Back when John and I first got married, we both imagined that I would work at least part time, even after our kids came home. And for a good long while I did, as a nurse working first on Pediatrics and OB at a hospital and later at a birthing center, helping women labor and give birth and take care of their babies in those first precious hours after birth. I had the ideal job really– definitely the happy side of health care. I was even able to have my husband bring our babies to me on my breaks, to nurse.
But the more our family grew, the more John and I both longed for me to be home with our children full time. And so in our wish to make that happen for our family, we began looking at ways to save money in our budget. We didn’t do everything perfectly. For example, straight out of college I bought a one year old car on payments. Big mistake. But we did do a fair number of things right. Here’s what I give the most credit to in our success.
1. Keep your housing affordable. To be safe, your house payment should be no more than 25% of your take-home pay. Our first house was an uber-affordable fixer-upper with house payments of $212 a month. Even back in the 90’s you could barely rent for that. Our next house was a bigger stretch and for several years it was pretty tough to make that house payment. You’ll save yourself a lot of stress if you buy less house than you think you can afford.
2. Learn how to cook. Menu plan. Double recipes. Shop with a list, and shop with cash. If you need help with any of this, check out my cookbook Family Feasts for $75 a Week. Most people recoup the cost of the book on their very next shopping trip. The average family has lots of fluff in their grocery budget, so it’s a great place to start if you’re serious about saving money for an important goal.
4. Ditch debt. It sucks up all your future spending power. We haven’t had a car payment since 1999, choosing instead to buy affordable vehicles with cash, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.
5. Get rid of cable TV. There are so many great TV options on Netflix these days and it’s much more affordable.
6. Most important: be content with what you have. Know what tempts to you spend. Some folks feel more discontent after visiting Pinterest and Target. I use Pinterest mainly for cheap crafty ideas, so it isn’t too problematic. Target is definitely a weakness, so I try to avoid it. My big Achilles heel is Amazon, which I’ve tamed in several ways. First, when I hear of a new book, I wait to buy it til I try to request it at my local library, or checked if it is available on Paperbackswap.com. Second, I make myself wait at least 3 days to order anything on amazon. Often by then the impulse has passed, and our money stays in my wallet.
Over the years we’ve made many sacrifices for me to be home with our children, and sometimes it does get tiresome to be watching our money so carefully. But remembering our priorities and being thankful for what we have helps me stay on track with wise spending.
How do you save money at your house? What helps you avoid the temptation to overspend? I’d love for you to add your wisdom to this conversation.Pin It