It’s always been my dream to stay home with my kids, but my income has been necessary to help support our family. After examining our budget, I found really basic ways I was wasting money each month that were totally avoidable. After some adjustments, our budget was able to flow more smoothly and I was amazed by how much we were able to save, helping make it possible for me to be home.
I have always longed to be a stay home mom, but it was not until I was eight months pregnant with my fourth child that I decided to take the leap of faith and make it happen. I realized these childhood years are so short and I did not want to miss my window to be home with them. You can read more of my story here.
I knew it was time for me to be home and I was desperate to make my dream a reality, so my husband and I sat down for a budget meeting. I was eager to find any way to save money.
If you don’t have a budget, I encourage you to make one today. It will change your life. You can download my Complete Budget Binder to make it easy!
We were surprised to discover how many ways we were wasting money each month. Our expenses didn’t need to be as astronomical as we thought they did. With a few lifestyle change, we were able to reduce our expenses significantly and become one step closer to me being home.
Here are some of the ways we were wasting money each month:
Grocery Shopping While Hungry
You guys, can I just go ahead and fill you in on my hatred for grocery shopping? Like, as grateful as I am that there are gigantic buildings full of food on every corner that allow me to feed my family and we don’t have to hoe our own veggies and butcher our own cow before I can cook dinner, it’s just not my favorite pastime.
One of the tricks I’ve learned is to never, ever, under any circumstances go to the grocery store hungry…unless you want to come home with aisle nine.
One of the biggest grocery-related money wasters results from shopping on an empty stomach. When you’re hungry and tired, everything looks good, you are more likely to fall for marketing schemes, and it’s a lot harder to stick to your list and your budget.
Try to plan your shopping trips after meals or stash a package of m&m’s in your purse to ward off the hunger monster.
One of the most amazing things about the small, rural town where I live is that literally, every gas station has a soda drive through. Yes, you can drive your car up to a window and drive away with a 42 oz caffeinated fountain drink of your choice. It’s genius (and we wonder why our state is ranked as the 8th most overweight state in the nation).
Whoever designed this system must have had the sleep-deprived mom with a car full of kids in mind and thought cha-ching! There’s our market!
I was wasting my fair share of cash on sodas. $1.50 once (or a few times) per day really adds up. If you truly need the caffeine fix, you’re better off buying a 2 liter at the store, waiting for a happy hour, or better yet, kicking the habit altogether and replacing sodas with a healthier option.
If coffee is your drug of choice, consider how much you may be spending at the coffee shop. Specialty coffees are often highly overpriced.
Can you learn to duplicate your favorite coffee at home? You can keep an eye out for discounted or second-hand coffee machine and a good quality to-go cup and avoid the $6.00 coffee shop coffee altogether.
I must be honest, I’m a sucker for the fresh, lemony scent of pine-sol and I don’t like to skimp on good laundry detergent. I have found there are some ways to save on cleaning products if you’re trying to save money. You can read more about that and find some helpful recipes here. While a quick trip down the cleaning aisle is often the
While a quick trip down the cleaning aisle is often the most convenient option, it’s much harder on the bank account.
You can use simple, inexpensive products such as vinegar and lemon juice for many of your cleaning needs and save money by avoiding brand-names.
We all know the facts about fast food. Not only is it hard on your body, but can be hard on your budget, too.
I find fast food to be one of the biggest money wasters when I’m busy. When I have a car full of kids, a tight schedule and someone is crying that they are hungry, fast food is a quick solution.
I’ve learned to keep a snack box in the car with healthy, cost-effective snacks to tide us over until the next meal.
With a similar philosophy to our snack box, we also invested in designated water bottles for each member of the family. We are always on the go and someone’s always thirsty.
A refillable water bottle is much more cost-effective than a $2.00 plastic bottle of water from the gas station (and better for the environment).
With so many other options available, cable is quickly becoming an unnecessary expense. Today, with subscriptions such as Netflix, Pureflix, or quick online streaming websites like Hulu you can ditch your cable bill, watch on demand, and avoid commercials.
What are you doing at the gym that you could potentially be doing for free at home? If you are looking for ways to save money, you may brainstorm free alternatives that will get the same results, such as running at the park instead of the treadmill or doing a Zumba video at home instead of a class.
Basically, individually packaged anything costs extra. You’re paying for convenience. Do your kids love snack packs and granola bars as much as mine do? Here are some easy, kid-approved recipes to make at home, package yourself, and save some money.
Credit card companies are successful for a reason. They bank on customers overspending on a whim or in an emergency, not paying their bill on time, and incurring late fees and interest.
If you don’t have the cash for something, there’s a good chance you can live without it for a while. Try brainstorming ways to save for the item you want, but I highly advise you to be very careful and disciplined with credit cards.
There you have it, ten ways I was throwing money away each month. What might you be wasting money on?