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Saving Tips for Families With Kids in Portland

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  • Digital Team 

If you live in the Portland area and have kids, you know how costly it can be to make ends meet. The costs seem to add up constantly, and it can be a challenge to pay for everything that you need. Fortunately, there are ways to save on expenses and keep costs down.

In this article, we will explore several different ways to save money for families in the Portland area. We will also provide tips on financial literacy in general, and how you and your kids can stay aware of budgeting principles to stay on top of your personal finances.

Budgeting for Success

The first thing that you should learn how to do is create a regular family budget. Creating a budget is one way of keeping costs down and maintaining a reasonable idea of what you need on a monthly basis.

Distinguish Fixed and Variable Expenses

There are techniques involved in creating a budget that will help you look at your finances more realistically. One of the things that you should do is distinguish your fixed from your variable expenses. There are two different types of expenses that you have on a monthly basis. Those that you need to pay regularly each month, such as rent, and utilities are your fixed expenses. Those that might vary from month to month, such as entertainment, food, etc., are your variable expenses.

If you have kids, there may be different levels of activities, toys and games, etc that they are interested in. If you create a budget that designates priorities among variable expenses and makes your monthly costs clear, you will more easily be able to distinguish what you can and cannot afford.

Set Aside an Emergency Fund

You should also set aside money to save for emergencies. Even if your income is relatively modest, you should try to set aside a certain amount each month for both your long-term goals, which you can use in emergencies. You don’t want to find yourself in a crunch because one of your kids broke his arm and the insurance won’t cover all of it.

If you really have an emergency, there are payday loans in Portland available to help. These loans can cover immediate expenses that come about unexpectedly. Your goal, though, should be to prepare yourself for the unexpected so that you don’t run into these problems.

Smart Grocery Shopping

One of the tricks to saving money is to learn smart grocery shopping habits. You can do this in several ways:

  • Leverage local markets. Many local establishments will give loyalty cards or points to regular customers. Find out which ones in your area will do this for you and make a point of frequenting them.
  • Get your produce from farmers’ markets. Shopping at farmers’ markets is not only a healthier way to live, it can also save you a lot of money if you find the right vendors. The Farmers’ Market at PSU, Hollywood Farmers’ Market, and Montavilla Farmers’ Market are among the best.
  • Use meal planning strategies. If you plan your meals in advance and buy in bulk at the beginning of the week, you will find it easier to estimate the quantities of different food items that you need. You will also cut down on unnecessary expenditures of food that you buy too much of and which ends up going to waste.

Affordable Family Entertainment

You should also keep in mind that entertainment doesn’t have to be costly. There are many free or low-cost options for entertainment in the Portland area. These include:

  • The Oregon Zoo, which costs only $4 to enter
  • The Portland Childrens’ Museum, which is free on the first Friday of every month from 4-8pm
  • The Safety Learning and Fire Museum, which is free

And, of course you can always take advantage of Portland’s many parks and green areas, including Washington, Pettygrove, and Laurelhurst parks.

There are also many free educational options for kids in Portland, including the Oregon Public Library, kids’ programs at Oregon State University, and a host of free websites through the Portland public schools network. These and related sites are helpful in developing financial literacy for kids, which is an essential tool for the future.

Transportation Savings

There are numerous ways that you can save on transportation in Portland. If you have access to public transportation, using it will save you a great deal of money on gas and parking. The MAX light rail, Portland StreetCar, and city buses are all easy and economical ways to get around.

Car sharing services are available if you want to use a car on an as-needed basis but not pay all the costs associated with owning one full-time. And if you don’t want to drive yourself, there are ride sharing options, as well.

If you are a bike rider, Portland is famous for being a bicycle-friendly city. Taking advantage of the city’s bike paths is both cheap and good for your physical health. And in using them, you will also have the satisfaction of knowing that you are making a lower carbon footprint.

Housing and Utilities

The cost of maintaining a home can drive a family budget into the ground easily. There are measures that you can take to reduce your cost of living and utility bills by a great deal. If you haven’t yet bought a home, keep in mind that some neighborhoods are far more affordable than others. Nob Hill, Hayden Island, and Goose Hill top the list of neighborhoods that are both affordable and provide a good quality of life.

There are also measures that you can take to keep your energy bills down. Making certain energy-efficient upgrades to your house, such as upgrading your HVAC system, your water heaters, and your lighting to greener options can both save you on bills and potentially provide rebates. You might even consider the option of going solar. While there is an initial investment involved, it eventually pays for itself over time and you will ultimately end up saving big.

You should always make an effort to use less energy when possible, turn down the heating or air conditioning to reasonable levels, and instead adjust your clothing or the rooms in your house that you heat or cool at any given time.

Investing in the Future

Another way to save long-term is to look into savings plans that you can feed into on a regular basis. If you have kids, you should start thinking about college costs as early as possible. Look into education savings plans that will allow you to put away money every month or quarter into a designated college fund. You can choose from education savings accounts, trust funds, or standard savings accounts that will earn interest over time. Be sure to set specific goals so that you know how much to save to reach them by the right time.

You should also start thinking about retirement early in your working years. As Social Security is generally not considered adequate to cover most people’s retirement needs, many people also invest in 401(k)s, IRAs, and other types of investments that will grow over time. Think about your long-term retirement goals so that you can choose the right kinds of investments to work towards them.

Conclusion

Having a family is complicated, and it can cause financial stress if you’re not prepared to handle it. If you take the right measures, though, you should be able to manage all your expenses and plan for the future without many issues. To do this effectively, you should figure out your long-term goals and what you need to do to reach them. Budgeting properly and taking advantage of opportunities to save will help you reduce costs and reach your goals more easily.

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