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How to improve family savings

minute read

    Quick insights

    • Budgeting for the dual purpose of paying bills and building your household’s savings takes careful planning.
    • Learning new ways to save money as a family can bolster family savings regardless of your goals.
    • You may be able to improve your family savings by reducing housing, utilities, food, transportation and everyday expenses.

    Households (including single people) can have many expenses to manage from month to month, and year over year. Planning a budget around essentials and additional common expenses often comes first. After that, you may find ways to grow savings and meet your family’s goals.

    The importance of family budgeting

    To help improve family savings, you may first need to focus and improve on how you budget. The biggest expenses for families often include housing costs, food and transportation. These can be among the essential expenses in a family budget. In addition to these essentials, there are typically other bills, such as debt repayment, childcare and more.

    Making a budget is critical in understanding your household’s ability to pay for essentials and additional expenses. However, having a workable plan and the ability to execute a budget goes a long way in helping you reach any of your goals. Without one, it will be very difficult to determine how much money can be put into savings, including emergency, vacation or retirement funds.

    Savings tips for families

    Even with a budget in place, improving your family savings might call for you to apply certain strategies. You may need to limit spending in certain areas or identify overspending on certain expenses, for example.

    Here are some money-saving tips that may put your savings goals within closer reach.

    Saving money on food costs

    It’s possible to save money on food spending and bolster your family savings with a handful of options:

    • Carry a shopping list: Writing your list before you go grocery shopping could curb any last minute purchases. If you tend to impulse-buy snacks or other extras, your grocery bill could be higher than it needs to be every month.
    • Eliminate food waste: You can reduce food waste by meal planning, cooking smaller portions and finding imaginative ways to enjoy your leftovers.
    • Buy produce in season: When produce is not in season, prices might be higher to offset transportation costs to the store. In-season produce may also cost the least at independent and local markets, compared to major grocery chains.
    • Buy in bulk: Shopping with club memberships or visiting local co-ops can help you save money by allowing you to buy more for less. Admittedly, storing frozen goods in bulk can be challenging. However, dried goods don’t have as strict storage requirements, so buying those items in bulk at least can save money.

    Saving on transportation

    Transportation costs—another expenditure that’s a sizable part of many family budgets. Here are several strategies to help trim your transportation costs:

    • Limit driving: If you can find ways to drive less, take advantage. Maybe certain errands are within walking or biking distance. Your employer might also allow work-from-home options that help cut commute times, gas expenses, along with wear and tear on a vehicle.
    • Switch to one vehicle: If you’re able, becoming a one-car household can save an additional monthly car payment, as well as fuel expenses.
    • Plan your staycation: Exploring new parts of your hometown can save money otherwise spent on costly airfare and lodging. Ditch an expensive out-of-town concert or cruise and check out a local festival instead.

    Saving money on utilities

    Whether you own or rent, making a couple changes to your home energy situation could free up more money in your budget to put toward savings.

    • Save energy on existing devices: Adapt to new, more efficient thermostat temperatures; turn off lights when you’re not in the room, and unplug appliances when not in use to help reduce your energy bill.
    • Invest in energy-saving appliances: An even more comprehensive approach, investing in energy-saving appliances can lower utility costs over the long term.

    More ways families could save money

    While food, housing and transportation comprise most of a household budget, there are additional opportunities for a family to save money.

    Saving money while shopping

    The convenience of online shopping makes it easy to rack up charges and strain your budget for savings. Obviously, sales at various retailers can save you money. However, some websites track item costs and can provide alerts when there are sales or all-time deals. You can also save money by shopping secondhand merchants—thrift stores, consignment shops, yard sales, etc. This could save you money on essentials for your family like clothing, including replacement coats and shoes, or even the latest fashions.

    Saving money on non-essentials

    Here are a few other alternatives to common expenditures that might save you money:

    • Cell phones: Consider a new cell-phone provider or changing the terms of your plan. There could be a more affordable company or plan that better reflects your family’s data use.
    • Entertainment: Visit your local library for various media. New bestsellers and blockbusters might be available and serve as lower-cost alternatives to overstuffing bookshelves or paying monthly fees for streaming subscriptions.
    • Decorations: Get crafty with year-round and seasonal décor. Retailers specialize in holiday items at different times of year, but you could save money by taking on projects to decorate your home for the season that are fit for the whole family.

    How will your family save?

    The more accurately you plan your budget and the better you become at identifying savings opportunities, the easier it will become to improve your family's savings. It’s important to define and plan for all financial goals, short-term and long-term. You may be saving money for specific events such as emergencies, vacations, college and retirement.

    When in doubt, reaching out to a financial expert may be worthwhile to help you find strategies for saving more money. A professional can help understand your household’s entire financial picture, as well as the fine details of your spending. This way, the advice you get is tailored to your situation, and you could learn how to manage your money as effectively as possible.

    In conclusion

    Improving your family’s savings tends to begin with your monthly budget. Besides setting aside time to create it, you could also use budgeting apps or websites to help understand the details of your family’s finances each month and year. New strategies to save money and build your savings accounts may become clearer then. You may be able to save money on essentials, such as food and utilities or budget using untapped areas where you could find savings. With a focus on budgeting for the purpose of improving savings, you can make choices that are right for your household.

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