Economic experts are somewhat quietly telling us inflation is here and it is here to stay.
Those of us who do the grocery shopping already know that prices are on the rise. All of us are paying more at the gas pumps — who knows if those prices will continue to rise, but it does seem likely.
That being said, this is the perfect time to pinch pennies and figure out strategies about how you can save more money and make your money go further.
When I was a young mom raising four young children, I had to be creative when it came to stretching dollars.
Honestly, looking back, I don’t know how we did it. Children are expensive.
I learned a lot of tricks to cut the bottom line and I want to share some of those with readers.
Plan your weekly menu carefully. My longtime readers know how I tend to harp on this tip. Besides making sure you are consuming healthy meals, menu planning is essential when it comes to saving money.
I like to plan our weekly menu on Sunday. I did this when our children were young as well. It just seems like Sunday is always a little bit slower so I have some extra time.
Check your calendar to see what nights are busy (slow cooker nights) or what nights you might have more time and perhaps do some batch cooking on those nights. Don’t forget to check the refrigerator, freezer and pantry to see what you already have on hand. Once you have a menu planned, make a grocery list.
Dine out less. Everybody likes dining out at their favorite restaurant, but try to limit how often you do so.
Instead, think of your favorite foods to eat at restaurants and experiment by making them at home.
One of our favorite “restaurant” dishes is Chicken Piccata. I first had this dish in New York City when I was j18-years old. I experimented until I perfected it and I can make it in less than 30 minutes at a fraction of the cost the dish goes for in Italian restaurants.
Arrange for car pools to get children to activities. It is a little more work, but once you get a good car pool group organized, this will help save you time as well as money on gas.
Instead of doing activities with children or grandchildren that cost money, such as going to the movies, amusement park or putt putt golf, head to the park or go hiking on one of our many hiking trails. Pack a picnic lunch and plenty of water.
Speaking of water, don’t pay for bottled water. Invest in some good insulated water bottles and a water filter.
Shop thrift stores. Especially for babies, toddlers and young children, thrift stores are terrific for finding bargains. Children grow so quickly, buying used clothes is a great way to save money.
Visit one of our awesome libraries. When our children were young, we went to the library several times a week, especially during the summer.
I still go to the library weekly, and I love seeing all of the young children there. We are so lucky to live in a county that has such amazing libraries — everybody should take advantage of these resources. The staff are all knowledgeable and extremely helpful.
Try not to outsource tasks you can do yourself. Do you really need that lawn service or can someone in your household do that?
Can someone in your family change the oil in the car?
Can everybody pitch in and help with housework?
Of course there are some tasks you are likely better off paying a professional to do — like cleaning out the gutters or cutting down trees — just make sure you do your homework to get the best deal.
Instead of staying in expensive hotels for vacation, consider camping or renting a cabin in a state park.
When our children were young, we camped quite a bit. It is definitely lots of work for mom and dad, but camping is extremely economical and the memories created are priceless. Fishing, swimming, hiking, bike riding, and making smore’s are just some of the fun your family can enjoy.
Saving money feels good whether the economy is roaring or not. Plan now on some ways you can stretch your dollar further.
Adlen Robinson is an award winning columnist and author of “Organic Food and Kitchen Matters.” You can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.