Monday, April 14, 2008

Penny Pinching

I've been on "childrearing leave" for 14 months now. 14 months! 14 months on one salary! And I have twins, so I require double...everything! It hasn't been easy. Michael and I planned for my year at home, but didn't plan on two years of fertility treatments, IVF, TWO babies, the mortgage crisis (Michael was a broker until a few months ago), and virtually no renters in our new house in Myrtle Beach. (Until recently, when we switched rental companies, and now that sucker is mostly booked for the next year. Woo-hoo!)

So I've been thinking a lot about money lately, as I'm sure most of us are, what with rising gas prices, and declining real estate values, and the whole bit. Many, many of my friends are stay-at-home moms, and I know many of you internets are SAHM's as well. My point is, we should be pooling our resources, ladies, and sharing tips on stretching our budgets.

Here are some tips I found in Real Simple:

Purchase oranges, onions, and potatoes in bags rather than individually. You'll pay roughly half the price.

Don't buy nongrocery items at the grocery store. Health and beauty goods are usually cheaper at mass-market retailers (hello, Target) and the best deals on paper products are at warehouse clubs.

Opt for frozen seafood over fresh to save 20-40%. If this grosses you out, consider that most "fresh" fish was frozen in transport.

Buy ground beef and chicken breasts in bulk to save 20% on beef and 50% a pound on chicken.

I also started buying my milk (1% for Michael and me, whole for the babies) at my local dairy. It's about $3.50 a gallon and tastes better than what I get in the supermarket. Also, I like knowing where my milk is coming from. I can see the cows right there, in the pasture, with plenty of room to roam, eating their grass. No growth hormones, either. We also buy our cheese, deli meats, chicken breasts, and beef at the local butcher shop. It's at least 50% cheaper than getting it in the market.

So speak up, readers. What are your best budget-stretching tips?


  1. I hear ya! IVF, 2 babies at one time, a month in the NICU and losing an income... yeah. I hear ya. But somehow, it all continues to work out. Mainly because we never go anywhere anymore. But here's a good thing I recently found... cooking club. Join forces with 5 other families. Cook 2 meals x 6, swap and eat for a month w/out cooking again. Cheap and Awesome.

  2. We were just talking about groceries this morning and how much it takes from our budget.

    Spring means the farmer's market starts to have more local produce, eggs, meats, fish and herbs. Our weekly family outing will start again this Saturday! Fresh goods from local farmers, love it.

  3. I've been a SAHM for almost 3 1/2 years. Back when we only had two kids, we weren't as savvy as we are now (and of course owning two homes, paying two mortgages, having our tenants bail on us last month, and the declining economy has caused us to wake up and fast). We buy lots of our goods at BJs~diapers, wipes, burger, chicken, napkins, paper towels, toilet paper. With the burger and chicken, we break the packs down and freeze in our deep freezer. We are talking about starting a garden here this spring and trying to grow our own vegetables. We don't go many places, so when I fill up the tank in my Ford Freestar, it lasts a couple of weeks.
    We also have the benefit of having clothes for the twins from all of Meg's clothes that we kept. When I do shop, I try to buy clothes for the kids on sale. You read about my CP score over the weekend~everything was already on sale, then discounted another 30%. I never left the sale racks. For my oldest daughter, I tend to buy multiples of things~if there are shirts she likes (on sale), then I buy two in different colors (I love Old Navy's stock up and save sales). We've been very fortunate to have friends/coworkers give us clothes for Drew~he is outfitted at least in pants thru early next year. He has also received a couple of coats, boots and snowsuits. There is a church near us that also has clothing swaps several times a year~bring in clothes you no longer need and pick up what you do. I got the twins some pretty decent things there. The selections are never great for the older kids though. I say take advantage of hand-me-downs. They are totally worth it, even if only worn a couple of times. Saves a trip to the mall/store and a few dollars.

  4. I used to spend a small fortune on cleaning products. Then I bought a spray bottle (for 1.29) and ammonia (1.99 for a gallon). I use a tiny bit of ammonia and dilute it with water in the spray bottle. It cleans almost everything better than other cleaning products ever did (with the exception of upholstery and carpet) and a bottle lasts FOREVER since you are diluting it so much. It saves bunches of moola. And to get our fun activities in, we take advantage of as much as the library has to offer. We go to story time and joined a parent-child workshop all for free. We take alot of walks and visit playgrounds (I am SO glad its getting nicer out and we can start this up again) and have lots of playdates with my other stay-at-home friends.

  5. I knew I could count on you guys. These tips are awesome! Keep them coming!

  6. Oh, and just today, I switched my cell phone plan from the $40 plan that cost me $60 after fees, to a prepaid plan. My cell is for emergencies only and sits in my car, so what a waste it was to pay so much money. Now I have $25 in prepaid dollars on my plan and it expires in 90 days. If I find I don't use it all, I'll switch to the lowest $15 plan.

  7. I knew a girl from church once, she moved away, who had contests with her sister to see who could spend the least amount each month. She taught a class at church on this topic of your post and beyond food. I wish I still had the list, but I remember my jaw dropping when she mentioned how much money she spent the privious month. At the time she was a Mom of 3. $5 and some odd change. I'm not kidding! She had the most amazing tips! Keri why didn't you save this list? I remember a few things like re-using your dryer sheets, even when it means putting like 5-6 in at a time after each has been used a few times. The knights are costco shoppers, so buying paper towels and toilet paper in bulk help. And once upon a time diapers and formula too.

  8. Make sure you're getting rewards back from your crecit card (btw... I think airline miles are a scam...) Anyway, I called my CC company, Chase, a couple years ago and enrolled in Chase Rewards. Every couple months, I qualify for free $50 gift cards to Target, Chili's, Home Depot, Starbucks, etc. Like free money, without any blackout dates!

  9. Keri,
    I remember you telling me about that lady! Crazy! I don't use dryer sheets or fabric softener...I used my 20% Bed, Bath, and Beyond coupon and bought those blue dryer balls. They are LOUD but they work.

    I have Chase Rewards, but I don't get anything in the mail. Once in a while I get a statement that tells me how many points I have though. Should I call them?


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