When Jesse and I got pregnant with our first child, I was working full time as a sign language interpreter for the county schools. Jesse was going to aviation mechanic school full-time, working a part-time job, and we honestly couldn’t figure out how we would make my dream a reality, to be a stay-at-home-mom.
Nine months and a couple miracles later, our little Roo was born and I became a stay-at-home-mom! It has not been easy financially, but has it been worth it? You betcha! I wouldn’t trade being with my girls for anything in the world. With that being said, I wanted to share all the tips I could think of with yall, in case you are wondering how to survive on one income. Even if you arent in that position, who doesnt like to save money?
Lets start with food. I love food; eating it, talking about it, you name it. 🙂
When Jesse and I were first married, we made a budget and found that we could live on $50/week for groceries. (This was back in 2008. Grocery prices may have fluctuated a little bit since then, but you get the point.) And now that we have two kids, I get about $87/week for groceries and home items like napkins, toilet paper, etc. Each week I plan out our meals on paper and write up a grocery list in order to keep me in budget, and to help me resist those tempting impulse buys.
My list consists of your basic, every day items. In order to keep things cost effective, I stay away from recipes with weird/expensive ingredients that would only be used one time and waste away in the fridge. Speaking of cost effective, I have to be smart about meat purchases. Meat is typically the most expensive item on my bill, so I stick to the basics- ground beef or turkey (which I never pay over $3/lb for) and chicken breasts. I’m not serving fancy steaks over here every night! A little trick I have found with chicken, is that every couple of weeks, it goes on sale at my local store for $1.99/lb. I ONLY buy the chicken when it is on sale, and I stock up on it and freeze it so that I wont have to pay full price. Also, when I boil the chicken, I save the broth in jars and freeze it so that I never have to buy canned chicken broth.
I realized that buying juice and soda was a money pit, so I don’t buy that unless it is a special occasion. That will save you a lot of money right there!
I used to buy the instant oatmeal packets, but realized that was a money pit too, so now I buy the big can of quick cook oats and make my own. I love to heat up my milk in the microwave, then add the oatmeal and a handful of dried blueberries. It is too good.
I use coupons when I can but am not extreme in any way. I shop at ALDI about every other month to stock up (the store is kinda far) and that saves me a ton! If I could shop there every week, I would never have to cut a coupon again.
I also buy a lot of generic items. They are great, and I often like them more than the real brand. One of my favorite Kroger deals is their honey wheat bread. It’s only $1 a loaf and always very fresh.
I don’t like to let things go bad in the fridge, so I use my leftovers to make something new. For example. I found a great way to use leftover white rice as fried rice. It was a hit!
Ok these next three things may make you roll your eyes or think I’m crazy, but I rinse out and reuse paper towels, heavy duty zip lock bags (if they didn’t get yucky) and I save my butter wrappers in the freezer to grease baking pans.
You still with me? Or ready to turn me in to the loony bin?
Moving on to baby stuff…
You don’t need to buy your kid every toy on the shelf. Surprise! I have some awesome friends & family that I have inherited toys from. Or if I am buying the toy, it is probably coming from a garage sale. I have bought a handful of new items for them, but they have to be REALLY cool for me to justify it. Like this awesome Melissa and Doug beach set. Roo LOVES this thing, at home or at the beach! Another toy tip- let the grandparents/aunts/etc buy the toys for holidays.
I breastfeed my babies until they are at least one year old. That is free and will save you from having to buy formula. I love my Medela pump.
I make my own baby food to save money. You can learn how to do that here.
I buy my kids clothes at thrift stores, consignment sales, or from the sale rack. I love to go to Target for their end-of-season sale and stock up for the next year.
Speaking of Target, their diapers are my FAVORITE and they just happen to be the cheapest! Huggies and pampers are great, especially when they are given to me at a baby shower. I really like Luvs too. But when I am buying the diapers, it’s Target Up&Up. (They are about .14 per diaper while Huggies and Pampers average about .26 per diaper)
Diapers have come a long way and no longer need to be changed after three drops of tee-tee in them. I change wet diapers every three hours. (Poopy diapers get changed immediately of course to avoid smell, rash, and explosion.)
When it comes to wipes, my husband and family make fun of me, but I rip them in half. Ha Ha Ha yeah yeah get it all out. You done? 🙂 ok so my hands are small and this is what a normal size wipe looks like in my hand:
Saving pennies. Every little bit helps, right?
My last category is home life.
The biggest point that I want to get across here, is that you want to cut down as many fixed expenses as you can.
For some people, a monthly cable bill is a fixed expense. We do not subscribe to cable. Instead we purchased a tv antenna that gives us all the basic channels, and it was just a one time cost! We get ABC, FOX, CBS, NBC and many more local channels. They are crystal clear. We do subscribe to Netflix though. It’s just $8 a month. Poor mans cable. 🙂
We do not have a home phone, but we do have a family cell plan and get a discount through my husbands job. You would be surprised at the long list of discounts your cell phone provider is willing to do…I was!
Jesse shopped around for insurance to find the best deal and we combined our home and car insurance policies to save some money.
We both drive used cars.
When we bought our Suburban, we were tempted to subscribe to the OnStar features and XM radio, but they are fixed expenses that we don’t want or need. Thanks but no thanks.
I wash all our laundry on Mondays. One load right after another, to keep the dryer hot and therefor, save on the energy bill.
Our thermostat is set on 76 in the summer and in the 60s in the winter.
Every night when I remove my mascara, I use only half of a cotton ball. Lol. Even I laugh when I realize how kooky I am.
I use up every last drop of toothpaste and lotion. I have no shame to cut open the lotion bottle to get all the goody out.
As for the toothpaste, Jesse found these squeeze things and they work great for getting out the last bit.
Jesse and I each have an allowance that we get each pay period. We get $25 loaded onto an AmericanExpress prepaid card (no fees) and we can use that money guilt-free, without having to consult with the other about, “do we have room in our budget?”
Last but not least, when my family exchanges Christmas gift lists at Thanksgiving, I ask for items that may seem to be a Target shopping list. Razors, cover girl mascara, lightbulbs, etc. I ask for things that I need and are practical. My husband thinks this is hilarious.
**update 03.04.13- We love using BillCutterz.com to negotiate our bills. They have lowered our gas bill & cell phone, just to name a few. Check out Jesse’s post about them here.
What do you do to save money in your home? I am always looking for new ways! 🙂