I’ve sort of eased my way into become a full time SAHM. I used to be a full time PE teacher. Once I had my oldest, Ella, I started working part time (every other day). Then, when I had Anna, I became a full time SAHM. I say full time because it is a full time job, just different. I’m going to share with you ways that I have saved money and it’s almost as much money as I used to make (and I’m not kidding in the least bit).
1. Find fun free or almost free stuff to do with your kids.
Sometimes free stuff is the best. We have a great library here that has two story times a week, lots of parks, a mall that has an indoor play area, and a website that has a ton of inexpensive things to do with your child that has a calendar of all the things that are going on in the area. I also take my girls to the gym almost everyday. It definitely isn’t free, but if I’m using it everyday, they have a lot of new toys to play with and they get to be around a lot of other kids (much cheaper than preschool at this age where they learn by play). Also, plan some play dates at different houses! It’s fun for the kids and moms!
2. Limit eating out to almost never.
Now that I stay at home, I can usually cook or prepare all meals myself. Eating out adds up SO fast. Even if it’s fast food. The other day I picked up McDonalds for my brother and his three kids and it was $20 just for them. NO JOKE. I can make an awesome home cooked meal for way less than that and have enough for leftovers the next day for lunch. When I worked, I was tired when I got home, so we ate out so much more frequently. Also, if we do eat out, it’s because I’ve gotten an amazing groupon, living social or restaurant dot com. I can’t remember the last time I’ve eaten out without a coupon. Wait, I take it back. I will pick Ella up a 4 piece nuggets every once in a while for $1 (she’s never once had a kids meal except at chick fil a where I’ve had a coupon). Remember, I also make my own baby food!
3. Compare coupons with the sale items.
I always clip the coupons and even print a ton off the internet. It does take time, but I have it. This month for all four of us, I’m spending about $75 per week on groceries AND as mentioned above, we aren’t eating out. I usually buy my meat in bulk at the beginning of the month at Sam’s and then buy the rest at the store with what is on sale that week.
4. Plan your grocery list out before you go to the store.
If I don’t plan out every meal before I head to the store, I randomly grab things that we don’t need and they go bad quickly. Wasting food adds up so fast! I even plan my meals around what is on sale at the store or for what I have coupons for. Over the course of the year, I save so much on groceries than your average person. Also, if I know I have an event coming up I buy nonperishable items far in advance if they are on sale (for example, I knew we were having a BBQ for Ella’s 2nd birthday and Teets had chips buy 2 get 3 free, I bought them 6 weeks in advance).
5. As annoying as it is, subscribe to store email lists and “like” them on Facebook AND subscribe to money saving blogs.
I know, I know it’s so annoying, but I’ve gotten amazing deals at high priced stores for being on the email list. I always get an extra 20 or 30% off with free shipping. I love it too because I can shop without the girls pulling things off the shelves and squeezing between racks with a huge double stroller. It’s also helpful when you “like” them on Facebook because they also give out promo codes to fans.
Money saving blogs are awesome. There are so many out there that do the work for you! They will give you meals on a budget or will compare the grocery lists with coupons for the best deals. Ha, on here you can even learn how to cut your husband or sons hair!
6. Budget Budget Budget and check credit card statements often.
We have a budget for everything. We have a limit each month what we can spend on the credit card and you better believe I’m on top of every charge. If I notice we are spending too much on let’s say “fun stuff”, I nip it right there. We are done for the month and find other fun free things to do.
7. Get rid of your huge car payments if it’s possible.
Our cars are completely paid off AND they are older. Both of our cars are ’03s and uncool, but we are fortunate that they are paid off and still in great condition. We do try to take good care of them with keeping up with the maintenance. I know several of our couple friends that have two car payments (spending close to $1,000 per month on payments + the extra insurance for being a nice new vehicle).
8. Don’t be afraid of Craigslist, Ebay or Consignment Shops/Sales.
I’ve talked so much about consignment sales, but really I have saved so much money with my girls clothes AND toys. I also sell and buy things on Craigslist. It’s so convenient and a lot of my items are in “like new” condition.
9. Stock up on sale items.
For example, I bought dog food the other day when it was on sale AND if you spend $50 at this store, they gave you a $10 gift card. So, I bought enough sale items (including dog food) that I will for sure (I didn’t buy it just because it was on sale) use and got a free $10. I did this twice so now I have two free $10 gift cards when I just bought things that I would buy any way!
10. Shop around for the best deals.
You might have to go to two grocery stores because one has veggies on sale where another has fruit. Plan it into your day. Or, you might call around to get the best deal on car or life insurance. Trust me it’s SO worth it.
My pay was public so I don’t mind sharing. We live in northern Virginia. When I worked full time I made right at 50k and half that when I switched to part time. Child care is also expensive, it’s around $500 a week for two kids (give or take $50). So, you can immediately subtract that from my salary and all of the money I save. Surprisingly enough, we are saving as much money per month as we did when I was working. You can do it!
About Dana Patterson
I'm an energetic SAHM of two fun little girls! It's never a dull moment with kids 21 months apart. I love life and enjoy cooking, working out and just hanging with my family.