By Amanda Hardin
I save money.
What’s your super power?
Are you picturing me with a red cape with a dollar sign on it? That’s me. A stay-at-home mother of three and with only one income things can be a bit tight. I’ve had sixteen years however, to perfect my money-saving skills.
I learned early on that babies only need a few items so pick what makes life a little easier. How about giving an item multiple uses like a changing pad on a dresser? Clothing swaps with family and friends have caused me to buy very little new clothing for my young children.
When I do have to purchase an outfit or two, we hit yard sales and thrift stores. I also shop seasonal clearances and buy for the following year (presents are also great to buy at this time). When the kids grow out of things, they go to the back of the closet for trading or thrifting.
The cheapest way to feed babies is to breast feed, but if you can’t, formula companies send out coupons monthly. This is great because depending on the type of formula the baby needs, it can be a small fortune. For my little ones in school, we pack snacks and lunches which can cost fifteen dollars or more per child each week if purchased from the school. I also like to use money savings apps like Wal-Mart savings catcher or Ibotta. Both give back money as gift cards which I save for Christmas.
And how about the refrigerator? I save many things like orange and lemon peels for homemade cleaners and freeze chicken and vegetable scraps for broth. Freezing overripe fruits are wonderful for smoothies or fruit water. The best tip is to just eat clean from the start. Encourage water and fresh fruit when the children are young and save yourself the cost of expensive juices, sodas, and snacks later. Both your body and wallet will thank you for it.
The biggest food-related tip to save money is to eat at home instead of out. Ninety-eight percent of the time we cook at home. I meal plan so I have a game plan for those busy nights I’m tempted to hit the drive-thru. Sales and coupons play a big part in meal planning and I even hit a couple of stores a week. My super busy schedule makes planning my day and meals a must. I created a planner tailored perfectly for me at half of what it would have cost me to buy one.
Back to health, I forgo the expensive gym membership and hit the park and run for the cost of a decent pair of sneakers. There are a lot of free apps out there to keep you knowledgeable and motivated. Some of my favorites are C25K, Zombie’s Run!,and Google Fit.
The best thing we’ve done for our wallet has had a huge impact on our spirit. We celebrate Christmas on less money and instead focus on giving to others through food and toy drives, and serving at church or soup kitchens. This can be difficult when your kid comes home telling you what the other kids received for Christmas, but it is truly worth it.
For entertainment, we enjoy Redbox or just a simple game night (they get board games for Christmas). When we do go out, we opt for free local events and local and state parks like our local wildlife refuge. Fall is also a great time to hang out by a bonfire and drink cocoa. The library is a great source of entertainment from because you can rent movies, books, audio books, buy seriously discounted book, participate in the summer reading programs, book clubs, and a slew of other things.
For the home, I love to hang clothes out on the line in the fresh summer air. There is something quite therapeutic about being in the sun with a fresh breeze blowing that doesn’t make it seem like a chore, plus it can save a ton on electricity. And before we call an expert, we go to YouTube to make sure we can’t do repairs ourselves.
We created a zero-based budget and live on only what we make. Learning to save money has benefited my family in more ways than we could count. We find creative ways to spend time together and it has given us a healthier life style.
With reading being a passion since childhood, Amanda Hardin knew creating stories was what she was meant to do. That comes hard being a stay-at-home mom of three. In other words, she is a housekeeper, chef, event planner, teacher, chauffeur, domestic engineer and household COO and CFO. A job she has made easier by creating her own budgeting forms and daily planner.
She is a member of the Lawrence County Writer’s Guild. She loves hiking, firearms, and running. She has completed the Stoney Lonesome 5k Mud Run twice and is preparing to do the 2018 Warrior Dash. In her spare time, she likes to read. Two of her favorite authors are James Rollins and Dean Koontz. She enjoys sharing some of her favorite childhood books with her children.