1. Make a monthly plan/budget.
2. Categorize everything you pay for (the more detailed the better). If you’re just starting, it’s okay to start broad and become detailed later.
3. Always UNDER budget (have a MISC. category)
4. Find a way to get rid of your car payments, at least one of them if you have more than one car.
5. Read Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover, as well as Financial Peace. Trust me! I, in no way, get compensated for referring that book.
6. Tithe if you’re a Believer in Christ!
7. Research ways to save on electricity.
8. Do some research on medical insurance. ACA is screwing a lot of us and our budgets, but we found alternative insurance through Samaritan Ministries.
9. Breast feed if you can. There are now tax deductions for women who choose to breastfeed. I couldn’t bf after 4 months, so I pumped 4 times a day till my son was 1 years old! I didn’t want to, but it saved us tons of money and he is super healthy! Just MY experience though…I know not everyone is able.
10. Make sure your budget has money for RETIREMENT, a SAVINGS ACCOUNT (3 months worth or more), and COLLEGE FUND.
11. Get rid of cable. Alternatives are Netflix and Hulu Plus. You shouldn’t pay over $90/month unless you can afford it. We pay $70 for internet/cable TV.
12. Minimize your toll expenses if you can. Find alternative routes or what entrances are cheaper.
13. Groceries – Meal plan!
14. Groceries – Look through the sale ads BEFORE you shop to find the best prices, even if it’s just for meat and produce.
15. Groceries – A good rule of thumb is “$100 per family member/month.” For reference, we budget $400/month…we have 3 family members and one on the way. I know this will increase as our family gets bigger and older (teenagers…yikes)!
16. Drink water when you dine out.
17. Go to restaurants that provide cheap/free kids meals.
18. Use coupons to dine out…9 out of 10 times we use a coupon. We eat out A LOT…and budget $140/month. For special occasion experiences, we categorize that under that section (i.e. birthday, anniversary, etc).
19. Shop consignment sales for kids clothing. They go through them too fast. We buy consignment, Walmart, and sales elsewhere (Gap, Target, Kohl’s).
20. Live in a house you can afford. Your mortgage (amount you owe) should be no more than twice your household’s total income. For example, if your net household income is $50,000/year, you shouldn’t take out a loan that is more than $100,000! This tip comes from the book, The Millionaire Next Door.