Saving money does not have to be agonizing, and save doesn’t have to be a “4 letter word” that you dread discussing. When we decided that I would be a Stay-At-Home Mom, I honestly disliked the thought of scaling back on my spending. I knew that there was nothing I wouldn’t try in order to get to stay home with my boys, but I thought that there would be so much sacrificing. After 5 years of living by these methods, I have found that I don’t feel like I am sacrificing at all. In fact, I often times wonder why I didn’t perform these habits way earlier in life. The ideas I share are just simple systems and procedures we have put in place to achieve the family culture we desire. That desire is for our family to be together as much as possible. Just in case you are living like I was, unconcerned about your spending habits, I want to share these easy methods we’ve implemented into our family’s lifestyle. I want to save you time from researching ways to save money. Most of all, if you desire to stay home with your children, I want to do my best to help you achieve your goal. It is definitely possible with a little intentionality of making these ideas your way of life.
#1. We rarely turn on the lights during the day.
In order to save on electricity, I keep all the blinds open, and we use natural lighting. The only way we turn on the lights is if it is cloudy, we are using a windowless bathroom or a closet is not near lighting. Natural light is the healthiest lighting, so we make use of it. In the post, Lighting: How it Affects Your Child Mentally, Physically and Academically , I inform readers of the importance of your lighting choices, I encourage you to read it. There is a lot of research behind the article, so it is worth considering.
#2. Our boys wear hand me down clothes, and I Rent the Runway.
Before I had children, I would have never thought I would be putting my child in clothes that someone else wore. Growing up, I was the one who handed down clothes to others. We were very brand conscious, style conscience, and if we had somewhere to go, we got a new outfit to go there. I proceeded to live that way until I decided to take on a job that didn’t have a paycheck, Mommy!
When I found out I was having a boy, my sister -in- law asked me if I wanted to use my nephews clothes. Being that her and my brother have a similar mindset about how to dress, I took her up on the offer. My aunt and a friend have also given us clothes from time to time. I am so grateful for the kindness, and I am thankful I took her up on it. I have saved a ton of money. Now that I see how quickly children move to the next size, I can definitely see the genius in sharing clothes. I have only spent money on clothing for taking pictures, holidays, shoes, PJs, undies, and I buy rashguard shirts each summer.
When we’re done, I put it all in tubs according to size and season and give it back or pass it to another Stay-At-Home Mom. If I have somewhere nice to go, I Rent the Runway for myself. Instead of spending $100+ on a new outfit, I rent a hot $400 outfit for around $40. You can rent a $1K dress for around $125. After I’m done, I send it back. By the time I have a place to go that I would wear it again, it would be out of style anyway. If you want to try renting an outfit or rotating your closet, get $30 off here. You can rent just once or become a monthly member. This idea of renting clothes comes from Hollywood.
#3. We save on food by planning.
In order to make sure I control my spending at the grocery store, I pre-plan our meals for the week and create a grocery list accordingly. I only cook 3-4 times per week, and I make big enough meals that we can eat leftovers. I look in the sale paper to see what meat is going to be marked down for the week, and I use recipes that include those meats. We want to feed our family healthy food and organic when possible, so I did extensive research to find out what purchases needed to be organic. I wrote about it in the post, Simple Ways to Make Sure the Foods You Feed Your Family Are Safe and Healthy. The post contains a printable grocery list as well. It is important not to grocery shop when hungry. Just don’t do it. You’re better off to spend money to stop and grab a bite than to shop hungry.
#4. I subscribe to an events website, and I joined a Meetup group for kids playdates.
In order to save money on entertaining the kids and making sure we socialize and have fun, I joined the Macaroni Kids mailing list. It sends a weekly list of the events in your area that are kid-friendly. Just plug in your zip code. I pick the free or low budget activities, and there is more than enough for us to do. My neighbor enlightened me on the app, Meetup. I joined a local Moms group and there are weekly playdates that are available to attend. Most of these are free, they’re for just the right amount of time, and the kids get to play while moms watch, talk, and play too!
#5. I only run errands 2 or 3 times a month, if that, and I don’t stop anywhere that’s not planned.
I have found that unplanned stops make for overspending. The boys and I only run errands 2 or 3 times a month. When I do, I stick to the list. I do not stop at any unplanned stores. I try hard to go when the items are marked down, or I print a coupon. If there is a store that you just can’t control yourself at, I encourage you not to go there. I can probably count on one hand how many times a year I go to any supercenter. Unless you are just super disciplined, it’s hard to get out without a distraction or thinking you found a bargain. If you came to our house, you wouldn’t think we were missing out on anything. In fact, we live in total abundance.
#6. I love Dollar Tree.
The things I love about Dollar Tree is the quality of their products and the fact that everything really is a dollar. I go 3 or 4 times a year and stock up. I’m just going to give you a list of some of what I get there.
- All greeting and thank you cards
- Any name brand groceries they provide
- Brushes and sponges for dishwashing
- Holiday décor
- Dental flossers
- Vegetable seeds and seeds for our butterfly garden (4 packs for $1)
- Gardening gloves and shovels
- Gift wrap, gift bags, party décor, plastic silverware, and paper plates
- Lent rollers, dusting cloths, other cleaning products
- Plastic baskets and shoe boxes for organization
- Plastic Bathtub books
- Tape, binders, office supplies
- Scrapbooking supplies and stickers
- Any school supplies we need
#7. I sell Rodan and Fields, Noonday Collection and Young Living Oils.
In order to save money on products, make money for my family and contribute to less fortunate people in developing countries, I started selling products. I encourage every mom to pick something to sell. I’d love to have you on my team. If not mine, I say pick something that makes your heart smile and sell it. If you’re interested in joining one of my teams you can contact me: [email protected] There is going to come a time when your family will need extra money. This is an area I wish I had started sooner. Then when our time of financial struggle hit, there would have been residual income. I highly recommend getting started in direct sells. You have nothing to lose, and only the wonderful people that you meet and money to gain!
#8. I use money-saving apps.
These 3 are the most effective and efficient money-saving apps and extensions that I use. They are listed in order of most money saved to least.
- Honey: a web browser add-on that finds coupons from all kinds of places that you can use for the websites you browse. The idea behind it is to get rid of the annoyance that comes from finding individual coupons yourself, collecting them all in one place and applying them best. This came in bigtime handy last Christmas at Target, Amazon, and Ulta.
- Ebates: is a completely free browser extension or app service that allows shoppers to shop online at a myriad of retailers and earn cash back on purchases. They even have some retailers who are Double Cash Back.
- Wikibuy: While you shop online, Wikibuy evaluates other sellers like Walmart, Target, eBay, Jet, and others you might find with a Google search. It confirms availability (including size and color), price, taxes, shipping – and tests coupon codes. What I like is that it sets up everything for you, so there is no extra hassle.
#9. I exchange babysitting services with my sister-in-law.
In order to avoid having to pay for babysitting, my sister-in-law and I take turns watching each other’s kids on Thursdays. Now we have 4 hours to ourselves every other week. I highly recommend finding someone you trust that you can exchange babysitting services with. Before we started doing this, the struggles and overwhelm were TOO REAL around here! You can find all of my Finding a Babysitter tips here.
#10. We rarely dine out.
There’s not much to say. We don’t eat out much. Sometimes we treat ourselves after church, but other than that, we eat at home as a family. The expense, the time, the mystery of the ingredients, and the humungo, tempting-to-eat portion sizes aren’t worth it for us. This is a gift to our budget and waistline. If you can’t live without eating out, Google which restaurants in your area let Kids Eat Free on which night. Now you have your eating out to save money schedule.
#11. I started using the public library.
This one is new for me. As I type this I seriously can’t believe I used to purchase every book I read. Dave Ramsey would cry or scream! I love owning books, but the expense of getting my weekly book fix was getting ridiculous. Even more so when I added two kids to the mix. After Luke was born, I got a library card. If you’re a bookaholic, it is worth getting a library card. We check out around 80 books at a time. I also have the Hoopla app that the library offers, and I listen to free audiobooks now. I had not done that before. My favorite so far has been, Girl Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis. When I saw the savings, I got over my thrice weekly Amazon box at the door addiction. This may have been one of the hardest changes for me. I think the thing that crushed me the most is that I never got a call from Amazon asking if everything was ok much less if I was still alive!?
#12. I make Chris’s lunch for work.
Unless I just absolutely forget or I don’t have time, I make Chris’s lunch for work. If you add up how much lunch out 5 times a week cost, versus a sandwich or leftovers, ENOUGH SAID.
#13. I make my own detergent.
When I wrote 6 Ways I Splurge as a Mom, I told you about my obsession with the Tyler Candle Company Detergent. In order to save some money to afford that detergent, I started making my own detergent. Secondly, I don’t want to expose my family to the air pollutants and carcinogens found in laundry detergents. My favorite laundry detergent recipe makes 10 gallons and is found here. I add lavender essential oil to ours.
#14. I use Amazon wisely.
There are so many ways to work the Amazon system. I’m going to tell you the three things I do with Amazon that have made a difference for us.
- I have a Prime membership. This covers all of my shipping, a ton of music, and all the videos the boys could ever watch for a year subscription. What I love about the videos is that they have a lot of interesting nonfiction that the boys can learn from. The Prime Book Box is awesome for your family or a gift.
- Instead of going to stores that have everything in them from groceries, clothes, and toys, to make-up, crafts, and home goods that distract me and get me to buying (lack of self-control), I use Amazon for those purchases.
- The best way I have found to save on Amazon is that I put items in my Amazon cart. BUT I do not immediately purchase. In fact, I disabled 1-Click ordering. I leave the item in the cart a minimum of overnight. If I still feel the same need to purchase a day or two later, then I proceed. I have cut my purchases down to 1/15 of what they used to be. It was really eye-opening!
#15. What Chris has done to help our family save money
- He shopped for the credit cards that would give us the most cash back and airplane mileage. The big deal on these is no annual fee.
- Stash: It allows you to contribute a small amount and invest in stocks on a fractional basis. It’s amazing how quickly you can build up 4 figures.
- He put a lot of time into shopping our insurance. The better your credit score, the better the deals you can get.
- He comparison shopped our electricity, and we try to do the laundry and dishwasher at 5 pm or after. Most electric companies discount the rate starting at this time.
- He set up 529 savings plans for Jock and Luke’s college. Most of these have links where family members can give at Christmas or birthdays.
- He mows our lawn.
Call to Action
As you can see, our family does quite a bit to save money, but most of the money saving techniques I shared with you become effortless once the initial sign-up is over. Once you sign-up, make the idea a part of your lifestyle, or DIY, you are set to save money while living a life you love at home with your children. Or be a working parent, but you want to save money to accomplish a different goal. Whatever the case, these methods will save and add money to your budget. I challenge you to try as many of the 15 approaches to saving money as possible. You don’t have to use the exact same step-by-step way. Let my ideas spark your creativity, and apply it to your family in a way that works for ya’ll. You’ll be amazed to find that you’re only a few changes away from saving enough money to get the results you desire. Make a comment: I would love to hear how one of these ideas adds value to your life or I would love to hear a technique you use to save money. I am always on the lookout for ideas to add to my repertoire. Please share.
Make it a great day or not, the choice is yours! Remember to have fun, laugh and give God the glory! I love you! SS