It’s always easy to spend money, especially when you have a kid. But after I had my daughter, I knew I wanted to spend more time with her. That led to my decision to quit my job. That also meant I needed to take a hard look at our budget and cut our spending where I could.
At first it was tough, but now that I’ve developed several new habits, it’s not a big deal, and I’m able to enjoy so much extra free time with my daughter without the worry of blowing our budget. Since becoming a stay at home mom, I’ve had to figure out lots of little ways to save money so that we could make it work financially. If you’re looking to do the same, here are my easy tips to save money.
Eat at Home
One of the biggest habits we had to break was our affinity for eating out. Eating out, for us, really became a habit due to lack of planning for meals and pure laziness.
Eating out is easy, but it’s expensive, and we decided that it didn’t add any value to our lives. When you decide to live by value-based spending, you learn to cut little things like that that add up, but don’t exactly make you happier in the long run. It got the ax and we haven’t looked back.
These days, I’m a meal planning, grocery shopping, home cooking machine! (And believe me, I never thought I’d say that!) I quickly learned to frugalize my grocery shopping habits, so I only shop alone with a list.
Doing so removes temptation from making spur of the moment buys and limits how many hands are grabbing items off the shelf. I also found limiting my shopping to once a week saved money rather than making 2 or 3 little trips during the week.
All of those little tricks help us save a lot of money at the grocery store.
Outside the Home
If you’re dying to get out of the house, try to find free entertainment when you’re gone.
We love where we live, so I try to do free things locally all the time. When you’re trying to entertain a toddler, sometimes it really doesn’t take much. We live in a rural town with only 3,000 people, but there are still plenty of ways to have free fun.
The Park and The Library Are Your Friends!
For example, we go to the park a lot and take walks at our local nature trail. Our children’s museum has one free day per month for families, and there is a free splash pad in the park downtown.
In addition, the most underused source of free entertainment is the library. Every week we go to the library – every Wednesday there’s a story hour time for reading books and doing crafts, every month they have a Lego day, and twice a year they have kid’s days complete with free food and a petting zoo.
While my daughter is entertained at the library, I can peruse endless amounts of books, browse the internet, read magazines and newspapers til my heart’s content, or browse the selection of new movies for offer.
Read my lips: A library is a frugal mom’s best friend.
Entertain Yourselves at Home
When money is tight (or you just want to save it), simply stay at home! I’m pretty good at saving money these days, but we all get tempted sometimes when we’re out and about. If you’re like me, then the best thing to do in that situation is to stay put.
I know if I’m at home and not running around town, then I’m not spending money, not even gas money. It’s my number one tip to saving money, and my daughter and I have plenty of “stay at home” days every month.
On a regular basis, we paint, read, bake, color, play outside, play games, and walk the neighborhood together. There’s all sorts of other fun things to do around the house.
You spend a lot of money to live in your home, so you may as well enjoy it as much as possible.
We create our own fun, and in doing so, it reduces the temptation to spend money, provided you don’t do any online shopping!
Because home is my favorite place to be, I can always find something that needs to be done, so there is no room for boredom when I’m in my own home.
Short on ideas?
- Walk your neighborhood
- Plant a garden
- Ride your bike
- Give yourself a mani/pedi
- Bake cookies
- Crank up the music and dance
- Reorganize your closet
- Start a blog
- Visit an elderly neighbor
The possibilities are endless, so you really have no excuse.
If nothing else strikes you, invite a fellow stay at home mom over for a snack and a play date. Who knows, you may end up becoming the leader of a new stay at home mom group. (There might be some MeetUp.com groups for stay at home moms as well!)
Learning to find new ways to be frugal can be addictive once you start to realize how much money you can save. Learning to be content with everything you already have in life is a very enlightening experience, one that I hope you get to experience for yourself.
How do you save money on activities with your kids? If you’re a stay at home parent, what was your experience like making the transition?