Think it's impossible to be a stay at home mom? Well, with a little ingenuity and lots of dedication, any mom can cut costs and move towards being home full time.
Reduce your expenses
Working outside of the home costs money. You have the expense of childcare, wardrobe, dry cleaning, meals out, gasoline, and then you lose some of your money to taxes.
Unless you make a very substantial salary, you may just continue working to afford to keep working! Even if you do clear a little bit of money each month, you could budget your expenses to save as much money as you were bringing in.
Before you can cut your costs, you need to maintain a spending diary for at least two weeks and preferably for an entire month. Doing this alone may reveal where you are slowly diminishing your cash. Are you hitting the drive-thru often? How about the coffee shop? It is essential that you know where you are spending money before you can create a budget that will work for your situation.
So where can you cut costs? Here is a short list of ideas of where you can cut costs.
Shop on Wednesday - Wait until the "best food day ads" come out (typically every Wednesday) and look for the deals.
10 for 10 deals - If you see a deal for 10 loaves of bread for $10, you don't have to buy all
10 loaves to get the deal. Each loaf will ring up individually for $1 each.
Gardening - A garden can be grown just about anywhere. We spend $1 on a seed packet that yielded at least 40 squash. In my area, squash sells for $1.00 per pound, so we saved around $10. That doesn't seem like much at first, but imagine the savings if you could grow all of your produce.
Drive past the drive-thru – Convenience comes with a price, especially if you stop to eat just because it sounds good at the moment. If you really hate to cook, think about how you can utilize your slow cooker.
Generics – I realize some people have brand preferences but for some items, simply reading the ingredients might reveal that the product is exactly the same.
Find a rancher – Using a rancher to purchase beef in bulk can drastically save you money if you have a deep freezer to accommodate. My local cattle rancher sells beef at $3.50 a pound if I buy in bulk. My grocery store charges any where from $5 to $10 per pound of beef.
Utilities, Phone, and Cable
Seal your house - According to the Energy Star website, sealing the shell of your home is one of the most cost-effective ways to lower your home's energy bills. (Tax credits are available for many types of home improvements. Check with the IRS or your tax professional to learn more.) Light bulbs - Replace all of your regular light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs. They use 66% less energy and they often last 5-10 years.
Conserve - Turn televisions, cable receivers, and computers off when you leave the house and turn lights off when you are exit a room.
Clean your filters – clogged filters put a strain on central heating and cooling systems. Adjust your thermostat – Do you need the heater roaring at night, or could you wear sweat pants and a heavy blanket?
Cell phones - Get rid of your cell phone.
Long Distance - Switch to VoIP technology to get long distance at a flat monthly rate. VoIP users find they save substantial amounts of money of long distance charges.
Cable TV – Do you watch 300 channels? I took my cable package from full to basic and saved more than $50 a month.
Gasoline - If you are driving 20 miles to work each direction, 5 days a week, you can save about $20/week in gasoline by staying home or telecommuting.
Car Expenses - The more you drive, the more you need to do oil changes, tire changes, get tune-ups, etc.
Movie Rentals – I signed up for Netflix a few months ago and I got the plan where you can have two movies out at a time for $14.99 a month. If I would have rented and returned the same 10 movies at my local video store, it would have cost me $39.99, so I saved $25 and I saw all of the great new releases without hassle (or the risk of late fees).
Shop secondhand- Utilize your local secondhand stores for bargains on clothing, dishes, and other household items. I have found great mismatched dishes for 10 cents each at my local Goodwill.
Freecycle – Sign up at freecycle.org to see what others are giving away. I found a portable dishwasher and saved $500 because of a seal leak that only cost $20 to replace.
Bank Fees – If you have the tendency to overdraw your account, ask your bank about getting overdraft protection.
Hair care – Over the counter hair coloring kits have come along way over the years and are very safe. If you love to color, there is no need to spend $60 at the salon with all of the wonderful coloring products available on the market. Also, if you have little boys at home, get a pair of clippers for $20 and give them a buzz periodically. Young boys in particular don't seem to care what their hair looks like so why spend $8 a cut?
Sit down and do the math and you may find you can in fact afford to stay home with your children!
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