Simple Money Saving Tips for Moms
This is Part 1 in a two part series on simple money saving tips for moms. Be sure to check out the second part at the bottom of this post!
When it comes to saving money, the biggest bang for your buck is going to come from reducing housing costs and food costs. For most families, this is where the vast majority of your income is spent.
Housing has been the toughest one for our family to reduce. We live in a super high cost of living city, and cheap housing simply doesn't exist. We live in a nice neighborhood, but we've chosen a small home that is the lower level of a two-story house.
It's small and comfortable, and that helps keep the cost in check. That being said, I think it's important to know when your energy will go further increasing your income than trying to cut costs. In our area, there really isn't any way to reduce our housing costs except to move into a crummy apartment in a bad part of town, which isn't going to happen. So, in that regard we find it far more beneficial to focus on increasing our income.
Housing aside, there are so many great ways to save a lot of money on food and other daily expenditures. And these costs really add up!
While most of your savings will come from reducing your housing and grocery budget, the other areas of your financial life count too! Even saving $20 per month here and $40 per month there really adds up when you can do that in five or six different categories.
These are the main ways we are able to keep our expenses to around $42,000 per year in the middle of Seattle for a family of three.
1. I Source Super Cheap, High Quality Clothing
If you've been around the blog much, you know that I LOVE thrift store shopping. I love it. I'm pretty sure I could inherit a billion dollars tomorrow and I would still go thrift shopping. It helps that I get some really awesome cheap deals on a regular basis.
I go thrift shopping for my clothes and my son's clothes whenever we need them. To be honest, I almost always buy my husband's clothes new because unless he is shopping with me, I simply can't guess the right sizing.
Thrift shopping saves us so much money on clothes! I routinely find brand new or nearly new kids clothes for $2 to $3 a piece, which is fantastic since they grow out of them so quickly.
For myself, I love shopping on Thredup. Thredup is the largest online thrift store in the world, and everything they carry is in excellent or brand new condition. Many of the things I buy come with tags still attached, and they’re priced so affordably.
I really like using Thredup because the selection is about the equivalent of 100 thrift stores, so you can almost always find exactly what you are looking for. You can also sort by things like size, color, pattern, cut, and price to find exactly what you need.
This is great for me because ever since I started following a capsule wardrobe, it's important for me to not buy too many patterns and stay within the color guidelines I've chosen most of the time. I also like being able to sort by these specifics, because I have some preferences.
For example, I don't like wearing short dresses. I really prefer to wear knee length or longer, and I'm glad that you can sort by that so I don't have to scroll through hundreds of mini dresses to look at what I'm really interested in.
I also really like that you can sort by cut. If you prefer boat neck sweaters versus v-neck sweaters, or cap sleeves versus sleeveless tops, you can put in all of those criteria into Thredup and only see the exact cuts and colors you are interested in.
One of my favorite things to do is create Pinterest boards of outfits I really love, and then go and try to find very similar pieces on Thredup. With how much you can niche down the criteria, it is usually pretty easy to find something very similar.
Here’s a quick example of how you could use Pinterest to inspire some really affordable and cute outfits. This one took me less than 10 minutes to find all of the pieces, and you can see that the full outfit is only going to cost around $50!
That is a steal for a sweater, skirt, and a pair of boots.
2. I Get A Lot of Items from the Buy Nothing Group
Have you joined your local Buy Nothing group on Facebook yet? If you haven't, drop everything and run to the computer! I have saved hundreds of dollars this year through our local Buy Nothing group, and it's a place I think every mom out there should join.
So how does it work?
The Buy Nothing group was started by a couple of girls who wanted to promote the spirit of giving between neighbors. It's a Facebook based group that is organized by neighborhood, where neighbors can go into the group and give away items or ask for items for free. There is no trading, bartering, or money allowed.
Some of my favorite things I have received from my Buy Nothing group are:
- A complete wine brewing kit
- A couch resting neck and shoulder massager
- A couple of dresses I really love
- Piles of kid clothes we’ve used endlessly
Buy Nothing is such a great option for curbing all those small expenses that add up over the course of the year. Think things like a packet of screws for your new birdhouse, or new wooden spoons after your last one finally breaks. These are small expenses that come up every single month that do add up over time.
I also love that Buy Nothing groups help the environment so much. When we aren't racing out to buy new things every time we need them, and when we take them off of someone else's hands who would have otherwise thrown them away, the entire neighborhood is working together to reduce and reuse.
3. I Batch Cook Freezer Meals for the Week Every Sunday
With two businesses to run, a family to feed, and a life full of other things to do, I don't like to spend a ton of time cooking. That being said, cooking your own food is the number one way to reduce your food budget!
Before my husband and I really got on the same page with planning out our meals, we were spending about $1,500 per month on eating out and groceries. I couldn't believe it!
We've now been able to cut our budget to $500 per month for three people in the middle of Seattle, and easily stick to that budget for almost 6 months. We give ourselves a little extra for eating out, but it's less than $100 per month!
The key here has been both meal planning and cooking in bulk. My husband and I have been married for 4 years now, and our son is 2 ½.
Cooking three to four meals from scratch per day was getting way too time consuming, so about a month ago I finally decided to dive in and start creating our weekly meals on just one day per week. And you know what? I absolutely love it.
Every Sunday, I round up the ingredients for the meals on our meal plan, and I get to cooking. My husband usually helps out too, and we're able to knock it out in just a couple of hours. This saves me so much time later in the week, because everything is there and ready to reheat.
You can check out some of our favorite affordable healthy meals (this post isn’t up yet) here that we eat over and over. Things like soup, burritos, egg bites, and salmon burgers are big in our house.
And because I pre-cook all of these things on Sunday and stick them in the freezer, getting our lunch and dinner meals together takes about 15 minutes or less. This makes it so much easier for me to run my businesses, get everything else done in our life, and not spend too much time over the stove.
On top of that, we're saving a ton of money because we always have meals in the freezer waiting to go. No more nights coming home late and ordering takeout because the baby needs to eat now and I didn't prepare anything.
Each of our meals comes in at about $2 or less per person, which is really quite cost effective.
4. I Cut Our Family's Hair
It started with just our son's hair, because he was still a young toddler and $40 for a kid's haircut seemed outrageous to me. Then I started cutting my husband's hair when he was working late hours. He’d often run out of time to get to the barber often enough, leaving him looking a tad scraggly.
After trimming him up in a moment of desperation one night, we realized that the cut I gave him looked just about as good as the cut from his barber.
After a while, I finally broke down and started cutting my own hair as well. I know, craziness.
I've never loved going to the salon.
A spa? Sign me up any day. But getting haircuts isn't really my thing, and I've never really looked forward to going.
Not to mention, my hair is pretty wavy so no one could ever tell when I went to the salon. That’s a pretty big bummer when you spend $70+ on a haircut and no one can tell!
So when I read that Liz from Frugalwoods had started cutting her own hair, I was ready to give it a try too. No regrets!
The last time I went to my hairdresser, I was prepared. I carefully watched how she parted my hair and made her cuts, and made mental notes. When I really looked at it, what she was doing wasn't so complicated at all.
To be fair, I do have a background as a pet groomer, so I know my way around a pair of scissors pretty well. But even with that experience, this is something I feel like most people can do.
If you have stick straight hair or want a complicated cut, it might not be so easy. But I'm happy with my results, and I love thinking that a good $80 is going back into my pocket every time I do it myself.
Click here to read Part 2 of my simple money saving tips for moms series!
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