Although it may not feel like it many days, once you are home full time, you will have more time than money. Statistics show that moms who work full time, after all expenses considered, typically only bring home about $300, so read on to see how you can spend a little extra time, saving a lot of extra money. Every little bit really does add up. I know. I provided for a family of 7 on a single unpredictable self-employed income. I mastered the art of living frugal!
Here are my top 10 basic tips for saving money:
- Skip the fancy coffee – this is the easiest one of all. Make your own coffee at home, pinterest recipes, invest in an espresso machine or whatever ya gotta do, but forgo buying crazy expensive drinks!
- Meal plan – drag out all the store ads, make lists of everything on sale your family eats/needs. Now plan meals for a week around the meats and produce that are on sale.
- Shop multiple stores – take your lists from above and pick the 2 or 3 that have the most items needed on sale and do a big shopping trip
- Buy foods (or other items) in bulk – learn what a good sale price is on your favorite items and when you see it for that price, buy 5 or 20 of them! Jars of spaghetti sauce or canned goods aren’t going to go bad. Extra meat you can freeze. With my own mini store I never pay full price for an item. It also makes my shopping trips shorter because I’m mainly buying perishables. When I start to run low, I start looking for a sale again. Also, don’t ignore that bulk section at the store. Don’t pay for packaging you don’t need, just refill the one you have at home.
- Use coupons or apps – coupons really are like cash! Combine the cheap sale price with a coupon and you’ve scored big time. 5 $1 coupons could go a long way to pay for your fruit for the week. Who wouldn’t want free apples or blueberries?
- DIY products or foods – Sometimes this is time consuming, but often it is super easy and fast and not only can save a lot of money is also much healthier. Examples: spice blends, hot chocolate mix, coffee creamer, hand soap, body wash, laundry detergent, etc.
- Buy used – Most of my house is used items. Either hand-me-downs, that were often free, or I bought them from strangers. Sometimes I find brand new stuff being sold at a fraction of the price too! Examples: our dogs plastic bed, furniture, dishes, books, even our bathroom sink. I love yard sales and online sales groups. I’ve saved thousands of dollars being willing to be patient and I usually find just what I’m looking for …… eventually.
- Take advantage of free or cheap entertainment – there are many free museums, cheap summer activities and many other places to go that cost little to nothing. Get creative because your kids don’t care how much a place costs as long as they have fun with you. I promise they really won’t care that you never took them on amazing vacations every year. Make traditions out of the cheap places and those are the things they’ll remember, then save up and pay cash for an occasional amazing trip.
- Only eat at a restaurant for special occasions or if kids eat free/coupons – For the cost of one meal for a family of 4 you could cook at home for an entire week.
- Take advantage of hand-me-down clothes/toys and thrift stores – Thanks to my sister I rarely had to buy my kids any clothes. Pack and label the boxes and keep for the next kid. Thrift stores or online often have clothes with tags. Just because you got a bargain doesn’t mean your kid even knows, cares or feels slighted. Hand-me-downs were the norm and my kids never even questioned them. Wait to spend the money on new clothes when they are in high school.
*Bonus: Don’t dismiss the .99 store! Most of them now carry produce, breads and other staples, just check for freshness or expiration dates. Don’t dismiss generic brands either. Rarely do they taste different or not work as well.
Happy saving and congrats on being a new SAHM! It’s so wonderfully hard and exhausting. 🙂