Planning a monthly budget is a challenge because needs change from month to month. You have big shopping events like back to school, summer vacations, and holiday spending that happen once a year. Then there are events such as birthdays, car maintenance, and home repairs which produce irregular spending.
With the school year in full swing; you can use the fall months to save money on everyday items, giving you more funds to pay for the upcoming holiday shopping. Here are a few ways to cut monthly spending:
Shop Around Your House
Before buying more stuff, take inventory of current supplies. You can save money on clothes, school supplies, and everyday items by using what you have on hand, combined with some creativity. For example, you can pair clothes differently to create new outfits, repair a missing button, sew a hole, or otherwise re-use clothes found in the back of the closet.
Before buying school supplies, small appliances, or other household items determine if currently own something else that will fill the need. If you really must have it, explore renting for items used infrequently.
Host A Clothing Swap
Often clothes are in good shape, but your child no longer wears it because it feels old or they outgrow it. To solve this problem, host a neighborhood clothing swap with friends and neighbors who have children of similar ages. Everyone in the group brings unwanted clothes, shoes, handbags, and other items and then selects new items of interest. Your children receive like-new clothes and accessories without spending any money. Clothes should be clean, stain free, and without tears.
Toy and book swaps are other areas where you can save money by trading with friends and neighbors.
Local consignment shops tend to specialize in products for either young children or teenagers and stock clothes, shoes, accessories, and toys. They accept items in like-new condition and offer a higher trade value if you convert goods to store credit, rather than cash. Earn extra money for things you need, by bringing in your unwanted clothes, and then shopping at the store to save even more. You can find discounts up to 80% off name brand items in like-new condition.
Consignment shops can also specialize in furniture, books or home goods.
Look for Used Instead of New
Buying used items can significantly reduce the cost. In our fast-paced world consumers replace goods faster than ever, making is cost effective to buy used, refurbished or second-generation items. Consider avoiding the latest gadget and buy used when it comes to cars, furniture, books and so on. You can also save over 50% on items such as exercise equipment, tools, musical instruments and video games.
The modern version of coupon clipping includes using apps and auto delivery to your favorite grocery store loyalty card. Beyond food and toiletries, coupons have become a popular way to save money. Today you can find discounts for restaurants, entertainment, clothing, car repairs, and retail stores. Before shopping, check online websites such as Retailmenot, to find available coupons for items on your list.
Buy in Bulk
Warehouse shopping clubs can save money by providing name brand and generic products at bulk prices. You pay an annual membership fee for clubs such as Costco but save on everything from food, household items, clothes, and electronics. For example, instead of buying a 1lb package of chicken, you must purchase ten pounds, but at significant savings. You can break up the packaging to meet your family's needs and freeze the rest.
Shop End of Season Sales
Both brick and mortar and online retailers tend to move seasonal items to the clearance racks quickly to make room for the next hot seller. As a result, you can begin to see winter clothes on the sale racks in August and Christmas displays in October.
The benefit to consumers is that often you can use clearance items immediately, and then again, the following year. In the fall, summer clothes are at rock bottom prices, as stores make room for winter fashions and holiday sales.
You might also find deep discounts on gardening tools and outdoor furniture. Car manufacturers are anxious to unload current year models to make room on their lot for the next year’s cars. You can also find deep discounts on the previous year's cell phone and electronics.
Amazon has opened the world of online shopping, and now major retailers such as Walmart and Target are making it easier to buy online. The good news is that online shopping portals allow you to seamlessly compare prices across retailers, and get the best deal. The downside is that it is easy to overspend because of the simplicity of the buying process.
Shipping costs used to be a deal breaker, but Amazon Prime, which offers free two-day shipping, has erased the high purchase threshold required to waive the shipping fee. Companies often offer free shipping on purchases as low as $35. For faster delivery, you can typically order online from a local store, and pick up the item a few hours later and eliminate shipping charges.
It is common to find online only coupons and specials, which also allow you to use the order and pick up option.
Name brands often have similar quality to off-brand items. You can save money by trying generic alternatives to test the value. You may find you can save money, without compromising quality. Medications, household items, and food products are common products offering generic alternatives.
Set A Budget
Aside from having a monthly budget, you should have a budget for each shopping trip. When you only carry the amount of money needed to cover the purchases for the trip, you reduce impulse buying. If you find something, you want, which is not on the list, you must make a tradeoff.
Financial discipline will help you stay on track and reduce costs in the months before Black Friday shopping begins.