When people find out that I am a Stay at Home Mom they automatically assume that my Husband must “make a lot of loot”. That just isn’t the case. Sure, he makes an average salary but we really had to change our lifestyle to make it work.
Like most of you, when Ryan and I got married we were both working full time and had a little apartment so we really had the freedom to do whatever we wanted. We tried to save a lot knowing one day I would stay home but for the most part, money wasn’t an issue.
The first couple of months trying to figure out how to live on one income was challenging but with a few changes, it has been pretty manageable (we lost about 30-40% of our income!). Now, it has not always been easy. And, it does take a lot of discipline. But, it has been worth it. I am so grateful I get to stay home with my babies, I wouldn’t give that up for the world (unless I had to…)!!
A lot of people have asked me how we do it so here it is… my Stay At Home Mom Money Saving Tips:
1. Pack your lunch. My Husband packs his lunch everyday for work. If we go to the Zoo or the Mall or to the park, I pack a lunch. Festivals, day trips… we pack food. This takes some preparation and I know that there are so many better food options when you buy out, but the money we save not buying food when we don’t have to allows us to use that money for other things, like a nice dinner date or, more groceries. This goes for your coffee too, make your coffee at home! $2.00 a cup adds up.
2. Minimal Christmas. Ryan and I do not exchange Christmas gifts and we only get our children four gifts each. The main reason we only get them four gifts is to save money but the other part is to not spoil them. They DO NOT need 10 new toys for Christmas, it is a waste. We get them four things that they really want or need and they are just as happy with those four things as they would with 100 things. We both have large families so trying to afford to buy gifts around Christmas (and a tree and parties and decorations and cards…) is really challenging so we really try to stick to a strict budget. I do cheat and buy something for Ryan sometimes if we have left over money….
3. Basic Cable. We have very basic cable, it is only about six channels, and that is so we can get the internet package. I really wish we had HGTV and Disney JR, but, we don’t and that is okay. We have Netflix and watch things for free through the internet sometimes so I don’t feel totally lost. Not only does this save us money monthly but it also keeps me from getting into bad habits (like watching trashy TV that will rot my brain…).
4. Cheap Groceries. Do not just shop at the grocery store that is closest to your home, shop at the stores that have the cheapest prices. You all know that ALDI’S is my jam, but I also will shop at Wal-Mart (however, I hate it there and I regret going every time I go) and BJ’s (they have the cheapest lunch meat! ). Sometimes I will go to Giant because they have things I can’t get at other places but I will not do all of my shopping there. ShopRite has good sales and coupons too.
Look, you do not have to buy name brand food, it all tastes the same. We should all be eating mostly fresh produce and healthy meats anyway so that shouldn’t be a problem. I do not know how to coupon and I am not interested in learning, so if you are like me, just start price comparing and make smarter shopping choices, not just the easiest option. This will save you money!! I get so sad when I am behind the person spending $400.00 on groceries at the basic grocery stores.
5. Less Eating Out. We rarely go out to eat at a restaurant. We will buy food one time a week (usually a weekend) but that means Chinese or Chipotle or Penera, not a sit down joint with a waitress. I would LOVE to eat out more, I LOVE eating out, this is probably the hardest sacrifice for me personally. Anytime I can eat something that I didn’t have to make or clean up is wonderful but we just can’t do it regularly. We get to go on a date not very often, maybe twice a month, and we will go out to eat (because paying for two people is way cheaper than four or five) but I would do it more if we could.
*There are times where I get lazy packing food or we just want to get out of the house and we will go out to dinner, but not going out to eat is a goal we try to stick to because it is the biggest waste of money.
6. No Random Shopping Sprees. Boo. I remember a time when I could go buy a shirt if I wanted one, any time I wanted one. Now, I just don’t do it. I can’t just randomly buy a new candle or a pair of shoes if I like them. I have to strategically save up my money and plan a time where I can go shopping and get a few things. I can not just pick things up here and there if I see it and I want it. This is actually a great habit because I end up spending less money in general, but it is also really hard when you see that thing that you would really love to have. It is not easy, but the more I resist, the easier it is to resist.
7. Make a Budget. Come up with an amount that fits within your budget and budget out specific items. For example, I have a little file thing that I have labeled for different things (i.e. gifts, clothes, food, hair, etc.) and I try to put money into it weekly and only use what is in the designated file. I don’t get my hair cut until I have enough money in my “hair file”. If you are not that organized, just be aware of what you have and what you can/should spend. Being aware of your bills and finances will help you make smarter buying decisions.
8. Avoid Temptation. Avoiding going to stores that are really tempting unless you know you have the money to spend. I had to stop taking my kids to Storytime at the Mall at one point because the temptation to buy all. the. clothes. was too hard and I was spending money when I shouldn’t have. Don’t go walk around Target if you have nothing else to do. You will find something to buy even if you don’t need it.
And, that is basically it. There are a few other things that I don’t spend money on like manicures and pedicures, coloring my hair, massages… things like that. These things weren’t really something I spent a lot of money on before so it isn’t a difficult thing for me not to do but I realize that some people may have a hard time doing their own nails vs. getting a professional manicure. I do like an occasional pedicure though, I’m not gonna lie. I just have to budget for that.
Welp, I hope you find this helpful. It has definitely been a growing experience for me but with a little self-discipline, I have been able to stay home full time for the last six years.
And, yes, I do wish I had the flexibility to take random vacations with my man, or buy fancy clothes or go out to eat more often, but like I said before, it has been worth the sacrifice!
Also (I will stop rambling in a minute), you do not have to be single or a Stay at Home Mom to practice any of these money saving tips. Try it for a month and see how much money you have been able to save. We do it so I can stay home, you can do it so you have more money to spend on other things! ha.