According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' consumer expenditures report for 2011, a big shift took place that has created a deficit of – $2,272 for the average family of four compared to 2010. What this means is that while the average income has gone up for this family by an average of $57, expenses have skyrocketed by $2,329! Families are feeling the pinch!
So… let’s take a peek at the answers to two questions: Where is that money going? and What can you do to offset those increases? Below are some of the largest budget categories:
Average Housing Cost: $21,886 a year. (Up $202 from 2010)
This includes rent or mortgage, utilities, household supplies, and household furnishings and equipment.
Best ways to save money right now: Find ways to reduce your utility bills through more wise energy consumption. Spend an hour and search the web for great resources. My personal favorite website on the subject is http://michaelbluejay.com/electricity/. You can save $100 or more a month if you’ll follow smart advice on staying warm and keeping cool.
Apparel and services: $2,404 a year. (Down $111 from 2010)
Interestly, footwear is up – but nearly every other category is down — particularly women who spent $127 less than 2010.
Best ways to save money right now: Buying from consignment shops, Goodwill, Salvation Army, clearance racks, and garage sales (when possible) is both very cool and very smart – particularly for quality kids’ clothes. Never pay full retail for footwear. Shop around and shop online – as prices, sales, and other discounts can vary wildly.
Transportation: $11,682 a year. (Up $1,785 from 2010!)
When fuel costs went up, Americans found themselves shelling out an extra $749 a year to gas up their ride. Interestingly, Americans also added an additional $989 per year in vehicle purchase expenses!
Best ways to save money right now: There are many things you can do to reduce your fuel expenses – primarily having to do with driving slower, safer, and upon four properly inflated tires. It may seem remarkable – but you can actually pay more than a dollar a gallon extra if you are a lead foot on soft tires.
As for buying vehicles, the strategy can be a little complicated given your circumstances (and worthy of online research). However, almost anyone can tell you that you should buy your cars used. A new car can lose 60% of its value in the first four years. When your current car is paid off, start saving up money and pay cash for your next used car. Discipline costs less than loan interest.
Health care: $3,455 a year. (Up $169 from 2010)
Insurance, services, and drugs all went up. Depending on who you believe, 2012 and 2013 will either be better or worse.
Best ways to save money right now: Google “how to save money on health insurance”. You’ll be amazed at what you can do starting today to save yourself money on those monthly premiums and other expenses. Watch my column for my own tips on this subject in the future.
Food: $8,983 a year. (Up $205 from 2010)
According to the Department of Agriculture, we’re on track to add an additional $314 in food expenses for 2012. Chances are, it will never get cheaper to eat – so it’s important that you aren’t a casual grocery shopper.
Best ways to save money right now: Cut your grocery bill in half by using coupons plus sale matches. You don’t need to become an extreme couponer. Just use technology to help you locate the best deals. You can pocket hundreds of dollars each and every month and invest an hour or two to shop with more ‘smarts.’ In my opinion, it’s one of the easiest things that a man or woman can do to save $200-$400 each month from their ever increasing American budget.
The best couponers save hundreds of dollars every month at the grocery store. However, extreme couponers can end up living very extreme lifestyles to get those savings. For over five years, SavingsAngel.com has equalized the playing field – giving extreme savings to busy families who don’t have the time or ability to be an extreme couponer. Each week, SavingsAngel.com’s over 70 angels combine over 2,000 products on sale at local grocery and drug stores with an enormous database of over 2000 different manufacturer coupons. These combinations result in our members getting access to over 300 products each week for 50% off or better. Simply log in, choose the deals you want, print or clip only the coupons you need, and save hundreds of dollars a month at regional and national stores. Our angels will personally work with you to craft a plan that will help you buy healthier food at lower prices – helping you keep $200 to $400 in savings each month.
Josh Elledge is chief executive "Angel" of SavingsAngel.com, a website that teaches consumers how to save money through a free money savings video eCourse and podcast. SavingsAngel also provides hundreds of 50% off or better deals each week to members by matching local grocery and drug store sales with its free database of over 5,000 accessible coupons. A husband and father of three, he now appears each week on television, in eight newspapers, and a number of radio stations across the country teaching families how to cut their grocery bill in half using the Internet. Elledge created the technology found on SavingsAngel.com through the need to save his own family’s money. Successfully able to cut his own grocery bill from $600 a month to less than $300 a month, his message has reached hundreds of thousands of families. SavingsAngel.com is now growing rapidly throughout the country. You can watch a short video at SavingsAngel.com that will explain more information about how to cut your own grocery bill in half with the help of SavingsAngel.com!