as a stay at home mommy of 4, i am constantly looking for ways to save money. a lot of my friends and family find it hard to believe that i have been home for almost 8 years with my children. many times, i am asked for tips on ways i am able to do it. not only by individuals wanting to stay at home with their kids but from others living with tight budgets. here are some tips that may drastically reduce your monthly expenses.
cook at home more often – of course, owning a low cost food blog, i would say that one first! cooking at home, not only saves money but you control the quality of ingredients as well! for working parents, it can be difficult at times with your busy schedules. try finding a balance and prepare dinners from home at least 3 times a week. slow cooker meals definitely helps get dinner on the table faster.
bag lunches go hand in hand. as tempting as it is to buy lunch out while you are at work and escape the daily chaos with a coworker, those dollars add up too.
extreme couponing – i know you have probably seen the extreme couponing tv show. it has many mixed reviews! i stumbled across it one day when i had surgery and we have never looked back. we used to average about $200 a week on groceries for our family of 6 and by the end of that week, those groceries were gone. now, we spend about $60 a week easily for a TON of groceries that we can stockpile. to start, you will need to buy a sunday paper. look for subscription deals in your area. i found a deal that came in the mail, where our papers are $0.47 each, plus they are delivered to our door. we buy 4 papers, so we can have 4 of each coupon. next, buy a binder along with tabs, to organize your coupons. then find ‘couponing 101′ resources that will teach you how to buy items at rock bottom prices. matching a coupon with that rock bottom price means you will pay little to nothing for it. there are many couponing tutorials and wonderful blogs that will teach you step by step and make it very easy for you. my favorites are homemaking mom, moola saving mom,and we use coupons.
cutting the cable – watching tv is our nation’s favorite way of passing time. not only does it entertain us, but also our kids! some moms and dads would not be able to get one chore done without turning on spongebob or yo gabba gabba to entertain their little ones. but cable comes with a price. and for some cable companies, a hefty price. consider lowering your cable package to basic. basic cable is at least $20 less a month than the premium packages. movie channels, sports packages and pay per view increase your bills significantly. another option is cutting out your cable altogether. netflix has just about every tv sitcom, including unlimited streaming movies and their streaming packages start as low as $8. you can save at least $100 from that option alone.
*consider reducing your internet speed, too. we reduced our internet speed one year for a lower priced package and did not notice a difference in the performance of our computers. however, we did notice the difference in our pockets!
cutting the data plan on your iPhone – i know for some of you, this one is rough. take a deep breath and keep reading! a lot of people are surprised that we use regular cell phones, not androids or iPhones. my main argument about not having a smartphone is the ‘data plan’. with smart phones, there is a requirement of a data plan. those data plans start at $20 – $30, which amounts to at least $240 a year. it is hard for me to even consider paying that on top of my internet bill for my home computers! we have 2 laptops and a desktop, so i have been perfectly fine with waiting until i get home, to check my email on one of my three computers!
staying on top of your bills – there are great ways to easily manage your bills and track how much you are spending. my mom uses the old fashion way of writing all her expenses down from her check book. back in the day, my hubby (who is a master in excel) created a spreadsheet for our expenses. but now there are other innovative options of keeping track. we now use manilla and it is free! it is very easy to overspend. try using financial tracking software that has multiple ways for you to track your money, tell you when your bills are due, manage your savings and more.
becoming a one car family – we recently sold one of our cars. my husband works from home and we usually travel as a family most times. for families with working parents whose jobs are on opposites sides of the spectrum, one car may be harder to navigate. car pooling to work with a friend, telecommuting or using the metro may be an alternative. not only will you make some extra money from selling the car, but all the expenses that comes with having more than one vehicle give you more room in your budget. car insurance, registration, personal property tax, repairs, gas, maintenance, oil changes, etc….. is gone.
lowering your utility bill – all you have to do is look up from your computer, and take a quick look at the appliances that you have plugged in that you are not using. computers, ceiling fans, toasters, coffee makers, cell phone chargers… anything that can raise your utility bill, cut it off and unplug it. most energy companies have guides on their websites on how to save energy and help cut costs on your bill. check out your companies website or even energystar.gov website and start saving.
shop online – shopping on websites like walmart, amazon, totsy, and ebay can save up to 50% off of most items, especially electronics. it also gives you the advantage to match prices and compare. i also follow several couponing blogs that post hot deals and special buys on particular items. it is great for christmas time! when i see a price listed that i like or a hot deal, i order it then, and save it for christmas. then i have my christmas shopping done early.
pre-plan your outings/date nights – this one is big for me. i use groupon A LOT! ya’ll know i am a couponer and all about saving money. the hubby and i rarely get date nights. but when we do, the first thing i do, is see what deals are in my area on groupon. japanese steakhouses are my favorite restaurants. groupon had a recent deal for 50% off one of my favorite steakhouses. sometimes they have deals for putt, putt golf, bowling or different activities that we want to do with the kids for a family outing. last year when we took the kids to florida, before i got there, i looked to see what deals groupon was offering in florida. i ended up getting tickets to the a nice petting zoo, a go kart place with an arcade and crocodile park for 60% off! an email from groupon popped up in my inbox for mani/pedis right before my girlfriends and i had our girls night. we got our hands and feet done for half off! it pays to plan in advance. subscribe to groupon’s daily deals.
speaking of pedicures, 90% of the time, i do my pedicures myself. i buy the polish, buffers, nail files, acetone, etc. and keep it in my pedi box. all of those supplies that last for a long time, are probably the cost of one pedicure. when the time comes, i take the time to hook my feet up! the added bonus is the designs on your toes. now, at the salon, you will be charged at least $5 for each design. well, at walmart in the nail polish section, they have packs of beautiful stickers that you place on your toe after you have polished. follow up with a top coat and your done. 100 stickers for $2. you do the math!
scratching the gym membership – i personally do not have a gym membership. i usually buy workout videos to do in front of my tv. however, i have friends that have memberships. some gym memberships start at $20 – $30 a month. if you are like some of my friends, sometimes the money gets wasted if you do not feel like going to the gym regularly. youtube has tons of work-out videos to do from home that are free, and there are tons of websites that show you a series of exercises that you can do at home to achieve a certain goal. going for a jog is a great option as well that costs nothing.
above are merely a few ways that you can positively impact your operating budget. implementing some of them, or others that you may find within your household, will prove to be small sacrifices that yield tremendous results.
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