My husband and I have never had a lot of money. Our whole married lives, we have had to watch and constantly be careful. We were married and started our family very young, and neither of us has a college education, so things have always been somewhat difficult for us financially. We found out quickly that, contrary to the old romantic saying, you definitely can NOT just live on love. However, I know our love for each other has carried us through many hard, hard times in the past 27 years. I hope we get AT LEAST 27 more together!
Considering all that, I thought I would share some of the things that I have done and some that I am still doing to help save money, both while we had children at home and now that they are both out on their own in their own homes. One of our daughters is not married yet, but does live on her own, sharing a house with 2 roommates. Our other daughter is married with her first child. I keep hoping that I have passed some things on to them that I have learned over the years.
First of all, when our children were small, we did not use things like baby wipes for diaper changes. My daughter's pediatrician said to use plain, white warm washcloths at diaper changing time. I washed wash cloths and saved some money doing that. If you can, I would recommend cloth diapers to save some money. My daughters did not do well in cloth, so it was necessary for me to use disposable. However, moms have an advantage now that I did not in that there are many different brands of diapers out there and lots of times store brands are just as good as the expensive name brand diapers are. It's definitely worth a try. You can make a lot of your baby food. I don't necessarily suggest that starting out, but as your baby gets used to eating baby food instead of just bottles, you can incorporate some of your food by blending it or using your food processor. Also, if you can, I would recommend breast feeding over formula. My daughter was not able to do that and I was not either, so I know there are exceptions, but if you can, you will save a ton of money. Also, don't spend a fortune on buying brand new baby clothes! I highly recommend watching garage sales, consignment stores, Goodwill, etc., as well as swapping clothes with friends and family. Babies grow too fast to justify spending so much money on their clothing, and frankly, they don't care where their clothes came from. All they want is to be comfortable and loved.
As our girls got older, we wanted to home school them. We are lucky to live in an area where many people are doing this, and we have a Homeschool Assistance Program, run by accredited teachers, that has a lending library that you can avail yourself to. It was so nice, because we could borrow books for the year. They also have a regular reading library that the kids could go into and check out books for themselves to read at their leisure. They offered classes sometimes by accredited teachers and also offered field trips which were very fun and educational for the kids, as well. They offered all these things plus any help or encouragement and supervision that you might need. It was nice to home school for many reasons. For one, I got to spend a lot of time with my girls. We did not have to buy 'school clothes' every year, though we did have to buy supplies, but the cost was always minimal as many of those supplies carried over from year to year. We did not have to buy school lunches, and we did not have to worry about what our kids were learning or not learning. By the way, both of my girls were on the Dean's list in college and my youngest made the President's list which is for GPAs higher than 4.0. I would say they definitely learned well.
Other every day things I did then, and I still do now, are simple things like hanging laundry out to dry instead of using the dryer. I now have clothes drying racks that I use if I can't get outside to hang things. I still occasionally have to dry some towels or bedding in the dryer, but I never put anything else in there, and I only do that when I absolutely have to. I don't always use a whole cap of soap either, the same with fabric softener. If your clothes are not truly dirty, it takes very little soap to actually get them clean.
I don't run lights and a lot of electrical things during the day. I open blinds so the sun can come in and that provides plenty of light. Our central air conditioning is set on 76 degrees in the summer. If I get a little warm, I can use the ceiling fans which we have in every room in our home except the bathroom. If the temperature outside drops to below 85, I open up the house, and if I'm still a little warm, I run fans. In the winter, we set our thermostat at 60-65 degrees. If we get chilly, we put on a sweater or cover up with a blanket to watch TV in the evenings. I find that those temperatures are actually quite comfortable, especially once you are used to them.
Something my girls and I did while they were growing up and still do today is paper routes to generate a little extra income. It was good for my kids to learn responsibility, and it's still a good thing for my husband and I, as we make a little extra money, plus it gets us some exercise. When it comes to grocery buying, I always watch the weekly ads and try to plan our meals from there. Groceries cost more for the two of us today than it did to feed our family of 4 years ago. However, I would rather pay more for good ingredients and good quality, healthy foods than pay for doctor's bills, because I did not take care of myself or my family properly. So many of our health problems in this country are because we do not feed our bodies properly. That was a hard lesson to learn, but it's so true. You will pay either in groceries or doctor bills. I know which I would rather do. If you can, combine as many trips to the store as possible. It will save you so much money on gas as well as wear and tear on your vehicle. If you live close enough to the store and are buying a small enough amount that you can carry the bags, I would recommend that you just walk there and back.
You can save money in so many more areas even than what I have touched on here. Hair cuts can be done cheaply. Our son in-law cuts my grandson's hair himself. A nice set of clippers can be bought very reasonably and save you lots of money on hair cuts. For the ladies, try using a beauty school if there is one close by. If not, call around and check prices before you go.
Grow your own food! I don't have room for a great big garden, but I do container gardening and that provides us with much produce for the summer. We share with others, and others share their bounty with us. It also gets us out in the sunshine, which we enjoy very much. Growing your own food provides a big savings at the grocery store. Whatever you are able to grow on your own, you don't have go buy. Also, check out your local farmer's market for good deals.
We have two dogs. We are careful to keep up with their annual shots, etc., and they have been very healthy. We do not buy super expensive dog food, but we also do not buy super cheap. We have gone with a name brand, middle of the road pricing dog food, and they do well on it. We have chosen a vet that is reasonably priced in our area. He has been kind to us and our dogs, and he has not been pushy about us doing things to our dogs that are not necessary.
I could on and on about different ways to save money. If you talk to people and read sites like Thrifty Fun and other good web sites about saving money, you will find a wealth of ideas out there. I enjoy reading "My Frugal Life", because I have gotten ideas from reading it as well. I hope these things have been of some help to someone. There are many, many ways to save money if you are only willing to look for them. Happy Saving!
About The Author: Robin lives in Washington, Iowa. She is married to her high school sweetheart, Scott. They have two daughters, Jessica and Caitlinn, both of whom are grown. The oldest, Jessica, and her husband, just had a baby, Robin's first grandchild. They also have 3 dogs who are very much part of they family, Jazmin, Shelby and Libby. Her interests are cooking, computers, volunteering at our local animal shelter, working with the elderly and also children and music. She also very involved in her church.
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Very enjoyable reading your frugal posting, Robin. It's very rewarding to
know that there are many people doing the same things my husband and I
did and are still doing.
There is no education to beat Home Schooling because you have the
opportunity to teach your children so much more within the hours that
most children are changing classes and all the other stuff that's being
done in public schools.
We chose to Home School our children too, and now our grandchildren are being Home Schooled. Not only are they getting the book learning, but every one of them can cook, do laundry, and one is a very accomplished seamstress. She is self-taught, but can make just about anything including her own patterns. She would never have learned anything like it in public school. I can't even begin to add up the money we saved with Home Schooling.
Thank you for sharing your Frugal ways and experiences.
Thank you so much for sharing! I felt like I was on my Gammas lap listening intently to every word! :)
I like the point you made, when you wrote that a person can either pay more on groceries or doctor bills. That is wonderful! I am going to use that in my teaching of my kids about good foods.
Thank you, I really enjoyed reading your article.
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