When I had my first baby, we made the decision that I would stay at home. This was a big transition, going from working full time (with lots of overtime), to staying at home and not having my salary coming in.
Staying at home can be stressful when you realize how expensive kids can be. Here are some tips I have learned along the years, whether your kids are babies or teens. Plus, you can continue to have frugal habits if and when you return to work, which can help you to pay off a mortgage, save for your children’s college, or even your own retirement.
Shopping online can save you a lot of time and money.
For one, you can compare prices online.
Shopping online saves you gas money.
Shopping online also saves you the hassle of driving around with kids, which can mean impulse buys or having to stop for food or making other pit stops along the way.
You can even buy your groceries online, which is another great way to stick to a list, plan meals better, and avoid impulse buys (again, when you shop with kids, you may encounter them begging for things).
Shop in Bulk
Be selective when you do bulk shopping, otherwise you can end up with a lot of something you may not actually use up, whether it is a huge container of mayonnaise or fresh berries that go bad before you can use them.
It generally can’t hurt to buy things in bulk like toilet paper, diapers, etc.
Another great way to save money is meal planning. By cooking at home and planning meals, you can save money and food. Not only that, you will save yourself extra time by having leftovers and frozen meals on hand. It helps to have habits where you will save on food. When I cook pasta, I always cook a full box. This way, you are saving on the time and energy you put towards cooking, plus it means we have leftovers, which are great for school lunches or leftovers (and it means you won’t have a handful of random bowtie noodles left in a box). Actions like this help you save money and hassle.
Buy and Sell Used Items
When I became a SAHM, I discovered a great consignment shop, which allowed me to shop for baby items at a big discount. It is also a good time to get rid of things you aren’t using. I am always selling the clothes and toys that my kids no longer use, which cuts down on clutter and earns me some extra money on the side.
As a stay at home mom, one of the things that can add up quickly is activities with the kids. Kids are expensive! Find things to do with the kids that are free or cheap.
Some ideas for free things to do include: visiting nature centers, going to the park, play groups and play dates, visiting the library, go hiking, playgrounds, do crafts. In the summer, we make a bucket list of things, which often include things like visiting 5 new playgrounds or 5 new beaches.
There are programs that offer free or low-cost programs, like bowling or roller skating, so sign up for those so you can save. Our movie theater offers $1 kids movies in the summer. Be on the lookout for those kind of money-saving programs.
Budget, Save, and Make Changes
Lastly – budget and save. This means living within your means. Maybe you went from a full-time job to being a SAHM, so spending habits will have to change. This means evaluating things you need versus things you want, and figuring out ways to save on the things you do need.
Cut back and find ways to save, from line-drying laundry to adjusting your thermostat. Cut down on eating out and other entertainment. Check out coupons and money-saving apps. I wash my own car and do all our yardwork. We do a lot of DIY projects around the house.
There are so many ways to save, and you can do this whether or not you are on a tight budget. What are your favorite ways to save?