by Nikki Ducas

As a mother, I feel like I’m swiping my credit card to pay for everything, or I am flat out keeping my kids from doing anything. Is this budgeting or balance?

Below are some savings tactics I’ve used or have revisited that have saved my family money. I hope they help yours, too.

  • Lower your cell phone bill. Being cognizant of when I use mobile data has saved me hundreds of dollars a year on my cell phone bill. I have a cheap cell phone plan with 1 GB of data per month, but it is enough to keep me in touch while out and about town. I save $300 a year this way.
  • Switch to power strips. I was amazed at how many small appliances and devices I had plugged in around my house. By unplugging under-used appliances and charging cords, I block phantom charges and save electricity. I’m also using power strips that have an on/off switch to block phantom charges, too. The savings are minimal at first but add up over time.
  • Switch to LEDs. Our house is brighter, and these bulbs are about four times more energy efficient than our old incandescent bulbs. Replacing a 60-watt bulb with a 14-watt LED saves us about $0.66 per month per bulb. Switching five of my most used bulbs has saved us $40 a year on our electric bill.
  • Lower the temperature on your hot water heater. When my eldest was a baby, we dropped the temperature down to 125 F for safety and 11 years later we’ve maintained this temperature. The hot water heater accounts for about 14 percent of energy costs and often water is kept hotter than most people ever need.
  • Insource everything. Since my children are getting older, they can help more around the house. My husband also cleans the bathrooms and irons his own shirts. The extra help eliminates the need to hire a house cleaner or send the shirts out weekly to be pressed. We save $135 biweekly.
  • Drink water. A quick way to reduce spending that may shock your children but is healthier in the long run is cutting out consumable habits. You’d be amazed at how much money you can save by drinking water with dinner. Whether you eat at home or at a restaurant, try to cut down on buying soda or alcoholic beverages.

Also, now is a great time to start a vegetable garden. There are many easy to grow, prolific vegetables. I love to freeze and can to enjoy my excess bounty throughout the year.  Even if you live in a small space, container plants can produce a surprising abundance of vegetables.

By making small changes to our daily living, I’ve saved hundreds of dollars a year with little thought or effort.