Economic Meltdown, the Family Edition: 5 Ways to Cut Back on Family Expenses

Posted November 10, 2008 by

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With the economy melting down like a not-so-delicious chocolate lava cake, my husband and I recently came up with some ways to cut back on our expenses. These suggestions might not work for everyone, but they have helped us to save money in the last month or so:

1. Shop for the week instead of running out to the grocery store every day. (I tend to be a last-minute, “what are we going to have for dinner tonight?” kind of person. But those trips to the store add up! Especially because, if you go when you’re hungry, you can fall prey to what my Italian mother-in-law refers to as “liccardaria” — things that are produced to take your money, but that have little nutritional value. In my case, it’s the bagel chips that get me every time.) Shopping for the week takes a little planning ahead, but so far, it’s cut our grocery bill by almost a quarter. (Also, my husband has taken over shopping duties because he’s a better bargain hunter and isn’t lured in by the villainous bagel chips.)

2. We’ve pledged to agree to a budget and stick to it when visitors come into town, and for the holidays. That way, we know how much we can spend when guests are at our house or for gifts, etc. (I’ll let you know how this one goes!)

3. More vegetarian dishes, less meat. (It’s healthier and it costs way less, generally speaking.)

4. Making cookies, cakes, and snacks for school at home. I’m not the domestic type, so the joy of baking is kind of new to me. But I have to admit, I love this one because it’s a fun activity to do with your kids. (Except when you find your child chugging sugar from the jar when your back is turned. The detox during time-outs can be hairy, but so far, we’ve survived relatively unscathed.) If you can do it, baking at home is way more affordable, and of course, healthier. (Healthy-ish?)

5. When going out to eat, order appetizers, soups and salads. It’s usually cheaper than ordering a full entree, and you get more variety.

Anyone else have any ideas out there? With the holidays coming up, we need all the help we can get!


Elisabeth Wilkins is the editor of Empowering Parents and the mother of an 10-year-old son. Her work has appeared in national and international publications, including Mothering, Motherhood (Singapore), Hausfrau, The Bad Mother Chronicles, and The Japan Times. Elisabeth holds a Masters in Fine Arts in Creative Writing from the University of Southern Maine.

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