Guest post from Jennifer:
In 2009, I became a mom for the first time and my husband got the “job of his dreams” (or so we thought).
In 2010, I lost my job… and my husband’s “dream job” wasn’t turning out the way we thought it would. In other words, we were broke. Not so broke that we couldn’t pay our bills, but broke enough that we could ONLY pay our bills.
My first thought was: “if I can’t MAKE money I can at least SAVE money.”
Here are a 6 things we started doing 9 years ago (and continue to do today!)
1. We Buy Bulk Rice
At one point we were literally on a “beans and rice” budget, so much so that we bought rice 25 pounds at a time! It’s so cheap in bulk at Costco (we shared a membership with my husbands parents) that it just made sense.
Even though we are much more financially secure now, we still buy our rice 25 pounds at a time and love having it on hand for a quick side dish.
2. We Cut Hair at Home
Do you know what a haircut for a child costs? We paid over $20 for my child’s 1st haircut!
Once our 2nd child arrived, I quickly realized I needed to invest in a $25 hair trimmer, watch some You Tube videos, and learn how to cut my kids (and husbands) hair.
There was a learning curve at the beginning, but with some practice I can now do a pretty good fade on all three of my boys — my husband now shaves his head!
3. We Shop at Thrift Stores
I LOVE THRIFT STORES!
We get great quality, brand named clothes for a fraction of the price!
If I were to give you a tour of our house you would be shocked on how many things (furniture, clothes, decor, tools, toys, etc) have come from thrift stores. It just saves us money, and it’s a thrill to get items for a fraction of the cost.
Even our “Santa” shops second hand!
4. We Buy Groceries at Aldi
This switch took me longer than I’d like to admit.
I thought coupons were the way to go at the beginning of our struggles, and it may be for some. I was blinded by free toothbrushes and cake mixes and didn’t realize these coupons were actually costing me more time and money than we had.
Aldi is a magical place where food is cheap and coupons aren’t needed. I am Aldi loyal and always will be.
5. We Make Food From Scratch
I quickly realized that processed food cost more, I always knew this, but now it mattered. So I pulled out my Betty Crocker cookbook and made my own food.
We made French fries, homemade waffles, biscuits, oatmeal packets, and Hamburger Helper Meals just to name a few. This was great because homemade tastes better and is usually better for you!
Since eating out wasn’t much of an option, we also found recipes of our favorite restaurant food. I can now make some amazing orange chicken, and an outstanding pizza crust.
I still make homemade waffles weekly for breakfast and my biscuits are a family favorite!
6. We Sell Stuff to Buy Stuff
During our lean years, all money that came in went to bills and food, there wasn’t a lot left for “stuff” like clothes, electronics, toys, new furniture and so on. If we wanted to get new things we looked around our house to see what we could sell in order to get the money.
For example, we really wanted a new sectional but was not prepared to make such a large purchase.
I then started looking around our house to see what was more important, the old elliptical I never used or a new sectional? An old sofa or new sectional? Finally we made enough to pay for a new-to-us sectional without using any money from our accounts!
We do similar things now, we try our hardest to sell stuff we don’t use anymore in order to buy stuff we want/need. This way of doing things has allowed us to be debt free and build up our savings.
Although there are plenty of frugal habits we have continued through the years, there are a few frugal habits that didn’t stick around after our very lean “beans and rice” years…
1. We no longer wash ziplock bags to reuse them.
2. We no longer make our own laundry detergent.
I buy whatever is on sale at Costco.
3. We no longer cut dryer sheets in half.
I now get a little crazy and put in the whole sheet… sometimes two!
4. We no longer say, “We can’t afford it.”
Instead, we say: “That’s not how we want to spend our money.”
I say this a lot in front of our kids, I want them to know that we’re okay financially but that doesn’t mean that we will buy whatever they want.
5. I no longer put my needs and wants on the back burner.
I did this for years and years… but now I treat myself to quality makeup and skincare products, and I don’t feel guilty.
Even though we are in a much better place financially, I always have a frugal mindset about how we spend, and save our money. I’m blessed to be a stay at home mom to 4 kids and watch my husband thrive in his career (which wouldn’t be what it is today without that first “disappointing” job so many years ago).
God really does have a funny way of working things out.
I’m Jennifer, a stay at home mom to 4 children. I’ve been married to John for 12 years and we are happy to live in the suburbs of Kansas City! I love staying home with my kids, working out, watching way too much TV, and crafting!