Today's focus is on my never-ending quest to save money.

I have employed many methods in the past to cut-back, but because I have not had full buy-in from my family as well as side-steps taken on my part, I end up saving less than I had planned.

With this new focus of linking my New Year's resolutions to strengthening my family, I am afforded a new opportunity to reach the same goal.

So this year, I am resolved to save by tying this resolution to teaching my children valuable lessons about money.

Since there are so many different ways to do this, I have broken them down into main categories.

Here are some of the thoughts I have to accomplish Resolution 3: Save Money.

* Make a Personal Budget:

◊ Work with the kids to figure out how their money will be spent, by dividing it into categories: charity, savings, and spending.

◊ Further divide spending into: entertainment, treats, clothes, electronics, short-term savings and any other recommendations that they have.

◊ Together, determine the percentage of incoming funds that will go to each category.

For example, save 50% for long-term, give 10% to charity, and spend or save 40% for a particular need or want.

◊ Let them each keep a spreadsheet of their transactions.

◊ Open a savings account for each of the kids for long-term funds.

Possibly make a deal with them that I will match what they put in.

◊ Give them opportunities for earning money, such as good grades, chores, birthdays and holidays.

◊ Encourage the kids to make and update a wish list of things that they want and what each item will cost.

They will be interested to learn how quickly their desires change and how much money is wasted on such whims.

* Make a Family Budget:

◊ With the children, list the categories of things that we buy.

◊ Compare this list with actual bank statements and credit card statements to fill in the missing blanks.

◊ On an Excel spreadsheet, have the oldest add up the expenses on a calculator and let the others take turns logging in what was spent per month in each of these categories.

◊ Then, add up the total of what was spent per month.

Watch the kid's mouths drop.

◊ Together, determine where cutbacks should take place.

Ask them to come up with suggestions to reduce spending in each category by at least 15%, by giving them an actual dollar amount that they should try to reach.

* Groceries and Toiletries:

◊ Cut out coupons with the kids from mailers, newspapers and online advertisements.

◊ Compare advertised prices from weekly grocery store fliers with the kids.

◊ Using the coupons that we have and best advertised prices, make a weekly menu of healthy meals that the kids have helped find recipes for.

◊ Make a grocery list of only the products we need.

◊ Commit to using off-brands for many food items and toiletries, as possible.

Do taste tests with the kids to prove that many of the items are the same and sometimes better.

◊ Take the kids grocery shopping and have them take turns being responsible for comparison shopping products, looking for the best price, as well as the greatest nutritional value.

Buy only the products on the list.

◊ Use loyalty shopper cards to obtain additional discounts and rack up fuel points.

* Clothing, Shoes and Outerwear:

◊ Establish that clothing and shoes will be purchased twice a year, once before Spring and again before school starts in the Fall.

◊ Any items that the kids want outside of these times will be a gift for a birthday or holiday, or be paid for with their own money.

This will teach them to be more careful with what they have and pick items more carefully.

◊ Use coupons, comparison shopping of sale prices and gift cards to purchase these items.

◊ Understand that I need to limit my shopping to these times of year, as well.

* Toys, Electronics and Unnecessary Purchases:

◊ The purchase of these items also needs to be reserved for specific times of year.

◊ If the kids don't want to add an item to their wish list, then they can do additional chores to earn extra money for it.

This goes the same for my husband and I.

My husband once told me that whenever his dad wanted something not budgeted for, he would take on extra jobs such as refereeing basketball games and teaching college courses to earn money for what he wanted.

My in-laws were not in a position to have to do this, but maybe that's why.

They have budgeted and spent money wisely for so many years that they are comfortable now.

* Holiday and Events:

◊ The children and I need to make sure that the family budget includes a section for birthdays, holidays and vacations with a set dollar amount allotted for each.

Since they do not yet have a firm grasp on what these things cost, they will be much more receptive to spending less than in previous years.

◊ With the new budgeted amounts defined, have the kids help me research vacation options.

We can also review our travel points earned for car rentals, airfare and hotel stays.

◊ The kids need to go back to these budgeted amounts as they make their wish lists for birthdays and holidays.

I can encourage them to look at store advertisements to save money, which results in more gifts.

◊ A new favorite for the family is Half Price Books.

We took at quick trip to check out the store yesterday and my son came out with at least 10 books that he really wanted and each one of them was only $1.

By buying used books for his birthday, he now has all of the unused funds to spend however else he wants.

* Eating Out and Entertainment:

◊ Everyone needs to get out of the house every now and then, but for both my husband and my kids, they eat lunch out every weekday.

This is their treat, which means that they do not eat out on weekends.

If they want to, then they will need to take their lunch during the week.

◊ If we do decide to go out to eat, it is generally a result of the kids mutually deciding to cash in some of the points that they have earned through our rewards system.

◊ For those occasions when we do go out, we use Restaurants.com gift certificates to save money.

For $4, I can buy a $25 gift certificate to my favorite restaurants.

◊ We are also sure to eat at places for which we already have gift cards.

Another plus to using gift cards is that I can purchase them at my grocery store on the way to the restaurant and get triple fuel points for the purchase.

* Home and Car Insurance:

◊ Every couple of years I have found that it is wise to comparison shop home and car insurance rates, especially as credit scores rise as debt is paid off.

◊ I always combine my home policy with my car policy to get the discounted rate.

In addition, there are several other discounts available, such as garaging cars, taking defensive driving courses, having a monitored home alarm, good grades for students, and the list goes on.

By showing my eldest the difference in rates for her car insurance when the academic achievement discount is in play, she is much more apt to get those grades up and save some money.

* Utility Providers:

◊ Every couple of months I shop electric, cable and phone providers, too.

◊ I have found with short-term electric plans, I can save a ton of money per month, but I just have to stay on top of the renewals.

◊ I am also learning that my cable company has a nasty habit of raising their rates on a regular basis.

This is where I need to either look into getting a better package deal or moving on to another provider.

◊ With the recommendation coming from our eldest, a couple of years ago, we dropped our home phone line, resulting in a savings of at least $50 a month.

Our home security system is monitored without it and everyone knows who the phone is for when they hear one ringing.

◊ When getting a new cell phone, we always compare the major carriers.

Sometimes it costs significantly less to have one phone with another carrier than the benefit of adding a line to a current plan.

We explain the costs of obtaining a phone and a calling plan with our children, so that they understand how their holidays and birthdays will be impacted, before they make the decision to have one or not.

* Debt Payoff Plan:

◊ Determine what our long-term liabilities are and establish an order for payoff.

These will include credit cards, student loans, personal loans, car loans, mortgage loans and the like.

We discuss these types of debts in great detail with our eldest who is constantly being bombarded with misleading information by credit card companies, personal loan companies and student loan companies.

◊ Develop an Excel spreadsheet with the payment schedule for each, showing the payment amount and pay off date.

◊ Once we pay off one debt, add that monthly payment to the regular monthly payment of the next debt and we will begin to pay off our liabilities at a much faster rate.

This is also a vital tip to share with the oldest.

◊ In the meantime, set up no-cost bi-monthly payments for the mortgage loan.

This will result in an extra payment made per year and reduced finance charges over the long-term.

◊ Review each bill as it comes in for incorrect charges, then make sure to pay it on time.

Bill Pay is the only way to go, as we can pay most bills in 24 hours or schedule a payment for a future date.

* Financial Planning with a Professional:

◊ Review our annual spending for tax deductions that can be taken at year's end.

We will work diligently with our daughter, who is in college, to pull together expenses and tuition that has been paid as result of her education.

◊ Discuss retirement goals and contributions to ensure that we are maximizing benefits.

◊ Discuss college savings options.

◊ Review options for transferring funds to loved ones before we pass to help alleviate the burden of the death tax.

◊ Discuss additional investment opportunities, such as real estate, stocks, mutual funds, bonds and T-bills.

These are only a few of the ideas that our family has come up with to save money.

I will give more specifics at a later date, but until then, I hope these give you ideas of other ways to save, as well.

Here's to another Inspired Minute!

Author's Bio: 

Hi there! My name is Tracey and I’m on a mission to turn average days at home into meaningful minutes. I’m a wife, mother of 3 and an Inspired Life Blogger. This is my journey to create ways to save time, maximize money, creatively organize, craft, gift, and decorate and humbly volunteer. Please visit my blog at InspiredMinute.com for ideas and tips that I hope will inspire you!