Like most moms, I look for ways to save money. The methods that work best for me are those that I don’t have to think a lot about and can do relatively quickly. Hope you find them helpful too!
Save spare change: Instead of carrying around a heavy coin purse, save your spare change in a jar and have the whole family participate. Consistently saving your change can add up and you can use the money for special treats for the family. Any old jar/container will work, but I found a really cool self counting jar at Bed Bath & Beyond. It makes it easy and fun for my two six-year-olds to learn to count and save money, and I save time by not having to count how much is in the jar!
Plan dinner menu for one week: You might think you don’t have enough time to plan a menu or the idea might sound intimidating. Once you do it, you’ll find that it saves you time and money in the long run. Your menu planning doesn’t have to be elaborate. Just spend a few minutes to see what’s in your refrigerator and pantry then check out the grocery store circulars to see what’s on sale. Plan on about half the meals to be fresh and the other half to be leftovers and use what you have on hand as much as possible.
Eat “vegetarian” a couple of times a week: I try to incorporate at least two vegetarian dinner entrees a week. Vegetables are cheaper than meats and you can make a family dinner for 4 with leftovers for under $10!
Use coupons: Using coupons can save you money, but you have to be careful to avoid using a coupon just because you have it. Limit coupons to what’s on your grocery list and check to see if the generic/store brand is cheaper. I don’t spend a lot of time saving and categorizing coupons. I just keep the circulars in a big envelope and then clip what I need, recycling expired ones. I also like to look for coupons and coupon codes online. CouponMom.com is an online coupon service that you can sign up for and it’s free. They are organized and you get a weekly email featuring a bunch of great printable coupons.
Find discounts for eating out: Sometimes, mom needs a break or a little help with meals. That’s when MOL’s one-page restaurant guide for free or cheap kids mealscomes in handy! Also popular with lots of moms is Restaurant.com where you can buy gift certificates to area restaurants at a discount.
Don’t pay full price: I try not to pay full price for most things. Instead of shelling out big bucks, look for your favorite name brand items at discount department stores such as Ross, Marshalls, TJ Maxx or Homegoods. You can find great bargains for a lot less. If the malls or other specialty stores are your favorite place to shop, then get in the habit of looking at sale/clearance items first.
Drink more water and use a reusable water bottle: Instead of buying softdrinks, encourage your family to drink more water. Not only will this save you money, but it’s much more healthy for you too! Before you go out to buy a bunch of bottled waters, consider a filter for your faucet if you don’t like the taste of ordinary tap water. You can also save on the cost of bottled waters if you use a reusable water bottle and refill it as needed. This is also better for the environment! Sprouts has a great 32oz PBA free reusable plastic water bottle.
Find free or cheap activities for the kids: If you run out of things for the kids to do at home, there are lots of free or inexpensive places to take them to around town. Since you’re a busy mom and may not have time to do the research, look for great sites like MomsOutLoud.com to put together helpful lists and guides for you.
Carry snacks with you: I always have a couple
of oatmeal bars in my purse so I don’t have to stop somewhere if I or my kids need a snack. You can buy about 10 low sugar oatmeal bars for about $2 from the grocery store. This is much better than stopping for french fries or a cheeseburger!
Start a vegetable or herb garden: It doesn’t take a lot of time to maintain your own vegetable or herb garden and it’s easy to do! Our family decided to plant a small raised bed last spring and we also planted a few herbs in containers. Planting the garden was a fun family project. Other than watering the plants once or twice a week, there wasn’t much ongoing maintenance involved. Not only did we save a few bucks, but we were able to enjoy our own organic produce!