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Tips for Saving Money: Significant Savings for Stay-at-Home Moms

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Faith's Firm Foundation: Tips for Saving Money: Significant Savings for Stay-at-Home Moms

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Tips for Saving Money: Significant Savings for Stay-at-Home Moms

As a stay-at-home mom, you can be a huge asset, pun intended, to your husband and family! Here are ways you can contribute significantly to the financial status of your family without getting a job.

I. Eliminate hiring others to do services for you. (In other words, try not to pay someone else to do what you can do--or learn to do--yourself.)

A. Eliminate going to a hairstylist or barber.  By learning to cut your family's hair yourself (especially your men's) you can save a substantial amount of money each year. Over the years, and in large families with many boys, this savings can really add up! You can also learn to do your daughters' haircuts--layering, etc. though it's a little trickier. Buy a few basic tools (scissors, cape, brush for cleaning up, spray bottle, and a good rat-tail comb) at your local beauty supply store, and get a book from the library or look online for instruction. I think I learned by watching our stylist and by trial and error, and I have been cutting my husband's and son's hair for years. If I can do it, anyone can, believe me. I have not felt confident enough to try my daughter's hair and so she and I presently go to a stylist. Recently, however, a friend arranged for her stylist to come to her home and teach a group of women and daughters how to cut girls' hair.  If my daughter were much younger, I would definitely do this.  Calculate the savings and think what you could do with the money you will save.  Moms, try this! With more than a couple of children, the benefit is huge, especially as the prices for this service just seem to go up and up. 

B. Clean your own home.  In my part of the world, and in modern times, it's been pretty much unheard of for someone who didn't work outside the home to have a maid or help with the housework, until recently.  Sometimes I wish I lived in Bible times, because they often refer to one's "servant girls", as in Proverbs 31.  What a lovely idea!  But, for a Homeschooling stay-at-home mom, housecleaning is one of the areas where Homeschooled children can become a big benefit.  Your children are a great in-home workforce. They can clean the house for you, and in the process learn a valuable skill and be trained in a good work ethic.  Even if you don't Homeschool, though, it's an area where the savings can add up fast.  I have hired housecleaning help in the past, but because it cost me a lot to have someone else clean my home, even once in a blue moon for help with spring cleaning, for example, it was a huge motivation for me to become more organized, and do it myself.  If you do need some extra help now and again, see if there's a young Homeschooled girl that you know of who would be interested in a ministry to another family.  I know of a number of young ladies of various ages, who alone, or with their sisters, have gone to help another family by doing a variety of "services".  They may go on a regular basis for a few hours once a week, or they may go and stay at the family's home, especially if it's a distance away, and help in many ways for a period of a few days or more.  This is especially common after a baby is born.  Bartering for services is a great alternative:  It may be possible for you to do or give something other than money for this service.  Be creative, and you will find many ways to save money. 

II. Stay home as much as possible.

A.  Gasoline is expensive. When you go somewhere, plan your trip in order to accomplish more than one thing. Think of the area you will be travelling to and businesses you will be passing by.  Are there other errands you could get done, with very little extra effort?  Remember to figure in the cost of maintenance to the car when you're thinking about going somewhere or doing some activity. Try not to have to run out and make a special trip, to get or do some small thing, that can wait for a time when you will be out already. Do you know how much you are driving, and how much you're spending on gas?  We keep a small spiral bound notebook in the glove compartment of each vehicle in order to record gas purchases. (At the top we write these column headings: date, location, odometer reading, cost, number of gallons and MPG for miles per gallon.) You can then calculate how many miles per gallon your vehicle is getting, and see how much you're spending on gas. You might be surprised!  Speaking of the services that can be eliminated by doing them at home, if you have a husband who is able to fix your vehicles himself, thank him with a big hug and kiss tonight! I am extremely grateful for my husband, who received two years of training at a tech school in auto mechanics, because he has saved us thousands and thousands of dollars over the years in automotive repair costs! But, even if they don't have the benefit of tech school training, all young men should learn to do some basic car maintenance themselves, for it will help their budget immensely. You can keep track of maintenance done on each vehicle, and the cost of parts, in the same notebook where you keep track of gas expenditures. Keep a separate notebook in each vehicle, and teach your family members who drive to use it. If you don't know how much you're spending a month in this area, definitely calculate it--you will be amazed! We stay-at-home moms seem to be away from home an awful lot!  This is one area that we can make a significant difference in the family budget, because cars and gas have become such a huge expense. Lastly, if your family can consider a reduction in the number of cars you own, this will result in the most savings!

B. Cook and eat meals at home instead of eating out. Now, I don't consider myself a culinary genius--Betty Crocker, I'm not! But if you, like me, don't feel very capable in the kitchen, do what I have done: take a class, and ask a friend who's skilled in this area to give you some pointers. Mostly, you will become more and more skilled by practicing. Start asking for the recipe when you taste something superb. And don't be shy about asking for any little tips the cook has for making it "taste so good"! She'll be delighted you asked! Today, it seems that everyone is into "healthy" eating. Eating healthy home cooking will benefit more than your finances. Learning to cook healthy meals will prolong your family's life, also, and save you money and much more. Collecting excellent basic recipes, and following them precisely, is the first step. Then there are many fun cooking shows, books, videos and online tutorials available, so jump in and learn. The better you become, the more you will enjoy it, and you'll find many inexpensive ways to give your dishes pizazz!

III. Be Willing to Buy Second-Hand Items

A.  Clothing: You can save a bundle if you are willing to buy your clothes at thrift stores, and garage sales.  Goodwill, Salvation Army, and other local thrift stores often have name-brand and like-new clothing that others have outgrown, or tossed aside, for a fraction of the new price.  Also, try networking with other families at church or in your local Homeschool circle, and hand down the clothing that your children have outgrown.  Let it be known how grateful you are to receive these hand-me-downs, and others may think of you the next time they have a bag or box to get rid of.  Also, do the same for others.  At our church, there is a table in the back where families can place items which are free to all.  This is a blessing to both giver and receiver. To eliminate extra cost, plan ahead for those "events" so you aren't having to run out and buy something on short notice, which usually means "new".  With enough time, you can usually find even that "special" dress at a thrift store.  When our daughter needed a formal dress for the Honors Concert she had won the privilege of participating in, we prayed and kept our eyes open at our favorite thrift store.  We were thrilled to find the dress we'd prayed for: right color, right size, right style...and even more delighted when God also answered our prayer that it be under $20!  Look for larger household, family and baby items such as furniture, appliances and tools at garage sales and thrift stores, too. A note for new moms: Finding like-new baby clothes, strollers, cribs and other needs at garage sales is easy, because so many people these days have only 1-2 children, think nothing of buying everything new for the baby, and then, just a short time later, sell their barely-used items. Drive around and look for new developments that have a lot of young families. Additionally, Craigslist has become a great resource for connecting with people who want to sell just what you're looking for, and with persistence, you can usually find items at the price you want, too.  Lastly, when you do buy new, watch and wait for end-of-season sales and when 50-90% discounts apply.

IV.  Learn, and teach your daughters, skills which will save money, so they can stay at home with their children, too.

A.  One of these skills for young (and older) ladies to learn is sewing your own clothing and household items, such as curtains, pillows and decorative items. Many women make beautiful gifts using this skill, as well. Again, a class, book, friend or online tutorial can help you.  Necessity is the mother of invention, they say.  When I had a picture window to cover and found out how much buying a new valance was going to cost, invention kicked in and I was surprised to find out how really easy it is to make one, and I was very pleased with the results.

B.  Making gifts and decorative items for the home with your hands, whether it be by painting, knitting, crocheting, sewing, handwork, calligraphy or some other means, is a way to bless others and save money.  It used to be true of every "accomplished" young woman that she could do beautiful handwork.  Now, it is a skill which a woman can use to gift her friends and family and still stay within her budget.  By resourcefulness and thrift, she will be able to make some items for almost nothing which will be treasured forever.  The cost of greeting cards has risen astronomically in recent years, and yet showing love to others through a note or letter on their special occasion, or just as a means of comfort or encouragement, is still a very needed ministry.  Making your own cards is one way to make this ministry possible on a limited budget.  Other ways are to buy your cards at thrift stores, to buy your cards from others who make them, to salvage and re-make cards, and to buy cards at half-price or less, as in the case of Christmas cards, at the end of the season.

I hope these tips have sparked your creativity to think of many other ways that you can save money, for I have only listed a few, using the creativity that God has given you for His glory!

You are speaking volumes to your children and influencing others around you more than you know when you practice good stewardship, making thrifty choices which contribute to your home and family financially.  You will experience the rich feeling of satisfaction, as well, when your actions result in significant savings, thereby multiplying what the Lord has given you, and you are able to stay at home.

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