With all the expenses that come with having a family, being able to save money is always a challenge. From covering expenses in case of an emergency to splurging on a family vacation, having a good cash reserve can help your family live comfortably no matter what happens. In 2018 the Federal Reserve conducted a survey of household economics, finding that most American families struggle with having an appropriate amount of savings. While the economy continues to rebound after the Great Recession, 4 out of 10 American’s have difficulty covering a $400 emergency.
Creating a savings fund for emergencies means thinking more strategically than giving up your daily latte. Instead of focusing on small wins, developing a mindset of savings can help you sock away money for a rainy day, while preparing your family for unforeseen circumstances.
1Save money by creating a budget
It’s hard to create savings without first understanding where you are already spending money. Creating a budget can help you access what necessities exist in your current monthly spending [mortgage, insurance] and what items can be trimmed back or eliminated [shopping, restaurants]. Your bank may offer an online review tool or you can subscribe to a service like Mint that will bucket expenses automatically coming from your bank account.
If you prefer to create a paper budget start off by listing all of your hard expenses. Typically hard expenses are those that do not change every month.
Hard Expenses Include:
- Mortgage / Rent
- Phone costs
- Car loan
- Memberships and subscriptions [gym, streaming, etc]
Next, outline the remaining soft expenses. Soft expenses are items that may change from month to month.
Soft Expenses Include:
- Food costs [Groceries]
- Dining out [Restaurants]
- Entertainment [Movies, travel]
- Car expenses [gas, maintenance]
Once you have all of your expenses outlined determine how those numbers match up with your monthly income. If your expenses are more than your income you need to determine how to bring those items into alignment before starting a savings plan. If not, you are not in a good spot to start saving!
2Save money by lowering hard costs
While you may not be able to change your rent, you can look into ways to lower some costs by dropping interest rates or negotiating lower payments. If you have a car loan or mortgage start off by examining your current interest rate against what you may be able to obtain by rolling those costs together or refinancing them. A single lower percentage point can help cut hundreds of dollars from your hard expenses each month.
If you have been in a specific contract (insurance, internet, or phone) for a significant amount of time you may be able to negotiate a lower rate with your existing provider or by switching to a new company. Car and home insurance can vary greatly from year to year, so regularly having these items re-quoted can put more money back into your pocket without spending more time than a phone call.
When you have one or more subscriptions (Netflix, Hulu AND Amazon Prime) it’s possible you are overpaying. Consider what services you use the most and cancel the ones you are not using regularly. Trim is an online service that can help automate keeping an eye on your subscriptions and recommend canceling those that are no longer in use.
3Save money by shopping off season
Shopping on the off-season can help you keep more money in your bank account, all while buying the best of the best. Ascribing to a frugal lifestyle can mean you can spend more on the next family vacation, stock away extra dollars for future college tuition, or plan for retirement a bit easier. Our favorite item for buying during the off season is winter gear!
Buying ski and snowboard gear during the summer months is a great way to save a ton of money on items you need when the snow is flying again. Summer sales and consignment stores are a great way to pick up winter clothing for kiddo’s that grow quickly. If you can, find winter gear that will last several seasons to ensure that you get the most use out of it.
We love Obermeyer because of their innovative I-Grow technology. Kids and teen sizes from Obermeyer feature a simple and unique way to lengthen the sleeves and cuffs of outerwear up to two inches. Just snip the I-Grow colored threads and your child is ready for another season of snowy, outdoor fun! Designed specifically for teens we love the Brooke Pant with its extended wear system.
For adults, Obermeyer’s durable and high quality gear can put up with whatever adventures you are ready for. Their outerwear features a lifetime warranty, ensuring that you’ll have multiple seasons of use from each item you buy. Powder pants are reinforced in the seat and knee so that no spill on the mountain will leave you with a tear in your gear!
Typically once you’ve hit your adult size you don’t have to worry about the length of your pants or sleeves becoming a problem so a good set of outerwear that lasts through several seasons is the perfect summer investment. For avid skiers we are loving the Kahilina Jacket and Clio Softshell Pant.
Insulated but not heavy, the Kahilina is ideal for both spending time on the mountain and in the city. Designed with 3M Thinsulate Insulation, you’ll stay warm but not feel overheated when your muscles are burning coming down the mountain. Thumb holes in the sleeves and extra belly snaps ensure that the cold snow stays out. For extra safety, the Kahilina is embedded with RECCO reflectors to help search and rescue locate you in case of an emergency. While experiencing an avalanche is rare, this amazing technology is battery free and connects with the devices searchers use on the mountain!
For bottoms, the Clio Softshell pant is completely water resistant and double reinforced in the knees and bottom to ensure you stay warm and dry, even when it’s been a few seasons since your last lesson. Finished with a durable water repellent finish your pants will retain up to 80% of their performance through more than 10 washes!
4Save Money by Meal Planning
Unless you are frequenting fast food, eating out regularly can take a toll on both your pocketbook and your waistline. If one person in the household has fast food lunch 5 days a week with an average cost of $8 per meal, that’s over $2,000 annually. If you add in one or two meals for a family of 4 each week you are looking at another $5,200 per year. What else could you do with an additional $7,000 per year?
Read More: Family Meal Planning with HelloFresh
While it’s important to spurge on occasion and enjoy yourself, creating a meal plan can help you eat healthier and save money at the same time.
Tricks for Meal Planning:
- Batch prepare freezer meals that you can store for busy evenings. Once a Month Meals is a great option for helping jump start your cooking inspiration.
- Commit 2-3 hours per week to prepping food in advance, not including shopping. If you prepare vegetables and marinades at the beginning of the week it’s easier to make sure you cook those items throughout the week.
- Purchase individual serving storage containers and prepare lunches 5 at a time. If you bring all your lunches to work on Monday there’s no chance that you’ll forget lunch in the middle of the week.
- Buy staples in bulk. Items like rice, quinoa, bread and even ground beef can be bought at a lower cost in bulk than smaller packages.
- Double up recipes so you have leftovers for lunches during the week. If you cook double on Monday you’ll easily be able to pack lunch the rest of the week!
5Save Money by Reselling Items You No Longer Need
As Marie Kondo would say, if it no longer brings you joy, thank it for its service and get it out of the house. While donating items to a local thrift store is the easy way to clean out the closets, you can make back some fun money by taking the time and effort to consider resale instead.
When reselling items they need to first be in good condition. Clothing should be free of stains and pilling. To get the most value, items should be in fashion and ready to wear. Baby items like strollers, bouncers and cribs are always in demand. Make sure all parts are together and in good working condition before putting anything on the market.
During the summer months the first option for resale is to host a garage sale. Check in your community to see if there is a specific weekend your neighborhood is planning to host a sale. Scheduling yours at the same time can help ensure a good attendance. If you prefer not to spend a day out in the sun, or missed this years sale, the next best option is to find local and online places for selling your items.
Places to Sell Clothing:
- Local consignment stores
- ThredUp [online]
- Resale chains like Buffalo Exchange, Plato’s Closet or My Best Friends Closet
Places to Sell Kids Gear:
The first step towards building up a good savings account is deciding that you want to do so. Creating a mind set for savings is the ideal way to ensure that every purchase you make keeps your goals at the forefront.
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