Lower Family Living Costs

tips to reduce family living costs

Family living costs includes food, clothing, individual cosmetics and other costs to support a family. Your family living costs should be about 30% of total household budget.

This is an expense you can reduce by shopping bargains and limiting impulse buying.

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Cutting Grocery and Food Costs

Your family food budget is one of the easiest expenses to reduce.

Start by changing your shopping habits, mainly:

Set your food budget for the week. Your goal will be to reduce your food bill by 5% each week until you reach a level that fits your family health needs and budget.

Know exactly what you are going to buy before leaving your house. Plan and prepare a shopping list with a budget to reduce impulse buying.

Organize your shopping list according to the layout of the store. This will allow you to stay focused and avoid wondering among isles.


Avoid Impulse Shopping Traps

Note that Essentials, like toilet paper, are placed in the middle or back of the store. The reason for this is to get you exposed to more products that you probably don't need.

It is the same with aisle-by-aisle marketing. You will find the more expensive, high-end, and non-essential products placed near the ends of the aisles with staples in the middle. This allows grocers to pitch you items once as you go in, and another as you go out.

Having a shopping list can help you avoid impulse shopping traps.


Start your own personal price book

Note and compare prices among brands and stores as you shop. This book will be helpful when planning your weekly list.

More information about the price book

Note that expensive items and brands are placed at eye-level. So take time to look up and down for better priced items.


Plan to shop food and groceries weekly

Be sure to list the groceries you need as set by your weekly food budget. Never shop on a empty stomach. Those "expensive" goodies are too tempting to resist.


Always go shopping with a hand calculator

Begin with your weekly budget and count down as you place items in the basket. Eliminate the snacks. Replace them with more healthy selections such as vegetable and fruits (less expensive and more healthy).

Stores often run sales using large signs, end caps, and bins. Note that high-end margin products are placed in easy-to-see, easy-to-grab locations.

Check the price for the sale item. You may be surprised that items in the middle of aisle may a lot cheaper.

Review a brief online guide on stretching your food dollars:

food budget planning at the home
stretch your food dollar


If storage allows, shop in bulk quantities

for non-food items such as paper products, cleansers, bathroom supplies and the like. Many member warehouses offer significant reductions for these items.

Find a member warehouse near you:

Note that member warehouses don't necessarily have the best prices. Be sure to shop around.

Also check the price per item with bulk purchase. Just because you are buying 10 units in bulk may not give you any savings if the cost per unit is more than buying just 1 unit.

It is handy to take a small calculator to the store with you. Park the cart, do the math, and save yourself some cash.


Shop multiple stores with your price book handy

Find the store that offers the overall best price and incentive bargains such as double coupons, bulk sales, and the like.

Consider joining a food co-op — member based co-op where an aggregate number buys from wholesalers directly.

More information about co-ops


Shop wisely with coupons, especially on days when coupons will be doubled

Use coupons for items that you need. Compare the coupon-reduced price with store brand prices. The store brand may be cheaper.

Find coupons online:


Check out this sites for additional ideas on reducing food costs:

cheap cooking tips
stretch your grocery dollars
36 butcher suggestions for cutting meat bills

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Getting Discounts on Paper Products

Paper products include disposal bags, bathroom tissue, paper towels, paper dinnerware, and more.

Paper products can makeup a sizable portion of the family food budget.

Your best savings is to buy in bulk from discount warehouses and online delivery shops.

Find coupons online:

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Driving Down Clothing Costs

Buying out-of-season can save clothing costs by 1/2 or more

First shop the discount stores throughout town. Many of these stores offer brand name clothing at half price.

Pick up your warm weather clothes in August and September; cool weather clothes in January and February.

Find coupons online:


Get to know every clearance rack in town.

Keep a calendar of clearance sales throughout the year. Retailers generally have the same clearances every year.


Sell your good used clothing to consignment shops.

Turn around and use the money to shop designer clothes at consignment. Consignments often sell quality clothing at a fraction of the retail price.

Find local consignment shops: shop yellow pages


Start your shopping with clothing coupons.

Many of these coupons are from designer stores, but bargains can be found:


Try your shopping skills with these top discount online retailers:

overstock.com bluefly.com
clothingwarehouse.com smartbargains.com
6pm.com bargainoutfitters.com

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Keeping the Lid on Baby Costs

Convenience is an expensive baby-cost component. Up-front planning can reduce baby costs.

Baby supplies and baby food can cut into the family budget. Keeping track of sale prices and online shopping sites.

Sample items:

wholesale baby diapers
generic brand wholesale diapers
baby formula: buy in bulk for best price

Find coupons online:

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Eliminating Vices

$1 spent daily for lotteries, coffee, smoking and a soda equals $1460 a year. Some interesting facts:

State Lotteries:

  • Lotteries depend most on those least able to afford them
  • The average player spends $313 per year on the lottery
  • Those with incomes of less than $10,000 spend $597
  • African-Americans spend $998 compared to $210 for whites.
  • High school dropouts spend four times as much on the lottery as do college graduates
  • More than half of all lottery tickets are bought by just 5 percent of those who play,
  • The National Opinion Research Center estimates that problem gamblers (those addicted to gambling and whose families often suffer as a result) account for 14 percent of total lottery revenues.



  • It is estimated by the National Academy of Science that there are 15.4 million addicted gamblers in the U.S.
  • Gambling threatens youth, just like smoking, and too many elderly loose all or part of their savings.
  • The American Psychiatric Association describes pathological gambling as a compulsive disorder. Addicts even sell gold teeth. Addiction can come on quickly and does not go away.
  • Gambling has hidden negative economic impacts. These include bankruptcies, treatment for addiction, and penal system costs.
  • Over 6 billion dollars is already spent to cover costs of addictive gambling.

    Seek help:
    Compulsive Gambling



  • What can we say that you don't already know? Smoking costs you and society plenty.

    Estimate your smoking costs:
  • Your next stop: the Stop Smoking Center
    for information related to stop smoking campaigns


Alcohol Consumption:

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