Family playing kick ball at a park

17 Jun

Cutting Out The Waste (Money, Time, Food..)

Costs seem to be on the rise. It doesn’t seem to do any good to complain about it, even though it does feel somewhat better when we rehash this fact with friends and family. But, the question then becomes what DO we do about it? How do we still give our family everything they need but with fewer resources?

Sometimes taking action isn’t easy when it feels like the situation is out of your control. But, there are ways to ensure you’re making smart financial decisions, even as you hope for a break in the price hikes.

Here are a few tips on how to minimize waste and regain a little more control over your spending and your life.

Meal Plan piece of Paper sitting next to vegetable

1. Keep excess to a minimum. It can be easy to go to the store and say you’re “stocking up”, but in reality, how much of that food ends up in the trash after a few weeks? It’s best to plan out 1-2 weeks at a time for every meal and every snack. That way your produce stays fresh, you’re not spending money on food you’ll never eat and you’re learning to plan and prepare healthier meals for your family.

2. Compare pricing before you buy. This is getting easier and easier to do because most grocery stores list their prices online in their app or at least in their weekly newspaper ad. Now, this does take a little coordination and effort, so make sure you’re not spending more time than it’s worth. Plus, be sure to factor in rising gas prices. You want to make sure the trip to another store is worth your time and money. But, if you’re discovering several items on sale or just listed at a better price and it’s on your way home anyway, then it’s probably worth stopping.

Daughter helping mom check off grocery list

3. Start taking advantage of cashback apps or credit card rewards points. There are many out there like Ibotta, Fetch and others who basically want to collect your purchasing data and then reward you. So understand that you are giving up some privacy for this, so be sure to read through and make sure you’re ok with what all they’re going to know. These options may not make you a lot of money, but every little bit helps. Pro tip: don’t cash out until Christmas. It’s an easy way to set money aside with little effort.

4. Invest in yourself. Are you wanting to advance your career or ask for a raise, but don’t feel like you have time to learn anything new or offer to your current workplace? Listen to podcasts in your industry while on a 20 minute walk. You’re not wasting time, you’re exercising and learning.

5. Make space in the freezer. If you don’t live close to a grocery store and you’re needing to make less frequent trips, then learn what you can store long-term or freeze. You might even find you’re able to freeze entire meals or leftovers so nothing goes to waste. This is usually easy to do with pastas and soups.

6. Cut subscription services and become the library’s best friend. Especially as we enter Summer, the kids will be searching for fun and exciting things to do. Most libraries today have access to not only books, but video games, movies, tv shows, CDs, and more. Not to mention if you’re trying to save money but still keep the kids active outside the house, ask your library about Summer programs. These events are generally all free and have options for every age group.

7. Reuse whatever you can. You might start taking your lunch in washable containers or instead of buying a big pack of paper towels, buy a few more wash rags. If you need rags for cleaning, then raid the t-shirt drawer and cut up what’s old and faded (just make sure it’s not your spouse’s favorite t-shirt you’re cutting up!)

8. Find ways to incorporate exercise while playing with your kids. Take turns building obstacle courses in the backyard. Or, have a family kickball tournament. Who needs a gym membership when you have active kids, right? You’ll be spending time with the kids while also getting that heart rate up to stay fit!

9. Only use your credit card when you know you can pay it off at the next bill. That way if you have reward points as a part of your credit card offerings, you’ll reap the benefits without ever paying interest on what you owe.

10. Choose a day or a week where you challenge yourself to spend $0. No credit, debit or cash purchases. Have you heard about Signet’s No Waste Wednesday Challenge? Every Wednesday through the end of July, we’re encouraging you to spend $0. That’s right. No coffee run, no movie night, no eating out, etc.

Father & son Play a board game on the floor

    • Search for fun, free events around town
    • Start a weekly game night at home with the family
    • Plan a picnic dinner in the middle of the kitchen floor
    • Build a fort in the living room and watch old family videos together
    • Make a list of the ingredients in your cabinet/fridge and then start searching for a new recipe using only those ingredients!

Follow our Facebook page for more tips shared every Wednesday through July.

We know it can feel overwhelming and frustrating when prices stay high. But, there are actions you can take to still have fun, eat well and enjoy life on a stricter budget. Check out this article on inexpensive grocery staples to add to your list.