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Fun Family Finances

Easy ways for you to pitch in and help your family spend less

By Jack Silbert | null null , null
Photo: ©Somos/Veer/Getty Images<br />
Photo: ©Somos/Veer/Getty Images

Believe it or not, you—yes, you!—can help with the U.S. economy. No, we're not asking you to lend anyone $700 billion from your piggy bank. There are many simple steps you can take to make sure your family is spending less. And you might actually have some fun while doing it! Here are just some of the ways that you can pitch in.


Americans spend a lot of money on electricity. Your family receives a bill each month for the amount of electricity used. Look around your home. There are so many things plugged into the sockets: Lights, TVs, DVD players, video game consoles, computers, and much more. It can be your job to make sure everything is turned off when it's not being used. By reducing power use, your electric bill will be lower.

There is an added bonus to cutting electricity use. You're also helping the environment. How? Oil and coal are used to produce electricity, and that creates pollution. By reducing electricity, we also reduce this sort of pollution.


Food prices have been rising. That's no fun for your parents when they go to the supermarket. You can help by becoming a bargain hunter. Before going food shopping, help look through the advertisements from different supermarkets. See which store offers a lower price on items from the family's shopping list. There might be coupons to clip also. That's a great way to save money.

Then, when you're at the supermarket, become a unit-price explorer. What is a unit price? It's simple—it's the price for one unit (pound, gallon, ounce, etc.) of an item. The unit price is almost always listed on the little tag below an item on the supermarket shelves. Looking at the unit price is the best way to see if you're getting a good deal. So, for each item you're looking for in the supermarket, see which brand and size has the lowest unit price. That one is the best bargain!

Many times, the supermarket has its own brands. The package might not look as fancy, but what's inside is often just as good as a famous brand. And the price is usually much cheaper!


Taking the whole family to the movies can be superexpensive. And that's before you add in the cost of popcorn, candy, and sodas! You can help plan a much cheaper Family Movie Night, at home. Rent a DVD that you'd all like to see. (Better yet, borrow one from your local library for free.) Microwave some popcorn, turn out the lights, and, it's showtime! Wow, you just saved more electricity when you turned off the lights.


Gas prices have also been on the rise. Sure, you still need to get around to team practices, rehearsals, scouts, and other after-school activities. But not every parent has to drive every day. Help organize a "carpool" with a few local friends, so your parents can take turns driving all of you to the event. Your parents will spend less on gasoline, and once again, you're helping the environment. (Cars create pollution too.)


Kids are bombarded with special offers for everything: ringtones, horoscopes, jokes of the day, videogames, text-message contests, and more. You can't look at the Internet or turn on the TV without seeing one of these too-good-to-be-true offers. They usually really are too good to be true: There are often hidden fees or subscription costs. Avoid these offers, and save your parents the surprise of huge charges on the cell phone bill.


This holiday season, agree to exchange homemade gifts with your family members. It can be totally fun to make a gift, and they'll remember it forever. Or, if you're buying gifts, agree to stick to a certain price limit. The holidays will still be happy, and you'll have more money saved for the new year!


Learn more about the economy and how it works in this special report.


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