Kids are expensive. When you're moving from a two income family to a one income family, you can feel the pinch even more. So what do you do when you want to stay at home, but you also want to be able to feed your family well and have lots of time for fun with the kids? There are a lot of ways to save money day to day. These five tips offer you a great way to start saving money, even on a single income, while keeping the kids busy and happy.
Fruits and vegetables are in season at different times throughout the year. If you plan your menu accordingly, it's possible to save a lot of money on fresh produce by buying in season. On top of that, most grocery stores have "stickered" items on everything from produce, to meat and even bakery items. You may hesitate to purchase something close to a sell buy date.
But if you have a big family and you know you're going to cook that meat or eat that much bread in a day or so, it can mean big savings at the grocery store. Additionally, if you plan your meals ahead of time, it means buying what you need for when you need it. That leads to less food waste, which saves you money. Cooking more at home will also save money, and have the added bonus of eating less processed food. If you have the space in a freezer, you can even set aside time to cook batches and freeze them, so you can have meals throughout the week.
The most important part of saving money is finding a budget and sticking to it. You might find one of the most useful ways to do that is to carry your cash with you. It may seem counter-intuitive, but keeping your cash visible and measurable has actually been proven to discourage you from spending money. We live in an electronic-based world. Between our credit cards and debit cards, it's very easy to lose track of your spending.
Especially with how common online shopping has become, it's tempting to pay for convenience, especially when the convenience comes with not having to watch your money dwindle. But banking and credit card transaction fees add up. Not having easy access to cash makes it less tempting to spend money on things you don't need.. To make it easier on yourself, work out when you will be going to the bank throughout the week, and how much you can afford per week. Then, visit the bank, and make a commitment to leave your cards at home on grocery days, or while you're out running errands.
Daycare and babysitting costs are one of the highest costs for parents. In fact, it's child care costs that often encourage mothers to stay home with their children past the first year. But there will be days when you have errands you can't bring the kids to. Maybe it's been a while since you've left the house with other grownups, or you and your husband haven't had a date night in a while.
Whatever the , reason, there will be times you need child care, which, whether you choose daycare or babysitters, can get expensive. There are reasons they say "it takes a village to raise a child."
Get to know moms in the neighborhood, and offer to trade off child care, or set up a schedule, so that you know you'll always be covered for child care when you need it. This is also a great option for parents with school aged children who work: Check your schedule with other moms, and make a commitment to make your place an after-school drop off once or twice a week for working parents, in exchange for a few hours a week for date night, or running errands.
Using your local mom groups as your go-to play groups also saves you money you'd otherwise spend on day camps or after school projects, while getting your kids some social activity time.
Speaking of after school programs, keep an eye on your local paper! Coffee shop and library bulletin boards are other great sources for community events that are family-friendly and cheap. Many of these programs are free. If you have museums or galleries in your area, talk to them about events and costs for memberships.
You may find lots of kid-friendly spaces where kids under four can get in for free. Pay attention to what's happening in your local community paper. Many businesses or groups sponsor child-friendly activities in summer months, and during spring and Christmas breaks, giving you and the kids a great, inexpensive "stay-cation."
If you have outdoor space, growing your own vegetables is a great way to save money. Tomato plants can be grown inside in certain conditions. Most root vegetables are low maintenance and great for first time gardeners. Even if you don't have a lot of outdoor space, you can grow a small herb garden inside, or in a planters box, and save money on herbs like mint, rosemary, parsley, even aloe. Look up plants that are easy to maintain, and save yourself money on produce every week!
As a stay-at-home mom, it can be tricky to balance a budget on a single income. You want to save money, but you also don't want to compromise the weekly grocery bill, or the opportunities and experiences you'd like for your kids. Fortunately, there are lots of ways to save money even when you choose to stay home with the kids. With a few simple budget tricks, and by taking an active part in your community, you will find plenty of ways to save money while staying home with the kids.
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