Saving Money - this is something I have been struggling with for years! Before I was a wife and before I was a mother, I had a lot more money to spend selfishly. I was the typical girl who would grab a latte before work, eat out on my lunch break and maybe hit up H&M if I had time to spare for a little shopping. On the weekends I would go for dinner and drinks with my girlfriends, run tabs at the bar, spend all my money frivolously and not even think twice about it. Now a days, I am the mom who looks up flyers online prior to hitting up the grocery store, meal plans for family dinners for the week to prevent food waste and rarely spends money on herself unless it's a special occasion. I can't be selfish anymore and that's okay with me. I have a completely different outlook on life. I actually get more satisfaction now when I go out to eat with my family or get my nails done for an upcoming event. It feels like a treat and I enjoy it way more. This blog post could stir up a little controversy because I know people might take what I am saying the wrong way. So, just to be clear, I totally believe moms can go out with their friends and get their nails done. There's no rule that once you become a mom you can't spend money on yourself or do anything for yourself. I am just letting you know how, personally, my life has changed since becoming a mom and some of the ways I learned to save money and stay on budget.
1. MAKE SACRIFICES
Whether it be a small sacrifice such as cutting out your daily Starbucks fix, or a large sacrifice like becoming a single-vehicle family, all sacrifices are pushing you in the right direction. Right now, our family is living off one income and we have bills that actually require two incomes, so for us, sacrifices are critical just to survive this period of our life. We are a young family starting out and I know it is only temporary, so I don't mind making these sacrifices. Some of you may not be ready to give up your vehicle just yet but I do encourage you to make a small sacrifice because you will actually notice huge a difference. Put that $5 you would spend daily on a latte into a jar and you'll be amazed how quick it adds up.
2. LOOK FOR SALES & DISCOUNTS
Before I get groceries for the week, I look through the flyers for every grocery store in my area. I look to see if there are any staple foods on special. If I find chicken breasts on sale at Save On Foods and ground beef on sale at Safeway, then I go to both stores. Then, I plan as many meals as I can using chicken breasts and ground beef; preferably meals that make good leftovers so my husband can bring that to work. I would probably make something like chicken fajitas, chicken stir-fry, pasta with meat sauce and hamburgers. I would only buy veggies and other ingredients for the week that correspond with those meals. I try to stick to $100-$120 per week for a family of 4.
Another tip ** When staple items that don't expire quickly go on sale, I stock up. Formula, diapers, wipes, granola bars, cereal, etc.
I use this free printable meal planner and grocery list I found on Pinterest. There are many out there you can find. I am a visual person so I always enjoy doing this kind of stuff if it looks super cute too!
3. SAVE MONEY EVERY SINGLE PAY PERIOD
It doesn't have to be a lot of money. If you don't have a lot of extra money after paying your bills, just do what you can afford to do. Even if you are only putting away $20 per paycheque, it is better than the alternative. It gives you momentum to keep going. There will be periods in your life where you can put away half your paycheque and there will be times where you can barely put away $2.00 . Trust me, the actual process of transferring money into your savings account is keeping you accountable.
I have used the methods above in my life for years now. There was a time in my life when my husband (my boyfriend back then) and I, were in debt totalling $40,000 from student loans and car payments. We made a decision to buckle down and get our life in order. We paid that entire debt off in a years time. It was tough but the interest rate on those loans are no joke. We made several sacrifices over that year. We skipped many outings with friends, dinners, vacations, activities, etc. but it was so worth it. We found other, free things to entertain us. Once we were debt free, we used the same method to save for a down payment on a home. We used the same method to purchase a car without having to finance it. Everything we have was purchased in cash with a whole lot of hard work and sacrifice behind it.
I also use the following chart to track our finances: