I’m always looking for simple ways to save money.
I weigh the convenience factor with our health, values, and lifestyle.
It takes discipline to save money and to set rules about how we will not waste.
We have to have goals and a plan.
We pray about big purchases. When I see something I want, I try to wait to see if I can do without or if I have something similar I can use to that purpose. If I can’t stop thinking about it after a few days or a week, I try to work it into the budget.
I remember a time when I had way too much month at the end of the money.
I was a school teacher for almost 10 years, but my last year working outside the home was haphazard…and I found myself working two part-time jobs with no benefits. I was struggling to survive financially.
I’ve bounced checks or auto debits because I didn’t realize the check card had been used. I’ve had to juggle which bills I paid so I made rent and had food and gas money. I’ve lived in fear of collection agencies, avoiding the phone calls and dreading certified mail.
Thankfully, we’re a better place financially these days.
We still have some credit card debt we’re paying off, but we’re investing for retirement and our children’s education. We have no car payments and we’re under our BAH allotment for our housing.
Healthy finances are important to me in this ever-changing world.
I want to teach my children how to live frugally but well.
I want them to understand budgeting, investing, taxes, saving, checking accounts, home-buying, and more. It’s important to be financially literate.
These are several simple ways I’ve found to save us money.
I’ve found several mix and match Americana cloth napkin styles that we keep in a drawer by the dining table. We also have some pretty gold ones for special occasions.
We reuse these for a few meals, until they get too greasy or dirty, and then we wash them for next time.
We haven’t gotten on board with family cloth in the bathrooms (ew) or cloth towels in the kitchen, but we do have a large stash of dishcloths for cleaning and wiping up small spills.
Seldom Eating Out
We rarely eat out in restaurants and almost never get fast food.
It saves money and keeps us healthier.
We eat at home 95% of the time. We make our own seasonings. I make breakfast every day. I make dinner for the family every evening. We have leftovers or sandwiches for lunch.
It has helped that we have stated to ourselves and the kids that eating out is not an option when we leave the house.
We have to plan better.
We eat before we leave the house or take a cooler with lunch and snacks. We don’t run errands (or go grocery shopping!) when we’re hungry. We take our lunches for field trips. We make sure dinner is prepped and we make sure to arrive back home in time to cook and eat it.
We do sometimes dine out while traveling and we plan for that if there’s special cuisine or a specific restaurant we want to try, but we often rent an apartment so we can prepare our own meals.
We have simple family birthdays with homemade cake and a special dinner served on a Celebration Plate. We have simple homemade decorations and watch a favorite movie together. We don’t go overboard with lots of presents, but just a few very carefully picked out and lovingly wrapped items.
We often travel for holidays and rarely give big gifts for Christmas or Easter. I eschew giving a bunch of Dollar Store junk in stocking and baskets, so we prefer useful items like pretty school supplies, healthy snacks, and maybe a desired item. I like to follow the something they Want, Need, Wear, Read plan of gift-buying and giving.
Shopping is not entertainment.
I buy groceries and other items when we need them.
My house is not full of fancy décor (mostly handmedowns and yard sale and thrift shop finds) or lots of knick knacks because they aren’t useful and are just something else to dust. I don’t redecorate with the seasons or when we PCS and I don’t read decorating magazines or blogs because they make me discontent. We haven’t purchased new furniture in 10 years, except to upgrade the kids from cribs to beds.
I don’t like waste. We don’t often have leftovers with four growing children, but I encourage frugality in this area.
I often double or even triple recipes so we can have lunches the next day.
I store leftovers in glass containers to maintain freshness and use them up within a couple days. We get creative with soups and casseroles.
Also, if an apple or carrot only gets half-eaten, it’s saved for later. It can be used in salads or smoothies.
Limiting Trips into Town
Currently, Wednesday is our going out day.
The girls have music lessons, we run errands and do the grocery shopping, and Tori has gymnastics. (I have to plan and prep dinner and my teen daughter or husband finishes it up since we get home after 6 PM – see above!)
This means I have to plan our meals and make a list when shopping.
Sundays, we all go to church and Sunday school. After lunch, my teen daughter and I go to the gym for about an hour and then go grocery shopping on base (most local stores are closed).
Keeping to this plan allows me to say no to any extra running around. Many homeschoolers and stay at home moms in our area are always going out for field trips, playdates, or shopping entertainment. We prefer to stay home and complete our homeschool work. This helps me only to fill up my minivan’s gas tank about 2-3 times per month.
We also don’t feel pressured to change our schedule very often. We have this as a priority, so we don’t feel the need to deviate unless it’s very important or an amazing opportunity.
The kids know we generally stay home, so they learn they have plenty of free time to play, create, and explore after homeschool work and chores are completed. Work before play.
We try to live within our means. That means not using credit to pay for anything. Paying cash makes us think twice before making a purchase.
We’ve never really done the envelope system. I just don’t have the discipline to go to the ATM every week or whenever.
Most of the stores in Europe are Euro cash-only. I seldom shop at those stores. I like the bigger stores that remind me of a Super Wal-Mart and they cater to the international community here and accept my American account-linked check card.
I don’t shop with calculator in hand. What if I get to the register and my total is more than I have? Embarrassing.
When we travel, we use a pin and chip card for flights and accomodations, but we try to pay cash for all other expenses.
When the kids need clothing or supplies, we pay cash.
When our minivan needed a new alternator and pulley system, we were so thankful to be able to pay cash for it all. I remember a time when an emergency like that would have really messed us up financially for months.
We’re still learning and some days it’s hard, but we’re determined to live abundantly on a fixed single income.
Linking up: Donna Reidland, Modest Mom, Marilyns Treats, A Proverbs 31 Wife, What Joy is Mine, Life of Faith, Curly Craft Mom, Making Our Life Matter, The Practical Mom, Blogghetti,Creative Learning, Home Stories A to Z, Snapcreativity, Sarah Celebrates, VMG206, Oh My Heartsie Girl, A Little R&R, Classical Homemaking, Wholehearted Home, F Dean Hackett, Rich Faith Rising, Pat and Candy, Play and Learn Everyday, Crystal and Co., Lamberts Lately, I Choose Joy, Frog’s Lilypad, Children are a Blessing, My Learning Table, The Deliberate Mom, A Kreative Whim, Bloom Designs, Frugal Mommas, Life with Lorelai, Happy and Blessed Home, Sincerely Paula, Create with Joy, OMHG Friday, xoxo Rebecca, Being a Wordsmith, Arabah Joy, Kids Activities Blog,