Having been a Stay at Home Mom for a long time I know there are two big challenges to this choice. One, for many, is living on one income. The other is putting your career on hold. I will address the latter one on a later post but today in the dog days of summer here in Houston, I just want to give you four ways we have saved money through the years. This is not an exhaustive list, but it is four of the easiest ways to save $100 or more per month.
They all involve sacrifice; some for you, some for your whole family. Even, if you only adopt one, you can realize some savings and it might spur you to think of other things where you could cut costs. Here they are, in no particular order:
- Give yourself your own manicure/pedicure. True story, I never had a professional pedicure or manicure until my forties! I survived all that time without one. Amazing! Since that time I do have them on occasion and have kind of adopted a two or three a year thing because I live in Houston where I literally wear open toed shoes at least 9 months of the year. I realize some people may need to get them for health reasons, like I did when I had broken feet and could no longer maneuver my foot into the right position. Most of us though, if we invest in a couple of really good tools and good quality polish can handle this ourselves. Most of us have our hands in water so many times a day that a manicure or glued on nails would really only last a nanosecond. If you are like me and cook a lot, I do not want long nails! Anyway, use this a rarity, save some bucks and it will be a real treat when you do get one!
- Go to the library. This is probably something most of you already do if you have young children but with the ease of e-readers it is so easy to just purchase a book online in a flash. I do it quite often and I even have an Amazon affiliate account, but we already paid for the books and videos and other resources at our libraries through our taxes! For years, especially when the children were small we frequented the library. We rented stacks of books and videos. We also participated in a mail out program when we lived on the farm. Today, libraries offer online books and will find whatever you are wanting and bring it to your closest library. I know I have made this a personal goal to get back to using my library and to quit buying so many books. Depending on your usage of video/movie rentals and book and periodical purchases this can translate to many dollars saved each month. If you and your family hasn’t been reading much, GET STARTED! I won’t go into all the research here but your children and you need to be reading! Recently my daughter, who just scored very well on her GRE test for Grad School, thanked me for making her read. I asked if she meant something in particular or just in general and she said “In General”. She said that all that reading made her be able to read through the questions, understand the vocabulary and then being able to deduce the answer. She also added that one of her professors told her if she had read her in text books in college she would have no problem with the GRE. In our family, whenever mom knows something that no one else knew, they will ask “How did you know that?” My standard answer has always been, “I read, therefore I know.”
- Cut the cable. This goes well with number 2. Cut the cable television and you will have time to read! You can also rent FREE movies! We have lived without cable for long periods of time over the past 25 years. I am getting ready to take the last cable box we have back to the store tomorrow. We really don’t watch it that much. I had kept it because of the sports channels and all the boys that come and go in my house and I wanted them to be here rather than elsewhere, but the fact is it is Mom that watches the games! I love to cook on Saturday and watch football and I am huge college basketball fan (I was raised in Kansas!). It is just another place to save some dollars and goodness know we make up for it on the internet and cell phone bills! Some husbands may not go for this but just ask him to consider it. Also, always bug your cable provider every few months for a cheaper plan. This is part of the reason we still have it because every time I try and cancel it, they give me a huge discount and I hang on.
- Eat out rarely and don’t buy the drinks when you do. This will be really hard for some of you because you hate to cook. With pinterest, blogs and cooking videos, there really is no excuse not to learn some basic techniques. Check out my pinterest boards and you will find a ton of great recipes of all kinds. We have never eaten out a bunch but there have definitely been seasons when we have done so more than others. A couple of years ago we had begun eating out more. There were only four of us with the girls gone, and we do live in the city with the most restaurants per capita. Then we added two teenage football players to our family! Need I say more? Our budget no longer covered several times out; it now covered twice a month! We do budget a date night, but that doesn’t always allow for dining out if we want to try out movies, theater performances, etc. If you do eat out, order water and you will save at least $10 per family of four and the kids won’t be full before the food arrives! Hey, that adds up to another time out in no time. The bonus of practicing number four is that you usually will slim down when you eat out less.
I hope this encourages those of you who are on a really tight budget but are totally dedicated to staying home with your children. Even if money isn’t tight, money saved can always be used to support great mission works or to encourage some mom whose budget is tight. Share with us what your family gives up to save some dollars each month.