Thirty Days of Smart Money Choices....
1) When couponing, make sure that any coupon you use will represent a "real saving". By that, I mean that the coupon must be for an item and a brand that you really want. For some items, I do care about which brand I buy. For other items, a house brand is fine for our family. Sometimes, a coupon for a brand name item will only bring it in line with the regular price for another brand's equivalent or for the house brand's equivalent. Also, we can get carried away with cutting out coupons and clip coupons for products that we really don't have a desire for or a use for. If you really do not desire that particular item in that particular brand, the coupon doesn't represent real savings for you. However, if it allows you to buy a brand that you do love or an item that you really need, that is a real savings.
2) Encourage any of your children who are earning money through babysitting, doing chores, or working at a job to give a certain amount of their income, to save a certain amount of their income, and let them use the rest as they see fit. (That is, of course, provided that they use it in a way that is in line with your family's values.) This will teach them habits of giving and saving early. Starting with monetary discipline at a young age is so much easier than trying to acquire it later on.
3) We are not vegetarian, but we do not mind meatless meals. Well-balanced, meatless meals can often be cheaper to cook than ones which include meat. Also, you can stretch your meat budget through using little bits of meat in stir-fries, casseroles, etc.
4) The worthy woman in Proverbs 31 was likened to merchant ships bringing back their food from afar. How would merchant ships operate? The merchant would likely select the best of something for the best price. He or she would be knowledgeable about the goods to be traded. For example, a spice merchant would have a thorough knowledge of spices, and a clothing merchant would be able to identify quality merchandise. As the food manager of your home, it's worthwhile to educate yourself about many different aspects of foods from nutrition to quality to seasonal supply to how to cook them to the best ways to season them, etc. Learn, for example, what the various cuts and grades of meats are and how they should best be cooked.
Learn enough to be a smart shopper. You don't have to know it all at once, and you don't have to become a gourmet chef in order to make some good choices with your food money. Just gradually learn what you need to know for your purposes and keep learning throughout life.
5) Dental work can be very expensive, but not everyone has dental insurance. Sometimes, even if you do not have access to dental insurance through your work, you can qualify for a dental discount plan. Search your options. Verify that the discount plan is sound and will be a benefit to you. The dental discount may not cut your costs as much as insurance would, but every dental dollar helps.
6) Maintaining your teeth will cut down on expenses and pain! Of course, we all know that it's important to floss and brush our teeth. Likewise, it's wiser to go for regular check-ups than to wait until you have a problem to visit the dentist. Even if you practice tip-top dental hygiene, there is no guarantee that you won't ever have some problems with your teeth. Sometimes, things befall us that are no fault of our own. However, if you do neglect your teeth, you can pretty much count on paying for it later on down the road.
7) Wearing your sunscreen throughout life can cut down on the expense (and pain) of dealing with pre-cancerous damage to your skin. Obviously, those of us who can't tan are at highest risk. However, even if you tan easily or even if you have very dark skin, you can sustain some sun damage. No matter what your skin type or ethnic background, some type of sun protection is advisable. Talk to your doctor about what is best for you.