vegetarian pasta grilled pasta and olives

Top 10 Tips to Stretch Your Budget

On a limited budget? You’re not alone. Here are practical tips on how you can stretch that budget to the fullest:

vegetarian pasta grilled eggplant and olives1. Cook your meals. You can save a great deal of money by cooking your meals and preparing packed lunches or snacks you and your family can bring to work or school. Not only will it save you money, you can also assure that the meals are healthy and clean.  (Try this: Vegetarian Pasta: Grilled Eggplant and Olives)

You can also prepare dishes that can last for a week so you can cook a whole pot in advance and save the other half for the succeeding days. When it’s time to serve it, take it out a few hours before meal time to allow it to defrost and then reheat it.

Just make sure that you store them in a sealed container and place it in a freezer. Put a label on the container with a “Best Before” date so you can be sure to serve it at its best. Post a meal plan on your refrigerator door so you’ll know which dishes to serve each day.

2. Buy what’s in season. Fruits and vegetables in season are cheaper so you would want to take advantage of it. Look for different recipes that use what’s abundant in your local market so you don’t have to spend more on produce that are hard to find.

garden.It’s a great idea to grow herbs and vegetables that you often use in your cooking. You can grow them even in pots. Examples are tomatoes, lemon grass, basil, parsley, rosemary, mint, oregano, etc. Growing a garden is not just cost effective, it is also an enjoyable and relaxing hobby.

4. Put it in a jar.You don’t have to spend big bucks on bread spreads as you can make your own sweet preserves like jams and marmalade. Check your local market for fruits that are in season so you can buy in bulk for a low price. Making preserves is easy as you only need to cook the fruits in sugar in a very low heat until reduced. Afterwards, store them in sterilized jars and seal the lids tightly. Put the jars in a cool, dry place. These preserves can last for months and are delicious bread spreads and desert toppings.

5. Go with the basics. When it comes to your wardrobe, you don’t have to spend huge bucks just to stay fashionable. You can go a long way if you have the basic items of clothing. Invest on a good pair of shoes – flats, heels and boots. You can use your flats for casual events, the pair with heels for business or formal functions. A stylish pair of boots is a must for winter and fall.  You’ll also want to invest on a pair of comfortable sneakers for exercising and running errands.

For clothing, basic pieces that you want to start with are: a classic cut of slacks, a pair of jeans, a knee-length skirt, blazer and a little black dress. Go for plain and neutral colors so you can match them with anything and you can wear them frequently without being obvious.

Add colors and spice up your look with the right accessories such as bags, belts, neck tie or scarves in prints and bright hues.

6. Unsubscribe from unnecessary expenses.Check your subscriptions. Do you really need to all those magazines or do they pile up in a corner without being read?  If you need information, you can easily search the internet and print as you need it.

Are you subscribed to a more expensive cable plan when the only time you get to watch television is when you get home in the evenings? Maybe you can cancel out or subscribe to a lower plan.  Or may you’ve just been subscribed to a service for a long time that you never bothered to cancel.

7. Buy in bulk.This is obvious as wholesalers sell goods at a lesser price. Just be wise when you purchase items in bulk. Make sure the products will not expire for at least within the year. You’ll also want to keep stock only items that are important and that you use frequently. Otherwise, you may only be spending more on unnecessary things. Items such as detergents, soap bars, dish washers, dish sponges, toothbrush, toothpaste, and the like are great wholesale buys.

8. Use coupons. Don’t underestimate the value of coupons. You can find them from magazines or from online coupon sites.  Choose from a list of merchants and print out the ones you need. Coupons.com is a site that offers free printable coupons for  grocery items and other products and services.

*Tip: Double your savings by using coupons on items that are already on sale.
Warning: Don’t sacrifice quality for savings. Make sure that it’s something worth buying. Don’t forget to check the expiration date before you bring it home.

9. Learn DIY skills. Stretch your budget even more by learning basic skills so you don’t need to hire a handyman all the time. For instance, learning basic PC troubleshooting, sewing, or painting can cost you hundreds of dollars in a year.
10. Turn it off. Don’t take for granted what you can save from your electricity bills. Turn off lights and electrical devices when not in use. Unplug your TV and computer from the power source if you’re not going to use it for long hours.   The few cents you save from your energy consumption each day can save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars in a year.
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