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Budgeting Tips for MN Families

When Auto Technical, Inc. provides refurbished vehicles to families in need, part of our program includes complimentary car-care training so these individuals can save money if their cars need basis maintenance. As a long-time community organization, we’re committed to the success and well-being of our clients, which is why we offer alternate ways our car donation recipients can improve financial health long after they receive a vehicle from us.

We’ve put together this list of budgeting tips for MN families. Regardless of your situation, whether you’re a parent who is supporting a large family, a single person on a budget or between jobs, a student or simply one who prefers to live frugally, these tips can help you with your spending and financial goals.

  1. Get low-cost car care training. Empower yourself with the knowledge of basic car care. Even when you turn to a professional mechanic for auto maintenance, it’s a good idea to have basic knowledge of car repair so that you make an educated buying decision. At Auto Technical, we offer $10 classes to the Minneapolis-St. Paul community, educating students on the basics of brake inspection and brake pads and tune-ups. Learn more about these two classes we offer.
  2. Plan meals that call for the same ingredients. It’s one thing to plan your meals and budget yourself at the grocery store. However, if we remember to plan meals where we can use the same ingredients, this can shorten our shopping list and lessen the dollar amount we spend. Here are some additional tips from Eating Well.
  3. Invest in reusable lunch bags and storage containers. Keep your foods fresh with storage containers such as those you can purchase through Tupperware or Lock and Lock. Also, be sure to keep meats and produce in designated drawers in your fridge. You can also be eco-friendly by using reusable lunch bags or boxes and do away with the bags. Of course the age-hold financial tip still stands: Bringing lunch to school or work in general is a major money saver.
  4. Cancel subscriptions you don’t use. Have you noticed there might be credit or debit card charges each month for services you don’t use? Whether it’s that newspaper or magazine or a software or app you don’t use. Go through your recent bank or credit card statements and look for services you don’t use and make time to call them to cancel.
  5. Use your library card. The library is a fabulous resource for saving money and it’s not just for borrowing books or studying for an exam anymore. Most libraries have complimentary Wi-Fi access and computers for public use. In addition, you can check out DVDs and CDs if you want to watch movies or listen to your favorite music. While you’re there, you might just come across some flyers or other bulletins of low-cost or free classes or other opportunities to socialize.
  6. Spend an afternoon at your local park. If you’re looking for fun and un-extravagant ways to enjoy family time, a daylong picnic at the park is the best. Shop for food at a super store, pack a cooler, a couple of blankets and whatever portable chairs you have and head to the park. This activity will not only help you to let go and de-stress but engaging in playtime (bring a soccer ball too or Frisbee too!) or walking through the park can be an incredible bonding experience for your family. Also, parks are pet friendly as long as you have your pet on a leash.
  7. Visit soup kitchens and food banks. If buying food presents a financial challenge or if you’re going through a period where you feel like you have to choose between paying bills and buying food, remember it’s OK to ask for help. Visit food shelves and soup kitchens to help you through the challenging times. Here is a list of food pantries in Minnesota.
  8. Shop for gently worn clothing and housewares. This is especially helpful if you have kids and you’re watching them grow like weeds. Check in with Salvation Army, local thrift stores and yard sales to shop for clothes. These are also excellent venues to shop for housewares. If you have an issue with pride when shopping for second-hand items, remember that shopping for gently worn items gives you the chance to find something truly unique. You can also get lucky and find high-quality items at lower costs. Just note that some of these venues may not sell used electrical items in the interest of safety.

Ever since the economy tanked in 2008, millions of Americans seemed to have developed new relationships with money and spending. Most consumers have altered their buying decisions, becoming more prudent and practical, even when their situations have improved. For many, shopping on a budget is now a way of life. If you’re currently not watching your spending, enjoy this new lifestyle. The creativity that goes into stretching a dollar can not only be fun but it can reveal to you how resourceful you are.

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