These folks have given you some great suggestions - I'd like to offer one more. Housing is often your largest expense. Is there anyway to cut that cost? If you are renting can you find a cheaper place? If you are making mortgage payments can you refinance? With 4 kids it may make more money sense to stay at home and avoid day care costs until they are in school. The reward is more time with your kids and you have more time to be frugal. Good luck.
Here's what we have done (growing up and my own family:)
Goodwill and Thrift Stores....look for clean ones (goodwill is best for picky teens) and keep all the older kids good clothes for the little ones and DON"T be afraid to ask neighbors/old co-workers about clothes. Call ahead to the little stores to get info about upcoming Bag sales, alot will put out calendars.
WIC is a must for the little ones, and look into the Food Bank, though sometimes they limit you to once a month...
Dollar stores, especially dollar tree are great for toiletries...and everyone can use baby wash/shampoo & lotion, which is much cheaper than most adult brands/types.
There are lots of great recipes for homemade detergent, cleaning stuff, remedies, etc. Do your research and make a "cookbook" Sometimes the "green" way can be cheaper.
DISCIPLINE your family on using too much. THat means toilet paper, water, soap, tv watching! Saving as much on your utilities can make a big difference!
If you have a large freezer, get together with a friend (or the family) and make up menus/meals in advance. Check out the recipe section for pizza...it has some great ideas, and you can use the frozen bread loaves (I figured out to make 5 pizzas for 3 bucks each....make it a game for the kids to come up with ideas for fun meals and figure out the cost)
Think of homeschooling the young ones for preschool. They can learn so much from our everyday activities. My four year old hasn't started due to moving, medical family issues and yaddayadda, but he helps in daily chores, plays with his little brother, adds and is trying to learn how to read. You'll be amazed how fast they learn when you go at their pace.
These are just a few suggestions, but as this may be a financial setback, think of it also as a wonderful opportunity to explore new avenues, both with your family and yourself. Check in to Unemployment, as they may also pay out while you are in a vocational education program, if that is an option. My husband got into Aircraft Dispatching, after getting laid off from a job he was promised. It was hard for the 5 months we lived apart and scraped by, but the reward of a stable job he enjoyed was enough to see us through. God Bless you and your family!
For the two in diapers, put them both into cloth diapers and rubber pants. The old-fashioned ones with the safety pins.
I've always been poor, but after the plant closed down and I was laid off I'm really poor! I live in the middle of nowhere and so we subsist on his soc. sec. check. There are only the 2 of us, but we only get just over $500. a month to live on. Every dollar counts.
First, with that many kids you should be able to get food stamps! Don't feel guilty about it, after all, when you worked you paid taxes so others could get them. And you should be able to get WIC I think it's called since the kids are little.
The lady who told you to potty train and change to real diapers was so right! It will be hard at first, but then it's like making your older son eat what you eat - discipline. You have to change your habits or you just won't get anywhere. You have to change your attitude also. Try and look at this as a great challenge, a game to see how much money you can save! It will help take the pain out of doing without. You may actually, as I did, enjoy saving as much money as possible and be proud of it! This is the way everyone used to live 50 yrs. and more ago. Society now puts so much emphasis on material goods because there are so many stores now pushing people to buy stuff they don't even need or want! People have forgotten how they used to live, and be happy doing it! This will really make you a better person believe it or not! And I think your kids will actually end up better off for it - they will learn values and be healthier eating better food that is home cooked, and not junk food. Forget McDonalds - make that a special treat as eating out always used to be....something done for a special occasion.
The churches give out food on certain days - it's straight from the grocery stores and usually there's nothing at all wrong with it and it's free.
I shop for clothes at the rescue mission and salvation army and church rumage sales. The rumage sales on the last day are great - you can get a whole bag with as many clothes as you can stuff into it for a buck or 2.
Hit garage sales as they're ending, sometimes you can get everything there is that's left for free just to haul it off. Then you can turn around and have your own garage sale and resell it, or put some on Ebay. You can also sell your own stuff on Ebay, but you have to be careful, sometimes the stuff doesn't sell and you're stuck with the fees! Also, watch for stuff set out for the trash - that and dumpsters. People throw out perfectly good stuff. Esp. college kids when the semesters change if you live near a college. Dumpster diving is great fun - at places where they clean out a lake cottage for instance - I actually got 4 good dinette chairs and table, a couch and chair and old metal and fiberglass fishing poles, reels, etc. all from the 50's out of a dumpster where they were cleaning out a cottage at the lake. Ask them first if you can do it if they are there, if not, help yourself.
Pay your internet bill by filling out online surveys. The only one I've found that doesn't bombard you with spam and try to make you buy something, and is above board is the Carol Adams surveys. It's at www.mysurvey.com. And sometimes they send you free stuff. I got a whole 9 roll pack of toilet paper once that was great. Just wish I had known the brand! It takes 1000 pts. to earn $10. I make enough on average to more than pay for my internet service. A lot of the surveys are only 10 pt.s, but then after you do one, if you say the rt. things they are looking for, they will let you do a longer survey for more pt.s And some are hundreds of pts. each. Also, pay bills online - save stamps and gas.
Also, speaking of t. paper, that can really eat up your money! One time my son's classmates rolled our yard at Halloween, and I told him to tell them they could come back anytime! I went out and gathered up all the paper and put it in a paper bag and used it! Dollar General has their own brand of paper in the 1000 sheet rolls for $5. a pkg. of 12 rolls I think it is- It works fine and lasts longer even than Scott and is more economical! Try and cut down on the amount you use, a couple of sheets each time really add up. Also, paper towels - use real cloth - old towels and washcloths and rinse them in the sink. Save paper towels only for the worse stuff. Quit buying so much plastic wrap! Stick a saucer or salad plate over things to nuke or refridgerate! Rinse off plastic wrap and foil and baggies and reuse them.
I keep every plastic store sack I get and use a small trash can in the kitchen with one in it - I have to change them frequently, but they are free and don't have to buy garbage sacks!
You don't need soft drinks. Buy a box of 100 tea bags and brew your own tea, or make Kool Aid for the kids, or best yet, drink water - best for you and it's free! And definitely no junk food, chips, etc. Snack on fresh fruits and veggies, cheaper and better. Ask if they grow apples where you live to pick up the windfall apples at the local orchard. They can't by law sell them, but they can let you pick them up for free. Some kind of law about them being bruised or something.
And your older son would get a new experience that he will probably have fun doing.
Cut out any unnecessary car trips. Plan your errands so your route is the shortest and do them all at once. Call your car ins. company and make sure you are only getting the lowest allowable coverage required by your state. When things get better you can raise it again.
If your husband works days, and you are in a larger metropolitan area, check out companies that clean offices at night. Let hubby keep the kids! It pays good. My neice did that in a larger city. And it would give you a break from the kids and you'd actually get to talk to an adult for awhile! Also, movie theaters hire people to clean them in the middle of the night. Also, Walmart has a hard time getting people who want to work nights and weekends. If your husband can keep the kids I know you have a WM close by somewhere, and you don't have to dress up to work there, and you could work part-time. If it's a Supercenter not only does it pay better, but the grocery side pays better than the GM side. I used to be a Dept. Mgr. there so I know. I no longer live close to one though. Also, shoes and jewelry which do not belong to WM itself, but is leased pay better. It's managed by someone else and the pay scale is better.
When you go to the grocery store, one with a meat deli, ask them if they sell 'ends and peices'. They usually don't advertise this, but keep them behind the counter for people who ask. This works good at smaller stores. You can get an assortment of whatever kind of meat they have for about 20 cents a pound, no matter how high priced it is regular price. You'll be amazed how long you can eat on that. The ends most of the time have enough to get a few slices from, some is sliced already that someone decided they didn't want, and the peices too small to slice or just put on bread, you can cut up and make soup. Eat a lot of soup. Not only is it nutritious, but you can make a lot of it really cheap.
Also, check around for stores that sell overruns (food) or the sell by date is expired. I shop at Grace Foods all the time and get Minute Maid orange juice for $1. a half gallon, 2 1/2 doz. eggs for $1.75, etc. Also, I shop at a Mennonite owned store which has the same type things, plus they have home grown produce and lots of stuff to cook from scratch.
Every one in the south also knows that a pot of pinto beans and some cornbread go a long way! I lived in TX for 30 yrs. And they are VERY high protein! Just wash and pick through a pound or two of pinto beans (taking out rocks and bad beans) and put them in a large pot with lots of water and bring them to a boil. Turn them off with the lid on and let them sit for 4 or 5 hrs. Drain them in a colander to get rid of the water with the gas in it. They will have rehydrated. Rinse them off and put them back with plenty of water over them, put a little cooking oil or bacon grease or bacon ends in them for flavor, salt, pepper and about 1/4 c. of sugar. I know, the sugar sounds wierd, but it isn't - you'll see, you'll like it. And the sugar kills the gas for after you eat them, besides making them taste delicious. Cook them til they're tender and the juice thickens. Make a pan of cornbread and serve with an onion cut up. You can go to the dollar store and buy pkgs. of cornbread mix cheap. Or you can make your own cheaper.
You can also fry up some potatoes to go with this. You can buy 50-100 lbs of potatoes this fall for almost nothing.
Rice is very nutricious and cheap (the real stuff in the bag, not minute rice.) If you have a really heavy saucepan, you can put the rice and water in and bring to a boil, and turn it off covered for half an hr. and it will have absorbed all the water and be tender.
Taco soup is great too, and cheap to make. And you can't beat vegetable soup. Chicken and dumplings is good too. Like the lady said, turkey. At TG you can buy store brand or off brand turkeys which are all good, for really cheap. Lots of turkey noodle soup. If you want a bunch of cheap good recipes just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org - I have all my recipes on my pc and can send all of them to you in a zip file.
Go to your local farm market. I know here in upstate NY we have lots of them. If you go to a larger one, not someone selling their stuff on the side of the rd., ask them if they have any day old veggies, like I got a bushel of corn last wk. for $2. There is about 65 ears of corn in a bushel. and you can freeze it right in the husk! Then you can take it out and microwave it in the husk. Easiest food there is! A farm market is the cheapest place for food besides a food pantry or church freebies. Cabbage is good for you, high fiber, and cheap this time of year. Winter squash. Potatoes, carrots, turnips, onions...all cheap and good for you.
Like was said, make your own baby food in the blender - my daughter in law did that just because she wanted to, she didn't have to.
Serve the plates with portions you want them to have, not what they want to take and then leave on the plate! Make sure everything is eaten, not wasted. Eat leftovers. Men are bad about not wanting leftovers, so if he complains just tell him if he wants to save money he'd better eat it! You can recycle the leftovers and serve them differently to disguise them. Start saving any leftover sm. amounts of veg. and rice, or noodles, etc. in a freezer bag. You can just use one bag, and keep adding to it. Just throw everything into it that can go into soup. Then make soup! A spoon of this and that adds up! Also, save the juices off stuff, like comes in the can - soup stock! And always save your broth from chicken you boil for soups. And if you open a can of fruit, save the drained juice and use it instead of water to make jello - great desert esp. for kids, and cheap to make. And good for them.
Make dishes which use meat in chunks, like soup or stir fry. You can make one chicken breast feed a whole family! And buy chickens and cut them up yourself! Never buy anything that is prepackaged and precooked. Or already cut up. Only buy sale meat. A brisket baked slowly will last a long time. Cut down on your meat eating. Cut out deserts.
Don't buy any more dry cereal - buy whole oats. Pour about 1/2 cup into a soup bowl, cover well with water, add a couple dashes of salt, and microwave for 2 min. depending on your microwave. You can buy farina (Cream of wheat without the fancy name!) here for $1 a box. It lasts forever. Both of these your babies can eat either of these! Buy off brand peanut butter for sandwiches with grape jelly - always cheap. Good nutrition. Stir fry is a cheap way to use veggies to cook.
Ask your phone company if they offer metered service. This is the 2nd place I've had it. You pay only for the local calls you make instead of a monthly service fee. So I only pay 9cents per call and just don't make any unnecessary phone calls. My internet dialing up costs the most at 9cents per time!....that's another thing, if you have RR or DSL, cut it off if you can without a penalty and get an ISP. Earthlink with accelerator is only $10.98 a month.
I also have a metered electric meter - It charges me different amounts at different use times. Ask your electric company about that. These companies don't just go around telling everyone about ways to save money! It's against their interests! My hot water heater (50 gal. elect.) is on a timer. It only heats from 9 pm to 7 am. The off peak time at night is the best time to bathe or do laundry. It's only .04 kwh compared to .14 during the day. Also, I only use my clothes dryer if it should rain before my clothes get dry outdoors, or in winter. Hang them out - it's free! also, I don't use a hair dryer - small appliances eat power like crazy! Just let it dry on it's own and it will be healthier also, not dried out. My tv is only on about 3 hrs. a night. Don't have it going all day wasting electrictiy, turn off lights, etc. Start payhing attention to wastefulness. Turn off or hibernate your pc when not using it.
The best way to save money is NEVER buy anything that you don't ask yourself first 'DO I HAVE TO HAVE THIS?'
If you're not worn out from reading all this and want more ideas, or recipes, or info, just email me. I'll be happy to answer! And good luck! - Aneita
I agree on the Freecycle suggestion. I am a moderator of the Salt Lake City one and it is wonderful.
Also, when I go to Target I walk around all of the aisles that are against wall. That is where they put most of their Clearance. Recently I got 5 large tubes of Colgat Toothpaste for $2.50. I also got 14 Bars of Lever 2000 bath soap for $4.00 and 14 bars of Dial for $3.50.
I buy my bread at the Wonder/Hostess Thrift Store. I get the Giant loaves of Wonder Bread at 5/$3.49
Shop sales. I stock up on good sales. Ground turkey is usually cheaper than ground beef. Works well in a lot of things. When a rcasserole recipe calls for a pound of ground meat I use 1/2 -3/4 of a pound.
Wallmart accepts all of the other grocery store ads. That helps save on gas so you don't have as many places to go. (Especially with the price of gas.)
Good luck, Vickie
Don't be afraid to get help from aid centers. My parents did and I don't think ill of them. It didn't last forever, but helped them out in small ways.
I am a stay at home mom of three ages 2,4,5. I am expecting my fourth child in Oct. My husband is our sole source of income. Take advantage of all the tips on this site. They really will save you $. You might even find that it is easier than you think. I know I did!!
If you aren't already signed up, you may want to try the fort wayne freecycle group on yahoo groups. It is really great! You can post things you need like clothes in your kids' sizes and you can post things you want to give away. I have recently seen several postings for diaper coupons and people give away all kinds of things on there from shoes to lawnmowers!
Editor's note: Go to http://www.freecycle.org and put in the zip code of your local area.
Shop with coupons always. Look for stores that feature "double" coupons. Have your friends and relatives save them for you or get them from the people on the internet who want to swap coupons you will save big bucks and the little you have will stretch.
Take a look at the feedback on "sinking in debt..." http://www.thriftyfun.com/readersrequest/tf716536_rea.html
There's a lot of tips.
I would spend some time on this site and other frugal/budgeting ones to get some ideas.
Also, write down how much you actually made, I mean, you old income and then subtract all the things you had to pay for before that you don't now to get an idea of how far behind you are. Then set up a budget and figure out where you really need to cut things. Cable - a necessity...no. Things like that.
Also, cooking from scratch is a great place to cut expense.
Potty train your 2 year old...I like the idea posted a few days ago, using the water toys idea.
Use cloth diapers with your 1 year old (if you can find some you can borrow from a friend) and only use store bought diapers when leaving home for a few hours or more.
Make all your own baby food.
Your 7 year old...There is no such thing as saying "I don't like..." If he says it, warn him that two helpings will therefore be necessary and it will be expected that he must eat it before he can leave the table. Say it and then follow through with the two helpings (SMALL helpings but still 2 helpings...enough for him to know you are serious) It worked for my kids and when my sister complained to me about her 7 or 8 year old boy being picky, it worked amazingly well for her too. If he is not allergic to it..."this IS our supper"... and "you will have this for supper, tonight just like everyone else is doing." Try this with your 7 year old.
Now that you are home full time...make all your own meals from scratch. It is amazing how much some of the boxes of scalloped potatoes and rice a roni (for example) can make your grocery bill go up.
Do the budget thing. Where is all your $ going?
Do the garage sale thing this summer for the children's clothes and toys.
It will be a challenge to manage the $ from the one income...but you now also do not have babysitting for 4 kids to pay for and for you when you worked, the extra lunches/coffee at breaks and new clothes for yourself that you needed are expenses that you now won't have.
You might be surprised at how well you can actually do on only one income. Hey, since you are home, how about taking in a 3 or 4 year old to babysit (plus, to play with your 3 year old child)? I don't know what the going rate for babysitting in your area is but the $25 or so a day would really help out with the groceries plus you could claim some household expenses against your income tax next year.
Keep us posted!
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