With the kids growing fast, which means growing needs, too, we have to be more proactive by planning ahead well. We don't have to wait for the new year to make resolutions. Now, that our kids have already planned what to take up in college, hubby and I have become more pressured for the projected educational costs. So, we have agreed to save more by living below -NOT BEYOND- our means to help us make our kids realize their educational goals and for us to retire smoothly. We still have to enjoy life to the fullest but must keep our goals in mind so we agreed on the following, which may also be helpful to you, dear readers:
1. Cut down the budget on food by avoiding high calorie and cholesterol-loaded choices. It's the best way for a healthy diet as high calorie and cholesterol foods are usually the more expensive (and fattening) ones such as meats, baked, processed and preserved foods. So hubby and I have agreed to subsist mainly on fish and plant-based foods such as legumes, fruits, vegetables and other natural (unprocessed) foods which abound and are cheap here in the "Land of Smiles" and even in our hometown, GenSan. In this way, we can live more healthily so we also cut down medical and hospitalization budgets in the long run.
2. Don't live by credits. The economic crunch in the US presented us the fact that millions of households get by on credit cards causing them to abruptly shift gears at the bad turn of events. With this scenario, I have promised hubby not to use credit cards again except in real emergencies. Travels which needed to be booked online using a credit card have caused my accumulated credit spending, which has accumulated interests as well. I hate to think of the big interests I've been paying for credit cards even if there are lots of perks and rewards for using them. Oh, we should not be deceived by the rewards as they just entice us to use credit cards more and lure us to forget the compounded interests and our capacity to pay on time! So, if there's no cash to pay your credit card right away, don't travel or purchase anything (unless for emergency) using credit cards. We should save first and enjoy later if we have extra money for any luxury or leisure.
3. Buy only the necessities. Hubby assessed our buying lately and we identified stuffs which were not necessary for us to buy. If I open our closets, I find some clothes I bought by impulse which I have not used after all. We also bought some gadgets which are not really of dire necessities. If we sum up the money we used for buying those non-necessities, sometimes using credit cards with interests, they could have been added to our savings.
4.Go for items on sale but of good quality. I've been doing this for a long time but let me include this here for you, dear readers, in case you're not practicing it yet. I've cut costs a lot by looking for our needs on sale. We are lucky to have a Lotus Express right in front of our condo so I'm always on guard for sale items including fresh fruits, vegetables, rice and even toiletries and other household needs. When I buy hubby's or my kids' clothes, I also go for quality but on sale items. Again, be cautious not to buy things because they're cheap or on sale but you don't actually need them or they are close to expiry as they may end up getting spoiled if you don't consume them right away. Or because the food is near expiry, you need to consume it all, so it's not saving after all. In shore, don't buy by impulse. It pays to be practical when buying things.
5. Let every household member aware of the family goals and orient everyone to save. If we want to save more effectively and in a bigger scale, let's orient everyone in the household to set a goal and to practice saving. In our case, we always remind our kids of our big project so they focus their minds on it. We ask them to be frugal and careful in everything even with their school supplies, clothing, etc. We emphasize to them that whatever necessary things they waste needs to be replaced, which requires an amount. Even hubby had to totally cut his spending on his coffee, which is not necessary for him to survive. In fact, it's not good for his health. Every cent counts and it becomes big in the long run.
Whatever we do NOW determines our future so let's be effective planners, wise spenders and be good stewards of what we have. Cut down the expenses on unnecessary things and be economical and practical in buying ONLY the necessities. Most of all, to live a stress-free life, let's not live beyond our means and save, save, save.
(This article will be printed in the Health & Home magazine in the Philippines.)