Frugal Frances

SAHM in a Jiffy!? Or, nest egg for your future? What do you want and how can you get there? Here are some tips, one baby step at a time!

Becoming a stay-at-home mom and keeping it that way!

These were by far the greatest challenges and most critical aspects that effected our ability to be a single-income household. These are merely suggestions to help whittle-down your expenses to make it easier to be a SAHM or to help you reserve some funds for a nest egg. Whatever your goals are, these suggestions can help to make positive change. I’m not gonna say it’s easy 100% of the time, but in the end, if it helps you achieve the bigger picture, then by all means recognize its validity.

Lower your internet connection

We reduced ours to 5 mega bits and saved ourselves 50% of the expense every month. It has lowered our ability to stream high resolution shows but we have been just fine with a slower speed. Not that big of a deal! Worth it! We use COX. Definitely cancel your cable, so much can be seen with bunny ears and Hulu just one day later. I find it harder and harder these days to actually sit down to watch a program right when it’s live. Nearly impossible.

Share a car

This one I’m super proud of especially because we live in a small beach town and by all means don’t need two cars. It seems so extravagant and frankly would just sit in our driveway most of the time. We purchased a car under $20,000, and actually ended up refinancing it a couple years in. I don’t highly recommend that unless you plan to drop big payments on it sporadically. This did make our car payment under $200. I mean almost unheard of.

We rely on a bicycle, skateboard, bob stoller and our own two legs to get us around to appointments, and activities, and I have to say it works beautifully. I do have some near panic attacks when my car acts up and I need to get my daughter from preschool, but there’s always Uber for emergencies. Anyhow, this is one of the major points to tackle and made a HUGE difference on if I was a SAHM or not. Consider it!

It actually makes me feel like I’m taking care of my family when we are coordinating schedules, relying on each other for things, and bailing each other out of walking home in the rain or giving each other a break. I will forever remember picking my husband up at work with my daughter in the backseat singing the ABCs or playing peekaboo and waiting for Dada.

The Happy Little Hippo

It turned out to be my favorite kids store in all of SB and it just so happens to be a resale store. The Happy Little Hippo is in a town with serious money and all of that wonderful name brand stuff trickles down to the resale stores, and if you know how to shop it, so much of it still has tags on it. I love to hunt and have been an avid vintage shopper for years. I love me a good find and this is a perfect way to pay 1/3 the price for beautiful garments and toys and whatever you need for babies and children.

I have never frowned at used things, I happen to like that things have a history or were loved before I laid my hands on it. My favorite possessions from my daughter’s youth have come from there, i.e. her handmade Mexican baby chair, numerous baby dresses and almost all of her most precious sweaters and some incredible books. I have gifted from there only new things, and resold items for store credit. Think of all of the things you have that you didn’t use.  You can put them towards something in the future, and pay very little for things that you really need but don’t really want to spend doe on. It’s a win-win.

Ting

It turns out this Canadian company is a non-contract company. Hola, has my name all over it. I hate contracts which is why I don’t do the gym! I especially hate cell phone contracts. I change my mind a lot, don’t need a commitment to my cell phone company. But ironically, I love Ting and have committed to it wholeheartedly.

They sell refurbished smart phones (good ones) for an insanely reasonable price. They also only charge a very low monthly fee and then on top of that you control how much your bill will be by how much you use your phone. So a great way to save money each month. Two smart phones can be under $60 a month total. I think this is a great option.

Hair

Well, I’m not saying mine looks amazing by any means but it does stay dyed and it isn’t as dry as a wheat field. I box dye every couple months for $10 a box. I get a hair cut maybe once a year. My husband buzzes his head. So annually we spend under $100 on hair. Probably more like $60, I get very lazy with my hair dying. I may even go natural soon just to see what’s underneath. I know it’s salt and pepper but part it right, wear make-up and perhaps I can go au natural in the hair department!

Cooking from scratch and portion control

That’s my new favorite plan and is starting to pay off. We like to make snack balls, scones, banana bread, popcorn, healthy muffins, Popsicle’s, casseroles, etc. (lately, no casseroles are allowed since so much was going to waste. My family doesn’t do leftovers and therefore, I won’t make leftovers exist. These simple treats made by us help us to save and use up extra groceries.

I like to do a careful evaluation of my refrigerator.  What are we wasting?  How can I better preserve things?  Should I freeze half of it or cook only half at a time?  Taking a deep look at my pantry and refrigerator and finding problem areas of waste and disinterest is a critical process for saving money and saving resources.

My goal was to eliminate all that waste too. We don’t need microwavable popcorn with tons of butter, and all the trash it comes with. We didn’t need Popsicle’s with tons of sugar, or scones packed with sugar too. It’s nice to try to make things and do it together.  My daughter might end up a pastry chef just because of how much she has enjoyed helping me bake.

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I started making really simple dinners with a protein, some rice, and a veggie. Basically counting out what my daughter will eat exactly – three cauliflower florets and we will eat six, etc. I make sure there’s just enough for that meal. I also started eating a more minimal amount for a diet program and eat lentil soup every other day and dabble a little in my daughter’s meal. This helps me to consume less food and to eat healthier. It helps to keep costs down.

I also replaced fresh pricey berries that went bad every week with frozen organic ones.  This has saved so much alone.  I just pour out a few which my daughter likes to eat frozen and voila, no waste.  Sometimes we have to sacrifice our ideal – all fresh produce and fresh everything to bring more bang for our buck or cure some of the hard to feed toddler scenarios.

We stick to a strict food budget of $140 a week and maybe $15-20 on alcohol a week. $13 for my husband’s one week out for lunch with work mates. It seems so regulated but we have done it so long it feels totally normal now. We don’t go out to eat more than once every two or three weeks and when we do, we choose a family place with moderate prices, i.e. Natural Cafe, The Habit (I know, fries and beef!  Yikes). This lifestyle change makes special occasions extra special though!

Utilities

Edison has a great program where they will let you pay the same price every month whether you spend that or not. If you are over spending on it you will need to keep up with it, so you don’t get a huge bill at the end of the year. We pay $29 a month and it helps to budget it that way. We never actually spend more than that with our usage. Great for consistency. Being conscientious is critical to be a good budgeter. Turn-off lights, don’t really use lights during the day, turn heaters down, and don’t use space heaters.

Money Management International

MMI changed our lives and made it possible to be a SAHM. This company let us pay a very low interest rate on our cards which allowed us to actually pay them off. They closed all of our credit cards and took over maintaining them. They didn’t actually close the accounts they coordinated payment with the companies as if they were still active, yet we couldn’t spend anymore! This alone was a Godsend and made our payments so much more doable and then just obliterated it.  Best day ever!

This service was offered by USAA and if you haven’t reaped the rewards from this company please get on the band wagon.  It has been another huge help and we basically get all we can from them, i.e. bank accounts, car loans, life insurance, renter’s insurance, roadside assistance, auto insurance…goes on and on.  If anyone in your family has served you can get in and it will change your life!

Every Bonus or end of the year vacation check went towards our debts

And we did this for years and actually are still doing this for car and student loans. Every time there was a big payoff we wouldn’t go off to Hawaii or the Bahamas, we would pay the piper and will until it’s all gone. I recommend recognizing that making a better financial future for yourself can be more rewarding than an expensive vacation.

Pay yourself 1st

This is imperative to sustain your lifestyle. I am currently really working on this concept because I like to do a big sweep and kill debts, but it is so much more important to save, save, save and have access to cold hard cash. Even just $50-200 a month could make a huge refreshing little pot of joy for ya. A sigh of relief when you know it is just sitting there waiting for an emergency.

Online banking and auto bill pay have helped me immensely

I like the play-by-play of it all. I like to keep tabs on all the spending as it goes. Keep aware and pay bills with auto bill pay so you don’t get into trouble. Auto bill pay is fabulous because you can get the money immediately out of your account and off to where it needs to go. You don’t have to wait for people to cash checks at their leisure. It pays them on time so no late fees. A great way to keep on it and watch your savings grow with a smile on your face.

Cutting the frou frou is not always easy

I said goodbye to regular lattes and regular cups of coffee on the go. I prefer to bring food on my outings and drink my coffee at home. I like to challenge myself to not spend throughout the day. I like to try to not spend for a week at a time (this is tough, a few days is easy but an entire week is trying).

It bugs me when people are so cavalier about their spending, always indulging themselves, frivolously spending and thinking that they need something. I don’t know how I got like this but I really appreciate when people are frugal and pay attention to where their money goes.  Being conscious in all aspects of life is something I strive to do.

Facebook Santa Barbara Swap & Kids Corner

This area is a money maker so listen up!  People sell anything from salt to BMW’s on this site and Restoration Hardware furniture.  I love it so much.  I have made lots of money for my piggy bank from this site.  People share free things, you can buy a whole lot of children’s clothing for around $30.

Designer children’s shoes for 1/4 the cost, barely worn.  I’m telling you that this site allows you to make money, get free fresh produce, free books or whatever you want if you just pay attention to the feed and even do trades.  Make this something you look at regularly and all you have to do is coordinate a pickup with cash in hand.

Axxess Santa Barbara

Something I still have not purchased for the fear that it will tempt me with amazing discounts that I otherwise would not have even desired to spend on.  However, people rave about Axxess in this town and I suppose it’s just like having groupons.  I think it is an area that I need to explore and I will post a review once I go there.  It should have many buy one meal get a 50% off or free one or access to movies and many venues for 1/2 the cost.

The only coupons I do are CVS coupons

These tend to help with store bucks and nice discounts. I even pay out the same amount on gas each week to make sure it’s something accounted for and predictable. I don’t like surprises in the world of home finance.  I also have a loose ban on CVS.  I find if I go there it costs me roughly $75 each time.  It happens so easily.  So, I go rarely and only for one or two items.  I make sure all of the toiletries, zip locks, cat food, etc. is purchased weekly in the grocery stores.  Otherwise, I go in there and think I need it all and rack up an unnecessary bill.  So, trust me, track your purchases here or at Rite Aid and see what you’re spending – it can be cut!

Try these techniques and you will see a rapid change in your finances and quality of life. I eat better, I take much better care of myself, I’m tuned into my emotions and my reality more so than ever, and I’m nurturing my family more with these changes. Do it for the nest egg if you don’t have children to raise. This is key for success!!!

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