Guest post from Sara of Save Money, Live Joyfully
Fourteen months ago, we welcomed our second child, Junior. A tender-hearted little boy with a smile that could melt even the most calloused of hearts; he was also born profoundly deaf with additional developmental delays.
Since his birth, Junior has endured over 100 hospital, doctor, and therapy appointments, all the while I have sought to homeschool our older daughter and keep her enrolled in sports and activities. At the end of every day full of appointments and activities, I would come home exhausted, with no energy to make cost saving meals from scratch, compare weekly ads, or clip coupons. Gone were the days of DIY projects and Pinterest experiments.
I was just too tired to save money.
After a year of trial and error, I’ve found some helpful hints that have allowed us to stay on budget while being time and energy efficient.
This is one of the most difficult, yet freeing steps when you are lacking time, energy, or both. Every 6 months, we perform an Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) with Junior’s therapists, which is basically a list of points in his development we want see progress in. Our energy then goes towards accomplishing these goals and milestones.
I also created my own personalized version of an IFSP to help streamline our household.
Make a list of your goals — short-term and long-term. If something comes up that does not fall in line with your priorities or will not propel you towards meeting your goals, you have permission to set it aside for this season of life.
We often feel like we have to “do it all”, but by creating and sticking to your priorities, you have more time and energy to put towards the most important things in your life.
If saving money on groceries is your priority, but you don’t think you have time, make large batches of muffins or pancakes to freeze for quick breakfasts, use leftovers for lunch, and make simple-prep dinners in the slow cooker. If spending more time with your family is the priority, look for free activities in your community and consider lowering your cable bill by eliminating channels you don’t watch, also giving your family more time together.
Once your priorities are mapped out, it’s time to simplify, simplify, simplify. Simpler days, simpler meals, simpler outings. Sell items you no longer need, consider inexpensive experience gifts for Christmas and birthdays, and don’t be afraid to say no to things that don’t line up with your current priorities.
Because of our hectic schedule, meals became more basic, which meant a decrease in our grocery budget. Leftovers were eaten instead of tossed, grocery store trips had to be in-and-out, so I stuck to my list. For health concerns, Junior had to stay isolated for several months, so I didn’t have time to wander Target for deals.
I may have missed some “great deals”, but I saved more by not browsing the aisles and spending money on things I didn’t really need.
3. Focus on the “Can”, Not the “Cannot”
You may not be able to do everything, but applaud yourself on the money saving strategies you HAVE successfully used. Most importantly, do not compare yourself to anybody else. No one else has your life or is in your situation.
When I look at my friends who have time to successfully do many DIY projects and fix gourmet meals, I feel like I should be doing more. But, then I look at the ways I am able to save my family money, stop comparing, and feel good about all that I’ve accomplished instead of what I’m not able to, or have time to accomplish in this stage of life.
4. Give Yourself Grace
The first few months of non-stop appointments, we were in the car all the time. Unfortunately, thanks to my inexperience with the new lifestyle, it also meant we also ate out too much. I’ve since learned to pre-bag snacks for appointment days, and to plan ahead with a coupon if we have to eat out.
Circumstances and situations change, and seasons of life come and go. You do the best you can, give yourself grace, and keep pushing towards fulfilling your goals and priorities.
Whether you’re a working parent, single parent, or someone who just has too much on their plate, I hope these ideas will also help you save a little more, even when you feel like you’re just too tired.
Sara is a stay-at-home mom from California. She and her husband desire to seek the Lord first in their lives, as they raise a precocious 5-year old, and a 1-year old with special needs. She shares about living joyfully in all circumstances and utilizing cost saving techniques at Save Money, Live Joyfully.