Are you on a budget? Do you faithfully stick to your budget or do you easily roll off the tracks toward the end of the year? Well, if you have fallen off your budget wagon, this post is for you. As it turns out, this is the time of the year my family gets its finances in order before school begins.
We write our expenses on index cards and go through our bank statements to see what we need to change in order to save money. This is the best time of the year for us to do this because it’s right before back to school shopping begins and before decisions concerning our children’s education are made. This is also the time of year when we begin to plan our Christmas lists and planning now prevents us from being tempted to make silly decisions around the holidays.
I hope these five simple ways to save money will help you too:
1. Haircuts at home
My oldest is 24 years old and I have been cutting all four of my boys’ hair and my husband’s hair for 21 years. My hair stylist gave my oldest son his first haircut when he was two and I was willing to pay for that moment and the opportunity to record the memory by taking a few pictures. Realizing haircuts would soon add up, I took him to a less expensive place to a have his hair cut when he was three. Unfortunately, this was not a good experience and he left the salon looking like he had styled his hair himself. I quickly decided I could destroy his hair for free, so I went to Walmart and purchased hair clippers and a good pair of scissors. The WAHL Pro Hair clippers are easy to use and you can view Youtube videos demonstrating step-by-step how to use the clippers. Don’t worry if his hair doesn’t look too great the first few times you cut it; it will take a little practice. I would recommend experimenting with your new clippers in the summer. If you mess up his new do, you can just buzz it off. Summer cut!
2. Shop around for the cheapest phone service and stop paying for data
How much do you pay for your cell phone service every month? If it’s more than $25 per phone, you are paying too much. Ask your friends what they pay and have them share how they were able to get a better deal than you have. I pay $25 a month for unlimited talk and texting with AT&T. You can add the data plan for only $10 more a month, but I have never felt the need to have data on my phone when there are HOTSPOTS in most stores and restaurants. I can even Take Over Tuesday for Chattanooga Moms Blog on Instagram without paying a single penny for data. After conducting a survey on Facebook, I discovered AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint and Cricket have the best rates.
3. Create your own home gym
Working out is important to me not only because I want to stay strong, but because is it a great stress reliever. I love working out at the gym, but after dealing with medical expenses, I do not want to be under a contract for anything. Take a fitness class and learn how to exercise on your own at home. I attended a Boot Camp with Dillard Training a few years ago and was introduced to the Dynamax Medicine Ball. You can follow my Pinterest board YES.YOU.CAN. to discover more working out at home ideas other moms have shared. Feel free to pin your ideas to the board.
4. Meal planning and eating at home
This one is huge! If you eat out a lot, you should take a look at your bank statement and add up all you have spent eating out in the last 12 months. Take that amount and subtract 30%. The difference is about what you would have saved in the last year had you planned your meals and cooked what you had planned. Some weeks make it more difficult to cook. Freezer meals, make ahead meals and food prep will make it easier to stick to the plan. And it’s okay if your family eats a sandwich for dinner every once in a while — homemade food is always healthier anyway.
5. Buy clothes at discounted prices for the family
New clothing styles that have just hit the rack are what most moms want. Until one day, you realize your child is wearing his college fund. Children outgrow their clothes quickly and are not worth the investment unless they can be handed down. I purchase most of my children’s clothing the year before by simply purchasing the next size up. Stores may be limited with the size and color you may need. If you find a certain shirt or style that you like, you will usually find more colors and sizes online. Be sure to share all the great deals you find with other moms and always check websites like SLICKDEALS, RetailMeNot and DealsPlus for promo codes before completing your online purchase. Old Navy, Kohl’s and L.L.Bean are my favorite places to shop for quality kids’ clothes. Plan a Clothes Swap event in your home with your friends; this is a great way to purge and share with your friends and you will be able to take some “new to you” clothes home too.