According to the Economic Policy Institute, the average family budget for a two-parent and two-child family runs $48,166 in Marshall County, Mississippi, to $94,676 in New York City. Meanwhile, costs like childcare in Washington D.C. for just one child run $1,318. The institute found even in solid economic conditions, low-wage jobs would not cover basic family needs. Annual wages for a full-time minimum wage worker run $15,080 which makes it difficult, if not impossible, to live in even an inexpensive area.
While you may not be able to control the cost of living in your area or your wages, there are ways you can save money. Shop online for often overlooked necessities like groceries and eyeglasses, and dramatically slash your budget. Here’s a look at items you should always buy online to beat brick and mortar stores at their own game.
A weekly grocery bill for an average family of four runs about $200, according to the USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion. Spending just short of $800 a month just on groceries is a serious budget breaker. Trim your costs by buying groceries online with sites like Amazon or Walmart. Amazon offers a subscription service where you can sign-up to receive orders on everything from paper towels to cereal to arrive at a set date and time of your choosing. Aside from convenience, signing up for a subscription can lower your order costs.
Walmart offers a wide range of products and brands like Betty Crocker and Campbell’s at prices that will beat most competitors. You’ll also get free shipping on orders of $50 or more and save yourself the time and trouble of dragging the kids to the grocery store and unloading when you get home.
Shopping for new frames at your eye doctors could cost hundreds of dollars for a designer brand. Even discount eyewear retailers like LensCrafters will usually charge around $100 for glasses. Meanwhile, sites like ZenniOptical.com offer prescription frames starting at just $6.95 for men, women and children. The lower cost means less stress over picking out frames and even keeping a back-up on hand for active kids prone to breaking their eyewear. The downside is returns can be tricky with Zenni only offering 50 percent of the value upon return.
It can be intimidating to order tires online and know what to do once you hit “buy.” But online retailers can take care of all the logistics for you. Such retailers can connect you with recommended tire shops to install them. Tires are shipped for free and arrive fast so you can get up and running quickly. Online tire outlets are also likely to offer ongoing promotions and discounts to save you even more money than walking into a store.
Skip the high pressure from salesmen and order electronics online at a discount. Shop online for electronics from stores like Costco and BJ’s Wholesale. You will need to buy a membership at $55 or more a year just to shop, but the savings can still add up. If you don’t care about name brands, buy the generic house brand instead. Wholesale retailers are also likely to carry Sony TVs next to affordable Vizio flat screens for hundreds of dollars less. Costco in particular is great, their customer service is fantastic and their return policy is first rate.