Everything has gone up, and by everything, I mean EVERYTHING. I have read a lot of posts asking for tips and ideas on how to increase income or make budgets stretch. Just recently a mom said that she would go to the shops with R300 and bring barely anything back home. Now is the time where we have to get smart, so here are a few ideas to help make your money s-t-r-e-t-c-h.
1. Write Down Everything
You think you have it all in your head, I mean you pay the same things every month and you know what your budget generally looks like but do you? If you haven’t written it down, you don’t. You may have hidden costs that you don’t factor in, you may have expenses coming up that you have forgotten about; the point is write everything down when it comes to money and start with a budget. I remember the one month, I paid everything from memory (after debits) and even though I have a budget, even though I do the same things every month, I forgot a few things that I only realised once I looked at my budget. Let’s be real between kids, work, home, life and whatever else we have going on; we don’t have the mental capacity to keep all that in our heads. To help you on your journey, here is a free family budget that you can adapt for your needs (and it is best that it is a family budget where things are discussed openly between spouses). Your planned amount is the amount you expect to pay and the actual amount is the amount you actually paid, we all know that these can sometimes be different.
2. Make Meal Plans
This is a continuation of the ‘write down everything’ tip because you need to write down your meal plan for a week x 4. You will end up with 4 weekly meal plans and this will help you purchase exactly what you need to make dinner each week. It will also help you see where buying in bulk will benefit your family and where it will not. Buying in bulk always works out cheaper but if the items cannot be stored and will go to waste, it will shrink your budget instead of stretching it. As an added benefit, by eliminating unimportant decisions and clearing head space, you will have more time to spend on the things that really matter to you.
Get the family together for a fun evening where they shout out all their favourite meals and this will make it easy to make that meal plan. Also, if they love eating out, see where you can recreate these meals at home. Get the kids involved in figuring out all the ingredients you will need!
3. Where possible, buy Items that will Last
Often, we may think we are saving money by purchasing the cheapest items. In the novel, Men at Arms, Sir Terry Pratchett introduces the “Vimes ‘Boots’ theory of socioeconomic unfairness”:
The reason that the rich were so rich, Vimes reasoned, was because they managed to spend less money. Take boots, for example. … A man who could afford fifty dollars had a pair of boots that’d still be keeping his feet dry in ten years’ time, while a poor man who could only afford cheap boots would have spent a hundred dollars on boots in the same time and would still have wet feet.wikipedia.org
Take time to consider which is better for each item, quality or quantity. Most of the time you will save money by purchasing items that are of a better quality as they will last longer and provide better care. (P.S. You can win some of these quality items in our current giveaway here.)
4. Negotiate a Better Deal
There are many instances when you can either negotiate a better deal, change services providers or choose a replacement of equal value; all of these saving you money and helping you to stretch that budget. Have you ever phoned your insurance and asked for a better rate? Or asked for a discount when making a larger purchase? Most places are authorised to give you some sort of discount – dont miss out!
- Make sure you are talking to the right person when negotiating. That may not be the first person to answer the phone or the person at the till.
- Don’t necessarily accept the first offer. Taking time to think about it may result in a better offer.
- Do it kindly. People are more willing to help those who are kind and respectful but still feel empowered to state what your needs are.
Have fun figuring out how to stretch your money and make it work for you. Oh, and tell us how you make your money stretch, we love to hear from you in the comments below or connect with us on Social Media 💕.