Many stay-at-home parents are struggling in this poor economy to keep their heads above water in the finance department. Even though staying home means saving on gas spending, that doesn’t console much when the utility bills keep rising. From the start you knew it was going to be hard to stay at home and rely on only one income, but to have your bills double in a month is just too much.
There are some things you can do to save on everything from groceries to gas and even gifts during the holidays. Even when you think you can’t pinch another penny, there is always hope with a creative mind and a willingness to try new things.
Here are some ideas to try:
- When trying to save on gas, you have already cut out a major usage of gas by staying home with your kids. Just be sure to avoid the temptation to jump in the car just to get out of the house or out of necessity because of poor planning. When you do need to fill your car, be sure to shop where you can get deals such as at Walmart. Their gas card incentive, which is anywhere from three cents to 10 cents per gallon, can save a lot. Food City often offers deals at their gas stations for shopping in their grocery store. Pay attention to local gas stations that offer discounts on special days or one day a week. It takes a little research, but it is well worth the effort.
- Food is ultimately for sustaining our lives. When trying to cut back on costs, it’s vital to mix hearty foods with a few special meals in the mix for a huge savings. Here is one way you can do this. First, determine what inexpensive foods your family will tolerate.
- Beans, when served with a most enjoyable cornbread, can be very satisfying. They will not only save you money, but time as well because you can cook them in a crock pot. If you or anyone in your family is trying to lose weight or just wants more fiber in their diet, beans are an awesome way to help achieve those goals. They’re full of protein and healthy carbohydrates. You may be saying, “Yea, but doesn’t it give you gas?” Some people do experience a rough time with gas when eating beans; however, if everyone can bear it for 2 weeks, those symptoms will go way down because a person’s digestive health improves because of the fiber. Some people swear by pre-soaking the beans, but others say it makes no difference. Another option is to take bean-o or gas-x to deal with it, but understand those products increase the cost of eating beans. Whatever you do, be sure to sort your beans and remove any rocks or other foreign objects which may have found their way into the bag. You can get a day’s worth of meals for as little as $2-$3 for a family of five by eating beans. That’s huge savings for a tight budget.
- If you grind your own wheat and make your own breads and pasta, you can save a fortune on those comfort foods. There are tremendous health benefits as well because freshly ground wheat has all of it’s fiber and vitamins ready to be absorbed. That is very different from flour already ground, bleached and lacking most nutrients because they were either removed or have long since oxidized and are barely utilized by the body. With bread costing nearly $3 a loaf, making your own is very cost effective since you can buy wheat berries in larger quantities at a time at a cheaper price. Check your local health store. Amish and other earth friendly communities may have a store that sells wheat locally to you. You can always shop online. Wheat is usually sold in 50 lb bags, which translates to almost 2 5-gallon buckets full. Keep it dry and sealed from bugs and you are good to go.
- Raise a few chickens. Depending on the chickens, you can have fresh eggs all year long. Keep your chickens healthy, warm (above freezing) in the winter, and they will usually lay eggs consistently. Some chickens are more sensitive to lower amounts of light and need a light to extend their daytime feeding, but if you place your chickens facing south, you may get lucky and never have to supplement light except a heat light on really cold nights. Three chickens can provide as many as three eggs a day depending on the breed. That is nearly two dozen eggs a week. Considering their food needs are minimal and seasonable, they are a great way to save big money for your family. Make your own mayonnaise in less than five minutes with fresh eggs for pennies compared to the big bucks you are used to shelling out for store-bought. Make your own ice cream with fresh eggs too and you’ll never want to go back to store bought. Chickens will eat almost any type of grasses, weeds and scraps so they are a great asset to solve some gardening problems. They eat bugs too. The enjoyment your children will get from gathering eggs and taking care of the chickens is a wonderful experience that is easy to accomplish, even in the city. You gain an experience as well as savings.
3. When it comes to shopping:
- Think online. You not only save gas, but time and money from having to eat out when you get weary from the day long experience. Save the experience for a one time outing with the family to enjoy the holiday decor and ambiance.
- If you must go out, never leave home without a shopping list. Next, it’s imperative to stick to the plan. Window shopping is fine, but stick with your commitment of only buying from the list. This will save your sanity and your budget. Let’s face it, you didn’t decide to be a stay-at-home parent on a whim. You chose the lifestyle because you saw the value in it and have what it takes.
- Go ahead, shop the yard sales and second hand stores. So many people sell or donate nearly new or sometimes new with the tags still on items at these places. It is no longer considered a place for only the poor as more and more parents are choosing to stay at home with their kids and forfeit all the “stuff” a job can supply for the priceless joys of time with your kids which they so desperately need.
So, congratulations on your success in being a stay-at-home parent and finding ways to stay one. Money may be tight, but there are ways to continue to save and remain committed. When all else fails and you are about to fall off of the money saving wagon, grab a pen and paper and begin writing down all your blessings as a parent. Go enjoy your kids and experience the “free” joys that many employed parents wish they had time for.
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