This is a guest post from the Editor of VoucherCodes.co.uk, a site offering voucher codes and printable vouchers to help you save more money.
In the current climate it is hard for many to get by. All of our budgets seem to have been slashed, and what’s left over for the end of the month for luxuries has all but disappeared. Giving to charity each month can therefore seem a bit of a hardship, but it is ironically at this time that it is needed so much. The recent earthquake in Haiti has provided an all too clear signal of the need for charitable donations. With a few personal finance tips, you can put aside a large part of your monthly budget therefore freeing up more resources for charity.
The first thing to do is to know exactly where you stand. As has already been pointed out on Provident Planning, a site such as Mint offers free financial software that can show you exactly where your money is going each month. This can be an excellent tool, but it can be difficult to work with this as a household tool. In a dual income household, communication is especially important. The whole family will have to sit down together in order to work out their expenditure and to plan for the months ahead. If you have children this can be a great chance to educate them on how to manage money and to set a great example.
Save on Groceries
To help with the family planning further you can log on to Netmums, a UK community of mothers and download their weekly meal planner – this is just as applicable for a US family. Any shopping trip can then be more focused around what is essential. Supermarkets are designed to bombard you with information encourage you to make impulse purchases. They have become very sophisticated in their marketing (ever noticed how the premium brands are at eye level?). If at all possible, it can be better to leave the kids at home when shopping – they are usually much more persuadable to making unnecessary purchases and are no doubt very adept at persuading you as well!
Cut Back on Your Energy Bills
It is also essential to cut the amount of energy you are using in your home. With just a few tricks you can save lots of money. Head over to the Energy Savings Trust website and take their free home energy check to ensure you are not frittering away your hard earned cash in wasted energy each month.
Coupons have also become an online phenomenon in 2009 – and if you’re not using them in 2010 you will really be missing out. Ever been prompted when buying online to enter a voucher code (or promo code or something along these lines)? Well a simple Google search for “Coupons” will provide a huge collection of coupon sites where you can find the correct text to enter to get the relevant discount. These can usually knock $20 off the weekly shop. [Paul’s note: I like RetailMeNot for this. I’ve saved a lot with that site.]
Don’t Waste Money When You’re on Vacation
In the end we all deserve to have to have a break from counting the pennies, but this does not mean we want to be ripped off when going on holiday. If we easily reduce the amount we fritter away, it means we can spare a little more from the holiday fund. A little local knowledge can be found in the online Time Out guides – they provide comprehensive schedules of the events coming up in most of the major world cities. Booking in advance you can usually make huge savings and avoid inflated “at the door” prices. You can also find great advice on non-touristy restaurants to save further. These combined can cut your travel budget by almost half painlessly.
I hope these tips show that with a small bit of thinking we can be more charitable each month without breaking the bank!
This has been a guest post from the Editor of VoucherCodes.co.uk. Be sure to check out their site if you live in or will be visiting the UK. I’m sure you’ll find some ways to save money!