10 Ways to Save Money as a Mom –
I began motherhood as a teen, so saving money wasn’t a choice– it was the only option. In 2010 we were living off of $11 an hour as a family or just $17,000 take-home pay per year. Looking at the bigger picture, I realize that actually wasn’t that long ago!
Luckily for you, I’ve learned all the ways to save money as a mom, and now that I have four little ones, I am a self-proclaimed “Money Saving Master.”
Here are 10 ways I have saved and continue to save money as a mom, and 10 ways you can too! This article was written from an interview with Allison Baggerly, creator and founder of Inspired Budget. Click the thumbnail below to watch our full conversation!
Use cloth diapers
First things first, you have to start when your kids are babies. My first tip to save money as a Mama is always to use cloth diapers.
I know cloth diapers are more of a cost upfront, but they are a money saver in the long run. We did cloth diapers for three of our kids. I purchased 6 cloth diapers off of Amazon for around $30. Those diapers have lasted us since 2013.
I’m not going to lie and say they are better and more convenient than disposable diapers. There’s absolutely an extra gross factor to them and they take more work. However, they are cheaper and more environmentally friendly than the alternative.
We have used every single brand of diaper under the sun, and my favorites– I’m not kidding. are the generic Walmart brand.
Here’s the deal: babies don’t care what diapers they’re in, as long as they work. Don’t buy into the whole, “Your baby will love you. If you use a name brand.” It’s not like that. They’re all the same.
They’re going to poop and they’re going to pee in them, so get the generic diapers.
Meal plan… even when you don’t want to
I know there are meal planning haters out there, and I’m so sorry, but this is going to be number 2 on the list.
Meal planning is a huge money and time saver, no matter how you slice it. It’s also an invaluable perk to have one less thing off of your mind. The last thing you want as a mom is for it to be three o’clock in the afternoon with absolutely no idea what to make for dinner and no plan.
When you meal plan on Sunday, you’re all set at the very beginning of the week and you don’t have to worry about what to feed your family.
There’s no spending excess money on getting takeout because you’re too tired to figure dinner out and you’ll get more nutrition than if you eat cereal for dinner.
A meal plan also helps me stay accountable. Even if everything in me wants to go to Taco Bell for dinner, I find that I shove some earbuds in and listen to podcasts while I make dinner. More often than not I actually enjoy the “me time,” and every time I am thankful that I didn’t succumb to my Chalupa craving.
When it comes to snacks, I ration them out for my kids. It sounds harsh, but I have boys and I am here to tell you that if it is in the house, they will eat it. We eat snacks at 10:30 am and 3:30 pm — Those are the snack times and if you miss it, you miss it. You don’t get a snack.
By meal planning and giving my kiddos windows of snacking opportunity, we have saved thousands of dollars each year.
Freeze leftovers in single-serve containers
Sometimes I make something for dinner that one of my kids doesn’t want. Lucky for them, this trick saves the day!
I’ll pop a pre-made dinner into single-serve plastic takeout containers that we save and pop it into the freezer.
So if I fail to meal plan because let’s be honest, I am not perfect, everyone can pick and choose a meal that they’re feeling at the time. One kid will have a taco, the other will have chicken parmesan, and so on.
This life hack eliminates any leftover waste and saves me from meal burnout.
Only buy consignment or second hand or thrift
I get all of my kids’ clothing from the Goodwill and The Salvation Army. Could I afford to get them from other places? Absolutely. But here’s the thing: I have three sons.
They are rough with clothing. They run through things. They destroy things. They grow out of things. They tear holes in things. They spill grape juice on things.
To me, It’s not worth spending $20 on a pair of jeans that my kid is going to outgrow in two months or rip a hole in.
If you’re really into name-brand clothing, go to a high-end consignment store, or (pro tip) Go to a wealthier area of town and find their Goodwill or Salvation Army. Most of the time, you’ll find exactly what you’re looking for.
We’ve had seasons where we had $100 for the entire family, and that’s just how it was. That’s why I adopted the mindset of “If it still fits, it still fits, you’re going to wear it,” and hand-me-downs were essential. We have even been blessed with people giving us so many gently used baby clothes when we had our first girl.
The point of consignment and passing items down is to be resourceful and get the very most out of what you purchase.
Use everything up
Kids outgrow things. Sometimes items are an un-pass-down-able. I always (naively) think whenever my oldest is out of his clothes, “I can give this to your brother!”
Hey, at least I’m hopeful.
I realize pretty quickly that it’s disgusting by the time my oldest is done with it.
I always feel guilty for having to throw items away, but its life has run its course, and overall, that’s what we aim to do: Use everything up.
If you have a kid who ripped a hole in jeans at the knee, you have shorts for next year. My advice is to be creative with what you’re using up. It’s not just with food, it’s with clothing and any material item that you buy.
I’m not a Pinterest mom by any means, but I do try to squeeze every last ounce of use out of the things we buy.
Throwing out perfectly good items or food costs you money, so hold on to them as long as you can.
Bulk up your meals with filler
When I talk about “meal fillers,” people are like “…what?” What I mean is cheap staple food items that will fill you up. For example, rice. I use rice in everything. It’s so cheap. You can also use oatmeal as a way to beef up your taco recipes — just mix it in with the ground beef.
The oatmeal soaks up all of the beef flavors and doubles the recipe for pennies.
Another pro tip for the moms whose kids (or partners) are picky eaters, is to buy your vegetables and puree them. Then mix the puree into tacos, or another strongly flavored, meat-based meal. You can’t see it in the tacos and your kids will not know it’s there. I promise. It adds extra fiber and a healthy component to your dish.
Meat is so expensive. Even if you cut corners, like going to Walmart and waiting for the butcher to discount some of the meat, it’s still expensive.
In our family, we try to purchase low-fat, high-quality meat. We’re talking free-range, grass-fed meat. Yes, we are hippies.
That’s why I have incorporated meatless meals into each week of my meal plan. My favorite options are spaghetti, ravioli, or pizza. You don’t have to sit there and force down tofu if you don’t like it — just have a meal where meat isn’t the star of the show.
Lentils, rice and bean burritos, meatless burgers, or eggplant based meals are also a few of my favorites. If you’re stuck on this one, do a quick vegetarian or vegan meal search on Pinterest and try out a new recipe. Spice up your life with cuisines famous for vegetarian meals like some Indian dishes. You may like it so much that you add it to your meal rotation regularly!
Set strict budgets for birthdays/holidays
We celebrate birthdays in our house with excitement and enthusiasm, so it’s really hard to set a strict guideline. Obviously, you want to make the birthday boy or girl feel special, so it’s extremely easy to go over budget or add this thing or that thing.
Trust me when I tell you to avoid doing that. I think I may be scalding myself as I write this, because to me, Christmas budgets are easy peasy, but birthday budgets are my Achilles Heel.
We set aside a budget of one hundred dollars for their birthday. We get them something special and the rest of the money usually goes towards going out for them to celebrate.
For whatever reason, my kids love to go to Red Robin and Outback for their birthdays. It stays under budget for the whole family because they can still get a special gift, we use coupons for the restaurant, and they get to have somebody sing to them on their birthday with a free special little treat.
We try to do something where it’s an experience rather than just gifts because growing up before my parents got divorced and went bankrupt, we were super-wealthy. They went from $500,000 a year to nothing. And that was the wave that we rode as kids.
My brother and I got whatever we wanted material-wise before the divorce, but we soon learned that these items didn’t bring happiness. It was the memories we made and the times and experiences we had as a family that did.
Now, as a mom, it’s not in the budget to take them out and spend a hundred dollars every other day just willy nilly. So we try to do something instead of buying something. That’s an experience. For example, one of my kids loves turtles, so we got them a membership to the aquarium. Now we get to go there as a family and enjoy something that is an activity and educational.
We hang streamers from their door, blow up balloons on the floor of their room, let them choose music for the entire week and other cheap traditions that they won’t even think of as cheap. They’ll remember their birthday as a time we always made special and a time that we spent together making memories.
Always look for ways to save
Whether it’s apps on your phone or cutting out coupons, there’s no shame when you’re trying to save money in any way that you can. Putting in the work and digging around to shave money off of your grocery budget, your online purchases, or even your recurring living expenses is how you free up money for debt payoff, savings, or investing.
One of my favorite things to do, before we go out to eat, is to Google coupon codes. If you’re shopping for something online, use Honey, an app extension that automatically uses the best coupon code available for that online retailer
If you’re really feeling up to a coupon challenge, go to a store’s social media pages and look for a coupon. If you don’t see anything, message them and ask for one. Most companies have discount codes for this exact scenario. It works like a charm.
I did this recently with Death Wish Coffee, which for those of you who do not know, is super caffeinated coffee. Asher, my husband, used to make fun of me for my promo hunting. That was before I found a code for this premium, bougie coffee. Without this code, the total came to $68. When I used the coupon, I got free shipping and 25% off our order. He doesn’t make fun of me anymore.
All this to say, whether it’s an automatic coupon hunting extension or Groupon, there are too many tools out there to help you look for the lowest cost to not take advantage of them. As a mom and as a person trying to get the most out of every single dollar, always look for ways to save.
Stop comparing yourself to others
Nobody else is living your life. Nobody else’s opinions can pay your bills, but this is hard as a mom.
The more I talk to other moms, the more I realize that we are all going around thinking that each other’s lives are perfect, or that we’re the epitome of “Super Mom.” Typically we laugh at that because the hard truth is that nobody’s life is perfect, and anybody who’s trying to convince you that their life is perfect is hiding something. Nobody has it all. It’s not possible. It doesn’t exist.
We all get so caught up in comparison. Even my own children have started to compare their experiences and lives to their peers.
My eight-year-old the other day said that he wanted Under Armour, Nikes, and Adidas. I told him that those name-brands are nice, but not necessary. and I could see him starting to compare.
When we can stop comparing, we can also be a model for our children.
Once I started paying attention to the things I had, instead of what others did, it all changed. I was miserable because I was thinking about the fact that my children didn’t listen to me, or my husband didn’t pay enough attention to me, or my house was a mess. It was all-consuming.
The second I turned those negatives into positives, my entire life improved.
Yes, my kids are stubborn and don’t listen to me, but that means they are strong-willed and learning how to communicate in a way that will ultimately help them later on — with discipline. Plus, they do the dishes, and that’s pretty awesome.
Yes, my husband and I fight, but at the end of the day, he’s still the love of my life and my best friend. We’re fighting together, not against one another.
Yes, my house has a leaky roof and we haven’t been able to get it fixed due to the pandemic, but it’s still my house. It’s still my mortgage that I bought when I was 21. When we were making no money at all. I own this home.
I realized I wasn’t seeing everyone’s crappy lives… I was seeing their highlight reel. I wasn’t seeing the stuff stuffed behind the camera– the reality of life, that probably looked very similar to mine.
Getting out of the comparison game is an intentional practice, one that I have to be mindful of every single day. It’s a practice that saves me money and makes me live in the present.
How have you saved money as a mom? Did I miss anything? Comment below!