Alrighty folks, if you are a faithful reader of the 'mom' magazines like I am, Woman's Day, Family Circle, etc, then you've read those ever helpful articles about how to save money. You know what I mean....instead of buying your frappacino every day, cut down to once a week and save 18 trillion dollars a year. Or get your nails done once a month versus every week and you can feed a small nation. Wash your clothes in cold water instead of hot and save 8 thousand bucks a month.
Um. Okay. Can we have money tips for REAL moms?????
Nails done? Yes, I have had artificial nails done a time or two. Literally. I can count on one hand. And that includes just 'regular' manicures. Each time they were for an event: my own wedding, vacation, someone's wedding, etc. I have NEVER had my nails done JUST BECAUSE.
Drive through coffee? Umm, yeah, no. I do on occasion get drive thru coffee (lovingly purchased from my LOCAL coffee shops, rarely from u-know-who-bucks.) but it really is a treat. There is a reason I hold my monthly local Etsy street team meetings, and Celiac Disease Support Group meetings at local coffee houses----so I can justify my purchase of insanely expensive, but oh so delish coffee! So I technically get it twice a month. And one is tax deductible....
Hot water for laundry? Only for cloth diapers and really nasty ones!! I was extremely confused by the laundry detergent that came out and was oh so important because you could SUDDENLY wash your clothes in cold water. For real? I've been doing that since I was old enough to put laundry in the washer! My mama would have tore me a new one if I'd used hot water for anything other than very certain items.
So, every time I read those 'money-saving' articles, I wonder when someone will write one for REAL women. Now, there are financial guru's I love. Who doesn't realize Suze Orman is freaking genius? And I enjoy the articles by Mary Hunt. But overall...most are simply telling you to cut out the fluff!
Well, in these economic times, many people are suddenly having to live as I had to all these years. I grew up very poor and learned some hard lessons about money when I got a college degree, subsequent job, and then the credit card debt that came with it!
Thankfully my husband was a saver and we started our life out on the right track. Even now, we don't have a TON of money, we live modestly, but I am able to splurge on my fabric addiction, soap addiction and handmade addiction. Thankfully, most of those are again, business expenses and tax deductible! :)
I admit, my one major splurge is handmade. I love venues like Etsy, crobbies.com, madeitmyself.com, etc, that allow me to buy wonderfully handmade items! I will gladly pay more for handmade because I know the item was made with love, attention to detail and NOT by a child in slave labor in a foreign country. I know it's safe and an excellent way to help a small business out. (Despite the CPSIA trying to stop it.)
So here are some ways you can SAVE MONEY, when you already are!
1. Take advantage of Freeuse and Freecycle. Have a click and see if there is one in your area. You may just make new friends! Remember one man's trash is another man's treasure. These groups may often also be able to tell you about any barter groups in your area...an extremely helpful group if you have any skill that you can put to use in return for something. I love a good trade!
2. Visit the library!!! Children do NOT read enough in this age! Neither do adults! Now, I admit, you are reading this on a blog, on the Internet, and I do see the irony. So when you're done, go grab your kids and hit the books! The library is an amazing place! Books, magazines, videos, resources, story time, a quiet place (so precious when you have children.), and more can be found at the library! Your taxes pay for it... USE IT!
3. Cut coupons----the right way! Do not subscribe to your local paper just to get the coupons! You will likely never save as much as you spent on the paper. Rather, join up with a family member or friend and SHARE the paper and the coupons. Or even better, print them online. Just google "online coupons".
4. Eat dessert only one night a week. Please don't stop reading now! Hear me out. I am not saying you can't have a treat every night, a few Hershey's kisses, cup of cocoa, whatever. But save that glorious dessert for one night a week and make a big deal of it! For us it's Friday night. For me it usually means a special ice cream! For the kids, it's something gooey, sugary and scrumptious we don't usually let them have.
5. Try to eat out only ONCE per week---this INCLUDES lunches if you are working! Pack that lunch for work, save money, and hopefully whittle your waistline.
6. Search places like Craigslist, Diaperswappers, Ebay or Amazon for items you do want or need. Amazon has an amazing grocery selection that lets you buy in bulk and save money. HOWEVER, only buy in bulk what you will reasonably use! Or even better, split it with friends and family and make your own little co-op! Do the same with fruits and veggies if you have a farmer's market near you...some will lower prices if you buy in bulk. It never hurts to ask!
7. Bundle services. The commercials really do work...you should try to bundle your services. If you use TV, Internet and phone from the same company or 2 of the 3, check out their bundle plans. Trust me, they want your business. When our basic cable (about 20 channels, most of which religious, or shopping) went up to 21 a month, I made a phone call. I said we would leave and go to satellite if they didn't work with us. I met resistance at first, but soon got the next package up for 25.00 a month for a year. Well, that year is coming to a close soon and if they want to keep us, they'll keep that rate. If not, we are fully prepared to get rid of cable and just use the converter box!
8. MAKE what you can..within reason. I can sew. And make soap. So it makes economic sense for me to do those two things for my family. But I can't do it all. So I am all up for a barter, clearance rack, or the occasional splurge. Do you really need to do as much clothes shopping as you do? REALLY?
9. It is true, pay yourself first! In our family we pay a certain % of our net income to our church. It is a sizable % and when people hear what it is, they are flabbergasted. How can we live on our income minus this %? Because, well, for us, it is a requirement, so we know God will provide. So, because we are USED To taking that % out, we learn to live frugally! Somehow it always works out...I firmly believe much of that is beyond our control.
10. Before you make a purchase, is it made in China? Seriously. If you do that, and try to eliminate just one 'made in China' purchase each shopping trip, you'll quickly stop buying as many items. It is our dependence on foreign countries that is weakening us as a nation and society. (ONE of the many things weakening us.) I PROMISE you can find quality, awesome goods made in America if you just look. I know it's hard. I don't even begin to pretend I never buy from China. But I try to limit it.
11. HAVE FUN! Saving money is something that will become a habit. I often feel like a huge spender compared to some of my friends who are even thriftier than I! Somehow my mother in law can squeeze a dollar out of a nickel. So I look to them for guidance and inspiration. Find those people in your life, watch them and learn from them. Then have fun---inexpensive fun! Explore your town, save up for a fancy night out, ONE new piece of clothing, etc.
Ironically, I write this on the very same blog I share my shops on which I sell handmade goods! Why? Because I have faith in my products and I know that in these tough times we all need to help each other out when we can!
If you really try and watch what you are spending, you will be able to save money and enjoy life!
Because, really, what are material possessions and coin in the bank compared to family, friends...and of course a good piece of chocolate cake....
Yes, that is a real cake. And yes I would NOT splurge on that...it's too pretty to eat!