How do you budget being at home?

Denise - posted on 01/22/2010 ( 13 moms have responded )

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Do you only have your partners income? How do you manage? Do any of you mums live very close to the breadline to be able to spend time at home with your little ones? Just wondering how everyone manages? Any advice to sticking to a small buget?

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I have learned a few ways to cut down on some of my utilities.
When your washing machine comes to a stop, turn the dial back around to "spin only" at the end of the cycle. Lift the clothes out of the bottom of the machine and 'fluff' them slightly in the barrel. Turn the machine back on and you will really be surprised how much lighter they have gotten. Knocking the extra water out of them will make the time in the dryer shorter. Where my machine used to take 50 minutes to dry a load, now it takes 30 minutes or less. Anything heavy like jeans or blankets gets hung up to dry some before I put it in the dryer.
When your cellphone is done charging, UNPLUG THE CHARGER. An unused charger is drawing just as much power as one with a cellphone on it.
A turned OFF television is drawing MORE power than one that is on. If you are gone for a weekend or more, reach back there and unplug the tv. I keep my entertainment center on a powerstrip so I can reach back there easily and click off the whole system.
Take a walk around your house with a lighter and wave it near your windows and doors. If you are finding any drafts at all, cover them. Rig it up somehow.. or go buy the expensive plastic shrink stuff that will seal the windows. At night after my husband comes in from work he knows to shove the blanket into the crack at the bottom of the door with his toe. That one little blanket makes a HUGE difference in how cold my house is at 5am.
I keep my car in good shape. I always check my oil and keep my tire pressure right. Tire pressure that is right right now.... will NOT be right when the weather changes. If it's colder or warmer than last time you checked the tires, you will see the air pressure is different. Tires running on low air pressure burn too much gas. Tires with TOO MUCH air pressure are going to go bald right in the middle, and now you are looking at replacing them.
Go through the trunk of your car and take out anything heavy. Weight affects gas mileage too. Be sure that your car is tuned up. New plugs, new wires. Ask someone mechanical around you to 'clean your throttle body' This will make your car run better, and burn less gas.
I tend to love the homemade versions of cleaners too. I use a teaspoon of baking soda instead of cleanser, I use a splash of bleach instead of clorox bathroom cleaner... I use vinegar for window cleaner, lime scale remover and odor remover. A lemon wedge and a sprinkle of salt are a great metal polish, without paying $6.00 for a bottle of Tarnex.
Any leftovers that would possibly be good in a soup goes into a big plastic tub in my freezer. Thaw out the whole tub and dump it in a pot... there's instant vegetable soup!
Packing my husband's lunch cuts out about $40 a week. He was spending $10 a day on lunch, now I buy $10 worth of sandwich meat, chips and bread.
Basically, walk around your house and think about it with an open mind. Anything dirty, is going to be running less efficiently. Look at what's expensive and what can you do to make that cost less.

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I highly recommend reading "Total Money Makeover" by Dave Ramsey. He's God Sent to one income families, not to mention everyone as a whole. We do not follow his book word for word, but can say we have not used a credit card in over two years and the only debt we have is our mortgage. Something to consider. Good luck!!

Theresa - posted on 01/22/2010

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After our second child was born it was no longer worth me working. By the time we put two in day care most of my income would have gone to that. WHen I first started staying home we couldn't afford to live off just my husband's income so I started doing home daycare. I only took on one family, but it was enough to help with the bills. Also because it's considered a home business I could write certain things off on taxes. That was a help too.

April - posted on 01/22/2010

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I am a stay-at-home mom of one daughter and one puppy. My husband only makes about 30000 so that is what I deal with. A few things I do to keep our expenses low include cloth diapering (and using cloth wipes and water to clean her), breastfeeding, and eating a diet with limited meat (never buy it, only eat it when we go out). Between those few things, a basically have not increased our spending since our daughter was born by much more than the cost of nursing pads. I also buy all of her clothes and more expensive toys through consignment sales and do most of our clothes shopping at discount stores during super sales. It seems to work pretty well and my hope is that my husband's raises will coincide with my daughter starting solids (which will be raw or slightly overcooked food that we eat and not baby food).

Layla - posted on 01/22/2010

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hi, me an my partner dont work,he lost his job but we no what we nd to get an that cmes first

Shaina - posted on 01/22/2010

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I've only been a stay at home mom for about 10 months, but I've always been the one who takes care of the family income. The biggest thing that I do is go through the weekly flyers and make a grocery list. If its not on the list I dont get it. I go through and plan our meals based on whats on sale that week. I also go to discount stores for things like pasta, chicken broth (things that are non parishable and I use ALL the time) I also made a calander up on the computer that shows us when out bill are due, when I go grocery shopping, when his check comes in and what the minimun $ we NEED by the end of the week and still be ok. By doing that we were able to see how we were doing and if we didnt have the $ that we needed for the week we could see where we needed to cut back. another thing is that my SO is really bad with the debit card so I give him cas for the week. I'm the one that takes care of all the 'accounting' in our family so anytime we want to go out or do something out of the norm we sit down and see whats coming up and what we have in the accounts. The best thing that I've found is that even though we're doing good right now I still shop like we arent. That way wer're still saving $ and we can put it away into savings. I hope that helps. Good luck!

Betsy - posted on 01/22/2010

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Make a budget for sure. Have it written down and make sure you and your husband both agree. That way when there isn't any money left in that certain section for the week you aren't arguing about staying in and having left overs or cereal :)



Also when we are trying to cut back and really stick to our budget I will take cash out for non bill stuff like groceries, gas, eating out, etc. and put them in seperate envelopes. That way when it is gone we visibly can see it and opt not to use the credit or debit card. I have been a stay at home mom for five years and have 2 kids and one on the way.



My husband doesn't have a huge income so we've sacrificed on the wants in life. We don't have cable but have hooked our computer up to tv instead and you can get plenty of shows through network websites like nbc etc. Our grocery bill is also pretty tight but it is still important to me to buy healthy things so I'll buy things that are important to me to buy organic or fresh at the local Schnucks and then all things that I wouldn't buy like that I buy at Aldi's because it is basically the same thing but half of the price.



Also, something that I like to tell everyone on a small budget about it buying a Wyndham timeshare on ebay for vacations. We bought one for like 1 dollar on ebay two years ago and it has been soooo worth it. You have to look at the maintenance fees in the ad because that is what you will pay every year for it, but our maintenance fees are about $50 a month or $600 a year and this past year we were able to go to Branson, Mo Albuquerque NM, and the Wisconsin Dells and we only paid that $600 for the year. People are always like you and going on vacation again, how can you afford that? And with that timeshare it is so affordable and with kids we'll usually go places that we can drive and buy our groceries before we go and load those up to. Hope this helps!

Jacqueline - posted on 01/22/2010

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It is not easy on one income, we are a family of 5, Twin 4 year old boys and a 13 year old daughter) But I agree with Leona, you can save money by planning out your meals and necessities for each week and stick to what is on the list. What I do is write down everything I need to and as I pick it up I write down the price next to the item ( we have maybe a $125 a week budget) and once I have the needed items if there is money left over i will buy extra or additional meats and snake foods. Join your local Sams Club or Costco and buy some of your items in Bulk (Ketchup, mayo, cereals, snacks and meats) at the time cause you are spending $200 it does not look like you are saving, but in long run it is saving money. The meats do not go bad as long as they are rewrapped and kept in freezer till needed. Keep eye out for sales, and always shop around for items for the best price, and check local Thrift stores and craigslist for items you might need and get clothing for pennies on dollar. I just spent $35 on a huge bag of used summer clothing for my twin boys and it is all in very good condition.

Contact me and I will give you more ways to save....

Jackie :)

Emily - posted on 01/22/2010

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My husband and I have 2 boys, 3&6, both with special needs. We have managed to stay aflot by cutting back on EVERYTHING!!! Shampoo is purchased by the gallon at a Sally's beauty supply for $5, then I water it down a little when it is put in more manageable size bottles at home. Toothpaste, deodorant and body lotions are from the dollar store. Movies come from the library for free. I am also part of a MOPS group and we do clothing exchanges for the whole family. Moms, dads and kids. This saves tons of money! We also try not to buy anything in a box or can. Frozzen veggies are a lot less, and the sore brands are really not bad anymore. We have lefterover for lunch, and soup night on Thursdays. We also eat a lot of beans and rice. The kids love it and I can feed the whole family for very little. We also try to reduce the amount of meat we eat. I don't skimp on laundry detergent, I buy in bulk with a friends whole sales club membership, but I do things like make my own fabric softener sheets, that I think work better anyway. I also boil my whites in vinegar instead of bleach, this gets my whites bright, it's safe on colors too and doesn't break down the fibers in you cloths, so they last longer. Where I save the most money though is on my cleaning supplies. I only use vinegar and bleach for cleaning. vinegar cuts grease and soap scum better then anything I have ever tried, an once it is dry, you can't smell it. I average $60 a year on laundry and cleaning supplies. I also never use paper towels or paper napkins, we use old towels cut to size and just wash them. I have managed to support this family on $900 per month and we don't go without anything!

Marie - posted on 01/22/2010

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Hi, our family is a single income family. We have two kids- our daughter is almost 2, and our son is 6 months old. We have done a lot of things to make it so that I can stay at home with our children. First of all, we made a spread sheet on the computer of all of our finances. We have all of our payments listed, their due dates, etc. It is color coded, and each payday we pay the bills that are due right away, so that they are taken care of and we aren't tempted to spend the money somewhere else. We have made some small sacrifices, like reducing our cable to having the minimum amount of channels. I also create a menu for our dinners. This way, I can plan our big meals, and plan meals that in a sense go together. (For example, one night we might have a beef roast with potatoes and carrots in the crock pot, then another night have scalloped potatoes and ham to use up the bag of potatoes, then have something like grilled ham and cheese sandwiches so that the rest of the ham doesn't go bad.) I have found that by making a menu, making my grocery list from it, and then being able to find coupons what I'm buying, we save WAY more money than when I just went grocery shopping for "whatever" and then each day tried to come up with something for dinner.We waste less food this way too. I also stock up on items when they are one sale. Also, I have started babysitting for another family a few days a month to bring in a little extra money.It's a family that we know fairly well- the guy works with my husband (they work 24 hr shifts) so when his shifts fall when his wife is working, we watch their son who is the same age as our son, and their daughter when she is done with school for the day.Since my kids are young, we don't do a whole lot to entertain them that costs money. My toddler loves playing at the park or going to the library. I also am a huge clearance shopper.. I never pay full price for clothes, I wait until they are on sale or clearance before I buy them. It can be really tough sometimes to only have one income. However, I feel that the sacrifices that we make right now are worth it. My husband and I knew that we were going to have a little over a 2 year period of "tough times" when we transitioned into one income, and two children. Well, we have made it through over a year, and it wasn't as bad as we thought it would be! I think one of the best things that you can do to stick to a small budget is to make sure that you and your partner are on the same page financially... talk about where the money goes, if you can make sacrifices anywhere, and make sure you each understand what money is allotted for where. We have an agreement that any "bigger" purchases we discuss with each other, and that way we can make sure that we really can afford it at the time, and not just make impulse decisions.

Lisa - posted on 01/22/2010

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I have not worked in 2 years, I have a 6 and 4 year old. My husband works and we are not managing very well. Its hard to find a job and working during the day I would need to pay for childcare and by the time that is paid for and gas to get to work I would have barley any money left. Usually my husband works 2 jobs this is the first winter in a long time he hasn't. I am not sure what the breadline is. But we have lately been trying to save and put money in a savings account. One thing I leaned through the bankruptcy course we had to take is just becasue you didnt pull anything out for dinner that night does not mean you can eat out. We try to make a dinner list and have been good sticking to it. If it is not a necessity then dont get it. Determin wants and needs. Like I said it is not easy, I try to take on babysitting jobs, I currently babysit for two families.

Catherine - posted on 01/22/2010

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Buying cheaper is not always buying smarter. Sometimes a 'bargain' needs looking into. You get used to checking everything out with an eagle eye and a healthy dose of paranoia :)

Subscribe to your local chapter of Freecycle. Not only does it help you get unwanted-yet-useful things out of your house, it can help you find useful stuff that others no longer need. I have been an excellent source of baby clothes to other mums, myself. There is nothing wrong with pre-loved stuff.

Get acquainted with your neighborhood. Know the location of every op shop, dollar shop and hand-craft supply shop in the district. These places can be intensely useful, especially if you know how to turn things into other things :D

Don't always buy the name brand - check the ingredients of cheaper brands versus your favourite ones, or performance if it's a thing you use. Sometimes that cheap alternative is better than the expensive one. Know your quality signs!

Buy seasonal - it's cheaper.

You can always 'bulk out' a meal with rice, couscous, potato, bread or pasta. Box up and freeze leftovers. Stockpile when something is ludicrously cheap - but don't try this with perishable items unless you're prepared to make your own preserves.

And when all else fails - stew. You can make it out of anything, you can make lots of it to bung in the freezer, and you can get anything to go with it.

Leona - posted on 01/22/2010

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HI Denise,

We have 5 children and I have been lucky enough to be at home with them since 2005. A great way to save money is to track all of your spending and then cut back on some expenses, for instance, our biggest expense is our food budget so I look at grocery flyers each week, to see what is on sale, then I create a menu plan that includes every meal AND daily snack. Lastly - I shop according to what is on my menu plan. It saves tonnes of money and the kids love looking at the daily menu to see what they're eating that day. ( OH - and I never get that dreaded "what's for dinner question" (x5)....very annoying!!)

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