In most cases, building wealth doesn’t depend on how much you earn but on what you keep. If you do not develop a discipline with money, you will always be lacking even if your income keeps increasing. This is true for families too. If you want to save as a family, you need to work together towards your financial goals.
1. Have a tangible goal
It is easier to save money when you have a clear purpose for it. What are you saving for? Make sure it’s something that sparks interest in every family member. The thrill of going on a vacation at the end of the year, acquiring a new car, or buying a new house with bedrooms for each kid works as a catalyst to the commitment to save money.
Once you have identified your reason for saving, come up with a monthly or weekly target that will enable you to reach the desired amount of money within a set period. Next, write down the different tactics you will employ as a family to get that extra money. It could involve a distinct act by each family member or collective measures like cutting down on dining outside, weekend trips, etc.
2. Do small fixes and projects in your home yourself
There is a lot of money that goes into frequent repairs and improvement of our homes. If you call a professional every time you have small plumbing issues like a blocked sink or electricity faults even before checking, chances are that you are giving free money to such repairmen. Adopt a habit of troubleshooting these fixtures when a problem arises before calling a professional. You will notice some issues do not need any special training or equipment to fix.
Some do-it-yourself projects at home give you an opportunity to save, spend quality time with your children, and exercise too. For instance, children as young as three years old can help in gathering seeds/seedlings, watering plants, and spreading the soil during gardening. Other projects you can try at home are basic interior décor and design, car and bike maintenance, baking, and cooking, among others. Besides, it helps grow your skills, and your kids will learn in the process too.
3. Scout for deals on purchases as a family
Chances are you can find a deal for that book or bike your child needs. Even better, does your family love taking a vacation now and then? If yes, booking your vacation during off-seasons can be your sure way of saving money without missing some family fun.
The most important thing is to involve your children in searching for these deals, depending on their age. If you want to take a family vacation, use the internet to study seasonal changes in flight charges, accommodation, and holiday packages to see the most appropriate time of the year to book a holiday.
To make your deals even cheaper, look for coupons, gift cards and discounts.
4. Track your expenses
At the end of each day, it could be helpful to look back and see how you spent your money. Consider both your cash and credit purchases for the day. Doing this consistently will give you an idea of the different items you are using your money on.
You can also use this information to identify your tendency to impulse buy and overindulgence or so, correct where necessary. After some time, you will notice your monthly expenditure comes to a certain figure and you could use this to plan for each pay check.
If you gave your children money to buy their lunch, snacks, or if they have an allowance of whatever kind, ask them to account for the amount as well. Take this opportunity to teach them how to prioritise their expenditure, without dictating but by giving guidance. Be keen to encourage and reward responsible behaviour.
Do not pile your savings in a bank account where you can be easily tempted to withdraw it. Instead, take advantage of investment opportunities such as premium bonds, trust funds, retirement plans or a side project that can multiply your savings with minimum effort. Over time, you will have some profits to plow back for your needs without hurting your savings.
6. Reuse and recycle
Disposable products are convenient but buying them can drain your budget. Instead of spending on disposable products, try to purchase items that can be recycled and reused. Ditch paper towels and use washable cloths instead.
Buying secondhand products is also a great way to save money in the long-run. Hit the local library and used bookshops instead of buying brand-new books at large stores. Children will be encouraged to read and save at the same time. Buy secondhand toys, cycles and any other items you need from garage sales and thrift stores. Most secondhand items are in fairly good condition.
7. Plan meals in advance
You will be surprised how much money gets spent in a single trip to a restaurant. A good way to save money is by planning all your family’s meals a week in advance, shopping only for what is needed and cooking healthy meals with lots of vegetables. Spending money on fresh veggies rather than prepackaged meals ensures that you and your family stay healthy. Cooking from scratch can be a fun family activity. Involve your kids while cooking. It can be an excellent bonding time and it will teach them about eating healthy.
Another smart rule to follow is to buy groceries once and get everything you need in a single trip. Going to the store when you just run out of milk or need bread can tempt you to spend on unnecessary things. As a rule, do not go to the store unless you need at least 10 items. Moreover, whenever possible, buy in bulk and share it with your children. This inculcates the habit of sharing and saving in children at a young age.
8. Go for low-cost outings or stay at home
Curb the urge to go to a movie theatre or fancy restaurants during long weekends. Go for low-cost outings such as visiting the museum, heading over to the zoo, going to historical sites, walking in the park, hiking and camping. Pack a picnic lunch and explore. It teaches children to be fit and active without spending a lot of money.
You can also stay at home with the kids and plan a home movie night or play board games. Entertaining your family should not come at a steep cost.
9. Save energy
It is imperative to teach children to save energy. Encourage them to switch off lights when leaving the room, urge them to take short showers instead of soaking for hours in a bathtub and consciously purchase energy-saving electronic items such as CFL bulbs over energy-draining ones. Using warm instead of steaming hot water for showers can cut the heater’s consumption of electricity significantly.
When it comes to financial discipline in a family, parents need to take the lead in teaching. Be role models for your children since they learn by following what their parents do. Do not wait for long; start talking about saving money as early as they can talk, understand work, or can tell the difference between paper and real money.
This article first appeared in thenewsavvy.com
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