Managing a household is a full time job and it requires a lot of skill, patience and vision to do it well. Those of you who manage your households know what I am talking about. Unless you are organized and focused, waste is almost inevitable. Keeping the house well stocked with necessaries, dealing with vendors and managing resources, often while shuttling children around, working a full or part time job and trying to find some “me” time, can create a very stressful day for the person who takes charge of domestic organization. With a bit of planning, however, household managers can save money and enjoy the efficiency of a well run home. If you are managing your household, consider the following five steps that you might take to increase efficiency and decrease stress.
Schedule a Weekly Meeting: There are a lot of projects that you need to accomplish whether you live in a home or an apartment. Things break or require service. Purchases need to be made. If you sit down with your significant other or your room mates if you are not yet fully domesticated, you can plan out your purchasing decisions for the week and prioritize your spending. Some projects you might be able to handle on your own or you can delegate them to other people in your household, but if you do not plan ahead, it may be difficult to get people to do what you need them to do when you need them to do it.
Train Your Household: If your spouse is willing to handle the grocery shopping but does not know how to find deals, clip coupons or look for generic brands, you need to teach him or her how to find the best deals. You have knowledge but not everyone else knows what you know and you need to be patient while you teach your significant other the tricks of the trade. For years, my wife did not know how to find coupons or rebate portals when she shopped on-line so I usually had to make our on-line purchases. In time, however, I was able to teach her which sites she needed to visit before she shopped and now she can shop on-line and get great deals when she does.
Get to Know Your Service Providers: The more time you invest in getting to know your regular service providers, the greater the bond you will build. People who like you and trust you will be more likely to give you good deals and good service. Invest the time in getting to know the service providers on whom you rely and they will keep their eyes open for savings opportunities for you.
Seek Competitive Bids: Until you have established a good relationship with a service provider you trust, put everything out for bid. Ask multiple vendors to come to your home and take the time to talk through your needs. The most creative vendors will often be able to find ways for you to save on your service needs. For example, we have a small swimming pool that one service provider suggested needed to be fully refinished at a cost of about $5,000. Another service provider suggested that we could restore the original surface with an acid wash that would cost about $400. We went with the less expensive option and the pool now looks as good as new.
Anticipate Expenses: Even if you take care of your big ticket expenses, they will eventually need repairs and/or replacement. Know what repairs will need to be made in time and know how much they will cost. For example, I took my car in for its 90,000 mile check up today and spent close to $500. It is running well but the service manager told me that I needed to anticipate two projects that will cost about $1200 in the next year. I will probably request those additional services as the year progresses because I am teaching one of my sons to drive and I want to teach him on an older vehicle. At the same time, if I had known before I spent $500 on a 90,000 mile service that I probably have another $1,500 to spend in the next year (factoring in my routine services), I might have used the anticipated costs as justification for buying newer car.
How do you manage your household to maximize efficiency and to save money? What things do you do to help ensure that you spend your money wisely?