10 Ways to Make Ends Meet on a Constricted Family Budget

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning we get a commission if you decide to make a purchase through our links, at no cost to you. Please read our disclosure for more info.

Mint.com - Take Control of Your Money

The economy isn’t pretty, but you can still make ends meet for yourself and your family. With layoffs, taxes, rent payments and buying groceries, it can be difficult to set aside enough money to make ends meet. While times may be tough, you can staunch your financial hemorrhaging by using these 10 ways to make ends meet on a constricted family budget.

Get Your Finances in Shape: Here’s How!

1. Use public transportation, carpool or consider selling any extra cars

Gas prices are rising, which can make running one car, let alone two, very expensive. Consider using public transportation to save money on gas. If your job or that of a family member requires the use of a car, you can carpool and take turns dropping one another off.

2. Buy groceries in bulk, and consider investing in a club card

Keep an eye out for big discounts in stores. If you live near a large grocery store or club, it may be wise to get a club card for a long-term discount on bulk items. Most types of food are cheaper in bulk, and you will save a lot of money on gas and groceries by making fewer trips for more food.

3. Borrow library books instead of buying new books

Reading books can be an inexpensive and constructive way to spend quality time with your family, and it can also improve your children’s performance in school. Get a library card at your local library and spend less time in front of the television.

4. Restructure your debts

If you’ve been spending more than you can afford and living beyond your means, then it’s time to address your bad habits. Getting out of debt is all about paring back on the luxuries in life, or as Dave Ramsey says, living on “rice and beans” so that you can live like no one else later. Pay off those credit cards, get rid f your car loan, over pay your mortgage – these are the things that you’ll appreciate doing in hindsight.

5. Find an online or work-from-home side job

There are more telecommuting freelance positions available than ever before. If you can’t seem to bring in enough money from your day job, consider looking for work online. Most positions don’t require a degree or any other special qualifications. Plus, you don’t have to stress yourself out over in-person interviews. You can do online work in your free time, or after the kids are asleep. LinkedIn is a very useful resource for this, so make sure your profile on there is complete.

6. Look for local one-time jobs

Browse through online listings for your city and check newspaper ads for short-term work. Or alternatively, check out what’s on offer on craigslist or Angie’s list. Some of the work might involve helping someone move furniture or cleaning up a garage, but the pay is usually in cash, and you can take the additional work on your days off.

7. Only drink water

Instead of buying soda, concentrated juices, alcoholic beverages and expensive pre-made tea, drink water. Not only will you save a great deal of money on a weekly and monthly basis, you will also probably improve your health and that of your family members.

8. If you smoke or chew tobacco, quit

Some states have additional taxes on tobacco products, making it costly to use them on a regular basis. If you save $10 per week by not buying cigarettes, you have saved up $40 for the month, which is enough to cover a smaller utility bill. Here’s how to quit now, once and for all!

9. Cancel subscriptions that you no longer use

While it may be easy to start a subscription, it is also easy to forget about one that you don’t use. If you are still paying $15 each month for a video game subscription that you haven’t used in a month, the annual cost is $180. Take a close look at your credit card statements and make sure that you are using everything that you are paying for.

10. Watch free movies and television through legal online sites

It can be tempting to walk down the street and rent a few DVDs, but the costs add up. Sites like Hulu.com offer legal alternatives to paid cable TV subscriptions and DVD rentals. All you need is an Internet connection, and you can enjoy a weekend movie without putting a dent in your wallet.