For those of you moms out there that don’t go out of the home and work, have you ever had the slight (or heavy) feeling of guilt? I find myself from time to time fighting that feeling because my husband is out there working a full time job and overtime just to provide for our little family! I have had to learn how to manage our household expenses. Here is what I’ve found.
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When that guilty feeling rushes over me of my husband working so hard while I’m just sitting at home, I try and remember the sacredness and the importance of my “job”. However, I do still feel responsible to help relieve some of the financial pressures that come with a single-income family.
First things first, I have this on my wall to always remember:
Love that quote. Helps me remember the eternal importance of my time here on earth as a mother. In way of financial pressures, here are a few things I’ve found that I can do as a mom to help in any financial situation.
1. MANAGING EXPENSES:
You manage the home. That means everything from the dust build up, grocery shopping, paying the electric bill, to helping your children choose which extra curricular activity to participate in. This means you have a lot of control of your family expenses. A budget is simple, I always compare it to loosing weight. Calories in vs Calories out; Expenses in vs Expenses out. Not too hard, right?
Well when it comes to creating a good budget, you get to control what stores your family shops at, where your family goes for vacation, and what activities your family participates in. This is where the sky becomes your limit!
Participate in coupon sites
Groupon, KSL deals, Living Social Deals, etc. One of the hardest parts of a budget is the mindset that you CANT buy that! It’s that little child in us all that if we are told no, we somehow want it more. Well, a good budget allows you to have room for fun! Sites like these just help you be smart with your money. If you know you are going out with your hubby, then find a good coupon on Groupon and choose that restaurant instead of paying full price! I have done this with my hubby a time or two and it’s turned out to be a blast because it adds variety in our what would be normal eating out choice.
Find coupons / sales at your grocery store
I’ll confess, I’m not one of those mom’s who are great at the whole newspaper clippings, organizing coupons in binders, going to four different grocery stores to find the best deals… Not sure why, I just haven’t found a passion in that yet. But I have found a few different apps that help me save money on items I’m already buying. My very favorite is Price Match with Rachel! Others include Checkout51, and iBotta.
In addition to finding good deals at the grocery store, I’ve found that if you have a pre-planned weekly menu you save a ton more! This is hard for me because I’m a picky eater. To say that I have to eat chicken and mashed potatoes on Tuesday because I planned that a week ago is a turn off and I wont “feel” like eating that. Silly, yes. It must come from the spoiled little girl in me, but what I do to combat this is make a list of dinner ideas for about 11 days. When I go shopping I get the bare essentials, and then only the ingredients for those dinner ideas. The other three days for that two week period consists of one left over night, one eating out night, and one eating at my parent’s for family dinner. Then the rule is, I can’t go to the grocery store until the next two weeks. I only go grocery shopping 2 times a month and by doing that, it has saved TONS of money! (I hate being vulnerable, but to expose what I mean by a ton last month we did NOT follow this rule and we went to the grocery store as we pleased/needed and did not follow a pre-planned menu. We spent just under $1,100 on grocery’s. YUCK! Our normal grocery budget is about $300 per month.)
Do you have a talent that you can share with the neighbor in trade for one of their talents? Teach the neighbor kid piano lessons while they teach your kid how to swim in their pool; hold a monthly cooking class in trade for your neighbor to hang up your Christmas lights; have your son weed the neighbors lawn in trade for the girl next door to do your hair…. endless possibilities. I will admit, this does take courage in putting yourself out there and asking if others are willing to participate in your trade BUT it’s worth it.
Do your own clothing alterations
Clothes can be super expensive! Some alterations can be super difficult and I don’t mess with those, but others are super super easy and can save lots of money! For example, hemming pants! My husband and I went to Dillard’s back in January and they were having their after Christmas sell. They had every item for $10.00. My husband got 6 pairs of pants, only two of which fit when we walked out of the store. The other four, I had to hem. But, I didn’t want to limit ourselves of a great deal just because the pants were too long. Other alterations I’ve done for our little family – I’ve made church pants for my son out of an old pair of church pants my husband never wears anymore. I got a hole in the elbow in one of my favorite sweaters, and I just sewed it into a 3/4 shirt instead of a long sleeve shirt. I’ve taken in a few of my hubby’s work shirts since he has lost about 75lbs. I’ve made shoes (Tom’s style) for my son out of a scrap piece of black fabric I had….. anyway, you get the idea. Sewing might not be your thing, but something is! I know it!!
oh where do I even begin? Children are expensive. From their clothes to the large amounts of food they eat – and I know it will only get more expensive the older they get! But you aren’t up a creek without a paddle just quite yet. If your body allows it, breastfeed for a year and save on formula. To do quick math, formula is about $25 a can and you go through about 1 a week (on average depending on their age). That’s just roughly speaking $1,300 for one year of formula. What about when they need solid foods? Baby food is very expensive, I know that because I bought it for my son for about 5 months. I would recommend making your own baby food! What about clothes for those cute little ones? Don’t neglect yourself from getting that cute outfit that you are dying to dress them up in, but maybe choose to go to Kid-to-Kid or trade with your sister who has older kids for the majority of their wardrobe. It will save on lots. Same thought goes for toys too.
2. INCREASING INCOME
While you have the responsibility to help manage your household expenses, you also can do what you can to earn a little extra income on the side. On the side is mentioned for a purpose because motherhood is our full time job:
- With that in mind, you can still try and find creative ways to increase your household income. For example, I babysat the neighbor girl for 4 hours a week while her mom taught preschool. During the 5 months that I did that, I received 4 other offers who came to me and asked if I would babysit for them as well. Babysitting isn’t for everyone, but it is for some. If you are already in a routine with your own kids, you might think about adding a few more kids just every once in a while for a little extra cash.
- I know I keep mentioning this, but use your talents for extra mula! If you’ve been given a talent, use it! Someone somewhere needs your talent! I only sew on the side, only during my son’s nap times and a few times at night while my hubby has my son, and already this year I’ve made about $2,000. That is additional income that we did not plan on. That helps out a ton!
3. LIVING WITHIN YOUR MEANS
There are times when the things you want will simply not be in your budget. It’s one of the hardest adjustments to adulthood, but it’s one we must all learn. One of the hardest parts for me comes to the decorating. I have all the creativity and passion in the world for interior design (especially my home interior) but I find that decorations often comes last on the priority list. You might have other things that you struggle with not being able to afford. This is where we get to learn maturity and learn to live within our budget. It takes a toll on the whole family to be in financial bondage and surrounded by what you want, vs living within our means and being okay to do with a little less.
Sometimes living within a budget sucks, but we must not forget that we still have control over the way we live! We can manage our monthly expenses by being creative and positive! Don’t loose motivation in the journey of motherhood! These financial pressures only make us stronger, and our children will become even better because of it.
What is your favorite part about managing your household? Comment below!