What do you do to save money? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 27 Old 09-13-2010, 06:26 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi all,

I have a 5 mo DS who I am currently at home with. I had been hoping for a part time job but I won't know about it until next month, and even then it's not a sure thing. I just paid the bills with the last remaining dollars in my bank account. We now have to live on DH's pay alone, which is possible, but I have to cut A LOT of corners to make it work. If I don't end up getting this part time job, I want to forget about working until DS is done breastfeeding, which I am hoping to continue until he is at least a year old. How do you all save money? I'm starting to freak out a little! I haven't been jobless since I was in high school!

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#2 of 27 Old 09-13-2010, 07:25 PM
 
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Nak
For baby use cloth diapers and try to only buy used clothes
make your own cleaning supplies and laundry detergent,
use cloth rags and family cloth
Be mindful of electricity usage
Get rid of cable tv
Use only one car if you can
Make meals from scratch and avoid processed prepackaged food
Try not to eat out much
Avoid big box stores that lure you into buying things you don't need.
Go on a spending freeze for three weeks. During a spending freeze you only buy items that are completely necessary such as groceries, or gas. This is a great way to learn how to control spending. It's also kinda fun!

Go to mint.com and start tracking your spending. Huge eye opener for me! I had a lot of misconceptions about my spending habits until I could see exactly where I was putting money.

Wife to amazing dh, mama to dd 12/08
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#3 of 27 Old 09-13-2010, 07:51 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks! I will try the website...good suggestions.

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#4 of 27 Old 09-13-2010, 08:27 PM
 
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You've gotten very good advice. Depending on your job it's easier than you would think to save money while staying at home. You won't have childcare expenses, which is pricey. You won't have uniforms/special work clothes to pay for. Less gas. You'll be able to research out deals for the best price on whatever you are buying, do more from scratch, etc. You can also bring it a bit of money from doing things like swagbucks, doing surveys, even housekeeping or babysitting. I love to read thrifty forums and blogs to get creative ideas on how to stretch every penny!
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#5 of 27 Old 09-13-2010, 08:43 PM
 
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Have your local library order you a copy of this: The Complete Tightwad Gazette

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#6 of 27 Old 09-14-2010, 01:13 AM
 
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well ...

-homemade detergent (havent done this in about a month though, 2nd baby is here so im cutting corners)
-thrift store! i looooove my thrift store, the only thing i cant ever find there is pants.
-hang dry clothes instead of using dryer. (also havent done in a month due to the baby lol)
-cloth diapers!!! and cloth wipes
-dh takes lunch to work
-no or basic cable (although, the cable guy gave us a *ahem* good deal *ahem*)
-reusing T shirts (for bibs, cut up for cleaning rags...)
-taking the car that uses less gas to work

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#7 of 27 Old 09-14-2010, 10:29 AM
 
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Lots of rice and beans.
Seriously, food is our biggest expense.
Make everything from scratch and learn which meals freeze well.
I also find that being organized keeps spending down because when you are able to plan and know what steps are next you dont have to buy anything last minute.
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#8 of 27 Old 09-14-2010, 11:43 AM
 
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I have a 7 month old son whom I LOVE being home with! I cut LOTS of corners to make that possible.

Among them:

1) Cloth diapers and wipes: You don't have to invest in an expensive diaper stash. I mainly use prefolds or flats fastened with a snappi and then a Dappi cover. Dappi covers are only a couple bucks apiece and I find they work really well. I've even repurposed my excess of receiving blankets as flat diapers. For cloth wipes, you can literally use regular wash cloths. I soak them in a home made solution in an old wipes container. Also, a friend found some nice fitteds at Goodwill for me, as well a couple nice diaper covers. Honestly, I've cloth diapered son on 2 road trips, and found it fairly easy. I don't miss buying disposable diapers and wipes.

2) Breastfeed: I can't think of anything more affordable or convenient.

3) We canceled cable: It was expensive and we never watched it. We got Netflix, instead, for $8.99 a month. DH is in movie heaven! And I love having all the documentaries at my disposal.

4) Ooma: I haven't gotten this yet, but I plan to in a few months. I've heard great things about it. The idea is you buy the equipment for a couple hundred dollars and then you never pay to use your phone again. That's one bill I can't wait to cut!

5) Clean with Baking Soda and Vinegar. Chemicals are just bad and natural cleaners can be expensive.

6) Make your own laundry detergent. Hang to dry. (If you don't like how "stiff" the clothes feel, you can pop them in the dryer for a few minutes. You'll still save a ton!)

7) In the Kitchen: Cook from scratch, including making your own broth from vegetable scraps, baking your own bread, cooking and freezing beans instead of buying them canned, make and freeze your own pie crust and pizza dough. Shop at ethnic markets for the best price on spices and produce. Also, if you can't find a particular spice at an ethnic market, go to any drug store for cheap spices. Shop loss leaders. Buy frozen vegetables when fresh produce is expensive. Of course, grow your own food if you are able to. Meal planning is essential. Soups go a long way, as do casseroles. Beans and rice are cheap, as well as extremely versatile. Double favorite recipes and freeze half of them for busy days when you don't have time to cook.

8) Second hand all the way when it comes to babe. Seriously, family and friends pass down clothes to us all the time. We've bought one outfit since he was born--for a special occasion. All of his toys were either passed down to us or bought at church/yard sales. He doesn't know the difference and loves them all.

9) Don't skimp out on the fun! Seriously, there are so many free and frugal things to do! Check out your local library for museum passes! You'll find passes to zoos, science museums, art museums, history museums, etc. We recently visited a wildlife refuge. The explorations are seemingly endless. We go to a museum every week or two. Many of the passes are for free entry. Others are deeply discounted. Check out movies from your library. Read your favorite magazines for free. Our local library shows a movie every week during the summer. Plus the library has story time and craft time. Utilize interlibrary loans for items your local library may not have. Also, local movie theaters show free movies during the summer. Be active! Walk trails as a family. Have picnics (indoor ones on rainy days). Attend festivals. Play games. Read together.

10) When babe is old enough, swap babysitting with trusted friends so you and partner can go out (or stay in ). You won't have to pay a baby sitter and you'll still have date night!

ETA:

11) Organize a clothing/toy swap with other families. This is great for babies and children, but also for parents, as well.
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#9 of 27 Old 09-14-2010, 12:43 PM
 
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What we do:
-Cloth diapers and wipes (We bought mostly used and will resell what we can when our kids are out of diapers.)
-Breastfeed
-Eat vegetarian and mostly whole foods (rice, beans, lentils, fruits and veggies, home made breads, etc.)
-Cook and freeze! Aim to throw no foods away
-Stock up on things when they are on sale for really cheap- I have our local grocery store's weekly ad sent to my email.
-Use WIC... it really helps with the grocery bill
-Garden
-No cable
-Use only a small amount of shampoos and soaps- a little really does go a long way.
-Save samples of body care products.
-Use hand me downs for baby clothes and larger items.
-Buy items not received by hand me downs at garage sales.
-Make things. (We made our cloth wipes, baby's curtains, and a new seat pad for the garage sale glider we got for the nursery.)
-We share a car and DW bikes to work most of the time
-Swagbucks (we get $5 Amazon gift cards periodically, which does make a difference!)
-Avoid paper products... make a goal to never use paper towels, paper napkins, disposable plates/cups/silverware, etc. We use reuseable products even on picnics.
-Volunteer (For example, we volunteered a couple of hours and got in to a local music festival for free last month.)

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#10 of 27 Old 09-14-2010, 06:22 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mom2happy View Post
Lots of rice and beans.
Seriously, food is our biggest expense.
Make everything from scratch and learn which meals freeze well.
I also find that being organized keeps spending down because when you are able to plan and know what steps are next you dont have to buy anything last minute.
No meals out. None. Playdates at parks and librarys (= free).

Clothes- only second hand (handmedowns, resale shops, goodwill etc).

I didn't find much savings in homemade detergent after I calculated the cost/time/effort it took- a box of Country Save (on Amazon) lasts us 6 months and that's worth buying a case at a time.

Cloth diapering is a given.

Use cash instead of CCs- you need something from the grocery store? Take just enough cash for what you need, leave the rest at home or in the car.

Consolidate outings to save gas and walk when possible!

Momma to DD (12/04) hearts.gif and DS (11/09) hbac.gif.
I survived 16 mos! Ask me about breastfeeding a baby with posterior tongue tie, high palate, and weak oral motor skills- whew!

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#11 of 27 Old 09-19-2010, 01:39 AM
 
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We use a budget box with envelopes inside. Each envelope is labeled with its category....groceries; household supplies; kid activities; entertainment, etc. We still have a few things we pay online but almost everything is paid with cash.

I wrote down on a piece of paper how much we spent or needed for each category of living expenses. Added it up and that is our monthly expenses. This includes rent/mortgage and utilities bills too...everything.

Then I figured what percent of our total income each category absorbed. So when we get a paycheck I can just calculate the percentage of that income that goes to each envelope. This has worked really well for us and we have been able to save money like we never have before. I've been staying home for 6 years now and wish I would have started doing it sooner.

Keeping track of it all and staying dedicated is a task so I think of that as my job. I'm not in control of how much money comes into the house but I am certainly in control of how much leaves the house.
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#12 of 27 Old 09-19-2010, 01:47 AM
 
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just lurking and soaking up all the great advice. DH and I are working on a game plan to make it possible for me to stay home hopefully early next year. I plan to start cutting corners now to help build our savings as well as make the transition easier.

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#13 of 27 Old 09-19-2010, 02:45 AM
 
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How do you make your own laundry detergent?

We were pretty flush until we decided private school was best for our kids, so we just went through major cutbacks on everything else.

We went through our bills are cut back on everything possible. We do fun things that are free, like hiking and going on picnics.

Don't eat out. But grocies when they are on sale, and cook everything from scratch.

Maintain the cars so they will last.

Use the library for books, DVDs, and music.

make a budget and start keeping track of exactly what you spend on what. Give each your and your DH a little pocket money (same amount for a little flexibility).

Since you are home with a baby, why not see if you could find another baby to watch during the day? It would let you earn some money and could make it easier to stay home longer.

GOOD LUCK!!

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#14 of 27 Old 09-19-2010, 09:31 PM
 
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I agree with a lot of what everyone else says.. here is what works for my family (every family is different so just because it works for me doesn't mean it will work for you):
Children/family-
Hand me downs are awesome, if a friend ask if I'm willing to take hand me downs I always say yes. Even though sometimes its not something we will use a lot of what we are given and anything I don't use I find a new home for.
Cloth diapers and wipes..
Shop sales for Christmas/birthday gifts. Our kids are pretty predictable with what they will like so I'm able to plan a ways in advance. That is the nice thing with younger children, they are easy to plan for.
When it comes to toys less is actually better.. I have the least amount of toys of all my friends and my girls are happy with what they have. I do buy open ended toys though (blocks, legos, cars etc) Your child doesn't really need every toy marketed at children out there. In fact I find less saves us money in the fact its less likely for something to be stepped on and broken.
Nurse exclusively, don't supplement with formula. When your baby is old enough for solids make your own. It is a lot cheaper than buying the food. I don't even puree food for my kids, I just cut it up small starting around 7-8 months (neither was interested before that) and they eat small chunks.
Look for low cost/no cost things to do. Check to see if any of the local things you like to do have yearly passes. For example, the zoo nearby the kids love to go to. Its 10.00 for a single day or 20.00 for a year pass (per adult, children under 6 are free) and with the year pass they give you 10 free passes to the museum inside if you want to go (which is usually 3.00 per time you go). I get the year pass, it saves us a ton, specially since the girls love that place. Also check on family passes/discounts. The other zoo on the island offers a family pass for 15.00 for 4 people for the year, or its 8.00 per person per time you go. Its cheaper for us to get one pass even though we don't need it for either of the girls.
For books, library or shop thrift stores/yard sales. We go to the flea market once every couple of months and the thrift store once a month to get books. Check to see if your thrift store does any sales. The one here does 50% off Saturdays once a month. So basically i get 2 books for .25. Since our library isn't the best its a good way to keep the girls in books (they like me read a lot.. like 20-30 books a day I read to them).
Kitchen
Don't eat out. We budget eating out once a month as a family treat. Usually we spend around 20.00 on that meal for our family of 4.
Cook from scratch and learn to make your own bread/tortillas. Especially tortillas, I don't know the cost there but here its 1.20 for 8 taco size tortillas and almost 2.00 for burrito size ones. I can make a batch of 30 for about 1.00 in supplies. It take a bit but the kids love to help.
If you will use the stuff on WIC get it. A lot of the stuff we don't use (baby food, cereal etc) but the beans, milk, eggs and cheese do help. Especially the cheese since its 4.00-5.00 a lb and the kids love it for snacks.
Only buy what is in season. Set a limit to how much a pound you are willing to spend (like I won't spend over 2.00 a pound on any type of veggie/fruit which limits what I can get but fruit/veggies get expensive if I don't set a limit).
Cook less dishes with meat in them. Meat=expensive a lot of the time. If you want to get meat check the sale items, we get a lot of the meat the store has frozen because it was a couple days old. I just keep it frozen until the day we use it and defrost it then.
Household
Get organized. A lot of times we end up buying things we already have because our house isn't organized or things aren't easily found.
Declutter- Its easier to find things and feel good about your situation if you aren't trying to shuffle aside your 10 year old prom dress that will never fit you again..
Make all your own cleaners. I use 50/50 vinegar and water. If we are sick I might add in 1/4 or so cup of rubbing alcohol for a little extra germ killer.
Check to see if its more cost effective to make your own laundry detergent. It isn't for us but for a lot of people it is.
Make kitchen rags or use prefolds. We were given a ton of prefolds that were like the gerber ones that don't work to well. I use them as kitchen towels. I haven't had to buy paper towels in 4 years.
Buy cheap toilet paper or use family cloth.
For your monthly cycle invest in a diva cup or use mama cloth.
Cars-
We have one car right now, its a cheap 2 door/4 seater that drives me NUTS (since its so small) but its paid off. We are saving our pennies right now to buy a van since Im pregnant with number 3 and a 4 seater obviously won't work with 3 kids.
Get the cheap gas. I know that sounds silly but I know quite a few people that are "tight" on money but spring for the premium gas.
Try to save up and pay for insurance yearly, it tends to be a bit cheaper that way (When I lived in the states I think I saved like 300 a year for paying yearly).
- See if it might be cheaper to take the bus or have your husband walk/bike to work.
Bills
- Cut cable, get the cheapest internet possible.
- get the cheapest phone possible, get a prepaid cell phone if its needed (like my husband doesn't like the girls and me being where we can't get a hold of anyone if needed so I carry a prepaid cell so we can get a hold of people if something happens). Only use the cell in case of emergencies, don't use it to chat with your mom/sister/best friend you haven't talked to in a while.
- If you live in a costly apartment see if it might be cheaper to move. Factor in cost of gas you spend to get places. For example your apartment might be cheap but it takes you a while each way to get to work or to any grocery store you might be spending more in gas places than you save on your apartment. Also factor in utility costs, like if you can find a place that pays water/gas whatever and your current one doesn't.

Shopping
ONLY shop with a shopping list and get what is on the list. I make an exception if I forget something we really need (like toothpaste or TP) but other than that if its not on the list we don't get it. This also goes for when we are shopping for clothes/books/toys, if I hadn't already factored in getting it I don't.
Shop sales but make sure its actually a deal
Make a price book of what you use on a daily/weekly/monthly basis so you know what stores have the best prices for what.
Avoid shopping when you are tired/lonely/depressed/hungry etc. It will help you avoid impulse buys.
I like to go through the purchases at the end before I leave the store and ask myself "Do I need this? Is it actually going to do the job I need it to do? Am I actually going to get enough use out of it to justify the price?"
If its a bigger purchase think it over before buying. DH and I have a pact that we will look at anything thats over 100.00 at least 3 times before buying and think on it. Usually for bigger purchases it goes like this "We really need x.y,z" (be it a bed, a car, a camera whatever), We go to the store together and look at whatever they have then we go home and look on the computer to see what the reviews for those items are. Generally we will go back to the store a second time and really handle the item, hold it, lay on it (for a bed or couch) try to imagine how it would fit. Then we go back and have about a week cooling off period and if we still think its what we want and it will work out for us we go get it. That might sound like a pain in the butt but its worse when you make a big purchase, bring it home and realize that it isn't at all what you thought and it isn't what you need.
A few extra things-
If budget allows add in a personal money part to each budget. Give your DH and yourself some spending money each month. Sometimes with us its like 10.00 if we are really tight, other months we have a good amount of spending money after we put money in savings so we budget 100.00. Thing is we both get the same amount so neither person feels like they are being ignored/forgotten.
Make sure you have at least a little set aside for unforseen circumstances.One of the smartest things DH did when I was pregnant with DD2 was to think about making a buffer for the months before and after the birth. I figured it would be an easy birth and with the food frozen in the freezer we wouldn't have to worry about eating out or anything like that. Then DD ended up in the NICU for 6 days and I had a really rough recovery. Thanks to the buffer I at least didn't have to worry about money during those times, I had enough on my plate.

~Heather~ Mama to Miss E (1/07), Miss A (11/08), Mr.T (2/11) and Miss A (10/12) Expecting our newest blessing sometime late Sept/early Oct.. Wife to my Marine since 11/2005
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#15 of 27 Old 09-20-2010, 12:10 AM
 
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I'm amazed by how much we save by making weekly menus. We couple dishes with odd ingredients so we cook them in the same week. We include revamped meals (e.g. Monday is roast chicken; Tues is chicken pot pie)on the menu so little goes to waste, and there are far fewer trips to the grocery store.

I buy the kids' clothes at resales. What I can't find there (long-sleeved shirts, bathing suits, etc) I buy a year in advance so I get rock-bottom clearance prices. We trade, hand-me-down and swap clothes and kid gear with friends, too.

Mom to a sunny toddler and a snoozy baby
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#16 of 27 Old 09-20-2010, 03:45 AM
 
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What do we do?

1. Buy bulk foods (i.e. 50lbs. of organic flour, 30lbs. of organic split peas, and etc.)
2. Cook from scratch. (Breads are your friends! Excellent fillers. )
3. Family cloth. (I also use menstrual sponges. A cup is on my list - but they're so pricey!)
4. Cloth diapers, and line dry them.
5. Compost as much waste as possible.
6. Buy used at thrift stores. (Fun! I wholeheartedly LOVE thrift shopping. )
7. We live off of the grid, and put together our own (Frankenstein) used solar system.
8. We humanure and gray water, so not septic related costs.
9. Conserve hot water (propane), including bath sharing where possible. We do hope to get our solar water together soon, but we still need a tank...
10. Use the library for books.
11. One car.
12. I make most of the schoolwork myself.
13. No cable. Our television is just used for movies. We never go to the theater, and treat ourselves to some rentals instead.
14. Use our internet to its full capacity. We get a good price for it, and it is tied to our phone anyway. We do a lot of research, employment, enjoyment, education, and shopping for deals through it. Also - communication.
15: No cell phones.
16: Eating out is a rare treat.
17: We hunt.

I'm drawing up blanks now, but there is so much more.

I really want my own milk goats and laying hens, SO badly. But I need to be patient.

And we desperately need a greenhouse. It is hard to grow things here, and our living space is tiny, with few windows. Oh how we want a greenhouse!

My big luxury is coffee. I like good espresso. I do buy good beans, but I also go without when I need to - obviously. And my amazing husband just surprised me with a used Gaggia for my birthday! I'm so thrilled!
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#17 of 27 Old 09-20-2010, 08:23 AM
 
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Pomegranate- if you stalk drugstores online you can find diva cups for around 15ish. I almost ordered one once and decided to wait. Luckily I waited, I got a BFP three days later. No need for one while pregnant or (at least for me) almost a year afterwards. Knowing my house my DH would have thought it had expired after that long and tossed it long before I even opened it. I figured for the length of time you can use it for 15.00 isn't bad at all. Especially if you are a heavy bleeder and mama cloth doesn't work well for you.

I thought of a couple more: make sure you DH packs a good lunch, otherwise if he is like mine he will get hungry and decide "Oh just this once wont' hurt" and limit trips to the store. I do monthly meal plans and go to the store once a month for the bulk and then once every other week for fruit/veggies/milk/eggs. Also, try to have your DH watch your child and go alone, I find that I buy more when my kids are with me because Im distracted by them. So when I meant to grab like 7 oranges I end up getting 11 because i lose track or I get an extra jar of peanut butter because I forgot I already grabbed one. Seems small but even 10 cents here and a quarter there adds up quickly.
Once your child is a little older and you want to have them color either blank paper or print things off the internet. Coloring books are expensive (my DH got a treat for one of our daughters by getting her a coloring book, it was like 7.00, I couldn't believe it when I saw the price!) Also no need to buy name brand art supplies, you can get crayons/markers from the dollar store. I even saw glue, paint and glitter at the one near my fathers house (I don't live near an American dollar tree so I don't know what they have, the 100 Yen stores over here sell oil paints, paint brushes and the like as well). Also, look for things seasonal. I get a lot of my girls art supplies during back to school shoping times because I can get 48 count washable crayolas for like 1.00 instead of 4-5, markers for 1.50 instead of 5, etc. My girls love to do art projects so the savings is great for my family. If you live near like Target/Walmart they have those dollar sections and they tend to have things like blank construction paper, rolls of art paper etc for a lot cheaper than you can get otherwise. Right now its not a big thing for you since your baby is young but when they get older and want to do more then it adds up quickly in savings.

~Heather~ Mama to Miss E (1/07), Miss A (11/08), Mr.T (2/11) and Miss A (10/12) Expecting our newest blessing sometime late Sept/early Oct.. Wife to my Marine since 11/2005
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#18 of 27 Old 09-20-2010, 12:59 PM
 
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Pomegranate- if you stalk drugstores online you can find diva cups for around 15ish. I almost ordered one once and decided to wait. Luckily I waited, I got a BFP three days later. No need for one while pregnant or (at least for me) almost a year afterwards. Knowing my house my DH would have thought it had expired after that long and tossed it long before I even opened it. I figured for the length of time you can use it for 15.00 isn't bad at all. Especially if you are a heavy bleeder and mama cloth doesn't work well for you.
Thank you! I will definitely look into that. After the Holidays I'm sure that I could manage to swing that.

I thought of a couple more, obvious ones too!

1.Homemade laundry detergent.
2.Homemade mouthwash and toothpaste.
3.And I also make my own body balm. I love moisturized skin. Especially because I live in a very dry place. I can afford the indulgence of nice skin, if I make my own products.
4.Sort of similar, I have beautiful long hair. To help maintain that, I'll use oil masks on it. Even if that be just a cheap cooking oil during truly tight months. I'm sure it must cost less than most hair products.
5.I make all of my gifts. Well, I do buy some used, true. But generally I knit, crochet, sew, bake, or otherwise make my presents. As does my wonderful husband. He is an artist in wood, glass, and metalworking. Similarly, we make our own holiday cards, and only send to those very dear to us.
6.I barter for yarn and fleece. This allows me to manage the good stuff.
7.I also trade with a friend who makes wonderful soap. No reason for me to take on that chore, when she does it so lovely!

Ok, I'm coming up blank again!
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#19 of 27 Old 09-20-2010, 06:19 PM
 
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--Cloth diaper & cloth wipes
--Clip coupons for toiletries (don't save much on groceries because they're for a lot of things we don't eat)
--Keep lights off in other rooms
--Cook 6 out of 7 nights a week (much cheaper than eating out) - this also provides leftovers for DH's lunch
--I make my own laundry detergent and spot cleaner

I'm sure there's more but I'm drawing a blank..

SAHM to my sweet girl born in fall 2009

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#20 of 27 Old 09-20-2010, 07:39 PM - Thread Starter
 
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WOW this thread is really full of good advice...thanks everyone, keep all the suggestions coming!

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#21 of 27 Old 09-22-2010, 12:58 AM
 
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Thank you! I will definitely look into that. After the Holidays I'm sure that I could manage to swing that.
I'm trying to convince DH to get me one and put it in my stocking. He actually is on the verge of agreeing. You know you turned your husband to crunchiness when he is debating getting a diva cup for your stocking and doesn't think it is weird/gross or anything like that. I love my hubby. Although it might help that tampons and pads are expensive over here and he did the math, I go through 1-2 boxes a month or about 6.00 of tampons if I don't clip coupons and a package of pads so about another 3.50 so in two months of using the Diva cup we would save money. What can I say, he is a very practical man at times.

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#22 of 27 Old 09-24-2010, 10:34 PM
 
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I work for a friend in trade for her homemade soap and other bath products, which I use at home and for presents year round.
Each year I plant more and more of my yard and gardens in edible and medicinal plants - blueberry and elderberry bushes are great for landscaping, apple and pear trees for shade, comfrey for spots that won't grow anything else, etc. We also got our fishing licenses and caught brown trout, bass, and perch in the lake 1/2 mile away. I never miss an opportunity to wild harvest - just put up 6 quarts of sumac lemonade. I've even been known to knock on strangers' doors, asking to pick their apple trees and split the harvest with them.
I ask farmers at our local farmer's market what they do with their leftover produce. I volunteer to pick up extra produce or come to the farm to pick produce. In return I keep half the produce and either process and return it to the farmer, or donate the other half to the food pantry across the street from me. I scored over 300 lbs of tomatoes, 10 dozen ears of corn, and so much squash I can barely see straight - and that's just my half!
I CD and BF. We use cloth for everything and are thinking of going to family cloth.
We try to use everything again before throwing it out - we've even pureed potato peels to make fries!
We've yard saled and traded for our kids' clothing and toys. I make most of the toys my kids play with - paints, playdough, beanbags, dolls, etc. What I can't make, we either do without or freecycle for it before we buy it used, and if we can't find it used, then we try to get it on sale, on Ebay, or trade/barter for it.
Right now I've got plans to build a strawbale kid's playhouse in the backyard, and the clay will be coming from a friend's fam garden. We will be bartering baked goods and homemade ice cream with a friend's husband for his skill in building a swingset/slide.
I've really worked hard at building a social network in my town so that we can work on a non-money based economy because we have no extra money. It's wonderful to trade two quarts of homegrown strawberry rhubarb jam for two quarts of local honey, rather than go to the store and pay through the nose for the same product. If you have the time, bartering your work in the fields, weeding and harvesting is worth it in the amount of fresh produce you take home in trade. One of my friends trades field work with another friend for horse riding lessons for her daughter. I love this!
We weatherize our old farmhouse each fall, and insulate as much as money allows. We use CFLs, timers, and "kill" switches to eliminate ghost charges. Next spring we're building a solar dehydrator out of gleaned materials I've found this summer. I've even hosted "workshops" for me and my friends. We recently had a raw foods night taught by a local chiropractor. Everyone brought one food item and $5 to cover the teaching fee. Next week, I have another foodie friend coming over to teach us how to cook and preserve kale, kohlrabi, and other "winter" greens.

Since I've got time on my hands as a SAHM, I have done all these things to compensate for my lack of income. Even though my DH only brings in $24k a year as a social worker, we are surviving. It's tight some months, but we're doing it!

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#23 of 27 Old 09-26-2010, 09:16 PM
 
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We also extend frugality to the kitchen. We make our own vegetable broth using vegetable scraps, such as carrot peelings, the ends to carrots, celery, onions, etc., potato peelings and anything that is soon to expire. We save them in a gallon freezer bag and when we have a full bag, we dump them into a pot and fill it with water. We usually add spices, such as black peppercorns and parsley. We bring it to a boil and then reduce to a simmer for 1 1/2-2 hours. We then strain it through a sieve and let it cool before freezing it in usable portion sizes. If you eat meat, you can add bones that you've saved.

We also make convenience foods from scratch. We're vegan so we make our own seitan, vegan pepperoni, sausage, cutlets, etc. We make our own hummus and I have a recipe for homemade tahini that I'm going to try to make.

We cook a lot using beans. Homemade chili beans and refried beans are delicious and very economical. We also cook large batches of dry beans and then freeze them in can size portions, about 1 1/2-1 3/4 cups. Then when a recipe calls for a can of beans, it's as simple as defrosting what we have.

I'm beginning to bake my own bread.

I recommend shopping at ethnic stores for spices and some produce. You will find you save A LOT on spices this way. For common spices, such as parsley and cilantro, drug stores usually sell them for under a dollar each. Also, I can get things like tofu and rice much cheaper at the local Asian Market.

Angelfood Ministries has very affordable food packages.

If you qualify for WIC, it is a great help.

I believe in providing your family with the the best quality food you can afford. Often that means the food may not be organic (at least for me), but I can still make healthy choices, if more labor intensive, and be home with my son at the same time.
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#24 of 27 Old 09-26-2010, 11:28 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Once again, thanks for all of the suggestions!

I like the idea of making my own vegetable broth! I always feel like we waste so much with vegetables...that's a great idea.

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#25 of 27 Old 09-26-2010, 11:58 PM
 
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I second most of the great advice you've been given, but wanted to add:

Budget in some "luxuries," or at least something that feels like a luxury. For instance, once a week I drink a store brand 25 cent cream soda. I know that sounds dumb, but it makes me feel really...indulgent. DDs dad and I used to take hot water in a thermos to the co-op's cafe on weekends with tea bags, hot cocoa mix, and a metal cup. We'd each buy a bagel for 60 cents, bring our own cream cheese, and sit and read together for a long time. That type of thing. I find that deliberate, creative treats help you avoid impulse spending and feel rich for a few moments.

Also, a pressure cooker is crucial! Those dried beans are cheap and healthy, but can be kind of a pain the "slow way." Pressure cooker helps make cheaper, tougher meats quickly palatable and cuts down on stove time, too.
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#26 of 27 Old 09-27-2010, 12:18 AM
 
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Don't freak out mama s

Dh and I have come ALONG way since we had our first almost 3 yrs ago. We used to both work and made plenty of money, but we were so stupid with it. Now we've cut our bills in half and live totally fine. The biggest savings are in food and entertainment

We buy natural/organic meat when it's on sale at the store and STOCK up.
We buy organic frozen veggies at Costco for next to nothing
We buy our bread items at the bread outlet for over 1/2 off (usually 3/4)
We use coconut oil as body/face lotion (everyone in the family does this)

I meal plan on Saturday nights when Fred Meyer emails me their ad and I plan our meals around what's on sale. I clip coupons on Sunday mornings when the ads come out and have a little coupon organizer that helps. I shop on Monday mornings after breakfast and get everything we need for the week. We rarely have to go to the store again that week.

I've started canning to help us along in the lean winter months, as dh is self employed.

We only buy used clothing, however shoes are the exception. I've outfitted both my kids for the next 9 months for under $25/both (not including shoes). Garage sales are gold mines when you can find Gymboree, Mini Boden, etc for $.50/each

Call your car insurance, phone company, cable (we have it free with the DTV box), cell phones, etc to see if you can lower your bills anyway. Just the other day I called about our land line and saved us $12/mo

All of the things the previous mamas mentioned are great ideas

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#27 of 27 Old 09-27-2010, 08:28 AM
 
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How do you make your own laundry detergent?

We were pretty flush until we decided private school was best for our kids, so we just went through major cutbacks on everything else.

We went through our bills are cut back on everything possible. We do fun things that are free, like hiking and going on picnics.

Don't eat out. But grocies when they are on sale, and cook everything from scratch.

Maintain the cars so they will last.

Use the library for books, DVDs, and music.

make a budget and start keeping track of exactly what you spend on what. Give each your and your DH a little pocket money (same amount for a little flexibility).

Since you are home with a baby, why not see if you could find another baby to watch during the day? It would let you earn some money and could make it easier to stay home longer.

GOOD LUCK!!
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