I thought I’d put together a post about how I save money for my family. It also happens to be a lot of ways I’m ‘crunchy’ or ‘green’. I’ve gotten a few questions about how we’re able to live on one income, and I thought I’d share my techniques with you. It’s not all amazing, and it’s not rocket science, but it’s what I do. I shared some of these last year too.
When Rick and I got married 5 and a half years ago, he had a steady, well paying job, and I had a steady, well paying job teaching and coaching. We knew that when the time came to have babies, the plan was for me to quit my job and stay home to raise the kids. I was all for it. Though I loved my colleagues, coaching volleyball, and the ‘light bulb’ moments that happened in the classroom and on the court, I didn’t especially love teaching anymore. I was ready for a change.
Along came Jack, and I quit teaching and bringing home my paycheck. We were now unable to save and spend as much as we used to. So, how did we cut our budget to make one pay check go further? Here are some of the things we do.
*WARNING* some material may be unsuitable for men to read. I’ll stick one of these (*) next to the items you may want to skip.
No credit card debt. We paid off and closed every credit card we had. All money now comes directly from our checking account.
We paid off my van. Rick’s truck has been paid for since I met him almost 6 years ago. So, not car payments for us.
No cable (no TV). It was hard, but we got rid of the cable and bought converter boxes for both of our TVs. Since then, one converter box has died and the other one may be dying as we speak. The TV in the family room also died, so when we got rid of it, we didn’t replace it. *disclaimer: I did bring up a 13”, 20+year old TV from the basement to have something to play videos on for Jack.
*Breastfed for 15 months. The whole time I was pregnant I prayed that I would be able to breastfeed. After about 5 weeks of pain and torture, we did it! No need to buy formula more than just one time in the first 2 weeks.
Cloth diapers. We switched to cloth when Jack was 3 months. I waited because I was nervous and it’s a lot of upfront money. But, after spending less than $500 for a complete ‘system’, I haven’t had to put any more money toward diapering Jack for 2 years. *disclaimer: I go back and forth with using disposable wipes, and I did just buy 5 more diapers ($75) since first starting this post.
Cloth wipes (sometimes). See previous disclaimer. Any time I do buy wipes, it’s in bulk at Costco.
Cloth napkins. I made them myself – which isn’t saying much. It was basically practice for how to sew a straight line. They work much better than paper. I tried to do no paper towels, but I lost that battle. I missed them when making bacon and cleaning up yucky messes.
Made all my own baby food. I just steamed and pureed all my veggies and fruit, then froze them and stored them in little ice cube size servings in the freezer. It wasn’t much more work than cooking for my family.
Homemade food (i.e. pizza, bread, buns, pancake mix, taco seasoning, cakes and brownies, pasta, syrup, granola, granola bars, cheese crackers, graham crackers, fudge pops) Whatever I can make myself, I do. I get an amazing sense of pride whenever I figure out how to make something that is usually in a package from the store. *disclaimer: Cheese crackers and graham crackers are time consuming, so I don’t always make those myself.
Wool dryer balls/ no dryer sheets. It’s not that exciting, but I made wool dryer balls to help fluff my clothes and cut drying time down a bit. I can’t use dryer sheets with diapers anyway, so I thought I’d cut them out for all our clothes. Vinegar in the rinse cycle also makes clothes super soft.
*I use the Diva Cup. Holy cow do I love this thing! I’ve converted one friend so far, and if you have ever thought about it and want some questions answered, I’d be happy to share! I LOVE it.
Here are a few things I’d like to try:
No Poo – shampoo and condition with just water, baking soda and apple cider vinegar. Sounds cheap, but there are mixed reviews out there.
Homemade detergent. I have had success using my own detergent for the washing machine, but haven’t found a good detergent for the dishwasher. Everything I try leaves behind a film.
Garden. If we cut down some trees in our tiny back yard, we would have plenty of space to have a big garden (and nothing else –like room to play). As it is now, we can plant some tomatoes and pepper in with our flowers and hope for the best.
*Mama Cloths. I’d love to get some of these since I’m now using the Diva Cup and only need a pad a day as insurance for not leaking. Since I already wash cloth diapers, I don’t think the laundering would be intimidating to me. I just haven’t decided who to buy from and what I’m looking for. But those combined with the Diva Cup will save So.Much.Money!
Whew!!! That’s a lot! I hope this helps some of you. Maybe all you needed was one more idea to push you over the edge to becoming a SAHM, or maybe you got an idea for something you hadn’t already thought of doing.
Let me know if there are other ways I can save money or if you have tried any or all of these ideas and how it’s going for you!