Stress and worry over financial issues can cause a lot of problems within the family. Regardless of your financial situation, simply being aware of your money can add a measure of self-control to your life that is priceless. One common theme in most attempts to save money is an element of patience. Challenge yourself to employ these techniques and watch as you become more patient and your finances become more manageable.
Wait to see the latest movies
If you can have the patience to wait until new movies hit the second-run discount theaters, you can save a bundle of money. Take a month or two off of going to opening weekends and there will be plenty of movies at the cheaper theaters for you to choose from. Better yet, wait until they come out on DVD rental and watch them at home.
Grocery shop in the mornings
Most grocery stores offer deeply discounted, soon-to-expire meat. The most options and best cuts can be found in the morning. Simply stock up and then freeze what you can’t eat right away. You will be surprised at how much you can save when you buy only discounted meat.
Wait 30 days for larger purchases
Sometimes we don’t have the luxury of waiting 30 days to make large purchases, but often, we really do. Once you’ve decided you need something, employ some self-control and wait awhile. Thirty days will give you enough time to shop around for the best prices and you may decide you don’t really need it after all. Sometimes, you’ll even forget about it all together!
Do a weekly cooking session
Set aside a two-hour block of time each week to cook up the food you will be using in your meals for that week. Simply being prepared beforehand for mealtime can greatly reduce your desire to eat out. Let’s face it, eating at home is almost always cheaper than eating out.
Wash and slice several pounds of vegetables such as carrots, zucchini, sugar snap peas, broccoli, squash or anything your family likes. Then, in separate batches, throw them in a frying pan with a bit of water and olive oil and steam cook them for about ten minutes, making sure they are crisp-tender.
Roast a whole chicken in the oven while you are browning a pound or two of ground beef or turkey on the stove top.
Store all of these items in the refrigerator in separate containers. Use these pre-cooked, ready-to-go basic building blocks throughout the week in whatever recipe you want. You will be amazed at how fast mealtimes come together and how much money you end up saving.
Go “cart shopping”
See something in the store that you really want? Go ahead, put it in your cart and mull it over. Take some time to think about the cost of the item in terms of how much you make per hour. If it’s a fifty dollar table lamp and you make, after taxes and all deductions, ten dollars an hour, ask yourself if the item is really worth five hours of work. If you decide you really do want it and the cost is worth it to you, then go for it. Often, just giving yourself time to think it over will help you decide you don’t really need it, saving you a lot of money.
Make homemade bread
Homemade bread is significantly less expensive than store-bought bread, and often a lot tastier. Take the time to experiment and be patient with yourself as you try to figure out the best techniques. A one-time purchase of a mixer and good quality bread pans is well worth the investment.
Try “copycat” recipes at home
Got a craving for a certain dish at your favorite restaurant? Save a substantial amount of money by finding similar recipes online and making these dishes at home. These homemade versions are often even a little healthier and taste better than their restaurant counterparts.
Do your holiday shopping a day or two after the holiday
You will be amazed at how much money you can save on holiday items after the holiday has past. This applies to virtually every holiday, not just Christmas. Buy Easter, Valentine’s Day and Halloween, costumes, clothing and décor the day after and save these items in your closet for next year.
Buy a slow cooker
One of the simplest pleasures is coming home from work to a house filled with the smells of delicious food, ready for you to eat. There are hundreds of good slow cooker recipes out there; taking a few minutes in the morning to put together a meal will save a lot of time and money, helping you to resist the urge to stop in for take-out on the way home from work.
Talk about money all the time
Make a goal to talk about money every day. Avoid being accusatory or combative, but take a moment to calmly discuss the purchases you need to make that day, the automatic withdrawals going through, and any upcoming needs. This will help form a sense of teamwork as you work together to improve the family finances.
Start today with these techniques. Just knowing you have at least some self-control over your finances can be a catalyst for change in other areas of your life.
An Idaho native, Deborah Goodman is an editor, writer, and mother of four now residing in Springville, Utah.