Six Easy Ways to Stretch Your Income

ways to stretch your income

What does your bank balance look like at the end of each month? Do you end the month with extra cash or do you end up in overdraft each month? If your account ends up in overdraft you definitely need to find ways to stretch your income so that you can save some of your hard earned cash instead of spending it all, and then some. Here are some of the simplest, yet commonly overlooked, ways to stretch your income every month.

brown bag itBrown Bag It

Do you buy lunch, and even breakfast, at work everday? I use to, when I worked downtown. Life was busy and I enjoyed dining out with friends, especially for breakfast. But man was I spending a lot of money on restaurant type food. It probably worked out to about $400 a month. And I still bought groceries on top of that. If you are doing the same thing, add up how much dining out is costing you each month.

Now what if you bought a few more groceries instead and brought a lunch to work. How much money would you save?

And if you really enjoy doing lunch with friends, like I did, consider only going out on Fridays for lunch and brown bagging it the rest of the week.

Turn It Off

How often have you driven by a home at night and it looked like every light in the house was on? Yes, that makes the home look beautiful, but unless there is actually someone in every room, all those lights do not need to be on. When you leave a room, turn off the light. When you are done watching TV, turn it off.

Temperature Control

Another often overlooked expense is the amount of electricity that your furnace or air conditioner uses every day.

If you really want to stretch your income each month, begin controlling the temperature in your home with a programmable thermostat. If it is warm out, but not too hot, open the windows instead of running the air conditioner. And similarly, if it is cool out but not super cold, turn the heat down a bit and wear an extra sweater. Add some extra blankets to your bed so that you can turn the temperature down even more overnight.

And never leave windows or patio doors open when you have the furnace or the air conditioner running.

Use Less Water

Water use to be cheap. In fact, years ago people often said water was free. Have you looked at your utility bill recently to see how much you are paying for water each month? Not so free anymore, is it?

Make a conscience effort to use less water in your home each month. If your kids tend to use a lot of water without thinking too much about it, sit them down and explain that you can either spend money paying for all the unnecessary water they use, or you can put that money towards something fun for the entire family to enjoy, such as a vacation in Hawaii.

Easy ways to save money on both water and electricity are to only do laundry when you have full loads. The same goes for using the dishwasher. And, instead of running the dryer for a full hour, try 30 minutes and see if your clothes are ready to hang up at that point.

Bake Your Own Treats

How often do you buy a muffin or a donut at work, or when you are out doing errands?

bake your own treatsInstead you can save money by making your own delicious cupcakes, muffins and cookies at home. Make double and triple batches in one afternoon and freeze them individually so that you can just grab one or two and go. And I bet the treats you make at home will taste much better than the store bought treats and be much healthier for you too.

Invite Friends Over

Invite friends over to your home instead of meeting at a local cafe for coffee, lunch or dinner. If things go well, suggest that you get together once a month and ask others to take turns hosting the get together in their homes.

You will have a quieter more comfortable environment to enjoy each other’s company in, and you will have healthier, less expensive, food and drinks, than you would at a local restaurant or bar.

Reducing your expenses and stretching your income may initially sound like too much work. Oh, what a pain to have to pay such close attention to everything. But in fact it can be a lot of fun, and think of how much nicer it will be when the end of the month rolls around and you still have cash leftover in your bank account.


    • Kendal @HassleFreeSaver

      Kendal @HassleFreeSaver 02/17/2014 9:24 a.m. #

      Great tips! I brown-bag it to work most of the time and also dine out rarely in the evenings. That definitely saves a lot of money! I recently learned I'm setting the dryer for much longer than necessary (nearly double the time, in some cases). Now that I know I can use the dryer for half the time, I'm excited to see how it impacts our electricity bill (is that lame?).

      • Sicorra

        Sicorra 02/18/2014 9:04 a.m. #

        Good for you for brown bagging it. Excellent way to save. And I think making changes and then looking forward to how much you will save at the end of the month is actually a lot of fun. How much we save is a like a reward for paying attention to the way we do things.
        Thanks for stopping by!

    • Retired By 40!

      Retired By 40! 02/17/2014 10:03 a.m. #

      Great tips! I have been challenging myself to only take 5-minute showers because we just got a dishwasher. My thinking is that I am using more water in the dishwasher, so I need to offset that with shorter showers.

      • Sicorra

        Sicorra 02/18/2014 9:06 a.m. #

        A lot of people think the dishwasher uses a lot of water because it seems to run forever. But other people say that doing the dishes in the sink actually uses more water. Who really knows... Challenging yourself to only take a 5 minute shower is great. Not sure I could do it that quickly.

        Hope you have a great week!

    • Shannon @ The Heavy Purse

      Shannon @ The Heavy Purse 02/17/2014 10:08 a.m. #

      Great tips, SIcorra. We show our utility bill to the girls … more so the graph that shows our usage and ask them to help us lower it by turning off lights, gadgets, etc when they are not using them. They understand that if we do those things, we will have more money to use on other things, which has really helped them be conscious about leaving lights on when it wouldn't normally bother them.

      • Sicorra

        Sicorra 02/18/2014 9:19 a.m. #

        That is wonderful Shannon! Showing them proof of how using too much electricity ends up costing more money is a great way for them to learn. It is so much better than simply reminding them to turn them off.

    • Corinne @ Home Biz Mom

      Corinne @ Home Biz Mom 02/17/2014 12:39 p.m. #

      Great tips Sicorra! I know it doesn't seem like much, but these little things certainly add up!

      Have a great week!

      • Sicorra

        Sicorra 02/18/2014 9:20 a.m. #

        Yes, they certainly do Corinne!

    • Tanya @ Eat Laugh Purr

      Tanya @ Eat Laugh Purr 02/17/2014 4:42 p.m. #

      I used to be horrible about brown bagging it when I worked in Corporate. I definitely regret eating out almost every meal. So many other things I could have used that money for instead, not to mention my waistline would have appreciated it too!

      • Sicorra

        Sicorra 02/18/2014 9:23 a.m. #

        I know exactly what you mean Tanya. Been there, done that. The funny thing was, occasionally I did consider how much I was spending, but never really thought about how I could have used that money for better things.

    • donna merrill

      donna merrill 02/18/2014 4:48 p.m. #

      Hi Sicorra,

      I came by via your post on Corina's blog.

      What great ways to stretch your cash! It takes some thought, but once done, you will be surprised how much you save. And saving money is like making money to me.

      About a year ago, I eliminated buying coffee out. I only drink it if I make it. At the end of the month, I tallied up how much I saved...I bought a new pair of heels lol!

      I think brown bagging it is the best of all. Not only will it save money, but it is a healthy alternative than getting fast food!


      • Sicorra

        Sicorra 02/19/2014 9:18 a.m. #

        Hey Donna,

        I love your line "saving money is like making money to me". That is all part of the fun of cutting back and being careful. At the end of the month you end up with extra money that you can then put towards something fun, like your new pair of heels. :-)

        Thanks very much for stopping by.

    • Laurie @thefrugalfarmer

      Laurie @thefrugalfarmer 02/19/2014 6:03 a.m. #

      Great tips, Sicorra. The lights thing drives me absolutely bonkers. I just see money flying out the window. We've worked really hard this last month too at keeping the thermostat lower. I'm actually kind of excited to see how much our utility bill will have dropped. :-)

      • Sicorra

        Sicorra 02/19/2014 9:20 a.m. #

        Hey Laurie,

        It is fun to challenge yourself to keep the thermostat lower and the lights off, and then be rewarded with a lower bill at the end of the month. Whether you put the money you save towards something fun, or towards debt, it is still way better than giving it to the utility company, isn't it?

        Have a great week :-)

    • Syed

      Syed 03/24/2014 9:26 p.m. #

      Brown bagging it really saved me a lot of money. I was eating out almost every day (and not the most nutritious stuff). Making lunch at home is definitely cheaper, almost $200 cheaper than eating out. And I can make sure I'm eating healthier stuff as well.

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