Being a stay at home mom and living off of one income definitely requires some sacrifices and creativity when it comes to saving money. Even though I am heading back to work part time soon, I still plan on saving wherever I can. The money I will be making will strictly be going toward paying off some debts and getting our savings built up.
I thought I would share with you some tips on how I save money.
Kids seem to go through clothes so quickly at young ages and hardly have time to stain them. I know when my kids were babies we still had clothes with tags on them and they had already outgrown them.
What I like to do is consign my children's clothes as they grow out of them and then use the credit for items that they do need. We have some great local children's consignment stores and they are a wonderful resource for finding good quality clothing that is sometimes even brand new.
Also, participating in mom swaps is a great way to trade friends for items you both need. Obviously Craig's list and thrift stores can be great resources too.
I also like to stock up a few times a year at local department stores when they have deep discounts on out of season clothes. I simply buy bigger sizes and set aside for next year. Children's Place was having a clearance sale and I was able to pick up $3.99 bathing suits for both kids, sunglasses for .99 and shoes for $1.99. T-shirts were $2.00 and so were some of the jammies. I just loves sales like these!
If you haven't already joined daily deal sites such as Groupon and LivingSocial you definitely should. While we don't have a lot of local deals I have scored discounted zoo and aquarium tickets for up to 75% off the normal price. Occasionally movie tickets pop up and I try to stock up on those and save for date nights.
There are so many free and nearly free fun things to do with your families. Granted, I don't live in a big city so we are a bit limited but, there is enough to keep us busy.
We are part of a local mom's playgroup and we meet once a week. The children have a great time playing and the moms get an hour of adult interaction. Win win! Our children's museum also offers a free community day once a month and we always try to take advantage of that too.
I love the summer months because there always seems to be a bit more going on and lots of outdoor activities. A lot of cities offer free music in the parks as well as movies.
Libraries are great too for music and/or story times and often there are movies and games to check out with your library card, as well. Our local library has big discovery kits that hold books, puzzles, games and all sorts of fun, educational items grouped by theme. Best thing is that a library card is free!
Something I have also heard of but never tried is geocacheing. Has anyone tried this? How does it work?
By doing a little research and planning there are lots of things to keep you busy, but not put a huge dent in your pocket.
This is a big one. I have two hungry toddlers and I can't even imagine what it is going to be like when they are teenagers.
One of the things that I do that seems to have the most significant impact on my grocery budget is actually sitting down and planning my meals. I try to be diligent about planning every two weeks and when I do it's great...when I don't, well, not so great.
I try to plan my menu around what is on sale that week at the stores and what I have on hand. I know this sounds simple, but it makes a big difference. Additionally I try to use coupons as often as I can. No, I don't get all crazy about it, but I generally can save $10-20 dollars a week with coupons. Every little bit helps. Signing up for store loyalty cards always garners extra savings and checking their websites for e-coupons and mobile coupons is a plus.
I also try to double as many recipes as I can and freeze them, as space allows. Doubling a recipe isn't that much more expensive or time consuming and it definitely saves you time later on. I also like to cook up a bunch of mini muffins and fritattas and keep those on hand throughout the week for quick breakfasts.
Once a week, we have a leftover night. We just started doing this recently because I was disgusted how much food we were actually wasting and in turn wasting money.
We also have a garden, I know not everyone has space for a garden, but if you do, it is such a great way to save a significant amount on fresh produce. Besides, it is fun to see the result of your work and be able to have fresh food at anytime. We currently are growing onions, two kinds of potatoes, cucumbers, sugar snap peas, green beans, carrots, raspberries, cucumbers, brussel sprouts, blueberries and we had strawberries. I am anxious to start up an herb garden, as well. Does anyone have any tips?
Additionally, we purchased a quarter of a cow this year (I cringe at how that sounds) and that made a big impact, as well. Initially, it is a bit spendy up front, but if you use ground beef a lot and have the freezer space it is worth it. Plus, you know where your meat is coming from.
I try to stock up on staples when they are on sale and freeze or store whatever I can. I don't buy it by the hundreds but I will pick up 5 or 6 extra cans of soup or what not if they are a great price. Sometimes buying things in bulk can be a great money saver too.
Obviously, making meals at home and not going out is most cost effective, but it's also not as fun. When we go out we generally check restaurant.com to see if there are any good deals and our local ValPak always has great coupons for local places, as well. I know some restaurants have nights where kids eat free or for reduced rates.
So, what do you do to save money?!