Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Day 3:: Money-saving tips

Of course, one of the challenges of being a single mother is finances.  It is downright expensive to take care of a household and children.  And unforeseen costs creep up all the time.

But I'm going to share with you some money saving tips that have helped me in my budget.  Every penny counts and you can learn to stretch a dollar to the max when it's necessary.

Household bills

I encourage you to review your household bills.  See what can be trimmed or maybe cut out.

We have chosen not to have cable or satellite TV service.  It's a huge expense I consider a luxury, not a need.  We have a Netflix account instead.  It's $8 a month.  The kids still get to watch movies and cartoons and I watch the occasional series that I may have missed out on otherwise.

I also recommend budget billing if it is offered for your gas, electric, sewer bills, etc.  When you know exactly what is coming out each month, it makes it a lot easier to budget.  And less surprises in those cold winter and hot summer months.

Review your car and home insurance every couple of years too.  I recommend using an independent agent.  They work with several different companies and can usually find one to get you the most bang for your buck.  But they may not look for a new one, if you don't ask them to.  Call and make sure you're getting the best rates possible for the coverage you have.

And never hesitate to call and ask for a discount or a review of your account for any bill you're paying.  Sometimes we may not receive simply because we do not ask.


It never fails, every year, no matter hard I try, the children grow and I am forced to purchase a whole new wardrobe.  Right?!  And they either grow out before it's worn out, or wear out before they grow out.  It's never ending, really.

But you can still dress your kids and not break the bank.
Resale shops:  Check your local listings for a good resale shop.  More and more individually owned businesses are popping up all the time.  I have a local place that is just wonderful.  They are extremely picky on which items they buy so I can rest assured that when I go in, I'm getting quality stuff.

And take advantage of their buy-back programs.  You might be able to score some good cash.  And even if it's just $10 or $15, it is more than you had going in.  I will sometimes take the money earned and apply it towards next year's clothing budget.  It really does help.

Clearance:  I love end of the year clearance items.  I refuse to buy any clothing item that is not drastically on sale or on a clearance rack.  And I will never pay more than $3-$5 for a shirt, or more than $8 for pants.  Because I  don't have to.  Plus, I buy for the following season so I'm not scrambling to get something to wear right away.  I can take my time and be conservative.

I have talked to several parents that don't buy for the following year out of fear it may not fit.  Let me tell you, I have done that from the time my kids were born.  And I can count on one hand where maybe an item I bought didn't work the following season.

Maybe I'm running the gamut on this and next year, one or all of my children will have a huge growth spurt, and everything I've purchased will not fit.  But so far, that hasn't happened.  And if it does, well the resale shop is going to love me!

Garage sales:  Take advantage of these.  You can truly find some amazing deals if you take the time to look.  I suggest go with cash in hand and a goal.  Because you can garage sale yourself into the poor house.  But if you're careful and take the time to look, you can find all kind of inexpensive treasures.  Remember, one man's junk is another woman's happy.  Or something like that...

Goodwill: I have found recently that Goodwill or the Salvation Army, or whatever local thrift store you have, can be a great place to find clothing as well.  This is my go-to place for jeans and jackets.

Crazy 8: I have been amazed just this year of the deals I can get at this little gem of a clothing shop.  At the beginning of the summer, they had last year's summer left-overs on clearance for pennies on the dollar.  And the same for the beginning of fall.  I was able to complete my kiddos wardrobes for the season as we were heading into it.  Bonus!!

At the end of a season, keep everything until you know it won't work for next season.  I have been amazed that some shirts and shorts and even a few pants will work the following year as well.  Some I knew for sure would be too small, worked for at least half of the next season.  So hold onto it until you know it won't fit.

Also, get creative.  The 80's have begun a revival.  Ripped jeans and cut-off shorts are in.  So even if just for play clothes or something to wear around the house, cut those too short jeans off and voila!  Something revived! 

The grocery... 



Plan your meals.  Here's what I mean: every time I go to the store, I make sure to have ingredients for at least three, if not four home cooked meals and three or four quick meals.

Now, I do not have the time nor the energy to know when we are going to have said meals.  Sometimes I get home from work and I am utterly exhausted and do not feel like standing at the stove.  That is when we grab a quick meal.  And quick meals do not have to be TV dinners or frozen pizzas.  Find a crock pot recipe.  Pinterest is my friend and can be an amazing tool if we do more than just pin or browse.  (wink, wink)

Meal planning does not have to be set in stone, but it can assure than when you head to the pantry to fix something, everything you need is there.  This eliminates that extra trip to the store where we may buy things we wouldn't have bought otherwise.  It also eliminates the drive-thru which can eat up a budget faster than a ravenous lion.

Go with a list.  I grocery shop every seven to ten days.  And because I plan ahead, I don't stray from the list too often.  I know my meals, I know what snacks we need and I know how many gallons of milk we will use.  For bread, I buy two loaves and freeze one so we never run out.  I've learned for myself, that if I go to the store more often than once a week, I will be tempted to spend more money.

Use your list, but be flexible and realistic.  If you remember at the store you need to buy toilet paper, but it's not on the list, please, for the sake of everyone, buy the toilet paper.  Your family will thank you.

Budget.  I like to just take cash to the store.  You will find that knowing you just have a certain amount of cash to spend, will stop those unnecessary impulse buys that swiping a debit or credit card will not.

If you are like I was several years ago, a budget was intimidating.  But I was privilege enough to attend Financial Peace University by Dave Ramsey.  I can tell you that this course changed my life.  It's definitely worth it if you get a chance to take it.  But even if you can't Dave has some amazing resources to help you set up a budget.

I am blessed to say I am completely debt free except for my house and I plan to stay that way.  If you want to have financial freedom, it takes some discipline, but it is possible.  Even with a single-income household.  

What are some things that you have found that helps you pinch those pennies?  Share in the comment section so we can all learn from each other.

PS - Check out my easy-peasey homemade laundry detergent too.  So inexpensive and kid-dirt tested, mother approved.

*The above links are not affiliate links.  Which means that I share because they are good resources, not because I get paid.

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