" I Chose The Road Less Traveled... Now Where The Heck Am I? "

Friday, February 11, 2011

How Not To Resort To Swinging On Poles... Some Financial Enlightenment To Live By

Let's face it.  Kids are EXPENSIVE.  You can always plan for the necessities such as food, diapers, clothes, day care, ect.  Then, you have those "things" that just "come up".  Doctors appointments, medicine, 10 different types of diaper rash creams/ointments to find one that works, dozens of types of baby bottles because your little sweetheart just won't take certain nipples, emergency room visits because a birthday party mishap that led to a concussion.... you get the point.  As they get older there are other things to worry about.  I know I'm not rich.  I'm barely making it paycheck to paycheck as it is.  That is why I chose the day care center that I did.  They are very nice people that work WITH me in raising Mason, they provide EXCELLENT care for him, and compared to other day cares in my area, they are only a little more expensive than the crummy one down the road.  This particular one happens to have dance classes included in the tuition (okay that's cool) but then when recital time comes, the damn costume cost me $50.... plus $5 per person who attends.  Then they have an "optional" program that ALL the children participate in that costs me an extra $35 a month.  Not bad, but I'm on a budget and every little extra really pushes my financial limits.  Regardless of my situation, I never want Mason to feel like the poor kid who can't afford to do what everyone else does, so what do I do?  Sign the release forms and continue to write the checks.

There are so many ways to save money where it doesn't hurt.  You don't always have to make drastic cut backs in order to make it work (although I must admit that I did go over 11 months with no cable, internet, or home phone).  The easiest ways to cut spending costs, you will hardly even know its happening but TRUST ME, it all adds up.  First of all, sign up for the savings cards at the grocery store and pharmacy... You will save $5- $40 per visit depending on how much you spend.  Also, many store brand products taste almost identical if not better than Brand name products.  I know... the stereotype is that store brand stuff tastes terrible.... NOT ALWAYS TRUE!!!  It may just be a 50 cent difference but if you do that for multiple products you can add that onto the money saved list.  Before food shopping, MAKE A LIST! This is so important to keep spending down.  First, navigate the isles to acquire ONLY items on your list.  Then, if there are a few things that really stuck in your mind go gather them and check out.  Also, don't forget to NEVER NEVER NEVER go grocery shopping when you're hungry.... you WILL spend impulsively and excessively.  When it comes to things you regularly use, BUY IN BULK.  If you can buy things at Wholesale Club stores... DO IT!  If not, even if you buy things in larger sizes you will save money in the long term.  For example, many times chicken breast will sell for up to $4.99/lb at times, but if you buy the "value pack" you usually pay only $1.99-2.99/lb.  Also, instead of buying the snack size packs of cookies, crackers, pretzels, ect, I like to buy larger packages of them and then divide them into snack size ziplock bags for Mason's lunch.  The possibilities are endless here.

Energy bills will shock you sometimes, but there are easy way to cut back without disrupting your life.  In the winter, turn your heat down about 5 degrees when you leave the house and when you go to bed.  This will cut costs and it's actually healthier sleeping conditions.  In the summer, turn the AC temperature up about 5 degrees when you will not be home and at night.  When you are not charging your phone, unplug the charger from the wall.  Even when your phone is not plugged into it, the adapter still drains energy.  Keep the TV off when you're not watching it (don't use it as background noise while you do something else).  Turn lights off when you leave a room.  Finally, if you get thermal curtains/shades for your windows, you will prevent draftiness and save money on electric bills.

When it comes to gas in your car, the 1/2 tank to Full tank range provides you with the best gas mileage.  If you fill up your gas tank when it gets down to a half tank instead of waiting for your gas light to come on, you will save money in the long run AND eliminate the "will I make it without stopping" paranoia.

Another easy way to save money that I try to utilize frequently, is to bring your own lunch/snacks to work and make my own coffee.  Buying your lunch every day could cost you $5-$15 each day!  Making your own lunch or even bringing frozen meals will save you a ton of money every week!  I also buy a couple little special snacks specifically to keep at my desk so that I don't utilize the snack machines too often.  For those of you who have become Starbucks addicts like I have, invest in an inexpensive espresso maker.  I was fortunate enough to get mine as a Christmas gift but was told it was under $100.  If you are a Starbucks regular, this machine will save you hundreds of dollars over a very short time.  I've already mastered the Caramel Macchiato and Vanilla Latte!

I am ALWAYS looking for a bargain, no matter what the product.  I buy most of my clothing at Marshall's or online if there's a good deal.  I buy Mason's socks, undershirts, and underwear at Walmart, cute designer brand clothing at consignment shops, and also find things at Marshall's for him as well.  None of the things I mentioned are even recognizable as they are happening, but together it all helps to save.

Stay strong, stand tall, be proud... and know that there are so many people in the same situation trying to juggle the same things you are.

1 comment:

  1. Jess, being the single 'older' mum w/sole custody and NO child support....I look on ebay for Emily. So many times people buy things that the kids won't wear and they never took back. Just wait till there is a growth spurt w/Mason, Em went up a pant size in a matter of a month! Kids sometimes wear things once and poof it doesn't fit anymore. People list a box of clothes Gymboree, Childrens Place, Baby Phat that you can get for next to nothing. I would NEVER EVER shop in one of those stores but getting it for a $1.oo oh hell yeah :) ~Nikki