As a young family, we’ve experienced life with two incomes, one income, and one and one third incomes. With my recent departure from my “1/3 income” in my part-time marketing work (which is now a full time job for an entry-level individual), we are back to one income. It is a blessing and a luxury to be able to be home for my kindergartener and preschooler. As when I left full time work when my son was five months old, we made some adjustments to our budget to make it work, and many of these financial choices have become habits now. As a result, I don’t have to stress about not working.
Here are some things we do to help budget and save money:
- Cancel cable. We’ve replaced it with a Netflix subscription and have never gone back.
- Delayed buying smartphones – We hung onto our dumbphones until about 2 years ago, when we finally made the upgrade to a free phone of course! Now we’re going to have to replace these “free” phones, and I think we’re too sucked into smartphones to go back to basic dumbphones (although I know it would save us money).
- Use what you have before going out shopping. This meant using stuffed animals we already have to decorate for my son’s jungle themed party.
And then I shopped at the Dollar Store for other decor. Easy and cheap!!
- Make coffee at home. When my coffee marker broke, I even used the pour-over method for my morning brew.
- Re-use / recycle resealable bags. My mom did this,and my husband did this too…and (despite me swearing that I WOULDN’T do this as a teenager) we wash and reuse plastic Ziploc bags until they are worn out! I’ve also bought washable cloth bags for packing lunches and snacks.
- For groceries, shop the sales. I am in charge of 95% of all shopping, so I know when something is priced well. I try to use coupons, but only if it’s something we need and not just because I have a coupon.
- Eat-in more – I enjoy cooking and I do so often, so we can save going out to eat on occasional date nights. Typically we like to treat ourselves with sushi or unique “foodie-type” restaurants.
- Clearance = my best friend! I love shopping the clearance racks for kid’s clothing and try to buy ahead for next season at a fraction of the price.
- Enjoy the great outdoors – we love hiking, biking, and camping as a family. These are all affordable and fun activities. We’re saving for bigger vacations when the kids are a bit older.
- Understand where your money is going. We use a budgeting tool online and Excel spreadsheets. The online tool is similar to Mint.com. Here’s another helpful retirement planner. We have made saving for the future and for our kid’s education a priority, starting early on in our careers and when the kids were born.
For other sources on how to spend less, I would recommend checking out various topics on Clark Howard’s site. My mom is a long-time fan, and I read one of his books (checked out from the library – another amazing, free resource), and he has a lot of great tips.
What are your tips for saving money as a family? Do you do any of these things I list above? Let me know what you think!