Kids, Life, Money, Organization

How I save money to be a stay-at-home mom

When I decided to stay at home with our first son, my husband and I knew money would be tight with only one income, but I was determined to try.

Several months before I quit, I examined each and every bill we had and tried to find a way to pay less. My goal was to have us on our newer, tighter budget three months in advance to make sure we could do it.

How I save money to be a stay at home mom. Budget and lower bills to live off one income.

I quickly found that small savings from many places add up and make a big difference. Here’s what I did:

The bills

IMG_3475

Grocery

There are so many informative articles out there on how to shop the sales and clip coupons, but this idea is a little more basic. What do I have against coupons? Nothing! They’re great, but personally I don’t like organizing them, and I don’t find many coupons for organic or fresh foods. I’m also not organized enough to plan my menu around sales. I want to be, but at this moment in time, I am just not.

So here’s my strategy: Write a menu. Make a list. Follow the list. 

Every time we go rogue and try to wing it at the store, we spend much more (probably close to double) than if I planned a menu ahead of time and made a list. At the beginning of the week, we rough out a menu, make a list of the ingredients, and go to the grocery store. See this post for menu planning for non-cooks. (When we’re making the menu, we also consider the food we already have on hand.) And when things have been really tight, I’ve been known to take a calculator in the store with me.

Some other grocery shopping tips to save money:

  • Check out the circular online before you make your list.
  • Buy the store brand.
  • Just because it’s on sale doesn’t mean it’s the best deal. Look at the other products and prices even if they’re not discounted to compare.
  • Use the price-per-ounce printed on the shelf tag to find the better deal.
  • Look on the lower shelves for the best deal, because they put the pricier items at eye level.
  • In our grocery store, the spices in the Latino section are about half the price of the ones in the spice aisle.
  • You probably don’t have to buy two to get the “two for a dollar” deal. If you need one, just buy one for 50 cents.

List of bulk items to buy at Costco

Buying in bulk

If you buy something repeatedly, find the cheapest place to get it in bulk. Calculate it by how much each item in the package costs individually. For example, I did a lot of research on the cheapest place to buy diapers. I found the cheapest place by calculating the cost per diaper. (At that time it was Costco — in the store, not online.)

When shopping in the warehouse, it’s important to remember that:

  1. Not everything saves money buying in bulk.
    Sometimes it’s the same cost at the supermarket and you don’t have to devote your pantry to storage.
  2. And not everything is worth buying in bulk.
    Some things will go bad before you can use it all.
  3. A list is imperative.
    When very few items cost less than $10, a couple extra additions to the cart will blow your budget.

Take the time to learn prices at the grocery store versus the warehouse to get the best price. We have a membership to Costco and go once a month, alternating what we buy each time. These are the main things that work for our family to buy in bulk:

  • diapers and wipes
  • formula
  • vitamins
  • lotion
  • razors
  • crackers and tortilla chips
  • almonds, pistachios, dried fruit
  • coffee
  • organic ground beef
  • organic chicken breast
  • fresh fish
  • rotisserie chicken
  • bacon
  • non-organic milk
  • organic eggs
  • organic butter
  • colby jack cheese block, shredded cheese, cheese sticks, gourmet cheeses, grated parmesan cheese
  • organic strawberry jam
  • organic spinach leaves
  • in-season fresh produce
  • organic frozen fruits and veggies
  • bread and English muffins
  • olive oil/vegetable oil
  • coconut oil
  • honey and agave
  • plastic wrap
  • dish soap
  • dishwasher detergent
  • laundry detergent

Quitting cable and using roku to save money

Cable

This was our most drastic measure. We decided to cut the cord with our cable provider after frustrating service and rising costs. We don’t have time to watch all that much TV anyway, so the decision wasn’t incredibly hard. We only have internet now and use it to stream Netflix and Hulu Plus through a Roku. It saves at least $50 a month. Read in full detail here.

Save money on electricity

Electric

You can unplug everything that is not in use — toaster, coffee pot, microwave, lamps you don’t frequently use, to save money. Even if it’s off, it still pulls electricity. You could even try a strip plug to unplug the computer, scanner, chargers at the same time. A friend of mine tried this during one particularly hot summer month when it seemed her AC might never turn off, and she saved $20 in a small apartment.

It consumes less energy to leave the thermostat on auto, and not turn it up and down all day. And I’ve learned to make use of the scheduling program on our AC/heater wall unit. I’ve programmed it to run less while we’re gone and at night. If you have this option, you might as well take advantage.

More electricity-saving tips:

  • Add weather stripping to any doors that aren’t sealed tight.
  • Use curtains and blinds. Keep them shut to help cool the room down, and keep them open to allow the sun to warm it up.
  • Turn lights off when no one is in the room.
  • Wait until there is a full load of laundry before running the washer. Washing in cold water uses less energy.
  • Line-dry towels and blankets that take longer time in the dryer.
  • Load the dishwasher completely full before running it. Dishwashers have actually been shown to be more efficient that washing by hand.
  • Use your microwave or toaster oven for small things instead of your oven. You will consume about half the power.
  • Consider ditching the garage fridge. It uses energy ’round the clock, and is especially draining if it is older and less efficient.

Save money on your cell phone

Cell phone

Our cell phone bill was astronomical. Marcello needs unlimited minutes for work, but we just couldn’t believe we needed to pay that much. We went to the cell phone desk at Costco, where they carry all the major carriers, to find out if another company was cheaper or if we needed a different plan, or something!

They guy said, nope, we have the unlimited plan we need. Well, that wasn’t going to cut it, so we stood there politely (yet awkwardly) staring at him with our two loud kids in the cart until he decided to really help us. “You could cut your data back and save $75-100 a month,” he finally says.

“Yes! Yes. Do that,” Marcello said. Seriously.

I get as confused as the next guy with cell phone plans, but don’t just accept outrageous monthly bills. Cut back options or find a better plan.

 Save money on your mortgage.How I save money to be a stay at home mom

Mortgage

When we bought our house, our mortgage broker told us an incredibly useful rule of thumb. By making an extra payment a year on your home, you will cut your mortgage payoff time by eight years. In other words, you will owe the bank money for 22 years instead of 30!

I realize this doesn’t help the immediate monthly budget, but it saves a lot of money down the road. My aim for this year is to spread that extra yearly payment across 12 months and start getting to the principal of our mortgage instead of just the interest. It might not be obtainable at the beginning, but it can be a goal to keep in mind.

IMG_0330
I think these are my favorite boys’ PJs ever. I picked them up our local kids’ consignment store.

Kids

Baby Gap is my fave, but it doesn’t quite fit in with my baby budget. I buy most of my kids’ toys and clothes at a consignment shop called Once Upon A Child. They carry gently used clothes in great condition at half or less than the store price. I have bought many pieces there with the original price tag still on, and yes, quite a few barely-used Baby Gap pieces. I can’t tell you how much money this has saved us.

And what’s great is that when you’re done with baby gear, you can even sell it back to them. (This is not sponsored, I just love them.) There are lots of great kids consignment shops. Get out there and take a look at what you’re missing.

And as some thrifty moms have commented, don’t forget about garage sales and thrift stores too!

Save money on gas and car insurance

Cars

We had old cars that were paid off when I first quit my job. Did we want new cars? Of course. Especially Marcello! He drove a 1997 Pontiac Sunfire that he bought for $700. I’m not kidding. And then, he drove my hand-me-down Ford Explorer Sport with duct tape on the back. Did I mention that it was bright canary yellow? It was. And it only had two doors. Why do they make SUVs with two doors? Anyway, I bought it when I was 24 and didn’t realize that it would see me through getting married and having two babies. Fortunately, Marcello’s outgoing personality and quick comebacks can pull it off. He really is that cool. Long story long, don’t expect to be driving a new car off the lot any time soon.

Gas

Another car consideration is gas. Before you make a trip somewhere, even across town, think about how much it will cost you. Check out this helpful site, Gas Buddy, that tells you how much you will have to pay site to site with your specific car. But here’s a warning: I made the mistake of telling a friend about the site, which made her realize it costs her almost $5 to drive to my house!

Car insurance

First, I did some comparisons with different companies, but didn’t find a better deal. But it’s worth it to take the time to shop around. Then, I looked at our car insurance policy online, detail by detail. By doing this you might notice some extras tacked on you may not need. I noticed that we were paying for a couple things already included in our AAA account, like roadside assistance.

Black and white houndstooth dress from Ross Dress for Less - My mom budget
I found this black and white houndstooth dress at Ross Dress for Less for $14. Shopping at discount stores and hunting through sale racks is more work, but worth the effort. Just keep your taste discriminatory. An important lesson I’ve learned over the years is not to buy a piece of clothing just because it’s $5. Only buy it if you love it. Otherwise you’re wasting $5 and space in your closet.

Shopping, entertainment, and extras

In the beginning, extra/nonessential purchases were few and far between. But when it came time, I compared prices and researched online to get the best bang for my buck. For the nonessentials like clothes and house goods (well, guess it depends on who you ask!), my main stores were (and still are) TJ Maxx, Marshalls, Ross Dress for Less, Forever 21, Ikea, Target, and Amazon.

I don’t just go perusing either. That will get this impulse buyer in trouble every time. When I go to a store, I go because I’m looking for something specific that we need/want. That sort of shoots the shopping as a pastime in the foot, I realize, but it’s worth it in the end. You have to change your mentality and get creative with what you have!

As far as entertainment, we got a Netflix subscription in lieu of going to the movies and often invited friends over for dinner instead of going out. If we went out, a lot of times we had lunch instead of dinner. The lunch menu, while shorter, is cheaper — works better for little ones’ bedtimes too. Actually, having two young babies at the same time sort of zapped our desire to leave the house, so entertainment didn’t really pose much of a problem for us!

Especially with nonessential purchases, it’s important to wait until you have the money to buy something. Don’t buy it because you will have the money, or next month should be better. Buy it after you’ve already planned it, it’s in the budget, and the money is there. In the same tone, don’t borrow money from next month’s budget. If you’re already on a shoe-string budget, you’ll surely need it next month.

Budget tips - Save money by growing your own garden
This basil plant is from our little garden on the side of the house. My brown thumb takes zero credit. This is Marcello’s project.

More ideas to help the bottom line

  • Grow your own herbs in pots.
  • Start a little garden with the more expensive veggies.
  • During a tight month, use up all the food in your pantry and freezer before making a trip to the grocery store.
  • Get your hair done every other month instead of every month. (I’m on the four month plan, not because of budget, just lack of time … and maybe motivation. See Mommy Style Amnesia.)
  • Learn to cut hair and save on kids’ cuts. (Those things add up. I’m experimenting learning now while they are too little to care that it looks like Edward Scissor Hands did it!)
  • Use both sides of the Swiffer cloths.
  • Use water, vinegar, and baking soda to clean instead of buying multiple cleaners. (Try this DIY citrus infused cleaner.)
  • Play music on Spotify or Pandora instead of buying songs on iTunes.

 

The strategies

After I went through all the bills individually, my husband and I had multiple talks about how we’d stay out of debt with one less income. This is what we came up:

How I save money to stay home with my kids

Get on the same page with your spouse

This is a tricky one, because what two people want to spend money on the one same thing? My husband would prefer to spend all our money on food and fancy ingredients. I, on the other hand, would like to spend all our money on decorating our house. But we each made a pact to stick to our budget and consult each other before purchasing things not on the list. He has expensive taste (he had Prada undershirts when I met him!), but he’s actually better at sticking to the list I am. (And I have shown him that he can buy Calvin Klein pants for $25 at Marshalls. It’s not Prada, but hey …) Discuss how your family can live within your means and spend less than what you have coming in.

Save money by making an irregular payment list by month

Written budget and yearly expense list

You need a budget that is written out, something that you can physically look at and use to keep record.

I also keep a list of irregular annual expenses, month by month. On paper, our budget might say we’re saving money, but if I haven’t included the yearly car registration fee or spouse’s birthday gift, it doesn’t help us. When I make the next month’s budget, I check my yearly expense list to make sure I’ve included these things.

Here are some things on my list: car registation, auto insurance, taxes, AAA, annual fees, hair cuts, birthdays, holidays

Get out of credit card debt and then use credit cards to your advantage

Credit card

We were lucky enough to get out of our credit card debt before I quit my job. (We used the envelope system.) It was HARD WORK. For over a year we lived off very little and Marcello worked two jobs. But we did it and it was worth not eating out or shopping or traveling to have that debt off our plates. After time, we learned to trust ourselves with the credit card and started using it to our advantage.

We got a Capital One Venture card (also not sponsored) for the travel rewards. Now, we put most everything on the card to earn points to pay for trips to see our parents. But it can be a slippery slope, so I have to monitor it carefully and make sure the balance is paid off every month, otherwise it’s obviously not a good deal!

Don’t put it on the credit card if the money is not already sitting in your bank account.

save money but give money too

Tithing

We tithe 10 percent of our income each month, and this was not a place where we cut. We adjusted our 10 percent to no longer include my income, but we still give. And let me tell you, it is freeing. Knowing that we have that money set aside for God’s kingdom, does several things for us:

  1. Honor God.
  2. Help those on Earth do God’s work. And to help others see God’s love through those people.
  3. Keeps us from being stingy when we need to be generous. If you’ve worked hard to save every penny, sometimes it’s hard to let go of it, even if you have a tender heart. When that money is already dedicated to give away, it’s freeing and even fun. 
  4. Give and sincerely not expect anything in return. We once had a friend in hard times who had lost his job and had two kids. We gave him money in a subtle way. He was so touched that he mailed us a letter a year later to thank us and tell us he had gotten back on his feet again. He shared that he was able to pay that money forward to some else in need. How beautiful.
  5. See God provide for our family. Since we got married and made the decision together to tithe, there have been countless times when money has just shown up when we were in need. I don’t mean it arrived in an envelope on the doorstep, but it came in other ways — a late wedding present, an insurance overpayment, an unexpected bonus. And in exact amounts that we needed. We never miss the money we give away. In fact, we do better.
  6. To grow closer in our relationship to God. It is good to set aside money for God’s kingdom, but it is not good to spend it where he has not designated it. We have to pray about what he wants us to do with it. And when we do, it might take some time, but there’s always something obvious. We know it’s from the Lord especially when we both have the same thought.

If you’ve never tried tithing before, it will most definitely change your life. I once read an article that said that if you make over $40,000 you are in the richest 8 percent of the planet. That in itself encourages me to give!

 

Save money around the house with these budget tips

The gist

  • Look at every single expense you have and be ruthless. Whack your budget to it’s bare bones, and leave only what you really can’t live without.
  • Pay off anything you can (starting with debts with the highest interest rates). Hunker down those last months you are working and really make them count. Less payments equals less stress with one income.
  • Set realistic budget goals, otherwise your budget will fail every month and  you’ll give up on it.
  • Keep track of each expense, no matter how small. This allows you to see how you’re doing on the budget during the month, and can show you where your budget need adjusting in future months.
  • Only buy things you have planned for and have the money in the bank for.
  • Keep putting some money into savings.
  • Give, even though you’re trying to cinch your wallet at the moment.

 

Resources

  • Crown Financial offers wonderful budget calculators on their website. I used them as guidelines when I begin cracking down on our budget.
  • I keep a spreadsheet I altered from this one in Google Drive and try to update it weekly.
  • I read this series after I wrote this post, but inspired me so much I want to share it with you. This sweet woman’s godly spirit and wisdom are contagious and something to aspire to!

 

Things aren’t as tight for us as they were when I first quit my job, and I’ve since had success at being a freelance graphic designer from home, but I still don’t want to waste money! I plan to carry on with most of my thrifty ways no matter how our income changes.

It’s difficult to sort through, cut out the excess, and take the plunge to stay at home. It’s challenging at the beginning, but then it becomes habit. If it’s something you really want to do, try your best to make it happen. It is a leap of faith, but also a valuable investment.

Don’t love money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said,
      “I will never fail you.
        I will never abandon you.”

So we can say with confidence,
      “The Lord is my helper,
        so I will have no fear.

What can mere people do to me?”

— Hebrews 13:5-6

 

Shopping choices that save my family $2500 a year

How I simplified and organized each room in my house - with printable checklist2

How to make homemade baby food in 45 minutes a week and save 50 percent

Potty training with step by step instructions, checklists, real journal and Netflix and Amazon instant kid shows

76 thoughts on “How I save money to be a stay-at-home mom

  1. This is an awesome post! Thank you! My husband is finishing his undergrad and applying for grad school soon, and I’ve been working full-time since we got married to support his education. We had our first son a year ago and I look forward to the day that I can stay at home with my kids! This is something we’ve tried to keep in mind and work on now so that when my husband finishes school I can drop my income and we won’t have to make big (and difficult) lifestyle changes. I struggle with actually keeping track of all the little expenses. Still got a long way to go, and this is helpful!

    Thanks!

  2. Thanks, Morgan! I’m glad you found the post helpful! I have a hard time with keeping track of all the little expenses too. Some months I’m better than others. Sounds like you are working hard and making many sacrifices for your family. Wishing you the best in your future stay-at-home plans! — Kate

  3. These are all very useful tips! If there’s anyone out there who hasn’t started a family yet, here’s something to consider. My husband and I talked about me staying home with our future children before we were married. So when we were married, we put away my entire salary AND savings from his salary for four years before we had kids. It had two advantages…we learned how to live on one income before kids and we put lots of money away for retirement early on. Our kids are now 7, 11 & 15 and with the economy and the bigger expenses that come with older kids, we still use money-saving tips all the time! And with an extra driver next year and college looming in the future, I’m ready to begin looking for part-time work. But staying home with your kids is priceless. You can do it! Thanks for this very thorough list! One more thing–after you pay off your car, continue to make a payment to yourself to save for your next vehicle:)

  4. That’s amazing, Lyn! I’m truly inspired by your dedication. Thanks so much for sharing.

  5. Thank you for your post! It’s very encouraging as my husband and I want me home once we have our second child. To see tithing on your budget warmed my heart :) Thank you!

  6. So glad you felt encouraged! Thanks for taking a second to let me know. Praying it’s an easy transition for your family when you start staying home!

  7. I LOVE that you put tithing in there. I have been a tither my whole life, and I have NEVER been in lack. God is so faithful to provide when you keep him centered.

    Love this post & all your helpful tips :) God bless.

  8. This is a wonderful post! Unfortunately I can’t be a stay at home mom because I’m a single mother, but I’m needing to work on making budget cuts to pay for daycare and stop living paycheck to paycheck. Your post is so encouraging and has great references. Thank you for sharing!

  9. I love this! As a total spender it is something I am trying to get away from and move toward being more of a saver! I love pretty things and think they need to come home with me! :) But I have noticed God blessing me in small ways here and there in my quest for being more smart with my money and it warms my heart way more than buying a new item does! I know im on the right track and i love reading blogs like yours to make inspire me more!

  10. I have to fight the urge against all those pretty things too! But you’re right, it does feel better to be smart with money in the end. Glad we’re in this together.

  11. Dave Ramsey!!!! I love it!!! Go sister, we are in the exact same process. We will keep your family in our prayers

  12. Lots of great tips, and most we use! I have been home with my kids since my oldest, now almost 13, was born. I’m with Lyn. We did the same thing when we were both working & before kids…stashed one paycheck in the bank to get used to living on one income. It’s much easier to do without than to get used to things and then have to “take them away.” We had to purchase a new car for my husband recently, but he had been driving the car I had before we got married 15 years ago! A couple of more cost savings: 1) shop garage sales for your kids clothes! They are even cheaper than Once Upon a Child! 2) We don’t have any type of TV service, just a good ol’ antenna! We don’t watch much TV anyway, but when we do, we get DVD’s from the library. This also helps us to monitor what our kids watch, as sometimes the commercials are as bad as the shows we don’t want them to watch! We are blessed to have a great library that can get us just about anything we want from around the state. We are re-watching TV series that my husband and I grew up on.

  13. I loved reading this! I often get comments about how we must be “rich” for me to be able to stay home with our littles. What people don’t see is the sacrifice and hard work that it takes, but oh is it worth it! I loved that you included the part about tithes. We feel the same way. Tithing is the first thing paid every paycheck and we have been so blessed because of it.

  14. Great Ideas! My husband and I try and save little bits here and there and I just wanted to share one more idea to your super helpful list! You may have it listed and I missed it, but I have found some great buys at consignment shops along with thrift store/yard sale shopping. The great thing is once you, the hubs, or kiddos have outgrown/no longer need clothes or furniture, you can make money through consignment! I know a lot of people may not want to jump to consignment, but if you are blessed to find a nice, family owned shop in your area like we have, then it’s a win! Thanks again for sharing your thoughts and blog…love it!

  15. I’m a big consignment shopper too! You’re right, if you can find a nice one, it’s a big win.

  16. You have great ideas. I read articles like this hoping to find something I am not already doing but no such luck. Thanks!

  17. I found you on Pinterest and I loved this post, you have very helpful information. I just wanted to say that I love Baby Gap too, it’s my favorite store. I’m super cheap and not afraid to say it. I exclusively shop at baby Gap, Gymboree and Goodwill..lol I ditched once upon a child, because I’m tired of their crabby staff. I literally have never spent more than $8.00 on a single item at Gap and my kids are stocked up through winter of next year in only Gap clothes. This is how I do it… wait until they advertise the extra 20% off clearance sale..it happens several times a year about every 3 mo. Go in (pack lots of snack for the kids) and scour rack after rack in the clearance section, don’t even bother with the other racks.. find what you can in the sizes you need for the season in stock, Usually if it’s summer there will be hats and scarves for .97 pjs sets for 5.97 and long sleeve tees for 3.99…I usually pay 3.99 or 4.99 max for each item (unless it’s something really special and I’m willing to splurge then maybe I spend $5 or $6), then I have the 20% off deal on top of that…I usually find about 20 or 30 items and try to do the $50 gap cash off of a 100 spent. It’s great! I set a limit per item, no matter what it is, like $8.00. I do this for myself and my husband too, the deals aren’t as great, but the clothing is bigger. I do the same at Gymboree. This works for most stores, just shop the clearance and try to get ahead one season and don’t let the new stuff tempt you! lol

  18. Forget Swiffer Pads! There are several tutorials on Pinterest to make reusable pads from cloth diapers or my mom just made one from a dish drying pad that she found for cheap at Marshalls. Also, if you look in youtube, you can find videos on how to remove the cap from the Swiffer bottles to add your own cleaner!

    Great list on ways to save!

  19. Getting rid of disposables–diapers, paper towels, napkins, etc…–is a great way to save money and help the environment. Switching to cloth diapers can be scary and the initial cost is high depending on the brand you choose, but the savings is tremendous! I used disposables for my first two kids and switched to cloth with my third. I wish I would have done it sooner! They are easy to use…washing takes a little bit to get the hang of though. Well worth the effort when considering the $ savings, the environmental impact of disposables, and how completely ADORABLE they look on my little girl’s bottom!!

  20. Our life changed when we began tithing. We soon realized that placing God first in our finances was placing Him first in the rest of our lives. Honoring Him first made us realize what we didn’t need to spend money on. Our pastor says that God blesses the 90% He gives us, instead of not blessing 100% of what we make. Your blog is the very first I have ever commented on… because I believe in honoring God first :)

  21. I’m in favor of shopping at Goodwill for clothes, books, toys, and home goods. They have 50% off at least one Saturday a month and 25% off every Wednesday. Another way to save money: learn how to knit or crochet. This allows you to make your own hats and scarves (and gloves if you get good enough). I have even crocheted some toys.

    Great post!

  22. We do all this except once I quit my job we got rid of a car and lived off 1 car but this worked for us since my husband works 2 mikes from the house.

    Another thing – cable companies make it impossible to ditch or cable and keep internet. Wehave cComcast – to have basic TV stations & internet its $60 a month…if we ditched cable we would be paying $75 for internet….unfortuently – we live in a rural area with no other options….

    Also use your library as much as possible for books & movies. We are all paying taxes – use it!!!

  23. Queria felicitarte por tu pagina y agradecerte tan buenos consejos .
    Yo en mi experiencia no me sentia bien quedandome en casa pero me encanta estar con mis hijos y poder acompañarlos en su crecimiento …y no dejarme llevar por lo q piensan los demas …

  24. Great ideas and tips!!!! Something that worked for me that I would like to share: I prepare about 15 different single frozen meals for the whole month (family of 4 and my youngest is 16 and only eats certain food so I prepare enough meals that he can have a variety. Bottom line…I cook Everything in two days !!! and this keep all of us from snacking as you eat a full meal when you are hungry,the picky eaters still have a few choices,I have more time during the month and can focus on my art and craft for the monthly market…my electricity usage has been cut tremendous. I don’t buy bread all the time which is healthy, ever fresh milk and that ofcourse keep me from visiting the shop every day thus also saving on diesel. My groceries cost me less than half as what I use to spend. Both me and my daughter makes our own bath products that we customize as we prefer it and sell what is extra and also make our own lipstick,gloss and balms and with that there are so many extra’s and everything so easy and fast to make that we sell at to the local pharmacies and the regular that now love our products and only uses ours as we sell it for far less than the shops and at the end our beauty and hair products cost us absolutely nothing and we have extra money to spend on a variety of new products that we sell at our monthly market. The prepaid meals actually also became a little business because people buy that for their kids at university and staying in their own flats and thus ensuring they eat healthy. I sell them in nice small containers that they can bring back to me to fill it with meals again and since they keep the containers the meal is cheaper and indirectly saves them money as well.

  25. I love this!! Making meals in advance is something I hope to work toward. And making bath products actually sounds like a lot of fun. Thank you for your inspiration and congratulations on your business!

  26. Love your article. Thanks so much for sharing!! Do you have any tips on my envelope system? I have a hard time getting started! Thanks :)

  27. Our envelope system went something like this: We took out cash for our monthly budget and allotted it to different envelopes like: grocery, gas, car repair, home repair, clothing, entertainment, tithing. (We personally kept the money for rent, water, electric, cable … in the checking account and left the envelopes for the things that vary month to month.) If you go to the grocery store with $100 cash in your envelope, you will pay A LOT more attention to what you are putting in the cart! When you pay cash for things and see it physically leave your wallet, it is harder and you will save more.

    What’s nice about the envelope system is that you can add, for example, $25 a month to car repair so when something happens on month you already have $300 or so saved.

    Some warn against having too much cash on hand, it’s up to you if you want to take the risk. We didn’t have a problem. You can learn more at these sites:
    http://www.crown.org/Portals/0/docs/downloads/ESI01.pdf
    or
    http://www.daveramsey.com/article/dave-ramseys-envelope-system/lifeandmoney_budgeting/

    Good luck! Let me know if you try it :)

  28. This is a good list!! I am currently not looking to quit my job, but why waste money? There is never enough!! Even with my husband and I both working, we often feel crunched with money? What a stress!! So we decided to cut where we can, and be more in control of our financial stability!!

  29. Wonderful…I also have used the envelope system and tithe 10 percent. Our mortgage was paid early , but what we have noticed through the years is the peace we have. I was a stay at home mom as well, because I couldn’t leave my children to be brought up by someone else, when they were given to us. I am 74.

    P.s. The swiffer pads…I used them for so long, but questioned the cost. I found a spinner mop at my hardware store and use Pinesol in the water..about two ounces, this does my whole upstairs..1700 sq feet, hardwood and ceramic tile. Titus chapter two tells us to be stayers at home, learning to love our husbands and children . Bless you.

  30. Im not a stay at home mom, I am a mom tho. There are some really great tips in here that I will be using. Great blog

  31. OK so I don’t have allot of input but your cell phone check coverage in your area and if it’s available get Republic wireless they don’t do I phones but I love my moto g it’s 10/month yes 10 for unlimited talk and text (data in wi fi) or 25/month unlimited talk text and web. We saved allot by switching to them. Thanks for the tips!

  32. A great way to save money on cleaning supplies is to buy Norwex clothes. You can clean 98% of your home with them and water! No more toxic chemicals either.

  33. Hi there. I was wondering if I had some sort of sister twin who thought like me… I found her. You guys live a lot like we do. We bought a foreclosure and did all the work ourselves. I like to shop Aldi, Wal-mart, consignment shops and find great sales at my favorite stores. You really encouraged me to get my fanny on track with our spreadsheet. To God be the glory in the richest and poorer parts of our lives. For truly He is our greatest reward. Blessings to you and yours.

  34. Beautiful, Leslie. Blessings to you and your family as well. I’m happy to call you a sister in Christ!

  35. Great list!, it will help me a lot! thanks for share it with us! God has been faitfull and patient with me, He still teaching me many things !!! thank you and God Bless you!
    greetins from Nuevo León, México, :)

  36. Great list! I am also a SAHM and do pretty much everything on this list too! When my husband and I bought our house we were both working and qualified for a 325 thousand dollar house. We went the nontraditional route and bought a fixer-upper for only 95 thousand in the hopes I would stay home one day! This allowed us to have a super cheap mortgage and I’ve gotten almost all of our bills down to the lowest possible by shopping around. Our next thing we are working towards is eventually paying off our mortgage or at least doing 1-2 extra payments a year too :)
    XO Kelly
    http://www.dettecakes.com

  37. I was with you on this list until you mentioned your husband having to work a second job and basically giving money away (tithing). But whatever works for you.

  38. I really appreciate you talking about keeping God first by tithing. I’m having that talk with my hubby now. I’m praying that he will come to see how important this is. Right now I am a stay at home mom its not easy.

  39. Loved reading the blog. I was also a stay at home mum and never went to the supermarket without a calculator to work out what the best deal was (the days before they worked out individual item costs for you). It was really hard at times but worth it and it teaches you not to waste your money and to appreciate the small things. My babies are grown now and I work part time but the money saving mentality never stops. All the best for the future

  40. This was great! We are currently in a new season of change in my home and we are definitely feeling the pressure. We found a budgeting software called YNAB and we are doing so much better because of it. It’s principles are similar to yours, tithe on what you make, get out of debt, spend little, save lots and ONLY spend what you have, nothing more! I appreciate your added savings ideas. I’ve already forwarded the article on to my husband. Thanks!

  41. I LOVE LOVE LOVE that you included tithing! It’s a very important piece of the puzzle that all to many people forget.

  42. Thank you for this amazing post.I too love that you included tithing.I am not a stay at home mom however the tips you provide work all across the board.God bless and keep you always my fellow sister in Christ.

  43. This is great info! I have been in the same type of boat, I was the one working, though and my husband stayed home with our baby. It all worked out for the best but there were some rough times financially. A couple of the things that worked for us:

    I started shopping at ALDI. I know not everyone has an ALDI in their neighborhood, but if you do, I guarantee you will save at least $20.00 a week on staples like milk, bread, cheese, produce, etc. They even have baby food, diapers, organic and gluten free products. Give it a try you won’t be disappointed.

    The other big thing I did was stop looking at catalogs and magazines. That used to be my form of “window shopping”. All the glossy photos of new products just made me depressed that I couldn’t afford any of them.

    I love thrift store shopping. When my daughter was born the only new clothing she had was gifted by friends and family. I never bought anything that wasn’t from a thrift store. Baby clothing is usually only worn once or twice, if at all. I got so many cute outfits for pennies on the dollar compared to retail. I still have a hard time paying retail for my daughters clothes, but she likes thrift stores too for now!

  44. Praise God! Great blog with great tips. We are just starting to tithe 10%, so getting ourselves on a budget is so important. Thank you!

  45. That’s amazing news. I’m praying you’ll see quickly how God provides and makes up for that 10 percent and more!

  46. Straight Talk at Walmart is the cheapest yet great plan. It’s $50/month with tax for unlimited cell phone. $15/month for unlimited land line.
    love your blog thanks for all your suggestions.

  47. Good point :) Anyone trying to save money can do these things to meet their goals. My goal at the time happened to be staying home.

  48. Oh my goodness! Thank you so much for posting this last year. I am a teacher looking to stay at home next year with my 3 and 1 year old. I have bee working on cutting costs and your article helped out so much!!!!!!!!

  49. i became disabled when our children were young and could no longer work full time. My social security disability is very little. We have really struggled. My kids are grown now and not at home. My husband and I moved in with his mom when his father passed away. I think we both got crazy with spending to fills voids. Now we are looking for our own place again and we have been worried about finances and our out of control spending. This article truly inspired me to start saving and create a budget. Tithing is important to me as well. I’m glad you shared that. A lot of people are afraid to mention God nowadays but it is so important. With God all things are possible! I hope I can live up to my part in helping with our family. When I first quit working full-time I was able to substitute teach. This eliminated the need for expensive day care and I was able to do it as I was physically able. It was also very rewarding. Now my health is worse so I am unable to do it and that extra money really helped. This article gives me hope that we will be okay without that income. Thank you! It could not have come at a better time!

  50. I just stumbled across one of your posts via Pinterest. I’m just embarking on the journey of motherhood and am trying to learn as much as possible from experienced mums. I’ve seriously loved everything I’ve read so far, from home improvement (we are big renovators) to newborn tips to this finance advice. And seeing that you are also a Jesus lover just made it all even better haha!! I love seeing women using their gifts and passions to help others and glorify God at the same time. I think its what we were created for. Thank You :)

  51. Mel, your sweet words encourage me and give me motivation. Thank you so very much! Many congratulations on becoming a new mom!! xo

  52. I loved reading this post and your other one one decluttering. I just tithed online before reading it but I wanted to be stingy. Thank you for all the good reminders and God’s Truth!

  53. This is Awesome. Just what I needed to read. I’m a stay at home mom now and I’m just trying to figure out how to cut costs since my husband’s work is a little slow. Loved the tithing.keep it up!!

  54. I would definitely cut the meat out. You don’t need paper towels, either. Disposable diapers and wipes are a luxury that we honestly don’t need. (Your mom likely didn’t use them). Went to Cambodia.. lots of happy naked babies. I’d say if you can save enough up to go to a real poor country. That will save you a ton of money when you get back. Also, on the trip (also to Thailand), many places didn’t have toilet paper, but a sprayer. I think it’s a little gross to have a sprayer with a cord, but you can get a sprayer to attach to your toilet seat. These are way popular in Japan and they look at us using toilet paper as gross. Think of all the trees you’re saving. Don’t feel motivated to make all these changes? Watch “An Inconvenient Truth”. That will save you so much money your head will spin. Also, read a Proclamation to the World on Families then read Isaiah (everyone going to the Mountain tops, deserted cities, little yield on crops, earthquakes and eventual fire) and lastly read about the Solomon islands that have disappeared and are on their way out. You will save more money than you ever thought possible. Eco Millionaires! Seriously, my grandma was one: she sewed a bra that her dog chewed up and was a regular at the consignment, extremely well educated, great job and I never realized until after her death that she was a millionaire. One present that she gave me when my daughter was born was a sippy cup from a consignment shop (didn’t look good) that I recycled. The poorest of the poor are going to be evacuating and dying. Next time you’re on the phone with someone in a call center in the Phillipeans or elsewhere, ask them about global climate change. I did that today and they’re talking about all the recycling they’re doing of bottles and water and they’re very concerned. It’s the rainy season there, yet still too hot to be outside much. We’re breaking temperatures just about every year! Longest, hottest heatwaves are happening, people. Christians need to realize that although Christ is coming, that we need to do our part to help. Being a stay-at-home in the US only seems like a sacrifice when you’re comparing to others. Be an example: carpool, don’t remodel, buy used clothing, pin up laundry (or throw a towel in the dryer), wash your dishes on lowest setting and air dry, give plants for birthdays, don’t throw away food (food biodegraded without air causes methane! that’s worse than CO2)), get a credit card that helps fund Rainforest protection, take your investments out of coal (check your 401k), get a solar panel, if you’re building a home, get all the energy upgrades (rates are too low to skip these), walk or bike anywhere you can, take a staycation, towel dry your hair as much as possible (can still blow-dry at end), wear stains proudly, wear wrinkles proudly (clothes, you’ll need sunblock or a hat), give your pets leftovers (ones they can digest), window treatments/blinds as suggested above, keep it hotter in summer and cooler in winter inside, grow trees, gift trees, create new plants from others, cut polyester (plastic, which uses fossil fuels and doesn’t biodegrade) clothes from your wear.

  55. Actually turning off your computer when you’re not using it and then turning it back on every time you go to use it uses more electricity. We leave our computers on and they go in standby mode which actually uses less energy.

  56. great article.
    personally im at home and working a lot of time at koocam site.
    u definitely helpd me and shaked me and brought me back on track.
    thank u

  57. These are all fine and I am also a stay at home but the problem for me is having a husband who’s on the same page, and I do not. My husband couldn’t care less about saving money, doesn’t try to when I say let’s change some things…and I can’t do everything by myself. He eats lunch out everyday when he goes to work and spends about $30-40 a week on that and I’ve said why can’t you eat lunch at home and eat lunch out maybe 1 day…his response is I make the money I’ll spend it…well so much for getting out of this rental house. Some of you women are blessed with great guys for husbands, some of us have husbands closer to losers.
    Also, the thing about Once Upon A Child, they don’t always buy clothes from you…I took a bunch of stuff there once and they rejected 3/4 of it and it was all new, had either not been worn or been worn maybe 1 or twice…I’m not a fan of Once Upon A Child.

  58. This is great! We’re in an eerily similar situation. We’re prepared for the change because we’ve worked through Dave Ramsey style budgeting but I’m a little scared to make the change. As I was reading I can’t help but laugh, I’m a creative manager now but will be doing graphic design from home. Thanks for the helpful tips, how have things been going – I’d love an update since your post was a few years ago

  59. Hi Carly! We must be meant to be friends with all these things in common! You can do it, you can make the change. Things will look different, but you will adjust and your kids will love it. As far as how things have been going here, it’s good! I struggle being home with all three kids sometimes. It’s not easy, but worth it. As far as work, I still do some graphic design, but have let things trail off in that department to do this blog. The blog makes half as much money, but this way I can do things on my schedule … and design things the way I want! You’re a designer, you know what I mean! (Why do clients always pick my worst logo I offer?) Anyway, thanks for dropping me a line. And let me know how it goes!! xo Kate

  60. Thinking about quitting my job only temporarily to spend this summer with my kids… your blog is very helpful and I will try to have my husband read it so we both are on the same page on this.
    He is the one that is encouraging me to quit…. but knowing we will be tight in money without my part time income (which is more than what he makes ! ) I need him in the same page.
    MOST importantly, I truly appreciate your comments on the tithing! for me its been a reality that no matter how tight money is, we ought to tithe and honor God.

  61. Hi Julia! You will NOT regret staying home with the kids for the summer. Do it! Things are just things that end up in a junk yard one day, but these days can bring memories we can treasure forever. And we can’t get this time back! Thank you so much for dropping me a line and letting me know the article spoke to you, specifically the tithing. In our family we’ve seen great rewards and providence from the Lord since we started tithing. We actually look forward to it now! Best to you and your family! xo Kate

  62. Dear Kate:.. I have just brought this to the Lord in the last two days and asked for guidance if I should or should not quit for the summer… due to some issues I had at my current job for asking a small change in my schedule just during summer…. my husband said to me, just quit! you have never spent a summer with the kids… I do have to be honest, I’m still a little afraid, but Kate reading your comments, have brought tears to my eyes!! I feel that God made me go to your site and reassured me that it is ok to quit… even if its temporarily…. thank you so much, God continues to bless you and your family.

  63. Julia! I don’t think I’ve every received a better comment than this one! Thank you so much for your transparency and willingness to share with me. I’m touched by your words and am praying for blessings, your family and your decision right now. God is so detailed and caring, I’m sure he led you to the words you needed as well. xoxoxo Kate

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.