Author: Deborah Goodkin, Managing Director, Savings Plans, First National Bank of Omaha

Often, it can be more challenging to hit our financial goals than we anticipate. If you find yourself falling short on savings, now may be a good opportunity to re-evaluate the current strategies you have in place and find some tricks to help make life easier and more affordable. If you can make improvements in your budget, no matter how small, it can make a positive impact on your savings. Try out these tactics to help get you on the right track.

Buy Seasonally

Buying in-season produce can be an effective way to save money while eating fresh food, as fruits and veggies are often at their lowest price of the year when in season. If you feel low on creativity on how to prepare or use an inexpensive ingredient, search online for new recipes.

In addition to shopping seasonally, always check your local grocery store’s fliers and offerings to capitalize on weekly savings. Unexpected sales can spark entirely new culinary adventures, while keeping the grocery budget in line. 

Turn Weekly Meal Prep into a Family Activity

Looking to introduce your kids to cooking and healthy financially-minded decisions? Turn meal prep and grocery shopping into a family affair. Encourage your child to help pack his or her own lunches, and plan meals together for the week ahead.

Meal-prep doesn’t have to be boring – you can make a wide variety of meals by adding a few different ingredients to dishes like rice, chicken and seasonal vegetables to spice things up. Plus, making your own food in bulk will help prevent the urge to eat out, saving you a significant amount of money over time.  

Opt for Reusable Items
Utilizing reusable totes, plastic food containers and thermoses can help save money when you feel the urge to splurge throughout the day. Bringing your own bags and reusable containers make it easy to cook at home and take your lunch with you on the go. Some grocery stores even offer a slight reduction to your bill for bringing your own bags, and they come in a variety of fun prints and patterns your kids will love as well.

Making use of a thermos not only keeps your favorite beverage warm or cold on your commute. It can save you around $25 a week when you bring your own beverage and opt out of buying tea or coffee before work.

Make Time for the Library

The local library has many offerings beyond books. Many provide community programming, videogames, movies and so much more, keeping kids engaged for hours.

Make use of DVD’s rather than going to the theater. Borrow a physical or electronic book instead of buying brand new (or even used). Borrowing from the library ensures you’ll have a multitude of book selections at your disposal. In addition, reading will help your child improve upon his or her reading and vocabulary skills – free of charge.

Clean Out Your Closets

Does your family have old clothes and toys that you are no longer using? Sell these items to second hand stores or online – or, if the weather is nice, host a yard sale to help turn clutter into cash. Besides freeing up space, decluttering will make cleaning up easier in the future.

Even small savings are something to smile about, as they can build up big rewards in no time. Commit to these simple strategies and make sure to put the extra savings towards your NEST 529 College Savings Plan account.

Have great savings tips you’d like to share with the NEST 529 community? Reach out to us on Facebook or by email at for the opportunity to have your tips featured in an upcoming blog.