University of Illinois Extension

Strategies for Spending Less

Transportation and Upkeep

  • Carefully plan the use of your car to reduce the amount of driving. If you own more than one vehicle, and if it is reasonable to do so, sell one and combine its use with that of the remaining vehicle(s).
  • Car pool or use public transportation when possible.
  • Do your own vehicle maintenance if you have the skills and tools.
  • Walk or ride a bicycle instead of using a car for short trips.
  • Evaluate automobile insurance policies to make sure you are adequately covered. You may be able to reduce your premiums by increasing your deductibles on collision and comprehensive.
  • If your employment is seasonal, arrange with your agent to have insurance bills due when you are working.

Medical Expenses

  • Maintain good health habits. Good nutrition can cut down on illness and tooth decay.
  • Learn the symptoms of common diseases in order to determine when seeing a doctor is advisable. Early treatment of many diseases or injuries is often least expensive. Consider taking classes on first aid or baby care offered by community agencies.
  • Shop around for doctors and dentists whose fees are reasonable. You may find it less expensive to stick with the same doctor or dentist to avoid duplication of tests and records. Your doctor would probably agree to an installment payment plan. Check Talking With Creditors.
  • Take advantage of public clinics and immunizations often available during local health fairs or at the Public Health Department.
  • Update medical insurance policies to eliminate duplication of payments, since most companies pay on a co-insured basis. If you do not have health insurance, see if you qualify for Medical Assistance.
  • If a trip to the hospital is necessary, use a ward or semi-private room. Check the hospital statement to make sure the services charged were the ones received.
  • Ask your doctor to prescribe and your pharmacist to fill prescriptions with generic drugs. Avoid excessive use of over-the-counter drugs.

Clothing and Personal Care

  • Take an inventory of each family member’s wardrobe to determine which items must be replaced or added. Repair and/or alter present clothing and swap items of clothing with other family members or friends. Try to develop the attitude in your children that “handed down” clothing is not only economical and less wasteful, but can also be enjoyable.
  • Follow instructions when laundering clothes.
  • Mend clothing promptly. Polish shoes to keep them looking good.
  • Have children change to older, worn clothing for play.
  • Compare price and quality of clothing you buy. Check discount stores, mail-order catalogs, thrift stores, second-hand outlets and garage sales.
  • Check size and fit. Clothing that does not fit well will not be worn often.
  • Buy clothing that is washable and easy to care for. Read the care labels.
  • Carefully coordinate clothing and accessories so that they can be used with several outfits.
  • Learn to do your own shampoo, set, and manicure at home. Cut your children’s hair yourself. Select cosmetics and toiletries that are reasonably priced.
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