Stop the Drip in a “Leaky” Budget

Do you feel like just when you catch up…something hits your budget out of the blue? Like when you suddenly need new tires… or your refrigerator dies and you definitely need to replace it?  Just when you think you’re on top of everything, new expenses seem to pop up.

If you look VERY closely at how much you spend and where, it’s very likely that there are some “leaks” in your budget.  Small things that you could do to shave off a few dollars here and a few dollars there.  Some of these things will be more difficult than others or require more sacrifice, but they can help relieve the stress of trying to make sure everything gets paid for and your credit doesn’t suffer.

Brew coffee or tea at home. If you’re like many New Englanders, your day doesn’t really begin without a quick stop at Dunkin Donuts (or some other coffee purveyor).

  • Approximate cost of a medium hot coffee every day for a year: $700/year
  • Approximate cost of Dunkin Donuts 14 K-Cup Box from Amazon.com over the year: $290/year
  • Approximate savings: $410/year

Even if you have to purchase a Keurig for $300, you’re still saving money over visiting Dunkin Donuts every day.  You can double or triple those numbers based on the number of caffeine consumers in your household!

Replace cable with streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime. Broadcast television can be expensive.  With all of the streaming services available on the internet, chances are you won’t miss paying that cable bill.  If you’re worried about missing the news, most broadcast news stations offer the same content on their websites.

  • Average cost of cable: $1,476/year
  • Premium Netflix subscription: $143.88/year
  • Average savings: $1,332.12/year

Reduce the number of times you eat out per month. Eating out can be a treat for you and your family, but it can also be a strain to your budget.  The average cost for a meal at a casual dining restaurant, such as Applebee’s, TGI Friday’s, or The Ninety-Nine, is $13.66 per person.  For a family of three, the average is $40.98.  Conversely, the cost of a home cooked meal for a family of three averages $12.  Let’s assume that you eat out twice a month.

  • Average cost of eating out twice a month (24 times/year): $983.52
  • Choosing to cook dinner those 24 times: $288
  • Average savings: $695.52/year

Other ways to save some money without denying yourself some fun. We all have our creature comforts and if giving them up won’t work for you, there are other ways to stop those drips in your budget:

  • If you have storage space and/or a chest freezer, buy in bulk.  That includes paper products and groceries.
  • Make your own cleaning supplies.  You can mix products you have in  your home to produce great cleaning solutions.  Mixing white vinegar with baking soda and some lemon oil will produce an all-purpose cleaner for less than buying a name brand.
  • Shop at thrift, consignment, or secondhand stores. Oftentimes you’ll find gently-used (& even new) items for a fraction of the cost at stores like GoodWill or The Salvation Army Thrift Store.
  • Enjoy free or discounted local entertainment. Visit museums, find discounts at your local library, or go to local festivals and children’s events.

Most importantly, continue utilizing Merrimack Valley Credit Union and Bridgewater Credit Union, a division of Merrimack Valley Credit Union, as your financial institution! We offer convenient personal loans for when that fridge breaks down or you need emergency repairs on your home!