banks and credit unions. These days lots of institutions offer free checking accounts. We’ve had a free credit union account for years and haven’t ever looked back.
29. Make A Gift Calendar To Get Deals Farther In Advance
If you can plan out who you’re going to buy for this year, you can keep an eye out for good deals while you’re out and about. This can save you from spending too much on last minute gifts.
30. Start Making Gifts Rather Than Buying
Are you crafty? A good builder? Why not try making something for somebody this year? Refinishing an old piece of furniture, building a picture frame or even gifting an oil change are great, practical ways to give that don’t cost much.
31. Downgrade Your Fitness Membership
The great outdoors is free and for most of us, it’s warm for a good part of the year. If you want to keep going to the gym you can cut your cost in half by exercising outdoors in the summer and keeping the pass for the winter.
32. Install A Programmable Thermostat
Household thermostats are getting really good. Learning thermostats such as Nest can save you a lot of money. It’s an up front investment, but if you have a large home, you will see the savings fairly quickly.
33. Start Doing Your Own Vehicle Maintenance
An oil & filter change done at home costs around $20. The same oil change done at a shop will cost closer to $60 and up depending on the vehicle. Learning how to change oil can save you a good bit of cash this year. There are several other maintenance items that can easily be done at home to save more money.
34. Maintain Your Appliances
Your old appliances can last a long time if maintained and treated well. Check over your appliances regularly. Empty drain traps, check for leaking seals and worn out cords. Learning how to repair your own appliances can save you a lot of cash as well.
35. Give Up Amazon Prime
That’s right, I said it. Amazon holds your credit card information so it’s easy for you to make purchases. If you have Prime, it’s easy to justify the cost by spending more than you would typically. If you’re buying a lot of stuff that you don’t really need on Amazon, consider giving up your Prime membership.
36. Rent Out Space In Your Home
There are lots of ways to do this. AirBNB, VRBO, roommates, renting out a garage etc. Renting out space in your home can be a great way to bring in some income whether you’re home or on holidays.
37. Trade Babysitting With Friends Rather Than Hiring Somebody
I don’t know what happened between when I was babysitting at 15 and now, but I wasn’t making the kind of money we’re paying our sitter! Instead of hiring a babysitter why not do an exchange with a trusted friend? They get a night out, you get a night out, it’s a win-win.
38. Stop Buying Lunch Out
This is something that I really struggle with. Spending $10 on lunch just once per week is $520 per year. It’s a lot of money to spend. I find that I can actually make better lunches at home if I put a bit of effort in!
39. Do Group Gifts Whenever Possible
For Christmas and birthdays, try to organize group gifts rather than buying individually. The person you’re buying for gets a better quality gift and everybody saves money and a trip to the mall. Win-win.
40. Eat Before Shopping And Bring A List
I spend a lot more money at the grocery store when I’m hungry. Try eating a meal right before you shop. Then make a list and bring it with you. Only buy what’s no the list!!
41. Stop Spending Big Money Entertaining Your Kids
Trampoline parks and theme parks are fun, but why not reserve those experiences for birthdays and special occasions? Most cities have nice parks, trails beaches and libraries that can entertain kids for hours and don’t cost a dime.
42. Transfer Any Credit Balances You Have
If you’re carrying a balance on your credit card and you’re unable to pay it off just now, try transferring it onto a 0% balance transfer card while you pay it down. Be careful with this strategy as missed payments often result in interest being backdated to the date you signed up for the card.
43. Start Using Your Local Library
Libraries aren’t just for books anymore. Libraries have movies, magazines, audiobooks and our local library even ‘loans’ a pool pass for the family.
44. Replace Your Lights With LEDs
LED bulbs have dropped in price over the last few years. Good quality LEDs can be bought in packs for around $3 per bulb now. Replace a few per month and you’ll have your whole house switched over in no time.
45. Start Investing
If you’re not investing for your future, this is the year to start. You don’t need much to get started. Contributing just $50 per month is enough to start building the habit of investing.
46. Negotiate A Pay Raise
Negotiating a pay raise is probably the simplest thing you can do to improve your finances. Making more money for doing the job that you’re already doing is a great deal!
47. Make Your Coffee At Home
I know that I’ve said in the past I won’t talk about how much money you can save by making coffee at home. We’re looking at the big picture for the entire year here and dropping the coffee shop lattes can make a real difference over the course of a year.