I am a stay at home mom of two little boys. It was not a hard choice, given my mother stayed at home for as long as she could with her four children. We knew we were different from other kids, due to income and being a large family, but we made due with our gifts.
My mother (before she had to work) sewed our clothes, tended a garden and canned/froze the goods, and, especially, made everything homemade, even Twinkies! Most of our clothes were hand-me-downs, from neighbors and thrift stores, or gifts on holidays. It was something that couldn't be hidden, so while it was depressing at times (especially as a teenager), it was also an important step in growing up: count your blessings and learn to overcome your obstacles.
Now that I have a young family, and my husband is just starting in his new career, things get very tight, but as a mother and housewife, I learn to overcome by preparing for these things.
I always keep an unopened item on the shelf. When it is time to open a jar, it is immediately put on the list. This keeps from unexpectedly running out of ingredients (especially for baking.) I also keep enough pantry-style milk like powdered and evaporated for when money is too tight for fresh.
I mix my own laundry detergent. Since my boys have sensitive skin, I have to be extra careful and will not use standard fabric softener. My clothes come out smelling clean and looking just as fresh as with any other detergent! I also make all of our treats, even pizza and birthday cake. And this year, I get to make my own jam for the first time! We are creating a new mix called Bruiser Jam; I'll keep you posted on the progress!
I currently attend an online college, and everything is covered by U.S.D.E. financial aid (including loans, unfortunately.) This defers my old loans, saving us money, and gets me prepared for more opportunities when the boys are older, or if something happens to my husband. I also do a lot of research on nutrition, to avoid additives and junk foods that can increase medical costs. Leading me to my final point...
I buy real food, or food that I could almost replicate if needed (I found out that sometimes it is cheaper to buy it ready-made!). I also carry a calculator to determine cost per ounce or cost of ingredients, to be sure I'm finding the best deal. I get all the store circulars (two of the major grocers have theirs come out on Tuesday, one with double coupons!) plus the multitude of Sunday coupons. I separate them by what products I buy regularly, then divide them by store, since some have better deals, while only one will double coupons. I buy seasonal clothes at the end of the season when they are on clearance, and I always buy at least one size ahead for the children, so they will have clothes when they need them.
My children are very happy with their life. I hope to pass on some of these frugal life lessons without compromising their quality of life. With all the laughter and love in our house now, I am not too worried about their future.
camo_angels from Willamina, OR
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