Saving money as a mom
The economy is not the best and a lot of us are struggling. For this Mother's Day, I want to help all my mommy friends battle one of our biggest concerns; finances.
Top money-saving tips for moms:
1. Think about every purchase.
Whether you keep a written record of every time you spend money or look at something and come back later to buy it, make sure you stop and think about every purchase you make. Sometimes, you decide that it just isn't worth it and you save yourself money. When making a big purchase, make sure to stop and think about how much you would use that purchase if you didn't change anything in your life. Realistically, buying a treadmill isn't going to get someone who sits on the couch all evening off the couch. It will just be another place to throw laundry.
I know what you're thinking. I thought it too. "I am NOT doing that. What a pain to save 40 cents." Well, it turns out that it doesn't take a whole lot of effort to save hundreds of dollars. And the only difference between those that coupon and those that don't is how much money they save. I spend an average of 30 minutes a week prepping my coupons. I'm lazy. I watch TV and cut and sort coupons after the kids are in bed once a week. Then, I'm ready to go to the store. I'm also not one to take a big binder of coupons. I have a little book and it works great and fits in my purse.
Go to a website like http://www.couponmom.com/. Join. It's free. Read the little tutorial and just start. Here's my trick: if it's on sale and I have a coupon and it's something I use, I buy as many as the discount will allow. If it's not on sale or I don't have a coupon, I only buy it in case of emergencies. Most things come on sale and most things have coupons at one point or another. Wait and stock up.
3. Join a co-op for produce.
Check out localharvest.org, bountifulbaskets.org, coopdirectory.org or any other co-op site and start investigating. Yes, you spend a little effort to get your produce, but it is often as little as an hour a month and the payoffs can be fantastic. You can get a huge box of produce for $15. Between co-ops and coupons, I have reduced my monthly food bill by 70% and we eat a ton of healthy food. We are a fruit, veggie, and whole grain family.
Look for hand-me-downs for the kids. Let people you work with, relatives, friends, whoever you know that you love hand-me-down kids' clothes. A lot of people have clothes that their kids have grown out of that are in fabulous shape and are just sitting in a box somewhere. In addition, there are some wonderful stores that sell used clothing for incredibly reasonable prices. While some kids are hard on clothes, some kids grow so fast, the clothes are hardly or not at all used.
5. Start exchanges.
By now, you probably know other people with kids. Some of them you may like. Some of them you may not. But all of them have DVD's, books, time, and memberships. Take the time to talk to these other parents about what they have and an exchange you could start. Your kids will love the new movies and books even if they have been pre-loved. Babysitting exchanges are one of the most wonderful inventions I can think of. And some memberships can be swapped for a weekend so you and your kids can try something new.
6. Support your friends.
Make sure to use your coupons wisely when stores are having toy sales. You need a closet full of "presents". When your friends know that your kid will show up with a gift to a birthday party, they get invited to all the parties. While parties are not usually a parent's favorite activity, they are awesome free activities for your kids. The price of admission is a present.
There are about 5 million daily deal offers now. Check them. In my area, they are for kid activities and items about 1/6 of the time. When they are, the deals can really be worth it. If you can pay for your kid's birthday 6 months in advance at half the price, you'll be very relieved when it rolls around.
8. Free days are awesome.
Take note! Many different places offer free days. Have an idea of when they roll around. Who offers free stuff all the time? It may seem cheesy to you, but if your kids have a Build-a-bear, you can make an outing of taking the bear to see where it was "born" and getting it a new ribbon. If you combine that with Ben and Jerry's free ice cream day, you have a complete hit of an outing for the price of gas to get there.
9. Kids love the bus, the train, etc.
It's amazingly easy to entertain the kids for a Saturday morning riding the public transportation in the free zone and then stopping for a picnic in a park.
10. Pair up.
Whether you are buying things from a warehouse club, getting an online bulk discount, or on a pre-measured co-op program, don't go it alone. I don't want to pay less for things only to see them go to waste. Get a spending buddy and you save even more. You can split the cost of the produce or other items you can't use all of with someone else. Plus, it seems that those who save together find other ways to help each other out and you develop a really lovely friendship.