I have had a lot of people ask me how we can afford for me to stay home with our kids. My husband is a talented sheet metal installer and he works very hard, living in a small Mid-West town and raising three children, his income would be considered average at best.
So how do we do it? Out of necessity, we must be very savvy with every penny we spend and avoid wasting money on things that aren’t part of our long-term goals.
Most people spend money on things they absolutely do not need all the time. Yes, most of the time, it is easier or more fun to buy these things. If you can truly afford it, then why not? But if you are looking to save a little or want to stay home with your kids, here are some ideas to cut costs.
We avoid these to keep our monthly budget balanced:
1. Bottled Water
I read that bottled water is more acidic than regular filtered or tap water, but I don’t know any specifics. If you don’t like regular tap water, a Brita or Pur water filter is the cheap way to go. We have one, and we refill Tupperware water bottles and put them in the fridge so it has that straight-from-the-fridge coldness.
And by this I mean something such as Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts. Sure, it takes a little extra effort, but coffee at home can be just as good with all of the creamer choices out now. We really enjoy International Delight’s Carmel Macchiato in coffee, and I make chai tea lattes with Lipton’s Spicy Chai Tea and Aldi brand french vanilla creamer.
3. Name Brand Clothes
Especially for kids. Before I buy any clothes for my kids, I ask myself, “Can they play in the mud in this?” And if the answer is “No,” it goes back on the rack. I am a big fan of garage sales and thrift shops for kids’ clothes. Unless we’re buying clothes for a special occasion, we go inexpensive.
4. Too Much House
Tyler and I bought our first house when I was in my senior year of college in 2006, (what were we thinking?) and when we went to get pre-approved for a mortgage loan, we were told we could afford way more than we thought we could. Thankfully, we took the advice of our parents and Dave Ramsey, and ended up with a house that we can easily afford, even on just one income. A lot of people owe more on their house than it’s worth, thanks to the popping of the housing market bubble, and it’s more important than ever to buy a house that you can easily afford.
5. A New Car!
A brand new car is really exciting… or so I’ve heard. Many, many people define themselves by what they drive. But what is a car, really? A large appliance to get you from point A to point B. My 2000 Toyota Sienna with 164,000+ miles does that job just as well as a 2012 Cadillac Escalade. Yes, it’d be nice to have automatic doors and a DVD player, but I personally would rather be a stay-at-home mom than be a working mom with a nice car.
6. Restaurant Food
Yes, it’s easier. It’s wonderful to eat out at a restaurant for a special date or celebration, but I have seen more and more people relying on restaurant food for regular meals and never cooking at home. I have learned to come up with easy meals at home when I don’t feel like cooking (or run out of time) – including Hamburger Helper, frozen pizza, Stouffer’s Lasagna, frozen meatballs (which seem to make spaghetti night slightly fancier), and Crock Pot meals. Stay tuned, I’ll be posting a few of my easy recipes in the next few weeks.
7. Cable TV
Many see this as a necessity, but is it really? We do have basic cable at our house, which runs about $14 per month, but that’s only because we get a discount because we have our internet with the same company. With just a converter box, we can receive CBS, NBC, ABC, FOX, several PBS stations, and our local channels. TV is just a form of entertainment, and if you watch less of it, think how many productive things you could get done.
8. A Land Line Telephone
The use of the land line is dying now that we are in the smart phone age. I admit, we actually have a land line because my hubby didn’t have a cell phone for several years, and now it’s hard to give up the number. However, I have heard that it’s possible to port a land line number to a cell phone. If anyone has any additional information, let me know and I’ll post it here.
Ugly kitchen, cute baby. This is Peach when she was about a year old. Notice the orange-y colored cabinets, the mint green inside, and the lovely brown and light brown vinyl.
9. Mistaking ‘Wants’ for ‘Needs’
need want a new kitchen. We have lived in our house, with our hideous kitchen, for over six years, and we are still hoping to get it done sometime in the next year. Is our kitchen ugly? Yes. But is it functional and clean? Yes. A total kitchen remodel is something we are planning on in the next year, but it is not something we “need”.
10. Not Having a Written Budget
This may be the biggest one. We went for years never really having any idea where our money went each month. With a written budget, you can plan exactly where all of your money will go before the month even gets started. That way there’s no guilt when buying anything because you already know you can afford it.
Bonus #11. Financing instead of Saving
This goes right along with having a written budget. For our new kitchen, are we going to get a Home Depot credit card at 0% interest for however many months? No. We are starting a sinking fund, where we put a set amount money away every month to save for it. We will treat it just like a bill so that we can reach our financial and home remodeling goals.
These are just a few ways our family saves money so I can stay at home with our young children. What are some other good ways you save money to accomplish your goals?