10 Frugal Tips to Make Your Budget Stretch to Meet Your Month

10 Frugal Tips to Make Your Budget Stretch to Meet Your Month

In the current economic climate, it's often the case that the monthly budget runs out way before the month itself. With more and more people finding that they have far more month than money, making those figures balance is an increasingly important issue. So here are ten frugal tips to make your budget stretch to meet your month.

1) Make your own clothes

If you have a little time and imagination to invest, you can both design your costume and make clothes for yourself as well as other members of your family. Sewing machines can be picked up very cheaply, with models by Brother (See reviews) and Singer starting at less than $100 on Amazon, and the internet is full of websites offering both tutorials and design ideas. For the cost of the material, you can create entire outfits from scratch, and all tailored perfectly to the size required. You never know, you might even end up making money if your friends start asking where you bought that great top.  

2) Plan meals in advance

Avoid buying items you don't need at the grocery store by making a list beforehand. If you stick to it, you'll not only save money on frivolous purchases, but also time spent wandering aimlessly up and down the aisles. Creating meal plans for the week will help you to zero in on exactly what ingredients you need to buy. Also, try making extra and freezing it into separate portions for easy to reheat meals later on. Not only is making a bigger batch of food often cheaper overall, but it's super convenient for those days you don't have time to cook from scratch.

3) Grow your own food

Growing your own vegetables and herbs is a great long-term way to save money, especially if you have a family to feed. You can buy vegetable seeds, herb plants and potting equipment from stores such as Walmart at affordable prices. You'll need to do a little research to understand when to sow seeds and when to harvest the finished product, along with which vegetables grow best in the climate where you live, but once you've gotten started, the sky's the limit. Plus, with lots of websites offering advice on how to grow food in small spaces, living in a house with a tiny garden – or an apartment without a garden at all – is no obstacle.

4) Rethink transportation

If you generally use a car to get around, then you could save money by using more economical means of transportation, especially for shorter trips. You can pick up a secondhand bicycle for very little, and it costs nothing to run. If you live in a big city and you're fit and well, go by foot instead of taking the subway or bus for only a few stops. Not only will this benefit your pocket, but your fitness levels as well. For longer distance journeys, carpool websites are on the rise – these give you the chance to hook up with people heading in the same direction as you.

5) Reuse and recycle

Lots of things that you'd generally throw straight in the trash can be reused if you start viewing them through creative eyes. Those empty pasta sauce jars can be used for storing sugar, flour or rice, worn clothes can be cut up and used as cleaning rags, and broken furniture can be sawn, sanded and varnished into all manner of handy objects. If you're planning to start growing your own food, plastic ice cream tubs and takeaway containers can be used for smaller plants. Plus, if you've invested in a sewing machine, you can do away with small holes and tears in your existing clothes and make them good as new once again.

6) Take your own breakfast and lunch to work

The amount of money spent on food for breakfast and lunch during the working week can soon rack up. With many high street coffee chains charging $3-4 for a cup of coffee, taking a thermos of coffee and a croissant with you when you leave the house in the mornings can be a great money saver. You can also cut costs by putting together your own bagels, sandwiches and salads for lunch, and if you're feeling health conscious or watching your weight, this is an excellent way to monitor exactly what's going in the food that you eat throughout the day.

7) Buy second hand and ditch the brands

A huge amount of money can be saved by changing the way you shop. Browsing thrift stores for clothes, shoes, books, CDs, DVDs, and small household items can not only give your credit card a rest, but also turn up some unexpected treasures. For larger items such as furniture, try eBay or Craigslist, and if it's not in perfect condition, restoring it yourself can add a personal touch. Brand name products are often massively overpriced in comparison to the own-brand version, so wherever possible, choose the cheaper option – often you'll find there's very little, if any, difference in quality. The same applies for generic medicines; you can save a fortune over the branded versions.

8) Minimise energy use

Change the way you think about your energy use to save money on your bills. When you leave the house – or even the room – switch off lights and power sockets when not in use. Set the timer for your heating system if you haven't already, to avoid forgetting to switch it back off once the house has warmed up. Even better, add another layer of clothing before switching on the heating in the first place, and buy insulated curtains for the windows and draft excluders for internal doors. Also, try using an drying rack for wet clothes instead of a dryer. Not only will these steps save you money, but they'll be better for the environment too.

9) Lose the cable television

If you're managing on a budget, cutting back on hefty cable television bills is one way to save money. In the past few years, websites such as Netflix and Hulu have started offering some of the biggest and most popular shows for a fraction of the cost. Websites such as Youtube and Dailymotion also have a wide selection of films and documentaries available for free, and there are many other sites that specialize in niche collections of films that are often free to watch. Another advantage to using these services is that you can also access them on the go while traveling on your mobile device.

10) Make use of the internet's free and discounted resources

From software such as OpenOffice that acts as a great alternative to Windows, to language and college courses on sites such as edX and Coursera, the internet is bursting with free and affordable options to take the place of things that used to cost a bomb. There's no longer any need to pay for what you can do yourself – from fixing broken electronic devices to cooking traditional recipes, there's expert advice in the form of step-by-step instructions, podcasts and videos at every turn, while sites like Groupon and LivingSocial mean you can wave goodbye to paying full price for spa trips, meals out and weekends away. Shop about without leaving home and your bank balance will thank you.

By changing your approach in small ways you can make big savings, so get started on putting your more frugal way of life into practise today!

Source: Design My Costume

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