Penny Pinchers Forum

Yesterday a friend of my stopped by.  She has two little boys & works full time.  Her heart's desire is to stay home with her boys.  Her husband works, so they do have another income.  Nonetheless, quitting her job & only having half their current income is a scary prospect.  Yet she knows that being home with her sons during these precious & fleeting years before school starts is more important.  She asked me "How do you do it?  How do you have a house, a car, food on the table all with one income?"

My first answer is probably not what she was dying to hear.  I said, "Well, it never will make sense on paper, but somehow it just works.  The Lord provides & each month you just manage to make it."

Then I moved on to more practical advice.  I know she not the only one trying to make money work, so I'll share a few things that I said:
1. Buy groceries in bulk (hello Costco!) & try to do one trip for the whole month.  Obviously a few things you'll have to buy throughout the month, but keep it to a minimum.  Put the quantities you'll need for the next week or two in your fridge/cupboard.  Tightly store the remaining dry goods & freeze what others you can.  I freeze the other portions of cheese, milk, tortillas, lunch meat, bread etc.  Then try to use what you have for the whole month (this may require you planning a month's worth of meals ahead of time).  Wait until you're pantry is bare before going to the grocery store again.

2. Don't buy pre-made or processed foods.  Instead of buying frozen chicken strips learn how to make your own.  Rather than frozen pizza make it homemade.  I've started making oodles of pancakes & then freezing them, in the morning I just throw them in the microwave for a few seconds.  This is much cheaper than pre-made frozen waffles from the store.
3. Buy clothes on clearance (or second hand)- never pay full price!  Also, buy seasonal clothes a year ahead of time.  I always hit clearance racks in January & February for the following winter seasons jackets, snow pants, boots & Christmas dresses.  I do the same for Easter dresses.  This year all four of my children's special Easter outfits totaled $30.

4. Don't buy "stuff".  In our culture we have a bad habit of buying stuff we don't really need.  Of course every once in a while you need to treat yourself & your family, but just be conscience of what you buy.  For instance ask yourself, does your child really need another t-shirt?  I know it's only $1.50, but do they really need it?  You'll save a lot of money by not buying stuff.

5. Use cash!  Avoid the credit card.  The balance will creep up on you & before you know it $250 of your monthly budget is going towards your credit card bill.  When you do use your credit card ask yourself "Do I want to pay interest on this?"  Is a McDonald's Happy Meal really worth paying 9% interest on?!  (Factoid: most credit card purchases in the U.S. are spent at McDonalds)

6. Get creative!  Use what you already have to decorate your home.  Hit garage sales & Craig's List for big items you may want/need.  Find a new way to use cream of mushroom soup.  You've got to stretch your imagination to stretch your dollar.
Being a homemaker is one of the hardest jobs around, but it also is defiantly the most rewarding.  You never get days off, or sleep, or showers, but you do get the privilege of being with your kiddos during some of the most precious years of their lives.  I wouldn't trade it for the world!
I know so many of you are great at pinching pennies & living well.  In the comments section give your thoughts on how you make it work.  I'd love to give my friend some more ideas on how to stretch her dollar so she can stay home with her little ones... I know she wants to so badly.  Plus, we all can use new ways to save money, so comment away!


  1. Carla Squires5/17/2011 1:18 PM

    I love this one! Amen sister somehow it works...i left a second income of about 2000 a month and had twins and it doesn't make sense but it was my hearts desire and we have paid our bills...i agree pay for things in cash and check thrifty websites for other money saving ideas and recipes :) Jess your the bomb

  2. We are basically doing the Dave Ramsey budget of cash only (no credit cards!!) with an envelope system when the cash is out, we don't eat out, etc until next month.

    Also, buying in bulk (including beef from a local rancher) and having lots of freezer space. I cut up cheese from Costco, buy milk by the 12 gallon and put the extras in the freezer. I find couponing hard because I don't buy things they give out coupons for; I try to make most things from scratch and they don't have a lot of coupons for whole foods. I don't buy many cleaning products, just some GOOD microfiber cloths and some baking soda, etc. If we lived in a town, I'd love to only have one car. We don't do cable, and we do have netflix because it saves us so much v. our local movie store. If you have a neighbor you could share internet with you could cut that bill in half too. I know a single mom who stays home with her little girl (pretty much without child support) by working 2 days as a nanny and bringing her girl along on those days. I'm sure in your town you could find some "high end" parents who want a nanny. Also (although controversial) some of the at home party products like cleaning stuff or bags, etc can bring in an 300 extra bucks a month that can really be a shot in the arm for a stay at home mom. Subbing at the school could be a part time job that could offer a little extra money for 1 or two days a week of work.

  3. Sorry that was a lot of rambling. When I'm not on my break and rushing thru I promise I can comprise my words better. I hope SOMETHING made sense though!!

  4. Also, learn the art of trading. I rarely pay for a babysitter because I trade with other moms with babysitting. I'm a photographer so I'll trade family portraits with my friend for getting my hair done (she's a beautician). I also will trade our farm fresh eggs for veggies & baked goods with friends. Trading is a great way to save some money & help someone else out with helping yourself.

  5. A garden is a great way to save $. plus my kids love to help in the garden! Buy seeds at your local store, plant and save $$$. You don't need a very big space to have some really yummy fruits and veggies!