Saving Money While Raising Kids – What Works for Mary Ellen
After reading Michelle’s original post on how they save money, I thought that I would share some of the ways that we also save money. Money for sure doesn’t grow on trees and I can think of very few families these days that don’t have to watch their wallets.
Here are some things that our family of four does to save:
- Technology: It might shock you, but there are at least two people left in this world who do not have smartphones and they are me and my husband. We have internet at home and at work and find no need to spend an extra buck to have unlimited internet on our phones. I’m assuming this saves us at the very least $50 a month.
- Entertainment: We don’t have any premium movie channels at home (no HBO, Cinemax or Showtime) and we don’t have DVR (gasp!). Netflix is a little too pricey for us too, so when we want to see a movie, we get one from the library or from Redbox (less than $2!). We go out to the movies about twice a year. We read the newspaper online instead of paying for newspaper delivery. We don’t buy any magazine subscriptions and we get our books from the library.
- Baby Stuff: I am proud to tell anyone about the awesome deals I’ve scored on baby and kid stuff since we’ve become parents. Our Rock n Play was purchased for $20 at a local consignment sale that is held twice a year. I buy my boys’ clothes at garage sales for 50 cents or $1 a piece. My mom and mother-in-law both had bouncer seats at their houses for when our little ones were babies that I bought used for $5 each. It was so worth it to not have to bring it with us when we visited. I scored a free double stroller in great condition from Freecycle. When I do buy new clothes for the kids, I stick to Target and Kohls and try to buy on clearance, or at the very least, on sale. Babies grow out of gear and clothing SO quickly that it seems silly to not buy at least some things second-hand.
- Food: Food is probably what we spend the most money on every month, besides our mortgage. My older son is gluten-free and dairy-free and we try to buy as much organic food for him (and us) as we can, but there are still ways to save. Trader Joe’s is our main shopping place because their organic food is just so darned affordable. We also eat at home… a lot. Aside from special events and vacations, we have never been out to dinner at a restaurant since becoming a family of four. It’s expensive and let’s face it, taking an autistic toddler and a one year old out of the house to do anything can be a challenge! I cook a bunch and we eat in and get fast food (pizza, Chinese food, etc) a couple times a month.
- Coupons: Even though there are things we buy that we can’t use coupons on, there are many, many things that we can. I have a deep freezer and a pantry in our kids’ playroom that keeps extra frozen meat, frozen vegetables, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, canned goods, rice, baby food, juice boxes, condiments, cereal and snacks, all purchased cheap or free with coupons. Don’t knock it til you try it! Here’s the article I wrote on couponing.
- Overall: We are just very careful with what we spend on our money on. We don’t buy fancy electronics, we don’t own iPhones and I don’t get my nails done twice a month. We bought a house we can afford and have money to put into our retirement funds every month. We don’t have credit card debt because we don’t buy things we can’t pay for. As my husband said, “we buy what we need, not what we want.”
What are some ways your family saves money?