Whether your financial situation has changed recently due to a lost job or you are considering making the switch to becoming a stay-at-home mom, here are some practical tips to consider regarding lowering your yearly budget, especially when you have small children.
Remember that your life has changed from previous circumstance and you really needn’t spend money that isn’t necessary to spend. The rule of thumb is, if you can’t afford it, you shouldn’t be spending it. No matter what you feel like is expected from you with regard to others, the important thing is that you are successfully and responsibly keeping your family afloat.
Gifts do not have to be expensive
A gift is something that is thoughtful. If you find yourself spending a large chunk of your monthly budget on gifts for people outside your immediate family, stop. You can give a thoughtful, inexpensive gift (like baked cookies) or you can shop clearance sales year round so you have a selection of items stored up. You can also save gift bags with tissue in them to reuse. This can actually end up saving you a lot of money! In addition to this, as families grow, encourage other extended family members to consider an alternative to gift exchange and when buying gifts for children’s birthday parties, keep perspective on what is reasonable. Giving gifts should never put you in the poor house!
Don’t buy excessive clothes, Halloween costumes or expensive outfits for holidays
Yes, busy moms and dads know that clothes can cost a lot of money, especially around holidays and special events. However, how many times do your kids really get dressed up? A few nice outfits per season is enough. You don’t need to stock your child’s wardrobes full of things you loved at the store, but they will never wear. Also, there is no need to have 20 pairs of sweatpants for one child in differing colors. Just one for each day of the week will do. And if you have access to hand me downs, take advantage of this opportunity and stay organized enough to know what you have and what your kids truly need, remembering that kids grow out of sizes quickly. When it comes to events, make your own Halloween costumes, borrow a communion dress if you can, or make a Christmas outfit last for two years if possible.
Cut out trips
Vacations do not have to be part of a family budget when you are struggling. They are not a necessity. Do not plan a trip to Disney if you struggle paying for your children to join up for sports activities! Visit a family member in a remote location instead.
Going out with friends
If you are thinking of becoming a stay at homer, realize that your lifestyle will have to change. You can’t accept every invitation to go out to dinner with friends. And you should slow down hosting expensive gatherings if you often have company. There are many ways to visit with friends without blowing out the bank. Choose menu items that are not so costly to make and suggest meeting out for ice cream or coffee instead of attending every ladies’ lunch or inviting the gang for dinner. If other moms want to schedule a play date, meet them at the playground instead of having them over.
Scale Down Big Events
If you are hosting a children’s birthday party, get some perspective. You do not need to throw the biggest bash ever created. You can do immediate family and your kids may be equally as happy with this option. For christenings, first communions, etc., you do not need to invite 150 people and rent a hall. You can have a small gathering in your home and it can be just as heartfelt and may even save you some stress.
The point is, you need to be responsible with you finances. There will be times in your life when things are tight and when things are a little more relaxed. Know when to put the breaks on. Life is not a competition. You can still make beautiful memories with the ones you love and be a good mom or dad without wasting needed cash on things that just aren’t necessary. Your children will not only still feel loved, but they will be more secure — and they will learn a valuable lesson as they watch you display sound money habits on their behalf.