Whether you have one child or five, effectively managing your finances is always going to be a bit of a juggling act when you have a family to provide for, especially in light of our current global economic situation. There are always unexpected expenses to deal with, but that is not to say that setting a budget and sticking to it will not help you stay out of debt. Aside from budgeting, here are a few other lesser known tips to help you and your family spend your hard-earned money wisely.

Shop Smart

When shopping for more than one or two people, you can save a lot of money and time by buying in bulk. Purchase large amounts of non-perishable items like rice, pasta, shampoo and anything else that you can buy in larger amounts. This will also save you from having to go to the store every two days, which in the long run saves you money as well because when you are not shopping as often, you are less likely to buy things you don’t really need.

Another great way to save money on shopping is to buy generic brands. Take a minute to think about why you purchase the big name brands. Is it because their quality is far superior, or, is it because you have seen them on television and have become a victim of their marketing schemes? A few things may actually be worth paying a bit more for, so find out what works for you.

Manage Vehicle Expenses Wisely

First of all, if you have more than one vehicle, you should probably sit down and take a good look at whether or not you really need two. Do you use the second vehicle often enough to warrant paying insurance and maintenance on two? If your place of work is not too far, you could always consider adopting the European style and cycling to work whenever possible.

Next, you may think that skimping on vehicle maintenance is saving you money, but neglecting your car’s needs will wear it down more quickly, and you may even end up spending more on a major repair that could have been avoided. [Also See: How to Extend the Life of Your Car]

On the other hand, many people tend to overdo it, and according to the AAA about 95% of all drivers change their oil too often. The 3000 mile rule only really applies to commercial vehicles like taxis, which are always on the road. For the average driver, an oil change every 7,500 miles is sufficient.

Get Creative with Birthdays and Special Occasions

For some reason, birthdays and other occasions like Mother’s Day are not included in our budget plans. We all have a number of friends and family, each of whom has a birthday every year, and those last-minute gifts can often get pricey.

Think of ways you can make someone a gift yourself. Homemade gifts may seem old-fashioned, but they can be fun and, more importantly, they will cost you a fraction of the price. Rather than getting your aunt another ridiculously priced gift set of bath salts that she will never use, why not make something yourself?

This may seem time-consuming but you don’t necessarily have to knit a scarf or make jewelry. If you can do these things, that’s great, but making your own gifts can be as simple as putting together a nice photo album or baking a cake. If you really don’t think you can make something yourself, don’t despair, there are other ways to save on gifts. Check out thrift stores or go shopping on eBay, you may be surprised at what you can find.

A guest contribution by Daniel from Merlin Assurance – the Quebec Home Insurance broker



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