One of the things that young people will learn very quickly once they leave home for the first time is just how expensive everything can be, especially the things that they have to start now buying for themselves. Just as certain politicians are caught out when asked how much a loaf of bread is (a question even the then UK Prime Minister David Cameron failed to answer correctly), some young people can find themselves overwhelmed by the pressures of managing their money and knowing how to spend it. Their naivete stems from their parent’s always having bought everything. When they start living alone, or with other young people (at university for instance), they soon find that if they do not replace the toothpaste when it runs out, they will not be able to brush their teeth because there is no one there to do it for them. The same is true with groceries. For their entire lives, food just seemed to appear in the fridge every week but when they become adults, they realize that it takes a lot of energy to drive down to the store, pick out everything you want, pay for it and carry it all into the house. It is a life lesson but one that everyone has to learn at one point or another.
The sad truth, and they may not realize it yet, is that running a household does not get any easier. Looking after yourself can be tough enough, but when you are caring for small children, everything gets a whole lot more difficult. Firstly, it is immensely expensive. It is estimated that the cost of raising a child is $233,610. That is just one child though and includes all sorts of things like clothing and feeding them, buying them toys, paying for their transport to school and back as well as a million other things. If you have two or three children, you can expect to have to find between a half and three-quarters of a million dollars over the course of seventeen years. The figure above does not include college expenses which can be exorbitant on their own. Some estimates suggest that on average it can cost $57,000. As a point of reference, the average wage for a single person in the United States is just $34,940 with married couples managing to bring in an average of $117,795. Another cost that you have to factor in is the money you spend every day on running your household. You may not think about it every second, but you will be being charged for something all the time, even when you sleep. If you want to save money on your everyday household costs, here are a few tips:
Coupons can get a bad reputation especially since it is so frustrating to be stuck behind someone at the check out who seems to have been cutting them out for years and decided to use them all at once when there is a big queue behind them. However, they do save you money, and they are free. All you have to give is your time, and while many mothers do not have much of that, if you find that you could do with saving money at the grocery store, it is a good idea. You can expect to save around $50-$70 a week.
Another massive expense that you have to face when you are running a household is the utilities. Heating your home is not something about which you can afford to compromise because you cannot let your children be cold at home. It is not good for their health. However, with the prices of things like natural gas (used in half of US homes) set to rise by 22% or $116, and electricity set to become more expensive by 5% or about $49, the need to save money is ubiquitous. It may not seem like much, but with all of your other costs too, any increase can make itself felt. One of the things that you can do to combat this is join together with your friends, family, and neighbors and create a union of sorts. When you inform your current energy provider that you are all going to leave if they do not give you a better deal, they are likely to listen. Besides, if they refuse to reduce their price as much as you’d like, you can always go to one of their competitors and tell them that you can ensure them a whole group of new customers if the price is right. It can work on a small scale with just a few people. However, in the UK in 2012, Which? led a campaign that attracted 75,000 people who wanted to reduce the cost of their gas and electricity bills. It is estimated that those that made the switch ended up saving about £25 million (or about $32 million) between them. Another great tip is to look for deals online. Major energy companies have to spend money on sending out letters and to get them back they need an entire mail room. If you go paperless and conduct your business over email, they will likely give you a better deal.
There are other little things that you can do to reduce your bills yourself. The only problem is that you will have to convince your children to do the same. Leaving lights on when you are not in the room is just a waste of money, as is leaving electrical appliances on standby. An energy company in the UK estimates that it costs the average household about £80 a year (or about $103.50) if their appliances are left on all the time. It may not sound like much but if you think that over the course of a decade, it amounts to over a thousand dollars, it is a lot of money that you could be saving, and all you have to do is remember to turn things off at the socket. You should also not fill up your kettle to the top with water if you are only going to use it to make one drink. Kettles consume an incredible amount of energy. Installing insulation and double glazed windows can also save you money because they conserve the heat in your home which means you have to pay less to generate it. Not only do these initiatives save you money, they can help the environment too. You can also teach your children good money management skills at the same time.
However, it is not just your utilities that present an opportunity to save money. However careful you are around the house, there will always be things that break. Fixing them can often be quite expensive. Unless you are a trained plumber or an electrician, you should hire someone to do the work for you (while saving money is good, the cost of potentially making the problem worse or injuring yourself is simply not worth it). The trick to saving money is shopping around. It takes time, but if you compare all of the service providers in your area and find the cheapest one (such as Logan City Electrical), you can make tremendous savings. Another thing that you can do is source any parts or materials that you need yourself. When someone gives you an invoice for both labor and materials, they will not always give you itemized receipts for everything. Some contractors apply a markup and this can be avoided if you get them yourself (especially from stock traders like builder’s merchants).
While saving money is great, there are ways that you can make money from home too. While recycling is good for the environment, you do not need to just put all your stuff on the curb each week so that it can just be taken away. If you sort the objects into different groups depending on the materials that they are made of, you can then take them to local recycling centers who will pay you for them. Items that can earn you money include bottles and cans, batteries and electronic equipment. If you want to find a place near you, check out earth911.com. Incidentally, buying rechargeable batteries is cheaper than using some once and then throwing them out. It may not save you much but it all adds up to quite a lot of money in the end.
You may not think about it all the time, but an insurance company in the UK calculated that over the course of an average person’s lifetime they will spend about £1.5 million (or about $1.94 million). That is a lot, but it also means that you will have a lot of change. Keeping track of all the nickels and dimes can mean that you save lots of money that you would otherwise lose. If you empty your wallet or purse of your change every week, by the end of the year, you will have quite the gift for yourself.
The former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher once famously said that ‘any woman who understands the problems of running a home will be nearer to understanding the problems of running a country.’ With these tips, you will be ready to sort out the national deficit in no time.