Being frugal when it’s just you, or just you and a significant other is pretty easy. Trying to live that lifestyle with little humans running around proves a little more difficult. However, it is not as difficult as it may seem. We trade a lot of money, for just a little more convenience, way too often, and we trade a lot of money for things that our kids don’t actually need. All of that money adds up into a decent chunk of cash that could have been used to pay off debt, go towards college, go towards retirement, or even towards a family vacation. When you’re trying to make a lifestyle change towards being more frugal, or living a simpler life, you have got to look ahead to the future and ask yourself what you want it to look like. If you want it to look like early retirement, or being able to pay for college for your kids, or being able to travel or go on missions trips, or investing in real estate, or maybe even being able to afford for one parent to stay home with the kids and not work. Whatever your dream may be, that is what you need to focus on. Every time you feel the urge to impulse buy that cute little dinosaur stuffed animal for your child who has been good all day, think about what you want your future to look like, explain that to your children in words they can understand, and read these helpful tips so that you can learn alternative options to try instead!
1. Just say no to buying gifts as rewards for being good.
I’m not judging here. This used to be me. My daughter would be so good the whole time I was on one of my weekly shopping excursions, and I would see a toy that I would think was adorable.. (I’m a sucker for stuffed animals and so is my daughter) I’d surprise her by grabbing it and just handing it to her, and she’d get a huge smile across her face. Her day (and mine) would be totally made. It makes you feel good to treat your child, and I absolutely understand that, but even if you only do it every now and then, it can turn into this every time you go shopping. “Mommy, can I get a toy? I’m being good! Can I have that stuffed animal? Can I have that car? Can we go look at the other toys? I want a coloring book!” This gets old really fast and soon it can turn into an argument. You try and tell your child “not today” and they don’t understand why sometimes when they’re good they get a toy and sometimes they don’t. Then they start whining and asking why, and soon enough they’re behavior actually isn’t good at all. This was beginning to happen to me and I knew I had to put a stop to it. Not only because the begging was not a trait I wanted my daughter to keep, but also because I realized that she didn’t need more toys, and simply put, it was a waste of money. Kids can learn to be good without receiving a toy for good behavior. Just a simple “I am so proud of you for being so good today. You are really growing up!” Will put the same smile on your child’s face, be easier on the wallet, and will also make for less clutter in your home!
If you would still like to do some kind of reward system, then try making a sticker chart. Every time your child behaves in public, let them put a sticker on the chart when they get home. Once they have received a certain amount of stickers, treat them to an experience. This does not have to cost money. Most kids are VERY easy to please. For a two or three year old, this can be as simple as going to their favorite playground, or having a movie night with mommy and daddy while eating popcorn, or helping mom (or dad) bake a special treat! For an older child try planning a fishing trip, or a family hike, or a trip to a farm if your child loves animals. We think these simple activities wont make our kids as happy because we may do these things with them already, but it actually overjoys them. They love any kind of opportunity to spend time with you. That’s all kids really want. Time with us, and our undivided attention and love.
My daughter loving time spent together as a family at the playground.
2. Kids. Are. Messy. However, there is no need to use paper towels for every single mess.
I will always have paper towels. There are times when a mess is just too messy and it’s the best way to go. But I also think that they are overused. If you haven’t heard of Norwex cleaning products, you really should check them out! My favorite product is the Envirocloth. It is chemical free, cleans incredibly well, and the best part is that it is washable and reusable! You can use it for just about everything, and they can last for seven years or longer if you care for them properly. This will save you money not only on paper towels, but on cleaning sprays as well because, here is the other awesome part about these cloths, you don’t need any sprays or cleaning chemicals to use them… BONUS! Norwex cloths have definitely helped my budget when it comes to cleaning expenses!
Here’s the breakdown. Paper towels are roughly 3.6 cents per square foot, or 2.7 cents per sheet. I’ll use my family’s size as an example. Lets say I use paper towels for all my clean ups (which I admittedly used them WAY too much before) So after 3 meals, 2 snacks, 2 messes (of spit up on the floor and who knows what else!) 2 times of drying your hands after doing dishes, and wiping down counter tops… I think it’s safe to say you could easily use 12 sheets a day(or more) if that’s what you use for most of your cleaning when you have kids in the house. Plus add in regular window and mirror cleaning, lets estimate that adds an average of one more sheet per day. So let’s go with the number 13 sheets per day for a family of four. That equals out to 35 cents per day, which equals $10.50 per month. One envirocloth is $18 and it can last for 7 years. That means that in those 7 years you could save $882 just on paper towels. That’s not even including how much you will save on sprays and cleaning chemicals! It doesn’t sound like a lot, but if it’s one piece to your entire puzzle of savings, trust me. It adds up. Not to mention this is a MUCH greener alternative. Not only are you saying goodbye to harmful chemicals, but take a look at these numbers. If every household in the U.S. used just ONE less 70 sheet roll of paper towels in a year, that would save 544,000 trees. Taking it further… If every household in the U.S. used THREE less rolls per year, it would save 120,000 tons of waste that piles up on our planet, and it’d save $4.1 MILLION in landfill dumping fees. So while we are saving money, we can also help save our planet, and save our country money as well… bam…triple bonus.
Have I convinced you to try out Norwex yet?? I hope I have! 🙂 There are many more products available than just the cloths that I talked about too! Here are two consultants, that I know personally, that would love to help you start saving money (and the environment) through cleaning! Click their links below to view their catalogs.
3. Accept hand-me-down clothes from family or friends, or buy secondhand clothing.
I know I know… It is ridiculous hard to resist that tiny little sweater with a fox peaking out of the pocket staring at you in Target just begging you to take it home and put it on your adorable tiny human. Guess what, I don’t even try to force myself to resist ALL of the time. Growing tiny humans and birthing tiny humans is a lot of fricken work, and if I want to buy them a brand new, adorable fox sweater once in awhile (and the budget allows for it) then gosh darn it, I’m gunna do it…. BUT, You for sure do not need to buy all brand new clothes for your child’s entire wardrobe. Babies grow out of things super fast, so a lot of times you can find very gently used adorable clothing at secondhand stores, or from friends looking to pass their kid’s clothing down, and sometimes even yard sales can be gold mines!! I actually have a blast searching for cheaper, but still super cute kids clothes. It is a fun challenge that I am always willing to take, and it saves me money too! 🙂 People also tend to buy way more clothes then is actually needed for their children. When looking at a new piece of clothing for your child ask yourself this question. “Am I buying this sweater because my child needs it, or am I buying this because it adorable even though my daughter already has five perfectly good sweaters in her closet.” Remember we are trying to focus on the big picture here. A little savings every month now, adds up to big savings for the future! Also, If family wants to give your children gifts for Christmas and Birthdays, ask them for the next size up in clothing that your child will be needing. That way you already have a good head start once they grow out of the size they are currently in.
*Don’t forget to give back! Go through your children’s clothes every season, and give in the same way that people may have given to you! Hand clothes down to others in need, while at the same time removing clutter, and not needed clothes from you children’s closets.
4. Limit eating out as much as possible.
Sometimes it is just way more convenient to hit a fast food drive through while you’re out and about running errands with the kids, I’ve been there and I get it! But you would be absolutely amazed at how much you can save if you just pack them (and yourself) a sandwich and some snacks for those trips instead. Plan ahead on the days you want to go out and pack a little lunch pail with goodies for everyone. Put one really yummy item in there so that you’re excited for your lunch. If you and your husband work outside of the home, pack lunches for your work days as well. This will not only save you a ton of money, but it will be healthier for everyone as well! I’m not trying to ruin all your fun by telling you to never eat out ever. But, instead of having it be a frequent event, turn it into something that is only for special occasions. Like a date night for you and your significant other, or a family get together, or a once a month breakfast out. Moderation is key!
5. When looking for baby gear, or even diapers, check your local Facebook sales groups first!
You’d be amazed at the amount of baby stuff sold on Facebook marketplace and other Facebook sales groups. I sometimes even find unopened boxes of diapers for up to $15 cheaper than what you would buy them for at the store! That’s a deal. I know most of us don’t have time to be driving around town picking up everything from people off of Facebook, but big ticket items can often be found for really great deals! I purchased a hardly used like new baby swing that retails for $120.00 for my youngest off of Facebook marketplace for only $50. It worked great, had no stains or odors, and I was super happy that I saved $70. Plus, when you get things for great prices like that, you can almost always sell them for the same price again when you are finished with the items as long as you keep them in good shape! That’s a win win. Advertisements can make us feel like we need the newest, best, most expensive things out there for our babies, but the truth is that most babies don’t even like all these gadgets. They mostly want to be held. So save your pennies, and if you think you need a swing or a bassinet… Check Facebook sales first. (I do not recommend buying car seats or cribs from Facebook.)
My swing that I got off Facebook Marketplace with my little sweetie sitting in it!
So let’s quickly go back through the list and come up with some quick numbers of just how much you could be saving in a year if you start applying these tips to your life now. I am going to show you numbers based on what my budget looked like before I made these changes, and what it looks like now that we have started implementing them. You, of course, will have to adjust these numbers accordingly based on what you spend on average in these areas.
- Before we made these changes to our budget I was spending an average of $15 per month on little gifts here and there for Honor when she was behaving in public. This does not include gifts for holidays or her birthday. Just extra little gifts here and there for being good or just because. It wasn’t a lot, but even the little things you cut out can add up.
- I still use paper towels sometimes, but not nearly as often. So lets say I am saving $6 a month on paper towels.
- Now that I buy more second-hand and receive some hand-me-downs, I am saving on average about $25 a month on clothing for my kids. (would be more, but I do still buy some new items.)
- My husband and I have recently lowered our eating out budget down by $35 a month. We’re trying hard to use our budget mostly for special occasions and not for convenience.
- I have bought two items through Facebook marketplace this year that I needed for my baby boy. Both of those added up to $105 in savings, and both of them I re-sold for the same price that I purchased them at, which ended up making me another $85 dollars. So we will make it $190 in savings.
Guys…. this all adds up to a grand total of $1,162 per year!!! I hope I am not the only one excited about this… haha. Think about what you could do with this money. If you put it into a savings account that gave you some interest on your money, and you continue to put $1,162 into it every year, it will grow to over $20,000 in the span of 18 years. (You can keep applying these same money saving tips with older kids too!) $20,000 is a nice chunk of change to go towards college, retirement, paying off a mortgage, OR INVESTING AND RE-INVESTING… which, if you can’t tell, is what I would suggest you do with your hard earned (and saved) cash.
There are a lot of other ways you can save money with kids. These are just some of the areas that my husband and I have been focusing on lately, and we’re beginning to see the benefits from it! I know the transition into saving and away from impulse buying isn’t always an easy one. Start with doing one of these things and ease yourself into the process slowly. If you try to cut back on everything at once you may feel overwhelmed or even deprived. Start slow, be intentional with your purchases, and enjoy watching the savings build up. Soon it will encourage you to expand the amount you save, and you will be able to conquer all of the things on this list and more!
My husband and I are doing these things, not because we love money, or because we want to acquire some obscene amount of it just because. Our goal in this is to say no to consumerism, spend our money on things our family needs, and invest it wisely. We want to be prepared, free from financial burdens, able to help other’s in need, and able to chase our dreams! If that sounds like the kind of life you’d like to have too, then I am glad you’re here, and I hope you’ll stick around.
Want to learn ways you can invest the money you’re saving each month?? I hope so, because my husband and I want to tell you! Stay tuned for future posts on specific ways you can invest, and start making your money work hard for you for a change! If you’d like, subscribe to my e-mail list so that you will be sure not to miss any of these posts! 🙂
…and now for your inspirational, money saving, quote of the day…
- “I love money. I love everything about it. I bought some pretty good stuff. Got me a $300 pair of socks. Got a fur sink. An electric dog polisher. A gasoline powered turtleneck sweater. And, of course, I bought some dumb stuff, too.” –Steve Martin
Until next time!!