10 ways to save money on household expenses

Learn ten areas where you and your family can save money on household expenses.

1. First, and most importantly, you should create a budget that shows you exactly how much money is available for household expenses. After subtracting the rent/mortgage, vehicle payments, phone bill, credit card bills, and other regular monthly payments from your income you'll be better prepared to set a limit on spending for household expenses. Some household expenses are absolute necessities, while others are luxuries or might have a cheaper alternative. Once you've determined what's left over for household expenses you may be able to find ways to cut back that will allow for adding to your savings or doing those bigger home improvement projects.

2. Planning is always key in keeping things under control. You'll always want to keep a running list of needed household expenses and items. A good place for this list might be your refrigerator or the area where you pay bills or perhaps a designated cork bulletin board where all members of the family can contribute requests.

3. Next, look at those regular monthly bills that fall under the category of household expenses: phone, cable, internet, electricity, etc. There may be ways to lower or eliminate these bills. Perhaps you can find a special rate for consolidating your cable, phone, and internet service with one company or provider. You might not need both a cell phone and a land line phone service. Check to see who provides the best service for your long distance needs. You can also raise awareness in your household about water and electricity conservation. When looking to save money - the mantra is simplify, simplify, simplify.

4. While we're on the subject of simplifying, take a look at how it might apply to your toiletry items. Is everyone in the household using a different brand of shampoo? Would shampoo and conditioner in one products work for your hair care needs? Air drying is better for your hair and the environment, but you might need to rearrange your schedule a bit to allow this change.

5. Make an inventory of your cleaning supplies. Would one multi-purpose cleaner replace several of your current cleansers? Look for an all-purpose cleanser that disinfects and sanitizes, perhaps one with bleach. You can use this cleanser in the bathroom, kitchen, and anywhere a spill or mess occurs. Baking soda and vinegar are also natural cleansers that have many uses and you probably already have them on hand.

6. Brand names don't always provide a superior product. You can save a lot of money by checking ingredients and purchasing the store brand of a comparable product, especially as it pertains to cleaning and cosmetic supplies. Also check out discount stores in your area like Dollar General and Family Dollar, you'll be amazed at how much further your household budget will go at these stores and often for the same brands you usually buy at your local super center or grocery store.

7. Shop at thrift stores and yard sales for slightly used furniture, dishes, decorations, and clothing. You'll save lots of money and bring home lots of "new" stuff for a fraction of the cost, plus it's fun! There's an art to thrift shopping. Ask an experienced friend to go along and don't get discouraged if you don't see anything you like right away, just keep browsing. Before you know it something will catch your eye and you'll be lost in the adventure of digging through all the treasure that someone else didn't want or need anymore.

8. Whenever you can, do it yourself. This applies to household repairs, lawn care, cleaning, remodeling, redecorating, and all kinds of home projects. Do a little research and have fun learning. Technicians, repair professionals, landscapers, and painters cost a lot, but the materials they use usually don't. You are paying for their expertise. Become your own expert.

9. Save money on laundry by making sure clothes are worn until they are truly dirty. Jeans and sweaters can usually be worn several times before they need washing. Make sure towels are hung up to allow proper drying. Color code the towels if everyone complains they don't know which is theirs and has a habit of reaching for a new one everyday.

10. Finally, learn how to save money on food and grocery expenses. We all know that the dollar goes further by making home cooked meals than eating out, plus it's healthier. Buy in bulk and freeze, this saves both time and money. And while you're at it, how about applying all those simplifying and do it yourself principles by growing your own garden.

Once, you put a little effort into budgeting, planning, and learning new ways of doing things you just might discover that the cheaper way is the healthier and often better way.

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