Simple Ways to Save Money (and Make a Little) When You’re on a Budget (or even when you’re not!)

After our third child was born, my husband and I decided it was in the best interest of our family for me to stay home full-time and raise our children. We knew this was God’s plan for our family and we also realized we’d have to make some pretty big adjustments to our budget and spending, since we were losing my full-time salary. We also had to put major trust in the Lord to meet our needs, guide and direct us financially and depend on Him to provide, which He has done faithfully. I’ve learned a few easy & fun ways to save money and a couple ways to make some extra income. I’d love to hear from you on ways you save your family money and how you add to the finances when you’re a homemaker!

Purge & sell

Okay. Don’t let the idea of “purging” scare you off or overwhelm you. Maybe you’re like me and really enjoy cleaning out and organizing closets, rooms, any and everything. But I understand that not everyone is! It may be a daunting task to you. It may sound completely un-fun. But after the job is done, you’ll be so thankful for the extra space, less junk and maybe you’ll even find some things you haven’t seen in awhile!

-Have a yard sale or team up with a friend who’s having one!

-Sell clothes, old costume jewelry, accessories (purses, scarves, etc.) and shoes to a consignment shop & donate what they don’t buy (many consignment shops will donate the leftovers for you!)

-Post pricier home items on online sites, such as your local area’s Facebook selling site (many are called Online Yard Sale)

-Consider Ebay or another similar selling site for valuables that you’re looking to get rid of

-Sell kid’s clothing, toys, baby items, etc. to your local children’s consignment shop if having a yard sale isn’t realistic for you. You won’t make as much on these items by selling them to a consignment shop, but it’s convenient and easy, and leftovers (most of the time) will be donated by the shop

Our closets, drawers, attics and garages are full of things that we don’t use, don’t need or just don’t want… but someone else could be using these items! Why do we let them sit and collect months and years of dust and dirt because we “think” we “might” one day use them! Living life with less clutter is good for the heart and good for the home!

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Couponing (not extreme)

Use coupons. I’m not talking about extreme couponing. I’m talking about grabbing a Sunday paper and clipping them (I spend about 10-15 minutes a week doing this), use store coupons or a coupon website such as Coupons.com. This is a simple way to save at the grocery store. On average, I save anywhere from 5-20% of my grocery bill each time by using coupons. When I make my grocery list, I simply put a “C” beside each item that I’ll be using a coupon for. This helps while I’m shopping and I can see if it’s worth using the coupon or not. Our grocery store doubles coupons up to 99¢. But remember to actually bring your coupons to the store with you! Again, I do not spend a lot of time clipping coupons, but this is a simple way to save on things your family already uses!

Along the lines of couponing…

Anytime I know I’ll be heading to a retailer for something specific (or even without anything specific in mind), I use Google to find a store coupon before going. Most stores can scan the coupon off of your phone. Again, this is an easy way to save money when you’re shopping for non-grocery items! A website I like is RetailMeNot.

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Live with less

When I was looking up what a Minimalistic Lifestyle looks life, I came across a website (here) that says this:

“Minimalism is freedom from the passion to possess. Modern culture has bought into the lie that the good life is found in accumulating things—in possessing as much as possible. They believe that more is better and have inadvertently subscribed to the idea that happiness can be purchased at a department store.”

What if we all learned to live with less and said “no” to the more, more, more that society offers us? I think we’d all be surprised with what we can live without! Just food for thought…

Consignment & bargain shopping

I’m a sucker for good consignment shopping! Friends, I cannot tell you how many new-with-tags brand name clothes I’ve gotten at consignment shops. My favorite brands, such as Ann Taylor Loft, Banana Republic, J. Crew, Coach, etc. for a fraction of the cost! Now, I’m just like the next woman… I love to shop and I love new clothes from places other than consignment shops, and I do get a lot of things from places other than consignment shops, but it saves a lot of money if you’re willing to check out the consignment shop first. Over the past few years, I’ve learned the value of being a bargain shopper. I’ve learned to negotiate prices and get the best possible price. I’ve been able to teach my two oldest that if we can buy used, we can save the difference and use that leftover money for something else or simply save it. I could provide many examples on this, but a recent one happened this Summer. My oldest son wanted a “big kid” piggy bank. I know Target has some super-cute ones, but I told him we’d keep our eyes out at yard sales. The very next weekend he saw one (the exact same as the ones found at Target) for $1.00. He was beyond excited to have found it AND that he didn’t have to use all of his saved money on a new piggy bank. My middle son ended up finding a piggy bank as well a couple weekends later for 50¢. I enjoy taking them to yard sales throughout the summer to show them the value of buying used! We’ve gotten new toys and household items for pennies on the dollar. It’s become a fun adventure on Saturday mornings, even if we don’t come home with anything.

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The same goes with consignment shopping for kids clothing and shoes. We’ve been blessed to have friends and family give us hand-me-downs. But I have three boys and they grow fast and are hard on their clothes. So buying brand-new doesn’t make sense for us (unless it’s for special occasions, specific needs and back-to-school).

Ask around! If there’s something specific you’re in need of, ask friends and family first before purchasing! A simple social media post (ISO-In Search Of) could meet your need… most likely someone has what you need and would be willing to part with it for free or at a low cost!

Shopper looking at price tag

Limits on gifts and birthdays-get creative!

Now that I have a school-ager and a preschooler we’re invited to quite a few birthday parties on a regular basis. Buying gifts can really add up! Not to mention the birthday bags, paper and birthday cards! So I started setting a limit on birthday gifts and have my children make homemade birthday cards for friends (construction paper and markers, friends!). I don’t go over my set limit and the Dollar Store is a great source for cute, inexpensive birthday bags (averaging $1.00 each or 2 for $1.00). The same goes with Christmas gifts and other holidays. Set a budget, make a plan and stick to it.

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Do odd jobs and teach your children the value of hard-work

I have friends who work from home, outside the home, are in direct sales or do other things to supplement their income, such as an Etsy shop online, offer childcare in their homes, do online surveys, Swagbucks, etc. All of these ways are awesome & admirable in serving your family financially! A sweet older neighbor, who lives alone and works as a Professor at our local university was looking for someone to clean and organize her home every one to two weeks. I’ve been doing this for almost two years now and not only does it supplement our income, it’s led to an unlikely friendship. Is it a glamorous job? No. But if I let my pride keep me from earning this extra income for my family, then I would not be honoring my God, who faithfully provides and blesses us!  (P.S.-I’d love to hear about ways you earn extra income for your family!)

bucket with cleaning supplies isolated on white background

Pray and trust God to provide

Pray, pray, pray. And pray some more. Pray about your needs, your finances…pray for wisdom and direction. Pray about specifics, friends! If there’s one thing I’ve learned about God, it’s that He’s in the details! He cares about our needs (financially and otherwise) and knows the desires of our hearts. He’s so faithful to provide, but we have to seek and ask, and we have to trust God to do what only God can do! Friends, I have countless stories and examples I could give you on answered prayers and needs being met. Our God is good. He loves His children (that’s you and me!) and He wants to reveal Himself to us and bless us. And maybe that blessing is through going without for a season (or several seasons!). Hebrews 13:5 tells us to “be content with what we have.”  We can choose to have a poor-me perspective or an I-trust-You-God perspective, and praise Him all the while.

Meet the needs of others

It’s that simple. Meet the needs of others. It’s easy to stay focused on our own needs, desires, wants and struggles. What if we looked outside of these things and to the needs of others? Would it put things into perspective? For Christ-followers, we’re called to “carry each other’s burdens”, which can oftentimes mean giving of our finances, time, goods and love. Here are some of my favorite verses regarding looking to the needs of others. Scripture is filled with them!

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Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”  Luke 6:38

Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Philippians 2:4

But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?  1 John 3:17

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Mathew 6:21

Save on Utilities

We don’t watch a lot of TV in our home so it doesn’t make sense for us to have a cable package that cost a load of money. We downgraded last year to a basic service and reevaluated other services, such as internet and phone. There are so many easy ways you can save money on utilities! Check some of them out here!

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Learn to be okay with saying “no”

When you’re on a budget and you’re avoiding credit card debt, you can get pretty good at saying no to things that you really want to say yes to! There’s freedom in learning to say “No, I don’t need that right now”, or “No, I can’t go there right now”. And it’s fun to save for something you really want! When I worked full-time, my husband and I attempted a date night weekly. That has since changed, and we’ve learned to be okay with it. If we get a date night once a month or every several weeks, we’re thankful for it. And we’ve gotten creative and enjoy SAHDs (stay-at-home dates). It’s not always easy to RSVP with a “no” to that girls’ shopping weekend… or that beach vacation… or the top-of-the-line washer & dryer… or that gorgeous pair of boots… or whatever it is. In fact, sometimes it downright stinks! But I think we have to be careful in letting these things create bitterness in our hearts, and also careful not to let these things provide the fulfillment and contentment we’re looking for.

And in the words of The Rolling Stones… “You can’t always get what you want…”

Blessings,

Amanda

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