Tips for Saving Money on Non-Food Expenses
Saving money on non-food expenses can help you to stay on track if you are on a tight budget, or it can allow you to set some money aside for a vacation. Although there are many obvious ways to save money on food items, especially if you are collecting Federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance or Georgia Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children benefits, methods to save on non-food expenses may be a little less obvious. Nevertheless, you can cut down on your general expenses if you know the proper techniques. Those savings will apply to both your household utility bills and general items that you purchase, such as clothing, gas and toiletries. Some methods for reducing household expenses are simple, such as taking easy measures to winterize your windows. Other savings options require you to spend a bit of time. Below you will find a list of several techniques to help you reduce your monthly spending and tips on how you can begin to implement those money-saving techniques.
Lower Your Utility Bills
Your utility bills are likely to be among your highest non-food expenses. Heating and cooling bills can be lowered significantly if you make a few minor changes to your living situation. For example, installing a ceiling fan or two can allow you to hold off on using your air conditioner, or raise the temperature setting on it to reduce costs in the summer. You can also keep your home cooler during the summer months by grilling food outside or eating foods that require little or no cooking, such as salads.
In the winter, you can lower your heating costs by using a fireplace or a wood-burning stove for heat. If that is not an option, then turn the thermostat down whenever you are sleeping or out of the house to lower your heat bill. Heat can also be conserved if you cover your windows with clear plastic and secure them with tape to block drafts.
Lower Gas Costs for Your Vehicle
Another major expense is gas for your vehicle. One way to lower gas costs is to look around your local area and identify the gas station which typically has the best prices on gas. You can also check local gas stations to see if any of them offer free rewards programs for repeat customers. Joining such a program may allow you to save several cents per gallon of gas you purchase.
Driving your vehicle less can also reduce your gas expenditures. If the weather is warm, walk or ride a bike to local destinations. Carpooling is also a good idea, if you happen to know someone who is going to the same destination.
When you do need to drive your car, try to do so efficiently. Plan to do several errands per outing, so that you don’t have to waste gas getting the car started multiple times. Also, do not speed, because it will reduce your gas mileage significantly.
Use Rewards Cards, Coupons, Rebates and Comparison Shopping
In addition to rewards cards specifically for gas, you can also sign up for rewards credit cards and free store rewards cards for your favorite retail shopping chains and drugstores. Combine instore rewards cards with credit card rewards points to reduce immediate costs on essential items, or receive gift cards or other perks for your purchase.
Coupons, rebates and comparison shopping will also help you to find the best possible deals on nonfood essentials, such as clothing, shampoo and over-the-counter medications. Install rebate and couponing applications on your phone or print online coupons for your favorite brands. Some brands also offer rewards programs, which will give you access to exclusive deals and discounts.
Be sure to check prices at multiple stores ahead of time before making a purchase. Comparison-shop online to get an idea of what an item is worth. Then, decide if you should purchase it online or locally, based on the price difference.
Frequent Yard Sales, Flea Markets and Thrift Stores
Yard sales, flea markets and thrift stores are excellent sources for inexpensive clothing. You may also be able to find inexpensive toys for your children at such venues, as well as discounted kitchen appliances and accessories. If you are willing to invest a little time, you can also locate furniture, which you can refinish or reupholster for far less money than you would spend buying new furniture in a retail store.
Lower Your Entertainment Spending
Entertainment spending can quickly get out of control. You can reduce your movie spending by going to second-run movie theaters, renting any movies that you want to see or waiting to purchase them from flea markets or when they are deeply discounted, such as right before the holiday season. Signing up for a television subscription service online and canceling your in-home television service may also reduce your entertainment spending, as far as visual media.
Other forms of entertainment can also be enjoyed without breaking your budget. For example, you can borrow books from your local library. It is also possible to borrow music and movies that way. Additionally, you can host small potluck dinner parties for friends, instead of going out to dinner to save money on restaurant spending.
Cut Out or Cut Back on Unnecessary Expenses
If you have any unnecessary expenses, cut them out or back to save money. For example, if you drink alcohol every evening, reduce it to weekends, only. Similarly, if you smoke cigarettes, try to wean yourself off of them slowly.
Even seemingly good habits, such as going to the gym, can have an impact on your budget. You may be able to achieve the same expensive gym membership results by jogging with friends in your local park each morning. Alternatively, you can sign up for a local sports team or start exercising with your family for a little while each day.