I hope that you found ways to enjoy the weekend, somehow I love snow and the excuse to stay home and accomplish tasks that otherwise I find excuses not to tackle. Last week around the office we’ve had several conversations about the far reaching effects of the government shutdown, and I’d challenge all of us to think about what it would be like to work without a paycheck? How long could we manage, if there was no income to cover necessary expenses? The good financial practice is to have at least 3-6 months of emergency funds to pay the fixed expenses. A co-worker of mine wrote a blog (https://livehealthyosu.com ) this week that has some points to ponder on saving money that I’d like to share with you.
For a variety of reasons, many of us find budgets tight this time of year and we need to find ways to cut expenses. Here are a few saving tips from America Saves (https://americasaves.org/for-savers/make-a-plan-how-to-save-money/54-ways-to-save-money)
- Save windfalls – don’t spend them on bonus things. Deposit them in the bank or put them towards a bill. (Did you get cash from a family member for your birthday? Get a bonus or work overtime? Win the 50/50 at the school ball game? Don’t spend it with nothing to show for it.) Save at least half of your tax return.
- Cut food-shopping costs – be sure to use regular or online coupons, purchase store-brands, get rain checks, and watch the prices at the checkout. (Also, try to shop alone since each additional person adds things to the cart.)
- Save your loose change – put all change in a jar and save it towards vacation or deposit it every few weeks.
- Use the 24 hour rule – think about a purchase for 24 hours (or over-night) before hitting submit on the shopping cart (for online) or buying unnecessary items. Of course, this doesn’t mean you should wait to buy medication, but do you need that cute top or those boots that were marked down?
- Unsubscribe to marketing emails – just hit unsubscribe at the bottom of the email and cut out temptation. You can always add yourself back when your budget is stronger.
- Take credit cards out of your wallet – put them in the freezer or your desk, so it is inconvenient and you have to plan to use them. Have an agreement about when it’s acceptable to use credit instead of cash.
- Make a big deal out of a stay home family or friend night – cook at home (taco bar, homemade pizza, breakfast for supper), play games, eat popcorn, or watch a family/comedy together instead of everyone running off to their own rooms.
- Sell things you don’t need – clothes you don’t wear anymore, sports equipment, tools, collectibles, toys, or baseball cards. Make sure the items you sell are your own of course. Resale shops or social media buy/sell sections both are options.
- Drink water or iced tea – stop buying disposable water in bottles, use refillable ones and make your own iced tea or coffee. You can save hundreds each year.
- Don’t buy snacks from machines – measure your own pretzels, nuts, or fruit in a small container rather than paying vending markup. Bonus: you control what’s in your snack.
- Take leftovers for lunch – even doing this a couple times could save $15 or $20 a week.
- Cut utility costs – make sure you are using a low-flow showerhead, turn off appliances and lights, unplug charged devices, and lower your water heater to 120 degrees.
- Eliminate plastic – don’t use disposable plates, plastic forks/spoons, or plastic storage bags. While you may have to do a few more dishes, you help the environment and cut an expense.
Have the conversation with family members about how to save money until the situation changes. Include the topic of what is, “a want,” and what is, “a need?” For additional information go the Personal Finance section of eXtension.
Melinda Hill is an OSU Extension Family & Consumer Sciences Educator and may be reached at 330-264-8722.
CFAES provides research and related educational programs to clientele on a nondiscriminatory basis. For more information, visit cfaesdiversity.osu.edu.