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Ask the Readers: How do you save money when you work outside the home?

This question comes from Amy:

I have an outside my home job that requires 40 to 50 hours per week. I try very hard to save money. We use coupons, cook at home (most of the time) and various other things to save money. I would like to hear from other moms who work outside their home on how they get it done.

I rarely have time to go to the store more than once every couple weeks, so I can’t really plan around sales. I try to go to Walgreens over my lunch hours, but I would like to know if anyone else has tips for how they get in on the deals and stay organized enough to cook dinner every night. Thank you! -Amy

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180 Comments

  • Amber W says:

    One of the best things that I have done is become part of a freezer meal swap with other working moms. This means that I can stock up on sale items, I personally cook a dish times 6 (one for me and one for 5 other families), I get together with the ladies for a glass of wine for about 30 minutes one evening every other week and we swap. I now have 6 different homemade meals in my freezer ready for heating up. This is awesome when you come across a good deal on one particular meat- cheap chicken can make lots of cheap meals in mass! I also usually try to make 1 extra to pass along to someone not in our group for a new baby, illness, or just someone who might need a break. It’s great to have these ready so I can actually help someone even though I work full time!

    • Teresa says:

      @Amber W, Amber, I LOVE this idea!

    • Jen says:

      @Amber W, I am part of one too. We meet once a month and currently only have a total of 5 families. Generally the meals are easy to put together and then I have a total of 5 (I make two for me since I would generally make 6 meals) meals to pick from throughout the month, so it is at least one a week. Plus, I have gotten some great quick and easy meal ideas and the months when we don’t have a family favorite, I will go ahead and make it so it is one more meal I don’t have to worry about!

    • Becky says:

      @Amber W,
      I have done this too and it was really successful. Our group was a little more flexible with no planned exchange date. Each family just made and delivered (all in the same neighborhood) a meal whenever it worked for us sometime in a one-month period (you can do whatever timeframe works for you). I personally think a designated exchange day could turn into an unnecessary stress for the hostess. Also, this method spread out the meals so we could enjoy them as they came.

    • Sandy says:

      How do go about locating the freezer swap ladies?

  • Erin says:

    As much as I hate taking time away from my family, I’ve made Sunday mornings my shopping time. I get ready for the deals during the week and make sure I have all my coupons ready and then I head out to the stores on Sunday morning. That’s about all I can do since I can’t go shopping during the week after I get home from work. My husband is very helpful in watching our son while I go out. It is Daddy/Son time 🙂

    • Katie says:

      @Erin,

      I do the same thing, but I do it on Saturday mornings when Copps does the double coupons. I get up at 6:30 am and go. Not fun, but the store is less busy and I don’t feel like I am taking time away from my family. I only do this every other Saturday usually unless there are some really great deals that I need to get.

  • Kelly says:

    I also work 40 hours each week and have a 2-year-old. I coupon like crazy to save money! I keep organized by using the binder system for all of my coupons and never leave the house without it just in case I stumble upon a great sale. I clip coupons at night after my son’s in bed. I only focus on my local grocery store, Target and Walgreens for deals. If I did any more stores, I would never be able to keep up. I buy groceries once a week and cook at least two meals every Sunday. That way, the family can eat leftovers together for dinner every night. Hope this helps!

    • Emily says:

      @Kelly, When your son gets a little older might enjoy clipping the coupons. My daughter loves getting to cut out the coupons – I think she started when she was 3 1/2 or so.
      We’d sit and cut them out together. Only problem… she would see a coupon for candy or other yummies and feel like cutting out the coupon meant she would be definitely getting it! Ha (o;

  • Jenny says:

    Look at it (saving money) as income, like an extra job albeit 2-3 hours a week. Think of how much you can make and it will be motivating to fit it in. Always have coupons in car so if you make an unexpected trip somewhere and happen to pass by a store with a great sale that you are aware of you can run in.

  • Michelle K says:

    We tend to do shopping on Saturday (either all 3 of us or just me). If I catch a sale on something, then I’ll swing by the store after I pick up from daycare and still get home before my hubby. What has been helpful with meals is that we plan each Sunday what we will have for dinner that week. I also do some freezer cooking, but not as much as I would like. I cooked up a chicken last night and shredded 4 cups worth. Those are now in the freezer for a future meal.

  • Layla says:

    Amy, it is an additional challenge to try to be frugal and take advantage of deals, yet work full-time. But it can be done, we just sometimes miss out on things. I have a full-time career and do a lot of things.

    I do the “drug store” game with CVS and Walgreen’s and stock up on supermarket sales. I do double coupons at my supermarket and that helps a lot. I get tons of free/cheap stuff at CVS and Walgreens, much of which I donate each year.
    I hit clearances at Target and Kohl’s to stock up on the kids’ wardrobes a year in advance.
    I stop at CVS, Wags, supermarket at night on the way home from work. It’s a pain, I’m already tired and ready to just go home, but if it’s a good deal it is worth it. Some weeks I’m making stops every night, and it does get old!

    Things I miss out on because I work full-time:

    – can’t print coupons from work computers due to IT security measures, so often miss out on coupons (they’re all gone by the time I get home!)
    – I hit the sales late in the day/late in the week so often things are already out of stock due to the other deal seekers getting there first!
    – can’t take advantage of weekday discounts at some places such as bowling alleys, kids play areas, etc.

    • Emily says:

      @Layla, I also hit the sales late in the week, usually the last day of a sale, and I often find items sold out. I ask for a raincheck for the item and, as long as the coupon doesn’t expire before I get back to the store, I am usually still able to take advantage of the deal, just not the same week as it is advertised. I have had no problem getting rainchecks from Meijer, Kroger, CVS and Target.

      • Jennifer says:

        @Emily,

        Unfortunately, I have. 🙁 I have a big beef with Meijer right now, actually. There seems to be some difference between “sales” and “temporary price cuts”. They do not give rain checks for “temporary price cuts”! Twice now I have gone in the middle of the week to find shelves cleared of items they advertised. I wish I knew who to complain to!

        • Emily says:

          @Jennifer, Oh that stinks. I’ve only ever had Meijer not give me a raincheck once, and it was because it was a one day sale (you know how they put certain things on sale on Saturdays only). I hope you figure out who to talk to about it.

    • Vee says:

      @Layla, If you can’t print at work, you might have a friend who is willing to help out. I know that as a retired Mom, I don’t use the same coupons anymore and so print Qs for my son and his friends. Also, some libraries will let you print if there is one near your office. My last idea is to try a clipping service. I don’t use one, but I know that many of the bloggers have their own favorites. Good luck!

    • lindsey says:

      @Layla, I too have the IT issues at work when it comes to printing coupons. I email myself the link while at work and then they are all there and ready to print when i get home.

    • Amy J says:

      @Layla, Our church just put up a coupon bulletin board. You can take some of the ones you like (I snagged the Splenda ones last Sunday, because the only thing the hubby is really picky about is the fake sugar that goes in his morning coffee), and tack up some extra ones that I clip/print that I’m either overstocked on or that I may not have purchased for our family of 2 (I tack up lots of the veggie coupons, because we canned a lot from our garden this year). You might try finding a group to coupon-swap with.

    • Jessica W. says:

      @Layla,
      i like how u were transparent, saving money isnt easy. its tiring like having another job, we each have to decide what trade offs we can make. taking another 30mins-1hr ea night to hit a store can seem a bit much, but it is usually well worth it… except obviously if your child has aperformance or something. I would suggest after u have your time to decompress and also be with yur family in the evening, u can use this blog to find out about what deals /coupons u could use. what i do is cut and paste the coupon into a word doc, get up 10 mins earlier in the morning hit ctrl/p and print them, then at least i’ll have them when i’m in line, u can cut them out at the register or lunch time while u eat.

    • trish says:

      @Layla, i also miss alot of the coupons and sale items because I can’t print from work and I don’t have the extra money to stock shop either… I can’t seem to get ‘ahead’ at all.

  • Pamela says:

    Realistically, even when I was working part-time (and taking an infant with me), trying to get the best deals just wasn’t really practical. What we found most helpful at the time was simply having a menu plan and sticking to it as well as possible. Obviously if there were sales when we already happened to be at the store (and we stocked up for longer term then), we might substitute specific menu items, but just having the plan was the main savings, because there’s nothing like having a budget meal plan of easy meals to save on ending up going out to eat because you don’t have a plan. We used E-mealz to get started and then branched out on our own from there, recycling the meals we liked and adding our own favorites to the mix.

    Also, making cooking at home as convenient as possible helps somewhat. Instead of just putting a whole tray of raw chicken in the freezer so that you have to think ahead to thaw it out enough even to get the pieces apart, just dividing up the raw meat in advance to throw in the freezer helps. And, whenever you’re making a meal, cooking some extra meat to put in the freezer as components for future meals.

    One other thing I personally found helpful while I was working was to be sure and stock up on a few pre-prepared meals (like frozen ravioli or something I wouldn’t typically make myself anyway; spaghetti sauce is something I do normally make myself, but having some jarred/canned on hand is also useful). When you have stuff on hand that is at least as convenient as going out to eat and certainly more convenient than running to the store, it just makes it a lot easier to stick to eating at home, even if the ingredients can be a little pricier than if you made it all from scratch.

    • Stacia says:

      @Pamela, This is much of what I do, too. I plan easy entree items, i.e. grilled chicken or hamburgers, and set it up when I come home from grocery shopping. Burger patties formed and frozen, chicken breasts sliced in half and marinated then frozen, etc. I fill in the rest of the meal with whatever I have on hand that fits. I always grab frozen vegs when on sale and keep minute brown/wild rice on hand. Our menu is a two week revolving menu and works for us well. No picky eaters here, just 4 adults. On days off, I cook the more time consuming stuff. I get home around 5:15pm every evening and always have dinner ready by 6pm.
      I have Thursdays and Sundays off so I try to do all my errands on Thursdays. Sundays are for church and rest. I sometimes do some shopping after work on Saturday but not always. I do try to buy extra when possible so I can make longer times between shopping trips.
      I do use coupons but sometimes instead of going to the Tom Thumb or Kroger that doubles and is 25 miles away… I go to the closest store and shop their sales. Less savings of money but more savings of time and energy. It’s worth it sometimes.

    • Stacia says:

      @Pamela, Another thing… our kids are 18 and 21 with full time jobs so they don’t eat at home every night. I stock up on meals for 2 (PF Changs, Contessa) and round it out with whatever. I only have to worry about breakfast for me and hubby except on Sundays.
      Cleaning house happens in the evenings and with everyone’s help. I don’t ask them to clean on their days off if they won’t ask me to. House isn’t perfect but it is clean and livable.
      I have tried “perfect” in the past while working and it’s not possible , realistic, or enjoyable.

  • Stephanie says:

    I would say to maybe plan a large shopping trip around one sale and do a freezer/bulk cooking day with the sale items that you have? You can save a lot of time and money by doing this. Then you may not have to shop at the grocery store every week and can fit in a once in a while trip to stores like Walgreens. And just do what you can, with the time you have! You may not hit every sale, but even a few can save you loads of money!

  • Leslie says:

    Hi! I work about 50 hrs/week as well, and it can be hard to feel like you’re taking advantage of all the deals out there – and frustrating if you can’t! I find that using my lunch hour to meal plan and deal plan is my best time to do that. You have the whole time to yourself to plan without any distractions from home. Luckily I have access to a computer and I can peruse all the deals/ coupon tips that have already been posted by many other enterprising ladies out there on various websites like this one! These posts save so much time (and mental backflips trying to figure out WHICH store has the best deal, or HOW to get the best use out of each particular coupon). Thanks to all you girls out there who take the time to fill us in!!

    I plan meals for 2 weeks at a time (all meals, BLD), and then shop for all that food at one time. By doing it this way, I really can still take advantage of the deals and sales out there although I might miss some on some weeks if that’s not my shopping week. Not sure where you live, but if your store has a weekly deals email signing up can save a lot of time as well. I use Harris Teeter and their weekly email shows me ALL the current deals and has a great shopping list tool that really cuts my planning time down.

    It can be hard to find time to shop as well, but I like to do it on weeknights (I work it out with my husband one night in two weeks that he can hold down the fort while I take a couple hours after work to shop).

    You can also use just a part of your lunch break to check on quick deals/freebies on moneysavingmom or other websites, or to clip coupons, or to look up new recipes, etc. The more planning you can get done in your “alone” time, the more prepared you can be for deals when you DO get the time to shop! Keep up the effort! 🙂

    • Jessica A. says:

      @Leslie,
      I do the same thing: use my lunch hour to bargain shop, check deal blogs, make my shopping lists, organize coupons, etc. I also menu plan 2 weeks at a time and do a big grocery run every other Friday (pay day for me) after work and pick up pizza for dinner that night. I do the bulk of my shopping at Super Target so I kill two birds with one stone there. Once a week on average, I swing by CVS and my local grocery store after work on the nights my husband picks up our daughter from day care during the extra 30 minutes that saves me.

  • Kelly says:

    Honestly??? I don’t. I’m learning that there are somethings that I just have to let go. As it is, my family doesn’t get mommy until I’m home…exhausted and drained. At that point, they need me to get down on the floor and play with them a bit instead of visiting several stores in order to get the best deal. I’m (slowly) learning to let go off some of the expectations and guilt I’ve put on myself over the years. My time is very valuable too.

    I’m also learning that the realities of our situation right now doesn’t give me an excuse to just blow money. Eating out is a very strong tempation that I have to battle EVERY DAY. It’s just so much easier and quicker to go through a drive-thru, but that doesn’t get us anywhere on reducing our debt.

    So…I’m working on the whole balance act. I’m striving to be disciplined to not blow money on eating out. Yet I’m also letting go of the guilt I feel when dinner is SUPER simple and not a fancy affair. It’s

    • Beth says:

      @Kelly, Thank you so much for this comment! I seem to be surrounded by stay-at-home moms who never seem to miss a great deal. I’ve had some of them make comments that left me feeling very hurt. I attempted the run around all creation to get great deals but I just don’t have time for that. In this season of life I have no choice but to work right now. I get the lectures how the woman was never supposed to work in the work place from my stay at home mom friends. I wish I didn’t have too, but for such a time as this it’s what I must do. We aren’t in debt, just preparing for future ministry.

      • Charity says:

        @Beth, I’m sorry to hear that your friends who are able to stay at home have made you feel that way. I’ve been both a working mom and a stay at home mom. Everyone has different circumstances and we should be supportive of others decisions.

        • Kristi says:

          @Charity, I was the “at work” mom and now I am trying to finish my degree, keep a home, deal with a lot less money (I made the most) and keep it all together. My son helps me cut out coupons and categorize. Gives us a chance to chat. I think staying at home is harder. People thinks it is easier. Certainly husbands do, they are less likely to help. Keeping it organized is key. We all have to work with what we have.

      • Kelly says:

        @Beth, You are SOOO welcome! I don’t really get the guilt trip from SAHM’s. I get it from myself. It’s funny, but it dawned on me the other day that some of the things I was allowing myself to feel guilty about would STILL be unrealistic expectations if I were a SAHM…let alone as a full-time working mother. That realization was so…freeing. I had the chance to put it in to practice the other just the other night. I fell sound asleep at 8:30 pm next to my daughter after reading her a bedtime story. At first I felt so guilty for not getting up and doing some more tidying, AM prep, etc. Well, lo and behold my 16-month old was up at 3 AM with a miserable teething episode. I realized at that point that I needed to be thankful that I DID fall asleep early that night! God knew I would need the extra rest. No need to beat myself up at all! 🙂

        *Hugs* to you!!!!

      • Jennifer says:

        @Beth,
        I am so glad the 2 of you wrote this. Sometimes us working moms, seem to be looked down upon. We are only doing what is best for our families at this time, and when God is ready to have me be a SAHM (which is what my heart desires), then it will happen. For now, I am just focusing on doing the little bit of savings that I can, but mostly just enjoying my kids when we are home and not getting caught up in trying to get the best deal or trying to keep the house spotless. The cleaning can wait until tomorrow, but my kids can’t.

      • Sara says:

        @Beth, Those women who turn up their noses at you for working sound incredibly judgemental. I hope they comprise a very small percentage of the people in your life, with the remainder being supportive, open-minded, and loving!

        • Angie says:

          One more comment. 🙂 I think people forget, or they don’t realize to begin with, that I am MARRIED and I decide with my husband what is best for our family. My marriage is first, and I am being a good mother by having a good marriage. Whether mommy works, to me, is a husband/wife joint decision. Just because I am here at work doesn’t mean I want to be. I don’t. at all! I want to be raising my children. But my husband hasn’t come around yet (still praying for that). It’s not like I can just quit my job because I want to — we have financial obligations we as husband and wife have commited to and I know it would hurt our marriage if I just quit my job without having buy-in from hubby. People forget it’s a joint decision and always presume the mom is working because she wants to be.

          • Crystal says:

            I agree! I think many people forget about this *very* important point. I get many emails/comments from well-meaning people criticizing the choices our family has made and rarely, if ever, do any of these emails give consideration to the fact that maybe my husband wants us to do XYZ. Be encouraged and trust the Lord to work through your husband — and be confident in how He directs your family, even if many people don’t understand your decisions.

        • Christy says:

          @Sara, I agree with all of this! I teach in public school and actually make more than my husband. I truly feel that my purpose in life is to teach young children. God and I argued about my career choice long before I had children and He made it very clear that teaching was what He had in mind for me. So, when people say things like, “Don’t you wish you could stay at home?” or “Do you think you’ll be able to stay at home someday?” or since #2 is coming soon–“Will you be able to quit work now?”, I often get negative vibes from them implying that I should be wishing that I could stay at home. Not that my job is always easy, but I LOVE my job, I LOVE what I do, I LOVE my students and that doesn’t mean that I am a bad mother. My son is in an excellent daycare and gets lots of family time. I definitely struggle with Amy’s problems–time to plan, hit stores, etc. and keep the house running. If my husband ever starts making more money, one of the things I would like to budget for is a cleaning service to free up more of my time!

        • Sara says:

          @Christy, and thank you for being so dedicated to teaching! I work outside the home, and I want to. And there is nothing wrong with that!

      • Kim says:

        @Beth, Wow! that is not the feeling I get or got rather when i was a sahm full time. I was looked down upon and had to listen to comments like “it must be nice not to have to work” & “and I guess it’s nice your husband makes so much money” & my personal favorite ” I just don’t know how you guys are making it with three kids and him being the only one working?:” which they always wanted an explanation for! We get it no matter what season we are in our lives. What’s important is to remember and know that you are doing what is best for your family in your heart. Don’t let others make you feel bad about your decision no matter which one it is!

        • Emily says:

          @Kim, Sorry Kim – its’ tough to be a woman! I have close friends that are full time at home and also full time working (I work part time) – seems we all get our fair share of nosy comments!

      • Angie says:

        Focus on your kids, not accumulating “stuff”. I used to spend my lunchhours running around like crazy, and then I stopped altogether. We spend a little more out of pocket now, but my house is cleaner b/c I don’t have so much stuff to put somewhere or find a place to donate at, and I am not pulling all this “stuff” out of my trunk every night. It used to be my son would EVER NIGHT ask mommy what did you get today and walk to the trunk. I didn’t like that he saw me spending every. single. day, on junk food because it was a good deal, on stuff we didn’t need because it was free. It was actually liberating to let it go and not be controlled by it. It’s a balance, some months you can do more and other months less, and there is nothing wrong with not hitting all the deals and instead giving your time, energy, and thoughts to your children and family as a wife and mother.

      • lisa says:

        @Beth, i too worked when my children were infants and still do. now that my sons are 16 and 14 i dont regret working and they have learned things vs. a stay at home life. they never think of me as just a “mom”, picking up underwear and wet towels off the floor. they know i have a life, interests other than the 4 walls and they see me as a person, not a drudge.because i am preparing them to be independent we have chores and responsibilities and a budget. they are loved and important but not overly pampered. the proof is in 2 well adjusted kids with career ambitions and the big one has even applied for p/t jobs on his own! we are so proud of them

      • @Beth,
        That is a bummer that your friends make comments about your decision to work. I feel sad when people are so judgemental.

        As a women who has been on both sides of this equation, I think it is much harder to be a SAHM.

        Anyway, this summer I went crazy and tried to hit every sale I could because I could not believe that you could find such bargains. In September I realized there are always deals, it is just a matter of deciding what is important to you.

        An example:
        This summer I bought 5 Tostito frozen pizzas on sale and with coupons for 1 dollar a piece. I can make 2 extra large pizzas(with a bread machine) for about the same about of time it takes for me to run to the store and get them. I can make them both for $3 dollars. Making a seperate trip for frozen pizzas is not my priority. Nor is driving 30 minutes to go to Walmart when I have 2 bargain grocery store less than a mile from my house.

        Anyway, I just try to plan a head, do a big shop with planning once a month and p/u milk a couple of times a month. I have a very simple weekly menu. Beans/ rice-monday, pasta-tuesday, church potluck-wednesday, mexican-thursday, etc. If something is on a super ridiculous sale I might stock up, I just don’t beat myself up if I miss a deal.

        Good luck and hold your head up. You are doing what is right for YOUR family.

    • Kristine says:

      I think it is great that you are being honest with yourself about what you can handle realistically. It helps yourself stay sane and also helps others feel less alone; us mommies often don’t like to share any “negatives” about our lives.

      I am currently a SAHM, but have also worked outside the home as mommy too. I can honestly say that for me both were hard and had their pros/cons that go with them.

      Could some of your SAHM deal-seeking friends maybe help you pick up some of the deals? I am always offering to pick up things on sale, etc. for my friends and shockingly NO ONE takes me up on the offer! I do pick up things for my mother regularly as she still works full time, so at least I get to help her out 🙂

      Good luck!

    • Jan says:

      @Kelly, Kelly, sometimes you do have to let it all go. Then after awhile you can start to incorporate little things that make sense for you. I often used Sunday to prep for my entire week. Packing Breakfast , most of lunches and preping dinners this was massive but I started small. Just taking drinks for lunch that knocked of cash everyday. I would save bottles and refill from larger bottles or make my own tea. Gradually I added packing a snack and soon it was all of the above. I also started clipping coupons now for my daughter who averages 70 hours of work a week. Mostly I just clip for her favorites perhaps you could watch for coupons for your favorite items. Last week my daughter called to say she is finally getting the hang of keeping her coupon envelope I send her in her purse and she came across a sale on her favorite shampoo used her coupons and got it for pennies. She stated it was so easy. So do the easy stuff first and work up to some of the others.

    • @Kelly, Kelly, you took the words right out of my mouth!!! This is exactly what I have been learning over the past few months. You are so right! Keep giving your kids that quality time!

    • Jennifer says:

      @Kelly,

      I’m a SAHM and a new homeschooling Mom and it’s the hardest job I’ve ever had!! My days go blowing by and I look at the clock and see my husband will be home in two hours and WHAT am I making for supper?? I’m all for saving money but I’ve had to concede that my TIME is worth a lot more than some of the ‘great’ deals out there. I have a friend who spends tons of time running around to all the different places for these deals, looking harried and using how much gas? For me, shopping the sales at our small local grocery keeps me in budget. And I do a big Walmart trip about every 6 weeks for stock up things. I take coupons too, I just don’t make special trips to use coupons. I don’t have the energy to do extra running at night. By the time we finish supper, I want to relax with the family cuz you know, I’ve worked all day too!! 🙂 We keep eating out to a minimum for a number of reasons: not healthy, addictive, and adds up fast… and also more time away from home. I don’t make gormet meals but they are tasty and meet the need. If I see a great deal on something I use at the grocery or walmart, I get six! And I plan a week’s meals before getting to the store. We usually have eggs/waffles/pancakes once a week for supper. And you know what else, soup with goldfish crackers or cheese quesadillas have become a fast and frugal lunch for the kids and me! Try a pbj roll-up on a tortilla! When I run out of tortillas, I’m back to walmart! 🙂 I use my crock-pot at least once a week which saves me time and usually yields leftovers for lunch or a second supper. So my point is that your TIME and ENERGY are worth money too. A little meal planning can save you big without the coupons… and the extra trips.
      Do what’s best for your family and you.
      🙂 Jennifer

  • Kelly says:

    …quite the journey, but I’m getting there. I just have to get it through my head that current reality doesn’t allow me to have the same expectations of myself that I would if I were a stay-at-home-mom.

    • Shantique says:

      @Kelly, I am totally on this with you. I actually really love my work and in all honesty I am the primary contributor for our household. While staying at home playing with my kids all day sounded like heaven, I am not much of a homemaker and I DON’T have ANY desire to be fully responsible for the household…I am AMAZED at those of you on here that do it and like it!! Where the guilt gets me, is I feel that I work all week and my kids are in daycare (which they love) but when I am off of work I feel I should be with them in all my free time. I have a hard tiime reconciling being away from them. I then contend with the hubby wanting my attention and to go out on “dates” (which we really only do if it’s close to bedtime) so there is nothing left to give myself! Which makes me a grumpy mommy. I wanted to put on a pair of pee toe shoes yesterday and realized I couldn’t bc my toes look awful. When I thought about I realized it has been over 16 months since I got a pedicure, and the last time was ONLY because I had a gift certificate and I was trying to make my baby come out (she came within the week). Now not only can I not tear myself from the cannot throw away money on such a frivolous thing! BLAH!

  • Gina Maddox says:

    I work 40 hours per week outside the home and have a 5 month old son. I utilize my lunch breaks, early mornings, and evenings after my son has gone to bed to search for deals.

    My coupons stay in their inserts and get filed by date in a file box that goes with me in my car. That way, if I see a deal during work hours, I have my coupons ready. Nothing gets clipped until I know exactly what I will be buying, which saves me lots of time clipping, sorting through expired’s, etc.

    As far as meals, we definitely utilize the crock pot, once a month cooking, and freezer methods to save time and money.

    • Jessica says:

      @Gina Maddox, Hi Gina, When I was at the same point at you (full0time work, infant), I would try to focus my deal shopping on one topic. I scouted out diaper deals and would then pop into stores (CVS/Walgreens etc) while I was on my lunch. It allowed me to get a good deal on something we really needed, got my mind off of work for a moment during the day, and also let me run an errand while baby was a daycare. It was like a fun little game.

  • Kelly says:

    I do work full time outside the home and have 2 boys, ages 22 months and 4. You have to use your time wisely. I often clip coupons, plan shopping trips, and run to Walgreens and CVS on my lunch breaks at work. I make it a priority to eat at home 6 of the nights of the week. You get sucked into grabbing something on the way home or going out. Don’t use it as an excuse! Use the crockpot, pack your lunches, you can do it! But you cannot do it all. I do have a cleaning lady that comes twice a month. It is worth my money! Check out my blog:
    http://www.spendless2savemore.blogspot.com/

  • Natalie says:

    Amy,
    My husband and I pack lunches, mostly leftovers from the week’s meals. It saves time and money not having to fix something else, or buy something. I also keep a stash in my file cabinet drawer for the days when I didn’t have time to pack, or ran out without my lunch.

    We meal plan each week based on what is in the pantry/fridge/freezer. Whenever I have time, I make extra of something to freeze. For example and extra meat loaf, or extra chopped peppers and onions for fajitas. Having these on hand fights the urge to grab take out. I used to not meal plan, and just try to decide nightly. I can attest to the cost savings by planning ahead!

    As far as coupons go, I keep all my inserts together vs. clipping and filing them all. Then I can just cut what I need when I need it to go to the store. Even if it is only once every few weeks, I still can save money when I go. I try to hit the deals when I’m on my way to another location or at lunch. Say stop in at target to grab a few things on my way to another errand.

    I’m a big Kohl’s clearance shopper as well. Combine your coupons with clearance deals and it makes for big savings on clothes!

    Also, whenever my husband and I have to go somewhere, we take the car with the lowest gas consumption.

    Hope this helps,
    Natalie

  • Jaclyn says:

    I work from home – but I actually work so I don’t go shopping during the week. What I do is treat weekends like a week day and I get up at 6 am. I have a “game paln” laid out and I hit the stores. CVS & WAGS are both 24 hr store near me and by the time I finish there Target is open. Sunday I get up and clip the coupons for the two Sunday papers that get delivered. I do not get the deals on Sunday – I wait until the upcoming Saturday (if the deals not there then oh well – life goes on). Sunday I do grocery shopping at Whole Foods (8am) then my husband and I both go to Costco by 10 am to fill up our cars with gas and pick up anything we need.

  • Chris says:

    Another viewpoint. While I was working, I was able to work at home and was also able to work extra hours if I wanted to. At that time, my husband wanted me to cut back on couponing, etc., and just work extra. We ended up coming out ahead that way.

    • Laura says:

      That is what I am doing now, too. I have developed a wonderful stockpile that will last for some time. I am now focusing on working. Whenever I think about driving around town to get a deal I ask myself if it is really worth sacrificing my hourly rate. It almost never is. And then I don’t have to worry about storing my purchases. This only works if you are hourly, but something to consider.

  • Heather says:

    I am now a SAHM, but when I worked full time outside the home, that was my financial contribution. I didn’t worry about all of the deals–sure, catch them when you can, but don’t stress about it because you are bringing money in from working.
    Now that I am at home, I consider it part of my job at home to find the best deals and save money in that regard!

  • Lucky says:

    I freezer cook once a month and then plan an entire month’s dinners at once. Sometimes I switch the meals around, but once I try to be very disciplined about staying on track with my meal plan.

    For grocery shopping, I sneak out Friday nights after DS has gone to bed and hit all of the stores at once. I don’t get the best deals because sometimes the store is out of what I want, but I get enough deals that I am still saving money. I stock up on whatever loss leaders I can and then use them the next month to make my freezer meals.

    I do try to take advantage of my lunch breaks and time on public transportation to go over menus, make shopping lists, etc.

  • I live in a large city and have lots of stores close to me, including CVS, Walgreens, Meijer and Kroger within 5 minutes of my house, which helps a lot. I have an almost 4yo and a 15 wk old baby.

    I try to do as much the night before as possible. On weeknights I make simple meals- pancakes and sausage, grilled cheese, pasta & sauce, etc. On weekends I will do more cooking, such as a couple pounds of chicken that I will use later in the week. I will also make a big batch of something that we’ll have leftovers of for work lunches, like lasagna, spaghetti or chili.

    I don’t worry about housecleaning. We keep up on dishes, laundry, vacuuming and the toilets, and that’s about it! I honestly don’t care. So long as everybody has clean clothes, clean dishes, full bellies… I’d rather spend my time enjoying my kids when I’m home.

    • Heidi says:

      @Milk Donor Mama,

      I agree completely! I plan out menus 2 weeks at a time, trying to figure in crockpot meals and easy meals for the week that won’t take 2 hours to make, let alone 1 hour. Based on that list, I make a list of what I need at the grocery store. Its’ not a perfect system and I often pick up a few impulse items, but it helps me to stick to a plan. I also make sure that even though I’m planning for 2 weeks at a time, I have a few extra meals in mind – like pancakes and eggs or tacos, so that if we’re not in the mood for something, there’s always something else I can throw together. We also keep a frozen pizza in the fridge for those nights where I just don’t want to cook, plain and simple.

      Keeping a few frozen lunches in the freezer helps too – to prevent those days where there are no leftovers and everyone decides to eat out.

      I too put off some of the housekeeping. My time with my 14 mo daughter is more important than making sure that the kitchen floor looks perfect.

      I don’t do batch cooking simply because I don’t want to set aside a weekend day where I actually get to spend good time with my daughter. I’d rather just cook dinner every night and have her help or play in the kitchen while I cook.

  • Emily says:

    As a full-time working mom, I know how you feel. I find it extremely difficult to find time cook dinner and spend time with my daughter after working all day, let alone multiple shopping trips to get the deals. My best advice to you is to do what you can without killing yourself (once a week on my lunch hour I pick the best drug store for deals that week and get a few things — some weeks I don’t go at all if it’s not worth my time) and don’t get discouraged about what you can’t do. I’m happy for all of the women on these sites and blogs who are able to stay home with their children and help save money by getting deals and doing things like making their own laundry detergent, but for many women, that’s not reality and we just have to make the best of the time we have. I also agree with making a meal plan. I do mine on Sunday nights, I cut coupons on Thursday nights, and my husband watches my daughter and puts her to bed while I do the grocery shopping on Friday nights. It’s hard and discouraging, but some day when the kids are grown and you have free time on your hands, you can do all the things that you wish you had time for now. Until then, remember that your family comes first and your time is best spent providing for and loving them and everything else become unimportant.

  • Lea Stormhammer says:

    I work part-time (30-ish hours a week) and am a full time graduate student, plus a mom to 5-year-old twins, a wife, etc.

    It definitely is possible to be frugal – especially with meals.

    Here are my tips:
    Plan a time to clip coupons and match sales. I use saturday am when my kids are vegging with cartoons and hubby is at Bible Study. I spend roughly an hour and am done by 9am.

    Have a meal plan. I can’t imagine not having one now.

    Shop together. We spend about an hour hitting 1-4 stores each saturday morning, together as a family, after hubby gets home from Bible study. We can cover the store fast with all four of us there!

    Keep meals simple. Stir fry, soup and crock-pot meals are great for busy evenings and for keeping things fresh. Have the crock pot cook when you’re at work, slice bread and toss a salad (or open a bagged one) and you’re ready to go! Have a few things (as someone else mentioned) that you can just pull out of the freezer/fridge and cook works great too.

    Don’t buy snacks or ‘junk food.’ We eat less and have to rely on veggies, fruit and cereal for snacks because we don’t buy those things. Even with coupons, they add a lot to the budget. Ditto for soft drinks or other things like that for us. We do have a line item in the budget for coffee beans. 🙂

    My number one tip?

    Pick what’s important to you! Is eating together, purely whole foods or your budget the most important? Pick what’s important and stick with that… you can’t go wrong! Even if your grocery budget is higher than someone else’s, you need to do what is best for you.

    Blessings,
    Lea

  • Karen says:

    I also work 40+ hours a week and have an hour and a half commute each day. If I’m on the hunt for special deals I print off the Target and Walmart Savings from the website and match the coupons at home after the kids go to bed. I can usually get everything I need from one store during my lunch break and split this up over the week.
    I’ve found since I started with the coupons and fitting this shopping in while I’m in town I don’t have to make the “big” shopping trips on the weekend and actually have more time with my family.
    However I also agree with the other postings…just do the best you can…your time is also very important, so if you have to pay regular price for an item here and there your still doing a lot better than your were before.

  • Ash says:

    I am in love with my crockpot 🙂 Definitely the best time saving device ever!

  • vickie says:

    My daughter works full time and she just recently had me cut coupons for her, organize in her coupon binder, and price matchup with coupon for kroger. She was behind in several weeks of coupons- she gave me $20.00 for doing this for her and said it was the best $20.00 she spent.
    Believe me she will save a lot more than $20.00 this week at Kroger but the stress of trying to do it all caught up with her too. She said she felt better this weekend not having to deal with coupons but yet she gets to save.
    Maybe you could strike up a deal with one of your stay at home friends who coupons like this?
    Hope this helps.
    vickie

  • Amy says:

    I work full time & have 2 preschool age children. I only recently started couponing & was very skeptical to start because I knew I wouldn’t have time to shop around & how much money would I really be saving anyway by driving around to store after store. I decided to start small – I switched grocery stores to the one in our area that doubles coupons. I only focused on getting deals there & started seeing the fruits of my savings pretty quickly. I gained some confidence after a couple of months & branched out a bit & added on Walgreens. Just in the last couple of weeks, I added on Rite Aid too. Honestly, I don’t spend much more time “shopping around” than I would my normal grocery runs. I plan my lists with a spreadsheet for my drug store purchases (I’m an accountant but it has saved me a CONSIDERABLE amount of time & headaches – I know what I’m getting, what coupons to take, what I should be paying & getting back as rewards) Thanks to all you money saving bloggers out there – it’s super simple to make my lists & know which coupons to use now! My running is usually on a night after I put my kids to bed & my husband stays home with them, although I have attempted some runs with them in tow also – it can be done, just a little more stressful. I have a system now that as long as I plan my list out & stick to the list, I’m in & out of both Rite Aid & Walgreens in ½ hr & then another half hour to 45 minutes at the grocery store – it’s been working out well & I’m getting some amazing deals! I was so skeptical at first – but really, with just a little bit of planning during lunch breaks, or while the kids are in bed for the night – I’m able save some amazing amounts of money & still cook dinner, do the laundry & all that other stuff! – definitely worth the little bit of effort that I’m putting into it & it’s not nearly the time commitment that I imagined it would be!

  • trisha says:

    I don’t focus my entire effort on sales/coupons. In fact, I rarely use coupons for food (we don’t eat much processed/convenience foods). The way I see it is that even if I pay full price and without a coupon it’s still cheaper than eating out or grabbing something on the way home. So, I FIND THAT I CAN SAVE MORE BY FOCUSING ON STAYING ORGANIZED TO FIX AND EAT WHAT I PLAN AND HAVE ON HAND.

    I don’t work outside the home, but I DO know what it’s like to not go to the store every week or two. I do one big main grocery shopping trip a month (sometimes I stretch it out to about 5-6 weeks). Yes I pick up odds and ends (like milk and produce) as my kids devour them but I do try to stretch that out as much as possible(eat fresh first and then move to frozen). First I plan a monthly menu (written in PENCIL) taking into account of busy nights (usually dealing w/school activities) I move the meals around as necessary. (I’d make my life a lot easier if I’d take a peak at the menu the night before to get things thawing and/or even start prep work). I even have a list of meals we like to help me plan. Then I make the shopping list to make sure I have the necessary ingredients for the menu. If I happen to goof on this shopping list, sometimes I improvise or simply see what else I can make instead. I shop at the store that has the best prices overall for the “big” trip which oddly in my case doesn’t double coupons (but their prices are so good it doesn’t matter!) and they don’t have sale circs. Then the most closest grocery store (i.e. whatever town I happen to be in) for the odds and ends. I find with the proper planning ahead and me staying OUT of the grocery store as much as possible, that I save a lot of money. I guess those “extras” just jump into my cart.

    When I cook, I’ll usually double (or triple) a dish and freeze the extras for another time. I find that doing the prep work ahead of time helps out tremendously. I have chopped up onions, peppers, etc in the freezer ready to use. When I cook a chicken, It’s not uncommon for me to do a couple and freeze the cooked meat in meal-size portions. Same with browning hamburger meat. Being able to just toss the ingredients together and cook is a huge time saver. Some meals are very simple due to time constraints or plain forgetfulness or laziness. Bring out the crockpot and get it going in the morning. Nothing beats walking in to a yummy meal ready. Meals on the grill are usually fairly quick and easy (especially if you go ahead and put marinade in a bag w/the chicken before you freeze it).

    If you can, delegate some (or all) of the prep work, cooking, shopping, etc to others (even cleaning!). Might even consider a “meal” swap. Get 5-7 friends/neighbors, each one would fix one meal (multiplied by friends). You could either have that person deliver their particular night (so you’d only have to cook once a week if you did the numbers right) or end up freezing the meals and getting them all at once.

  • Heather says:

    I work 40 hours a week and commute 50 miles each way. I have 2 boys (5 and 8 ) that I drop off and pick up at Grandma’s every day. I am gone from 6:30 a.m. until 6:30 p.m. each day. Needless to say, we run a pretty tight ship in the evenings to get homework, dinner, baths and laundry done.

    We are trying to eat healthier and stay away from as many processed food items as possible. This has made it a challenge, becuase I have to go to the grocery once a week to get the fresh fruits and vegetables (I have also spent many late evenings canning this year). I almost never buy convenience dinners. We order pizza from the local pizza shop every Friday night (it is cheaper than buying 2 frozen pizzas for our family), and only occassionaly eat out other than that. It has been a challenge to find recipes from scratch that fit into our time constraints. I have been lucky to find some really great recipes that the family loves, are healthy and don’t take much more time than some of the prepared foods. Because we try to buy local fresh food, I am not always able to cut the grocery budget that much. I do use coupons on as many personal and cleaning products as possible. I feel that the added health benefits far outway the cheaper foods, so we find other areas to cut our budget.

    I work downtown and there are not any stores close by, so I am not able to use my lunch hour for shopping. I do use my lunch hour to find recipes for planning my menu, e-mailing coupons home to print from my home printer and on-line clothes shopping (almost all of my Christmas shopping is done on line and shipped right to my door step). My weekend grocery trip into town usually consists of a 4 hour, 4-6 store marathon. I have found that having a menu plan for the week and organizing all my coupons for each store helps things go faster (that is usually my Friday night project).

    There is no perfect solution. You have to decide what is important to you. I don’t have a lot of “mom time”, but I do get a lot of enjoyment out of coming home with bags of free or almost free items. Living on a farm with a big farmer and 2 little farmers just means that as soon as I clean something, it gets dirty again. So, if I don’t have time to clean the kitchen floor this week, it’s ok. The boys are happier that I had time to bake them a fresh homemade loaf of bread for next weeks lunches. Oh, and it’s usually more than just the kitchen floor that doesn’t get cleaned.

  • Katie Gregg says:

    The best thing you can do is KEEP IT SIMPLE!

    When I was working, I had no choice but to limit myself to shopping at one or two stores per week – usually one grocery store, and one drug store. I would hit the grocery store on Sunday morning, and the drug store after work on Monday. I chose which stores to visit based simply on who was having the best deals that week. Honestly, here on the East Coast, the grocery deals aren’t that great anyway, so limiting myself to one grocery store usually only cost me a few dollars each week.

    As far as clothing purchases go, I shopped almost exclusively online. I used Ebates, shopped off season, and waited for my favorite stores to offer free shipping, clearance prices, or both. Occasionally I would hit up a tent sale at our local outlet complex, where I could pick shirts up for rock bottom prices. The tent sales always ran Friday – Sunday, so I would go directly after work on Friday, to get the best selection.

    Keeping meals simple was also a lifesaver. On the evenings when I had an elaborate dinner planned, I almost always ended up getting takeout instead. So I stuck to easy meals like ravioli and sauce, fajitas, quesadillas, and fried rice. I did as much meal prep as I was able on the weekends, such as baking bread, cooking beans, washing and dicing veggies, making chicken broth, etc. I put some in the fridge to eat during the coming week, and froze some for later.

    I stuck to a written budget. I knew I was spending more than I would be if I were a SAHM, but that didn’t mean I had to go hog wild. I kept it very simple – the categories were individual bills, food, gas for the car, savings, and family outings. I didn’t shop for fun, so on the rare occasions when I did need to buy something (new clothes for work, something for the house), I took the money out of a savings account set up specifically for that purpose.

    Finally (and I know you’re gonna hate this!), I got up earlier than the rest of my family. I used the quiet time in the morning to do whatever needed to be done around the house – laundry, kitchen clean-up, couponing, baking, assembling a casserole for dinner, etc. And the crazy part is, I actually enjoyed it. That was the only time of day I had strictly to myself, and it was very peaceful and productive.

    I hope this helps. Having two adults working outside the home can be an exhausting juggling act, but you WILL get through it! 🙂

  • Sylvia says:

    I run all the money saving blogs into my google reader to quickly seek out the best deals each week. I work 40+ hrs each week and have a 2 1/2 yo & 5 yo, so I don’t have much time or focus to hone in on the ads & match them up with the coupons. I clip most of my coupons and have them sorted in my own version of the coupon binder ( a 5X7 Dayrunner). It’s compact and if I have some time during lunchbreaks or during outings, I run out & pick up the best deals. I try my best to shop on weeknights as the traffic in the DC area can be horrendous and it’s not worth the extra time to go out on wknds. Shopping on weeknights not only lets me get in and out faster, but by waiting out traffic, I am more efficient in getting home. I shop at Costco weekly for the staples and often hit Harris Teeter during super double coupon week to stock up on my pantry staples. By being stocked up on most basics, I don’t have to fret about running out of stuff when I am especially busy at work or home.

    • Heidi says:

      @Sylvia,

      I second this! Google Reader has saved me a ton of time and money. I love it!

    • Julia says:

      @Sylvia, It’s amazing what working moms do! Great work.

    • Mitchster says:

      @Sylvia, What’s a Google Reader?

      • Sylvia says:

        @Mitchster, Google reader consolidates all the blogs & websites that you check daily for updates. I follow about a dozen money saving blogs, but I don’t have time to click on each site and check. If you open yourself an igoogle.com account, go to the top menu and pull down on the “more” tab, select reader, it allows you to add websites. So every time a blog gets updated, you will see it on the igoogle/reader site. If the info is not pertinent to you, you can mark it as read or you can expand upon it if it catches your eye. Takes a matter of minutes to check for deals, rather than hours.

  • Amber says:

    I find it’s helpful to figure out how much each of your recipes cost per serving. Add up how much each of the ingredients cost (if you only use half a package of something, be sure to only factor in half the price) and then divide the total by how many servings the recipe makes. Write down the amount next to the recipe in your cookbook. When you menu plan for the week, try to mix up cheaper meals with more expensive meals instead of making all the expensive meals in one week. If you have an extra tight budget one week, try to make all your cheapest recipes.

    Another great time saver is the crock pot! I just got married and received a crock pot as a gift. I am absolutely in love with it! Just throw meat and veggies in it in the morning and when you get home from work your house will smell like you’ve been cooking all day. I think crock pots cost about $30-$50. There are so many crock pot recipes online, it’s a great investment.

  • Sara A. says:

    I also work full-time and have an 8 month old. Before my baby, I had an organized binder system and hit every deal after work/weekends. Now, instead of stressing on how I was missing the deals, I decided to focus on one drugstore and one grocery store. I only go once to each store during the week in my lunch hour and I have never felt that I was giving up time with my baby that way. I may not have 20 bottles of body wash after a Wags run anymore, but I’m still able to save money (wasn’t that our original purpose anyway?) and spend all my free time with my family.

  • Jennifer says:

    Amy, I am a single mom who works 40 hours/week with a very busy personal life and teenage daughter to drive around. So I know what you mean about time constraints! I’ve had to pick and choose the strategies that work best for us personally, and so do you. We do manage to eat a home-cooked meal every night except Thursdays, because that is a high priority for me, but it has taken a lot of practice over the years to get our system down.

    I am lucky to have an employer who allows me to surf the web and print coupons on my lunch hour. I know a lot of women don’t have that luxury. But I only do my grocery shopping at one store (Meijer) and since they double coupons, I get very good deals there. I look at their weekly flyer online every Monday morning and plan my grocery trip around their sales combined with coupons. I don’t drive all over town chasing deals. I also plan my meals out in advance as far as possible using ingredients that I have already stockpiled and knowing what produce is in season and therefore likely to be on sale. (Right now, for instance, a lot of our meals revolve around apples and squash! :-)) I also make big meals on the weekends that we can eat throughout the week, and I use my slow cooker a lot.

    I know it seems like a huge commitment, and in the beginning it did take some time to get into a rhythm. But due to a car accident I was in a year ago that deluged me in debt, I had no choice but to make that commitment in order to slash our grocery bill. In the end, it has definitely been worth the extra effort!

  • Claire says:

    I’m not blessed to be a mommy as of right now but I do work full-time and I’m a wife:) A few tips that I’ve found that work really well are:

    1) I plan my meals once/wk every week. This may take a total of 15 minutes if not less on a Saturday morning. I skim my pantry for the items I’m already stocked up on & plan my meals around that. I don’t like to plan my meals from the current week’s flyer b/c the deal might not always be there during the time I’m able to go to the store. If I DO hit a deal at the store, well that just stocks me up for next week’s meal plan:)

    2) I clip my coupons on Sunday afternoon or on a weekday evening while my husband is studying & we’re both watching tv. I get to hang out w/ him while my coupons are being clipped. I use the binder method- I find I save more money this way because I usually come across unexpected/unadvertised deals while I’m out shopping and/or I’m able to put my coupons to use towards things on my shopping list that may/may not be a GREAT deal, but they beat paying full price:)

    3)I plan a time once/week that I can hit up the grocery stores. This usually means a Saturday afternoon or evening. That really is the only time I can get it in. (Unless Harris Teeter is having their big doubles sale, then I’ll go on the evening the sale starts even though I get home exceedingly late)

    4) a BIGGIE that really helps is that I cook large meals (for 6-8 people) when I cook a meal. Even though I’m just cooking for two at the moment, any leftovers goes into the freezer divided into proportions for 2 people (these come in handy in case I don’t have time to make dinner one evening) or 1 person (for lunches or a quick dinner for my husband if I’m away).

    5) Also, just as a tip for finding time. I HATE getting up early, but getting up early on the weekdays and on Saturday mornings adds valuable hours to my day. The wee morning hours are where I find time for general household cleaning, planning meals, coupon planning, etc. I hope this helps!

    6) The best tip that I have for cooking dinner is to KEEP IT SIMPLE during the week & experiment with new recipes, etc. on the weekend:)

    • A.S. says:

      @Claire, I could have written your post myself – my husband and I do exactly the same thing. Your Item #5 has been the biggest time saver possible – even 15 minutes in the morning before work helps.

  • Amanda says:

    My golden rule is only two stores per week. I meal plan during the week at nights, then food shop on Sunday mornings and hit a drug store on my way home.

    Also, I prep much of my meals on the weekends. I’ve turned it into family time though. For example, we will make a fruit salad together. My daughter, 4 years old, loves to help!

    To make weeknight meals easier, plan to make 2-3 meals from one item. Buying a family size pack of chicken? Cook all of it on the weekend and use it for 2 different meals during the week. Check out Robin Miller-this is her philosophy and it has helped me a great deal!

  • Kalla says:

    I am not a working mom… but i think the best way to save money is simplify! Dinners don’t always have to be glamorous or expensive! You can get some really great meals from very few ingredients.

    And the other thing is just do the best you can. If you miss something great with one sale… there are always more sales.

    Good luck!

  • Amanda says:

    I resonate with this one! I am a PhD student, and we just added 2 kiddos to our family! Phew…life is crazy!

    Unless you are really struggling with money, don’t pressure yourself to get the best deals and cut every corner. We have been working hard to get out of debt, but nowadays TIME is precious! Some things I am realizing:

    1) Rather than run to a bunch of stores for great deals, identify one or two that are consistently good.
    2) Take advantage of online shopping deals. I combined Kohls 30% off coupon with Kohls cash and sales and free shipping to do our kids’ winter clothes shopping from the comfort of my home, late at night (and visit ONE good kids’ consignment shop, not a bunch)!
    3) Incorporate your kiddos into any of the other stuff you are doing to save money. Clip coupons while you watch movies or make homemade snacks together to freeze, etc.
    4) Worry more about cutting the big expenses than getting free toothpaste! It is easier and generates more savings to spend two hours shopping for lower insurance online than run to 4 stores every week trying to save few bucks.

    • Emily says:

      @Amanda, I was pregnant with my first child when I took my prelims, and I defended my dissertation when my second was 4 months old. Best of luck to you as you finish your Ph.D. I know firsthand how difficult it is when you have little ones to take care of too.

      • Pamela says:

        @Emily, I’m in the same boat right now! Taking my PhD exams this month, with dissertation to follow. I have a 22-month old and our 2nd is due in February. Keeps life interesting!

  • Becca says:

    E-mealz has been a godsend. Not to sound like a commercial, but I cannot believe how much time and effort it saves.

    • Andrea says:

      @Becca, I have to agree with Becca – we have been using E-Mealz and it helps a bunch!! All the recipes are super quick and easy, and it saves money by matching the sales with the recipes. Takes a couple hours out of studying the sale flyer, looking for recipes, and making a shopping list!

    • Mitchster says:

      @Becca, What’s E-Mealz?

  • kelley says:

    when my sons were small and I worked 40+ hours a week, I made good use of freezer and crock pot meals. There are so many websites that have good recipes. Try to shop early on Sat/Sunday mornings and keep your coupons with you at all times. Best of luck!

  • Jessica says:

    For the past few years I was working 40+ hours and had a toddler & baby. I didn’t clip many coupons but I did always plan meals around the sales flyer. I find that sales saves much more than any coupon. I had a desk job so I had the flyers emailed to me and at lunch I would plan my grocery list/ meal plan. Coupons just made me feel bad because I couldn’t plan appropriately for them and they were wasted.

    If things were on sale, I bought a lot and threw it in our deep freezer (great investment). Meet would be frozen in marinade (usually a salad dressing or teriyaki) Then on Sunday, we always grill a lot of stuff. So grilled chicken with grilled veggies / baked potatoes on Sunday night, Monday was either grilled chicken & veggie burritos or chicken stir fry. Tuesday is Crock Pot. Something like chili or stew or pulled pork. Wed was left overs. Thursday would be something out of the freezer I had made in the past (meatballs, lasagna, etc). Friday was take out pizza. This meant dinner was really more heating up than cooking which can be done in 15 minutes! When I do cook, I always do multiples so I can freeze some.

    If things were really bad that week (I was working late or traveling) I would go right online and order my groceries for delivery the next day. Since you can have a preset list, I could grocery shop in about 15 minutes total. If I threw on some stamps or diapers I would hit the $100 mark pretty quickly which made delivery for $5. And believe it or not, since their was no “spontaneous” purchases at all, I usually spent less. Otherwise, I went on the weekend during nap time.

    Packing your daily food is always the best way to spend less. Breakfast was kept at my desk (oatmeal) using hot water from the coffee maker, and I packed snacks and lunch.

    Finally, I shopped for all clothes on-line. I used to “browse” at night after the kids went to bed. You can get some great deals even if you can’t make it to the store. I always had good luck with Children’s Place. Always Google for a 15% coupon code, they always have them.

    Good luck- it’s never easy.

    • Julia says:

      @Jessica, You are so right! I saved so much money on Christmas last year shopping online, and for clothing in general. Blogs like this one made that possible. Check out tulle4us.com. They have monthly sales for women’s clothing that are unreal!

      And premaking things like instant oatmeal packets for work is a total time saver!

  • Liz says:

    I’m going to reiterate some of the above comments – just do the best you can and don’t beat yourself up about it. For a family of four my grocery bill is about $150 – $200 per week. Since I’m frugal by nature (and work in finance) it kills me that it’s so high but based on my work schedule I just don’t have it in me to spend a lot of time on it (plus my husband is on a special body builder diet so there isn’t much I can do about over half of it). Here’s what I would recommend:

    -Are you trying to save money because you really need to or because you want to? If it’s only because you want to – don’t worry about it. Make sure you are shopping at the lowest priced store possible (you may be surprised at the different price levels in your area), try keeping your meals simple and inexpensive.
    -Are you children able to help at all? My kids are a little older so if I can prepare a casserole the night (or weekend) before they can pop it in the oven. They also have the table set and anything else done (salad made, drinks poured, etc) that they can before I get home.
    -What about your husband? I told my husband a long time ago that he either gets a ‘cooking/cleaning wife’ or a ‘money making wife’ but that he didn’t get both. He chose the money making wife and accepts that fact that him and the kids all need to pull their weight around the house – including the cooking
    -Accept help if it’s offered. I HATE accepting help, I feel like I should be able to do it all. Now that I’m older and wiser I realize I can’t and shouldn’t even try to be ‘wonder woman’. My mom is currently unemployed and has agreed to come over one night a week to help get dinner on the table. She gets to spend some quality time with her grandkids and gets a free meal out of it. My solace is knowing that one of the these days I won’t be so buried and I’ll be able to repay the favor to my kids or my mom.
    -Talk to friends who may be in the same boat. Swapping dinner and/or babysitting for each so that you can get some stuff done around the house
    -Realize that you are doing the best you can and be ok with it as well as don’t listen to criticism. I (as well as my mother in law) compare myself to my sister in law all the time who works two days a week and find myself lacking. I don’t have the time that she does so if my house is a little dustier, who cares? The house is picked most of the time and my family is happy. As my husband says “this is the decision we made and if we don’t have any problems with it then neither should anyone else”
    -Remember that your children are young only once. It’s not important that your meals are all from scratch or that your house is spotless if you’re screaming at your kids and uptight. Your kids would rather eat macaroni & cheese and then play games with you versus having a wonderful meal that leaves you exhausted. You only have one life – ENJOY IT!

    • Emily says:

      @Liz, I love 3 things about your response:

      1. I love what you spend weekly on groceries for your family of 4. Well, I don’t love that you spend that much, I love that you posted that you spend that much. I also have a family of 4 and work full-time outside of the home. Our grocery budget is about $500/month, which means on average, we spend about $125/week. I read all the time about these ladies who feed their families of 5 or 6 on grocery budgets of $30-$60/week. Well that’s not possible for my family, and I always try to remember that our circumstances are not the same.

      2. I LOVE LOVE LOVE what you told your husband about either getting a cooking/cleaning wife or a money-making wife but not both. Brilliant!!

      3. I love your insight as to it not mattering if all your meals are from scratch and your house is spotless if you are screaming at your kids and uptight. I constantly have to remind myself that kids are kids, and life with 2 little kids is going to mean that my house won’t be perfect and that we may just be tripping over toys for the next few years.

  • I’m a wife, mother of 3 and home keeper that also works outside of the home full-time. I used to be a big coupon shopper. I would make deal runs on my lunch break or on my way home. But since we’ve changed our diet towards whole foods, I find myself couponing less but still saving money! I use the weekends as my time to prep meals for during the week. I keep my meals simple during the week, so they are easy to prepare since our evenings are filled with homework and family time.

    Best of luck!

    Mary Ellen

  • Alissa says:

    @Beth,
    Do what you can! If that’s saving 50 cents a week, awesome. If that’s saving $50 a week, awesome. We all have different priorities, so as long as you’re living w/in your means then don’t worry about getting every deal. We put enough pressure on ourselves as moms; we don’t need the extra pressure of trying to get all the good deals, too.

  • Julia says:

    I just became a SAHM but when I wasn’t, things still had to get done. So I took certain steps some might consider over the top to get my “deal” shopping accomplished. I should mention this first: I “missed” deals and still do all the time. I never took advantage of a deal unless I needed the item. Otherwise, it was just a time suck, and even as a SAHM it still is if it’s for unnecessary items.

    1. Wal-Mart price matching: one stop shopping, great price matches. Once you learn how to do it, you can easily make a list and knock out shopping quickly.

    2. Early grocery shopping: prior to having my son, I went shopping before work at about 7 am. Now, it’s later because of my son, but I still go shopping prior to 10 am. It is so much easier this way, and I am free to peruse deals and take my time somewhat.

    3. Have friends help you! I have a close network of friends who call each other prior to going to Costco or wherever, and they pick up a good deal for me, or just an item I desperately need and can’t manage to get out of the house for.

    4. Read online blogs like this one and practice shopping from a list! It used to take me two hours to get a shopping trip list going. Now, it takes all of fifteen minutes. And I don’t have a coupon binder or anything fancy that I’m dealing with either.

    5. Crock pot meals are excellent. I would always make one crock pot meal and freeze enough for another meal later.

  • Amy says:

    Hi everyone! I’m the Amy that sent in this question. I can’t say thank you enough for the suggestions so far! There are quite a few things on here I haven’t tried yet (but am going to!). I was feeling quite overwhelmed when I sent this question in, and I just needed some fresh ideas.
    Things like this are the reason I come to this site. I love the articles here, but I really love the comments everyone leaves! Thanks everyone, and I can’t wait to see what other suggestions come up!

    • Crystal says:

      I know; the commentors here are incredible! I glean new ideas and encouragement every single day!

    • Amy says:

      @Amy, I agree; they are amazing! One of the best thing about everyone here who participates is the amount of support they give. It seems a lot of other sites get people snipping back and forth at each other, but it seems everyone here is supportive of each other. People here seem to be supportive even if you don’t share the same beliefs. I believe everyone has something wonderful to offer if we just listen to them. It seems everyone here agrees.

  • Sara says:

    I have been grappling with this struggle since going back to work full time 3 months ago. I have a blog (www.sarathesavvyshopper.com) and I had been devoting quite a bit of time to couponing and saving money for the last couple of years. Adding a full time job into the mix has completely changed the way that I shop.

    My advice would be to do what you can, and let the rest go. I used to buy multiple newspapers, clip tons of coupons, and file away the inserts to come back to in the event of a hot deal. No more time for that, so now I just clip what is in my paper each week, print off the coupons I like online, and call it good. Am I scoring free stuff right and left? No. Am I still saving on groceries and personal care? Yes! Sure, it’s not as much as before, but with my extra income from working, it doesn’t feel as vital to be clipping every single coupon.

    I have also been very thankful for my stockpile that I built up before I went back to work. I think that stockpiling is a working mom’s friend. I don’t HAVE to go to the store every week because I have a good supply of food and personal items stored that I got free/cheap. I can make a meal out of what is in my pantry in a fix, and I never have to worry about running out to get toilet paper after work. Even if you don’t already have a stockpile, start buying extras of anything your family uses that you find at a deep discount. It will make a big difference after you build up a good supply.

    Last I will say (I could go on and on, though) to use your time wisely. I plan shopping trips in the evening after my kids are in bed (provided my husband is home, obviously). I also shop over my lunch hour when I can. Worst case scenario is that I run out on Sundays after church to hit a couple of stores while my husband plays with the kids. Also, I do a LOT more online shopping.

    It can be done, but bottom line is that you don’t HAVE to do it all. And really, you shouldn’t do it all.

  • Pat says:

    I go to the store that carries the most products at the lowest prices on a weekly basis. I price book is great for knowing when to buy extra. I also buy in bulk. I buy products I use all the time in bulk such as spaghetti sauce. I have cases of food that I can pull together a quick meal. This can start out as just a couple of extra cans a week and before you know it you have a well stocked pantry. I really enjoy this when a blizzard hits and we can sit back and enjoy the beauty of it instead of worrying about going to the store.
    Time management is a big area. I also put together when I am waiting: making pizza dough for tomorrow while I wait for the water to boil for spaghetti for tonight’s dinner.
    Delegate: I have trained my son his job is to carry in the food after a shopping trip and to put away the frozen/frig. items. That way I can be cooking while the shopping is being put away. My daughter knows her contribution (2 year old)) is to bring to my attention markdown products while shopping and she loves to pull the blinkies. A big smile is had by all when a markdown with orange sticker is found.
    Planning: On products I really what several of I will purposely go to the store late in the week after 8 so I can get a rain check. Many stores don’t put limits on the number you get at that price with a rain check. Also my Fred Meyer’s marks down produce on wednesday, albertson’s marks down meats after 7:30 on week nights and bakery on monday night. Into the freezer they go, just make sure you keep a list of products and dates so you rotate what is in the freezer. I also divide up my freezer space. My upright has veggies and fruit (from my garden and orchard) while my chest freezer has meat and bread. This all comes in handy working full time and going to school.

  • Rachael says:

    Have you tried Sam’s Club or Costco? I know that you may be able to save more by using coupons and getting smoking deals, but I find that I can usually get a good price at Sam’s Club for things. This also helps because I can buy things in big quantities and not run out of things as fast. I also find menu planning to be very helpful, as many people mentioned. Sometimes, I stop home before I pick up the kids from day care and get a jump start on dinner. I take out the meat, get it unthawing, and lay out the ingredients. It takes about 5 minutes, but would take a lot longer if the kids were home.

  • Megan says:

    This is a small thing, but one that I’d hate to live without: I buy all of our non-food (you can buy non-perishable food, we just don’t) grocery items through Amazon’s Subscribe-and-Save program. The prices are way lower than at the grocery store, you get a discount on everything, and it’s all automatically purchased each month in whatever quantity you choose and ships free. It’s so nice to have stuff just show up at my door, knowing I got a good deal on it for pretty much no effort. That way I only have to think about buying food when I go to the grocery store, and I never have to make an extra trip because I ran out of diapers or whatever.

    (I’m not affiliated with Amazon or anything; I just really like the program.)

  • christy says:

    There are so many great ideas for saving, thanks everyone! I have a 4-yr old son and work full-time outside the home. Being away from my family that long during the week, I feel like time is money and if I can save time then that’s saving money. Some of the things I do to save time & money…

    – Multi-task when clipping coupons. I never just sit and clip them. I’ll clip & file them when I’m on a phone call, or watching our favorite shows on the DVR after my son has gone to bed, or in the car when my husband is driving. You can also multi-task with other things too. I always save the folding laundry for when I’m watching tv.

    – Do shopping on the way to/from work. I’m very lucky that my CVS, Walgreens, and my favorite grocery store are all on my way to work between daycare and my workplace. I can leave a little early in the morning, drop my son off at daycare, hit the store all by myself when they are practically empty and still be at work on time. This saves time because there’s usually not many customers, if any, in the stores this early. This saves on gas since I’m not making extra trips in the evening.

    – I have access to a full-size refrigerator at work. If there’s a good deal on refrigerated or frozen items I can get them on the way to work when its quickest for me to get in and out of the store and then keep it in the office fridge until time to go home.

    – Keep a small ice chest in the car. I keep an empty ice chest in the trunk of my car and have a bunch of those blue re-freezable cold blocks that I keep in my deep freeze ready to use. If I’m planning a shopping trip on the weekend where I want to hit several stores, I don’t want to have to limit my route just because I plan on buying cold stuff at one or more stores. With the ice chest I can buy frozen stuff at my first stop and it stays frozen until I get home. Look for those re-usable cold packs to go on clearance at the end of summer. I found mine at CVS for 90% off.

    – Brown-bag lunch. I pack my lunch as I’m putting away leftovers from dinner. Then in the morning I just grab it and go! That way I can’t use the excuse “I didn’t have time to make my lunch” as a reason to eat-out.

    – Get your co-workers into couponing! I introduced my boss and a co-worker to super-couponing over a year ago. We keep each other informed of deals. We have a coupon table in our office to share coupons. We usually have an in-office lunch once a week with items purchased for super-cheap or free. It’s amazing when you can feed the whole office for $5!

  • Ellen says:

    Just want to give you a hug! You are still doing a great job– cooking meals every night is a HUGE accomplishment, and one that saves money! You don’t have to do the drugstore game, clip coupons, and watch sales fliers to pinch pennies. Embrace the resources and time you’re able to allocate to them and roll with it. It is not a race or a competition; the number one priority is for you to do what’s best for your family. Perhaps if you start small– say start shopping at CVS and rolling ECB’s— take 10 minutes to look through the flier once a week and then take one lunch break to shop there a week— that can make a big impact on your budget with very little time or effort spent. Or another viable option (which is something Crystal has said over and over) is to try shopping at Aldi. I know that move alone has saved us some money when I haven’t been on my game with couponing and whatnot.

    The big thing is not to beat yourself up! You can do this!!! Working away from home and raising a family is a HUGE challenge, and it’s okay to pick and choose your battles. Your family will be the better for it.

  • Sara says:

    If you have kids who are old enough, maybe you can delegate coupon-ing to them. My Mom used to pay me a commission if I found coupons for her. And I never would have admitted this at the time, but I was so proud that she asked me to help her, instead of framing is as giving me a chore to do. Not that kids shouldn’t have chores! You know what I mean.

  • Michelle says:

    Hi Amy,
    I work full time outside the home as well and have two children, ages 3 & 5. It is very difficult(impossible) to keep up on with the sales, coupons, cleaning, meals, etc. and not feel guilty. My best advice is try not to do it all your self-get your husband & kids involved!!! I send me husband to CVS or Walgreeens when there is a really good deal, otherwise I skip it for that week. I send him out with an envelope of organized coupons/list & the flier with items circled. At first, he struggled but now he is an ace. And he loves helping out & scoring deals now too.
    Both my kids love to help me at mealtime, even my 3 year old can set out forks & non-breakable plates. And my 5 yr old loves to wash/sort/etc. food for dinner. It is a learning experience for them & we get quality time together. And as others have posted, the crockpot is great & sometimes I feel like it’s my little “sous chef”. Also, breadmakers & blenders make life easier & healthier. And when we do eat out, which is not very often, we use Restaurant.com certificates to make it affordable.
    My house is never spotless but I keep up with the basics and ask for everyone’s help. As my mother did for us growing up, we write all the kid-friendly chores on small pieces of paper & put them in a bowl. Then everyone gets to pick, like a game, and the kids love it.
    Crystal has had many posts regarding involving the children in cooking and housekeeping (thank you!). It is a great way to educate & accomplish tasks-dual purpose-gotta love that!
    I know when my Harris Teeter typically marks down meat, produce, etc. so that is when I typically shop. Or, I eat lunch at my desk & can leave an hour early from work so I stop by the store then.
    Overall, I just cherish the time with my children & pray for the wisdom to make the best decisions. Best of luck to you!

  • Liz says:

    Before reading…keep in mind I am a very organized person so this works for me! I do my grocery shopping on a monthly basis. It takes some time preparing a menu for the month but it has been a huge time saver. My “once a month” shopping consists of two trips to the store. Lately, I’ve been doing it on one LONG outing but I check out twice (I am one person who can’t handle two carts). My first trip is the inside aisles; the second trip is the dairy / meats / produce / frozen.

    My monthly menu includes fresh items that I will need to purchase each of the off weeks (produce for recipes, milk, bread – usually not more than 10 items). On the off weeks, it is a 15 minute trip to the store to pick up these items.

    In addition to the grocery, I go to CVS every week for the deals. The CVS is only 1 mile from my house so it is a quick stop in / out.

    I was getting sick of the minimum one hour trip every week. I started going every two weeks and that seems to help. I pushed myself to see if I could do a month long shopping trip and it has worked for me.

  • Laura says:

    I’ve had to let some things go since I started working more from home in the last few months. One thing that has saved my sanity (although it isn’t logical) is taking a Sabbath rest. On Sunday, after church, we eat at Taco Bell (Sorry mom! All those fancy dinners on china are not a family tradition!) We take afternoon naps & spend the rest of the afternoon playing with our children. I have so much fun reading, talking and playing games with my kids! I feel guilty I am not cleaning, couponing or doing something “productive,” but I know that taking a day to enjoy the blessings God has already given me is huge. I end my Sabbath early and start getting ready for the week on Sunday evening. I start the week refreshed and ready to go. I am always glad when I do this! It takes practice but it worth it. I encourage anyone who is overwhelmed to try this.

  • jamie says:

    I am so glad to know there are other working moms in my situation. I have three kids and work 40+ hours a week. They all usually come grocery shopping with me on Saturday mornings. It is a pain to take them but that’s the only time we can go. We plan menus and shop for only what we need. Sometimes when a sale is great we will stock up. I usually plan a couple extra meals for each week….the really easy kind, for when we run out of time to make a bigger meal. I buy clothes on clearance for the next year for most of the kids. I have a hard time with my oldest, she is so big I never know what will fit her next year.

    It is hard to save money when you don’t have the time. There are times I have made an extreme effort to get some of the good diaper deals. I figure just saving on those saves a lot of money.

    I feel for the other readers that have stay at home moms give them a hard time for working. I get a lot of that too! The thing that gets to me the most is when stay at home moms complain to me about not having time to get things done. Really! Try working 40 or more hours a week outside the home and still have to get those same things done. It is hard! We do what we have to and in the end we will be blessed for it!

    • Emily says:

      @jamie, I totally agree with your last statement. I stayed home for 18 months after my second child was born. At that time, I thought that being a stay at home mom was way harder than I ever imagined and that it was the hardest job I ever had. Then I went back to work full-time. Talk about being hard. I never in my wildest dreams imagined just how hard it is to work outside of the home full-time with multiple children at home (I say multiple because when I just had my oldest I worked full-time and it wasn’t as hard). Don’t get me wrong, I do still think that being a stay at home mom is hard work and a full-time job in itself. It is just a full-time job at home, so the things that need to get done at home can get done. When you are away from the home all day long, there just is so little time to get all that stuff done.

  • Melissa says:

    I work from home 50+ hours per week and still manage to coupon well. I would say try to organize your coupons on the weekend. Take 30 min to look over your fave store ads and make lists. I personally shop at a local grocery and then Target. I find lots of snack, cereal, cleaning items their for good deals, sometimes even free. Keep it simple. Make meals that you can do for two nights. Perhaps meat that you can incorporate into a meal the second night. I use my crock pot quite a bit. I also do a freezer meal with friends and on my own. It saves me quite a bit of work.

  • Allison says:

    One resource you do have that moms who don’t work outside the home don’t is your employer (assuming you are not self employed).

    A big money saver is to use the dependent care reimbursement account offered by my work. This makes all my daycare tax free, so it’s practically like getting a week of daycare free every month. Look into that if you haven’t. Sometimes it’s called a flex spending account. Many employers offer similar accounts for healthcare costs, and we take advantage of that too. And don’t forget 401(k) matches that are often offered by employers. Look into that– it’s free money!

    My husband’s employer will pay for college courses that are related to his field, based on his grades– so far he has earned a bachelor’s degree for free (he got straight A’s) and is working on his masters degree. This has been a huge savings for us as well as an investment in his career.

    My husband doesn’t have to wear a uniform to work, but some of the employees do, so everyone in his office is pushing for the employer to provide uniform khakis for them so they don’t have to buy their own dress pants. That sounds totally cheap, I know, but every little bit counts!

    As far as drugstore deals and things like that, I swing by the store before I pick up my kids from daycare, and it takes a lot less time that way. I cook from scratch and all that. With moneysavingmom.com here to help me find the best deals fast, I don’t really feel like working keeps me from saving money.

  • Homestead says:

    I try to cut myself some slack… that’s rule number one. I work 40+ outside the home and have 3 kids ages 6, 4 & 15 months and a moderate commute.

    I don’t hit every great deal and I don’t go crazy about it. CVS is between my work and my house so on nights when my husband gets the kids I might swing in there and get a deal or two.

    I plan meals two weeks out and hit Costco on Friday evenings every two weeks. The goal is to spend less than $200 and be in-and-out in less than an hour. I also have about $25/week budgeted for “other” groceries and needs… the stuff I can’t get at Costco (wonton wrappers and Mountain High yogurt) or the stuff I forgot….. this week it was cottage cheese…. and shampoo and stuff I get at a deal at CVS, Shopko or Target.

    So that puts me at a $500/month budget for everything. That isn’t stellar but it works for us for now. Any leftover money at the end of the month becomes the next month’s eating out money so we are motivated to save. We pack lunches and eat pretty simply. I keep veggie burgers and whole-wheat English muffins in the freezer at work for lunches on days I run late. I have an upright freezer in the garage for stocking up. I try to make a new recipe a couple times a month but mostly I have a two-week plan that changes a bit seasonally but mostly sticks to a theme. (Monday: Mexican, Tuesdays: pasta, Wednesday: Something new or special, Thursdays: Leftovers or Sandwiches/salad/soup, Friday: Junk food (pizza, burgers, chicken tenders, calzones, etc) And I always have a stock of emergency food (that would be pasta with jarred white sauce, chicken nuggets, refried beans & tortillas) that we can eat if things fall apart…. ok, to be honest…. those meals are also usually scheduled at least once a week. I aim for healthy eating but I’m ok with the fact that I often miss.

    I’ve discovered that simplifying everything really has helped with our morning routine and that makes the whole day go better. We cleared off the counter and keep it that way (that’s a team effort but worth it) so we aren’t making sandwiches on a pile of mail. We standardized the weekly breakfast menu so there are no decisions. I bought myself a nice set of glassware with locking plastic lids (at Costco… with a coupon… within our budget) so there is no longer a frantic lid-hunt in the mornings. We each have one nice travel mug that gets cleaned at night for coffee. The lunchboxes get wiped out and put in the same place every night. It isn’t perfect but it is much more serene at our house and I think that is the most important thing to me.

  • Laura says:

    We all agree, it’s HARD! I’m a paralegal and work 40+ hours per week, my teen daughters are in sports that require every waking moment between practices and games. The one thing that has saved me, especially in summer months, is pre-cooking as much as possible and planning most of my shopping during my lunch hours. I cook on Sundays (if possible) and then toward the end of winter months I start cooking up a storm to freeze for the summer when we literally are NEVER home except to sleep! I make a point to take the time (even if I’m half asleep) to make a menu, list and SHOP. You’ll spend 10x more if you don’t have that list with coupons attached. Been there and done that. 🙂

  • Kelly says:

    I love everyone’s tips! This question sparked an interest in me to blog about some of the things that work for me.

    http://livingonthecheap.blogspot.com/2010/10/juggling-it-all.html

    Thanks!

  • candice says:

    i don’t work right now but my husband does and w/ one car i can’t always get to all the sales either but i shop once a month (paid once a month as well) all month i save up coupons…..then go to town…. the first day i get a chance to. w/ a family of 5 i only end up spending around 350. last month was my first time actually “couponing” 1 spent my normal 350 but saved 101…(i was so proud…101 in groceries….free). when i did work during the week i fix quick meals like hamburger helper… or something fast…. i really get down and dirty in the kitchen sat and sundays and all holidays and its great bonding time with my daughter b/c she loves to help cook!! we hardly go to resturants to eat, but might have takeout pizza once a month.

  • Allison says:

    I tried to post a little while ago but I don’t see it, so sorry if I’m repeating myself, I just think these are really important ways to save money.

    Look into things offered by your employer. We save tons by taking advantage of flex spending accounts for daycare and health care, a 401(k) match, and education reimbursement. The guys in my husband’s office are event trying to convince the higher-ups to provide them with khaki uniform pants for their “business casual” dress code, lol.

    I do the coupon deals by making quick stops before picking my kids up from daycare. I cook from scratch by doing lots of meal prep after they go to bed. I couldn’t do the coupon stuff if it weren’t for websites like this that tell me exactly what to do! 🙂

    But the coupon savings are a drop in the bucket compared to the savings on childcare through the flex spending account– when you do the math, it’s almost like getting a week of daycare free every month– no joke!

  • Anna says:

    These were the methods I used when I was working and when I was a full-time student. I focused efforts on the “big numbers” in our budget, checking quarterly or so to be sure we were getting the best deals on insurance, phone, internet, etc. As far as food and HBA I focused on making a shopping list to be sure that I got what I needed for my menu plan so that I didn’t have to make extra trips to the store or pick up drive-thru because I was missing ingredients. I also kept meals fairly simple and made larger batches if possible (browning several lbs of hamburger at a time so it was ready for tacos, cassaroles, or whatever).
    One thing that is important (and I didn’t do too well) is not letting guilt influence your spending. I sometimes found myself buying this toy or that expensive sugary snack because I felt it would somehow make up for me not being at home with my son. Cuddling on the couch with a book or helping me make toast and scrambled eggs for supper were time with the kids that had the bonus of being VERY inexpensive.

    • Jessica says:

      @Anna,
      Breakfast for dinner! My kids LOVE breakfast for dinner night!

    • Tina says:

      @Anna,
      I agree that this website is a great help. On top of all the suggestions, it’s nice to know I’m not the only Mom struggling with finances! I see that you mentioned saving on phone bills. I recently kicked my contract and switched to NET10, and it’s been a great way for my family and I to save. My husband uses the unlimited plan ($50), which includes unlimited talk, text, web, email, and 411. I use my phone less, so I pay $25 a month for 750 minutes, which is more than I ever use. What’s also great about it is that it’s flexible. Next month, if I think I’ll be using my phone a lot, I can switch to the unlimited plan myself. There are no hidden fees either, which was a huge stress for me when I still had my contract. You and all moms should consider checking it out!

  • Kristine Gilsdorf says:

    I teach full time and I have found that by making a weekly menu and doubling the batch saves a lot of time. I clean out our refrigerator and make a menu every Thursday night. Then, after work, I grocery shop on Friday. Fridays are very dead! I usually cook on Saturday for Saturday and Sunday, Monday for Monday and Tuesday, and Thursday for Thursday and Friday. We eat out on Wednesdays (alway with a coupon or gift certificate). I also plan my menu based on the grocery ads. Also, by doubling the batch, I save money.

    • laura says:

      @Kristine Gilsdorf,

      Hmmmmm……you just described my routine! LOL Shopping are Friday night is the BEST time because there’s hardly anyone at the stores. Saturday….ugh, forget it! LOL

      • Kristine Gilsdorf says:

        I love to shop on Fridays because I also don’t feel rushed. I know I have the whole evening and the next day off. I try to keep very organized and structured. That definately decreases stress. But every so often I have one of those days and do nothing and wait until the next day.

  • jj says:

    First I would advise you not to feel any guilt about not always getting the best deals. You work and earn money. That is a huge contribution. Even factoring in taxes and daycare, you’re keeping your skills valid so that you don’t fall behind in terms of income. Plus in this day and age, the extra security of having a second job is worth it!

    Here is how my husband and I manage to save:
    1) We think of ourselves as a team in terms of cooking. He does most of the grocery shopping and cooks most meals, including dinner, since I have the longer commute. I do some food shopping since I’m better at getting deals. It’s important not to let the food/cooking chore only fall to one person.

    2) I shop before work. The lines are shorter so you save time.

    3) I don’t worry about always getting the best deals. Sometimes if I just need something, I’ll go to Target or Walmart, which is generally lower-priced even without sales/coupons.

    4) Ralphs and Vons (and other markets) often have good deals. I’ve gotten brand name toothpaste for $1 and they always have items in stock, while CVS and Walgreens tend to run out of the sales items, or the bargain hunters with more time tend to get it first. However, if they run out of items, you can often get a raincheck.

    Good luck to you and remember, no guilt!

  • sherri says:

    this isnt necessarily a way to save money, but more of a way to stay stress free while trying to do so. Once I realized that I dont have to get every deal in town, i actually saved MORE money. By stopping at 3 or 4 stores a week, I was wasting time and even spendin money on things i didnt necessarily need. Recently, my work/ family schedule has been much more hectic so in lieu of couponing and playing the drug store game, I have really just been trying to ask myself “Do I really need this? Can i wait to buy this later? Could I wait til this goes on sale?” I try to carefully consider time and money saved to decide if it is worth it or not to work for a deal.

  • Courtney says:

    1) freezer cooking
    2) acknowledge that you can’t really get everything done, then prioritize

  • Kelli says:

    I think getting a good understanding of what’s important to you is a good first step. I love getting good deals, and often do, but there are times and seasons in life that I’m just too busy. When I was dealing with breast cancer earlier this year, I frankly didn’t have the energy to worry about coupons. However, a few strategies I’ve used to try to keep costs down:
    * I go to Costco and stock up on the staples. Having fresh produce in the house really helps, somehow! I still use coupons whenever possible, but when I can’t, I still feel like I’m getting a good deal on those items at Costco.

    * I keep meals simple. I love interesting food, but sometimes simple is healthier anyway!

    * I keep a list of a few super-easy (5 min of hands-on time) meals that I have the ingredients on hand for (ex: homemade pizza -crust is in the freezer, and we always have cheese and red sauce on hand. Or, grilled cheese and soup, or scrambled eggs, toast, and turkey sausage. Breakfast for dinner is always a hit at our house!)

    *Freezer cooking really helps us. I make big batches of soups, pasta dishes, etc, on a Saturday and freeze it in meal or even single portions. When I’m particularly on the ball, I cook and freeze parts of meals, like cooked and diced chicken, or beans.

    * I pick and choose what I can do, and what I can’t. I cannot spend all my time running around to 6 different stores per week. I can bake all our own bread, since it’s very little hands-on time, and I can do it while working on other things. The bread we used to buy (100% whole grain) was about $2.75 a loaf, and I can make it at home for about 50 cents. So, a savings of $2.25/loaf, which feels good! For everyone, that balance will be different!

    This got a little longer than I intended, but hopefully it’s helpful to someone!

  • Steph says:

    I am a single mom to a nearly 5 year old boy and I work 40 hours a week outside the home. Lately, I’ve been relying A LOT on Money Saving Mom’s blog for what sales are going on at Walgreens, CVS, Target, Walmart and Publix. That way, the only fliers I ever have to look at are Winn-Dixie and Save-a-lot. I get coupons every Sunday from the paper, and I have learned which stores have the cheapest of a particular item. For example, I get most of my produce from Save A Lot as it is SO much cheaper than Walmart (recently I got chicken breast for $1.69 per pound, 4 lbs of potatoes for .99 cents. They also had 64 oz apple juice for 99 cents. Perhaps you have a discount store like this as well and you could just watch the sales associated with that. That in and of itself has saved me tremendously).

    I have budgeted $40 per week for groceries and so I get the cash out and stick very closely to my very detailed list. If I can’t get something on sale, I get generic. When I cut my budget down I had to make some decisions about what was a “want” and what was a “need.” A lot of the wants got left behind, especially if it was just something for me that my son wouldn’t eat.

    I also shop on my lunch hour. It’s tough, but I’ve saved a ton. Good luck!

  • Melissa says:

    I also work full time outside of the home about 40 hours a week. I also am a wife and a mom of a two year old. I am lucky that there is a Walgreens, CVS, Walmart and Target all within 5 miles of my work and home. Here are some ways that I manage my savings and make extra income:

    1) I dedicate 2 hours over the weekend to clip coupons, meal plan and go shopping. Yes, just two hours. I buy free or close to it deals at Walgreens and CVS either early morning Sunday or wait til my lunch break during the week. I create a meal plan for dinners M-F and give myself a break on Saturdays. I always make sure my proteins are fully defrosted at least two days before I plan to use it so that I stick to my plan and can’t create an excuse. I go shopping early in the morning on weekends before anyone else is up and I clip coupons while I’m watching tv at night after my son goes to sleep.

    2) I check my favorite blogs daily for the best deals and copy and paste them into word at work to keep track. While I’m home, I put the corresponding clipped coupons into an envelope so they are easy reach while I’m checking out at the store.

    3) I belong to survey companies and fill out surveys on my break or at lunch and cash out my points when I hit $20. I use this extra money for my “one night off” from cooking and my husband and I go out to eat.

    4) When I make lasagna, chicken spagetti or other “freezer type” meals, I always make an extra one to put in the freezer for a lazy day. That way, I just have to pop it into the oven. I try to do this a couple times a month.

    5) I keep a list of birthdays in my coupon binder so that when I hit a good toy deal, I am prepared year-round and not scrambling at the last minute to buy something. I do this also with my Christmas List and pretty much have Christmas shopping done before Halloween every year.

    This was a great question and it was really nice to see all those other moms out there that work outside of the home!

  • Emily says:

    I too work full time plus some. One thing that really helps keep me diligent with cooking meals is i try to really take advantage of my hour lunch break. I run home and try to prepare as much as i can for that evenings meal (chop stuff, brown meat, etc.). That way when I get home usually all I have to do is pop is in the oven or put a few finishing touches and it doesn’t seem so overwhelming!

  • Katherine says:

    Since we both work multiple jobs, my husband and I split a lot of the grocery/food duties. I clip/sort the coupons when we’re chatting or watching tv and we go through the fliers and our meal plan together to figure out what we need to get at the various stores. Some stores are on his way home from work, so he gets stuff there, and I stop at the stores that are on my way home. If a store is out of the way, we make it a “date” and go together. We also switch off making dinner, so we both get evenings to relax.

  • savinitup says:

    As a full time worker, part time student and full time mom and wife, it is a must to save money whenever I can. Sunday is my shopping and clipping coupon day. In the mornings, I do my shopping. This includes the drug and grocery stores. I have my list of things that I am going to get and all coupons attached.( I gather all of this on Saturday night)

    When I come home, I clip, print and organize coupons.

    For meals, the things that I am getting from the store are for meals for the upcoming week. I post the weekly menu on the refrigerator.

    As I see deals and coupons, I just print them out and don’t worry about them until Saturday night when I am putting together my shopping list.

  • Spendwisemom says:

    Websites like this are helpful whether you stay at home or work outside the home. Don’t compare yourself to others. We are all in different situations. Our income levels are different and some have lost jobs. You just do what is best for your family and get whatever good deals you can find in whatever time you have. We have chosen to have me stay at home and cut back on expenses instead and so I have more time to look for deals. Just because that is what is a value to us, doesn’t mean that everyone should do it. I am grateful for teachers who work and teach my kids, and some moms have to work when they would rather stay home. Maybe you can cook on the weekends and freeze meals for the week.

  • Kelly says:

    You are all such supportive moms!

    Does anyone find it hard when their friends have a lot of money? Some of my friends have a lot of money to spare and its hard to participate in some things because of that…can be a bummer!

    • Jess says:

      @Kelly, YES! I’m working in an paid intership type position. There are 27 of us and we all make the same amount of money. Its hard to go out with the group sometimes because my spending habits are different. I won’t put a night out on a credit card, or go shopping at the mall without a game plan of what I am going to buy and what stores I play on shopping in. It can be hard.

      One thing my friends and I have started is a dinner club. Each week, one of us hosts dinner. (there is 4-5 of us). However, if the host doesnt want to fork over all the money to put the meal together she doesn’t have to. It is a rule in our group to always offer to contribute. The host can take you up on it or not. This has helped cut down my eating out expenses while still hanging out with friends.

  • Jessica says:

    This is a great question! I have found that planning my meals ahead of time works great! If you know ahead of time what you are going to make, you can stock up on all the ingredients, and then when you get home you are relieved of the stress of having to find something to cook. There are lots of slow cooker recipes out there as well as some for the microwave that could save you a lot of time. Also there might be someone out there who would like to do your grocery shopping for you if you pay them a little bit.

  • ann k says:

    I beg to differ…
    I save money by NOT clipping coupons.. lol
    I work 40-50 hours per week. I stopped deal chasing a few months ago and its been wonderful since then. What a relief!! Not only is my home neat and tidy, but my time is also well spent with my family. I used to coupon heavily but then moved away from it only when I realized that most of the food coupons are for highly processed foods, thus increasing healthcare costs in the long run. So, I started shopping for only the basics.. no boxes, no cans, only the perimeter of the store. And for those, there are hardly any coupons. I have come to the conclusion that ‘you get what you pay for’. When any product goes on sale, I stock up for the next few months. That is how I save some money(not as much as most others). In my opinion, there are many more important things in life than coupons. But maybe thats just me.
    In other words, I save money by brown bagging, reusing, minimalistic living, rarely eating out, etc. 🙂

  • Jess says:

    I don’t coupon. Its not that I don’t want to, its that I don’t have time. For retail items I will look for store discount coupons, but not for individual item coupons.

    Since I don’t have time to run 10 different places, I utilize Walmarts Price Match policy. I know not everyone is a fan of Walmart, but the time I save and the money make up for the bad customer services I sometimes receive.

    To save money (on eating out) it is not uncommon for me to cook 2-3 different meals a night so I have a choice of food to take for lunch and leftovers for dinner when I get home and am to tired to cook.

    Working outside the home also can present issues related to purchasing clothing and saving money but still looking professional. I hit up thrift stores and sales racks often late at night (after work or school lets out).

  • Natalie says:

    I work in an office about 45 hrs/wk and have 3 kids ages 5, 6, 10. Every other week, I also work as a massage therapist one weekday evening and Sat morning while my awesome husband mostly manages the kiddos. ; )

    Fortunately, I can use my computer during lunch to print Qs. I clip on Friday evenings (over a glass of wine, after the kids go to bed, while I’m between loads of laundry – haha!) During the week, I save any Qs that come in the mail/paper unclipped in a folder I keep with my coupon box. I also do a menu plan during lunch for two weeks at a time based on what I have “in stock” and the current deals.

    I used to try to keep up with Giant Eagle, CVS, WalGreens and Target and although I was saving a ton, I was driving myself crazy! So now I basically limit myself to Giant Eagle (b/c mine doubles up to $.99) and quickly peruse the couponing sites (THANK YOU! You are a God send and have helped me go from ~$750/mo to ~$350/mo! ; ) for the CVS and Target deals. That’s all I can manage and that’s ok with me!

    So here are a few tips I can can think of right now:

    1.) If you have a Target nearby, save up the $5 gc’s you can sometimes get on their deals. If you are in a pinch and over budget you can stop and get something quick without worrying so much about what you’re spending.
    2.) Pick one or two stores. Track their sales so you know when to wait and when to stock up. I actually keep an Excel sheet for my weekly trip that lists “normal” price, sale price, coupon savings, etc. (Yeah, yeah, I know. ) But, you will notice a pattern.
    3.) Wait until the very last second. … Works kind of like this, for example: Giant Eagle sales run Thurs-Wed, but the new ad for the following week comes out on Tues. So by waiting until Tues to create my shopping list, I can check the current weeks deals against the following week. If I determine there’s something I simply CAN’T miss for the current week, I’ll go on Wed night after work and get ONLY those items. If it can wait, I’ll go on Sat or if there’s not anything I desperately “need”, I’ll wait until the following Tues. … Make sense? (You can do this for CVS too, if you check out the iheartcvs blog. She has the flyers weeks in advance somehow!)

    As far as saving TIME, use your resources! ; )
    My husband drives by Target and CVS, so on occasion I’ll hand him a list and a stack of Qs and he’ll stop on his way home.
    I use my crockpot and the pre-set-timer-thing on my oven (ie, I made meatloaf this morning while the kids were eating breakfast and put it in the oven and set it to start at 5:30p.)
    I make a whole box of pancake mix (some with choc chips, some banana, some cinnamon, some blue – you know, for variety!) and boil at least a half dozen eggs on Sunday morning. Sometimes a double batch of muffins, you get the point. Weekday mornings are often more hectic than evenings…
    Other ppl have mentioned, but it’s worth repeating. I portion the meat, grapes, cut up most of the fresh veggies, an onion, etc as I’m putting the groceries away.
    I also try to pre-make stuff for the kids lunches on Sunday when I can since none of them are huge sandwich fans (oy!). My DH usually have leftovers.
    Friday night is “Kid’s Choice” … that’s always interesting! : o But, we cook together and we eat together and that’s all that matters.

    All that said, there are times when I’m exhausted and we all eat cereal. And honestly, who cares?! (I think the kids prefer it actually! haha!)

    • Andrea Q says:

      @Natalie, Just wanted to clarify…you left raw meat in the oven all day? What about food poisoning?

      • Natalie says:

        @Andrea Q,
        Haha! I knew someone would question that. In this case, yes, it was raw hamburger mixture in a dish, covered in foil, in the oven for about 9 hours prior to the oven turning on. I could give you a thousand reasons why this was my best option at the time rather than getting take out or making something else or making it the night before, etc. etc. etc. lol! But anyway, as long as I cook it to the appropriate temperature, for the right amount of time it’s fine. All raw, undercooked protein poses a health risk.

        *I suppose I should point out though, I normally do this with frozen or partially frozen meat. I understand if anyone would be too nervous to try this, and that’s ok. But, it works for me! : )

        P.S. I’m eating the leftovers right now, and they are yummy! ; )

  • Lana says:

    I was a SAHM but my daughter works full time and was struggling with just getting to the store, coupons or not. She has celiac disease so eating out is asking for trouble for her. Her husband has a more flexible schedule as he is an associate pastor and so he took over the grocery shopping. This could also be an answer for some of you. I am grateful that he did this for her as it took alot of the pressure off her schedule and allows her to focus on getting dinner on the table each night so she stays well and not having to try to get to the store first.

  • Christy says:

    I teach in public school, so the after my DS goes to bed hours are spent on a lot of schoolwork! I hit Publix once a week and try to hit CVS once a week, but I just haven’t had time to plan out CVS lately–going to try to get back into it! Those are the only two stores I do. During the summer, I will hit Target and Bilo occasionally when I have more time. I go to Target for other things now and sometimes will look up the deals if I have time, but many times am literally running in to buy a shower curtain or whatever and that’s it!

    I did a big freezer cooking day before school started in August and it was helpful. We have gone through it all! DH works weekends and it is next to impossible for me to get in a freezer cooking day with a 3 year old that doesn’t nap, no husband at home, trying to clean, etc. I do the crock pot at least once a week. I can get DS to help with casserole making, etc. if we only make 1–so I double it and freeze one and do that at least once a week. Last night, we had chicken, rice, and vegs. DS helped set the table, peel carrots, etc. so it was quick meal and was family time all rolled into one!

  • Estelle says:

    My advice: pick your battles, stay organized, remain disciplined and remember… time is money.

    I do not coupon. I shop at grocery stores that are known to have low prices year-round (Giant, Wegman’s) and I try to not go more than once a week. I cook on Sundays. I pack my own lunches. As far as clothing goes… I buy basics online but really, I do not have time to go shopping for clothes!

  • I have tried menu planning for two weeks and shopping for the two weeks. That saves time and money. Then have a cooking day with your family. My husband helps out, and that is fun! Also, get a stockpile of toiletries, The key for me has been to not put so much pressure on myself to get every sale and every deal. Do the best you can with the time you have, and enjoy life. =)

  • Lori S says:

    One way that I earn extra money is I win tickets off of the radio for concerts. I live in Las Vegas so there are tons of concerts. I listen to the radio all day at work so I have time to try and call in and win. After I win the tickets, I then post them on Craigslist to sell them. If a concert is sold out, I can get full price or even more for them. If they are not sold out, I mark the tickets down by $20 or so. If have been doing this for 3 years. Last year, I made over $10,000. This year I am up about $5000. Plus I also try to win gift certificates to restaurants or stores that we want to try or use frequently. The only downside is that if you win over $1200 you will be taxed.

  • Lisa says:

    I sat down and wrote out 20+ meals my family liked/loved. Over time I stockpiled meats in my freezer (took about 4 weeks). Sunday might be a large roaster chicken. Monday chicken over spaghetti with pasta sauce and mozzarella cheese. Tuesday a pot of chili. Wednesday chili dogs or chili with macaroni. Thursday leftovers (chicken sandwiches, chili). Friday might be homemade pizzas, everyone decorates the pizza. Saturday sausage with cut up potatoes, and vegetable cooked in the oven. Sunday ham. Monday leftover sausage/potato/veggies. Tuesday ham sandwiches or casserole. I would usually go to the grocery store at 8:30 – 9pm after child bedtime- Monday night football or when hubby watched a show I didn’t care for. With my list and knowing where everything was I could hit 3-5 stores in 1hr. No traffic, few customers, front parking, restocked shelves. Shredded cheese can be frozen. Milk can be frozen. Prices are similar now to then and I fed 3 for 30 a week, sometimes less. And that included snacks, desserts & sodas. Stay simple, stock up, freeze meats and plan. Good luck!

  • Stephanie says:

    There are many great comments here! I also work and sometimes it can be a downer to find a great coupon or deal that I missed out on. I am a teacher so I can’t check deals during lunch (eating with students then) or any other time. I remind myself that although maybe I missed out on a good coupon, my income is much greater than that one deal. Like many others I simplify the amount of stores I go to and not try to do every deal. I choose a cheap grocery store and go to CVS one a week or every other week. If I miss a week, I do not beat myself up about it and figure that new deals will come. I only go to Target after 3-4 weeks when I have many coupons and deals that I have saved up for that I can do all at one time. Also for meals I do a freezer day once in a while and prep a lot of things that help me for meals later. I also keep dinners simple unless I know I will have extra time for whatever reason.

  • Rhoda says:

    For cooking at home ideas, I use Kraftfoods.com. They have 16 “One Bag, Five Dinners” menus that are quick and healthy, and they already have the shopping list created for you. I often take a glance at the meats on sale for the week and choose the appropriate menu listing. This past weekend, I actually shopped for 2 weeks worth of meals and prepped the first week’s meats so I can just throw the dinners together when I get home. There are some double-duty recipes on the website as well as freeze-ahead meals.

    • Andrea Q says:

      @Rhoda, The Everyday Food magazine (Martha Stewart) has this feature every month. Some of the meals don’t work for us, but they are usually very healthy and made mostly from whole foods.

  • AmyR says:

    Wow, a lot of great ideas, and some really loving support. My husband and I “switched” three years ago when he lost his job. I was homeschooling our three children, and now he’s in his third year of doing it. I do not love my job, actually I hate it. But I am thankful for the Lord providing so abundantly for us. My husband is a wonderful husband and father, but he is not a cook or homemaker. He tries. But when I get home from work, I make dinner and get the kids in line with their chores. I feel extremely defeated in the cooking/shopping/saving money departments. I just don’t have the mental energy to do a good job. I feel defeated by this, but I know positionally I am not. I am a child of God. I wish I had friends to share the load, but I don’t have any. Great post though, fun to see so many different view points, so many different places that God has us all.

    • ann says:

      @AmyR, Don’t ever feel defeated. You are a true Winner! 🙂

    • @AmyR, My husband is the same! We didn’t switch roles, we actually just “switch off” half way through the day: he works 4:30 am to 1:00 pm and I work 1:00 pm to 9:00 pm. The best thing is that he is home with our two toddlers and they are not with someone else. But it’s not in his nature to do much around the house. For me, it’s in my blood I guess!! Lately he has started having fun cooking some basic pasta dishes though, for which I’m very thankful. It takes the burden off me to always have enough leftovers or something in the crockpot for their dinner.

  • Laura Jane says:

    You are definitely not alone! I work full time (at least 40 hrs/week plus 45 min commute each way), and that does make it much harder to fit in the deal-shopping. And I don’t even have kids – I can’t imagine how I’d fit in the deal shopping at all if I did. Honestly, I found myself going crazy trying to catch all the deals and it simply was not worth my time. I work full-time and earn a good income. Therefore, it makes sense to “spend” some of that money for convenience (even if that convenience is not saving as much money as you could if you went around to 50 stores and clipped all the coupons). Sometimes, many times, maybe most times, or even all the time, your time is just far more valuable that the money you would save deal shopping. My strategy when I’m feeling too busy is just to shop at Aldi. It’s hard to spend too much money there.

  • Jennifer says:

    I used thegrocerygame.com when I worked FT. Then I didn’t have to worry about making a price book or knowing if a sale was really a good sale & which coupon I should use. I also used my crockpot a lot so dinner was ready when I got home. And did simple freezer cooking, like made 2x of certain things and froze half (like rice).

  • Amy Lloyd says:

    My best advice as a fellow working mother is to be organized. Now going on 4 1/2 years being a working mother, I have definitely begun to get in a groove. I also focus on purchasing as much local and organic foods as possible. This also includes natural cleaning products.

    If I had to choose my Top 5 ways I am able to significantly save money on groceries and put dinner on the table each night it would be the following:

    1. Simplify. Each day of the week has a “theme”. For instance: Wednesday is always Mexican night. I have done meal planning in the past, however this is the current method I have been using.

    2. Reference deal blogs like MoneySavingMom and find blogs that offer more local stores in your area. Since I try to purchase Organic foods, I follow several “green” bloggers and have actually started my own blog to share the exceptional “green” deals that I find (http://symhomemom.blogspot.com/2010/08/sustainable-saturday-10-tips-to-buying.html). I use my lunch hour to compile a weekly grocery list and organize coupons for that weeks trip. My 4 year old is terrific with cutting coupons and is my super helper and she loves to cut coupons!

    3. Shop at the same stores consistently. This will allow you to learn the layout of the store, the sale cycles, etc. I typically shop at Kroger. Once a month I will make a trip to Whole Foods and/or Target when there are exceptional deals.

    4. Shop at a local farmer’s market, subscribe to a CSA or in our area we even have local companies that will deliver fresh vegetables, fruit, meat and dairy to your door. These companies are Nature’s Garden Delivered and one specific to Central Ohio is Local Yokel Foods. I have found that you get great value at the Farmer’s Market and it’s Fresh!

    5. Utilize drugstores, but only when the deals are exceptional. Over the past two years I have been able to build a stockpile so I’m able now to just take advantage of the exceptional deals at CVS which is my drugstore that I’ve chosen to exclusively shop.

  • Melinda says:

    I work full time and spend a fair amount of time reading blogs and looking for the best deals of the week. But, I think the thing that helps me most is doing a “fridge” cooking session on Sundays after church. I’ll have a menu for 3 or 4 dinners made for the upcoming week and do my cooking on Sunday. We’ll eat leftovers once or twice so I’m just reheating when I get home from work. I don’t get home until close to 6pm so it’s not practical to try and cook from scratch.

  • Wow, I can’t believe this question and these comments! This has really been on my heart since God very recently got a hold of my heart and mind and has made me truly content with my situation as a working mom. I used to be downright bitter about it. God has turned my outlook around so completely that I wanted to start blogging about it. I’ve just done one post so far, but now that I see that so many women out there are in my shoes I want to keep going full force! It is so encouraging to read all these comments!

    That said, my money saving ideas have changed drastically since I stopped trying to do all the things a stay at home mom might do while actually working full time. Growing up I learned from my mother how to cook lots of wonderful things from scratch. I’ve had to give up trying to bake muffins every morning, a pie or cake every week, cook a full course meal every day and make my own pasta!! It’s not going to happen.

    I do thirty minute, one pot suppers as much as possible. I use vegetables that require the least amount of prep. For breakfast we do oats (which I pour in pot and soak in water the night before so they take barely 10 minutes to cook in the morning) or toast. The two things I do regularly from scratch are yogurt and bread. Both of those take a long time to become finished products, but you don’t have to be working on them all that time. Bread takes me about thirty minutes of hands on work. And that’s for two batches (12 cups of flour). Yogurt maybe ten minutes.

    I mostly shop for the best deals on meat, veggies, fruit, and pasta at three nearby grocery stores. Rice, milk and eggs we buy at Costco because we use a lot and they are cheap there! Sticking to these basic, non-packaged foods saves us a lot of time and money.

    I don’t do much couponing, although I sure do love it when I can! I shop at Harris Teeter once a month for their double coupon event, for the fun stuff. I don’t buy my kids snacks unless I can get them there or elsewhere for less than $1 per package. They eat apples, cheese or grapes if we don’t have crackers or goldfish.

    That said, I’ve learned very recently to let go of my pride and use Hamburger Helper and Kraft macaroni and cheese! It struck me one day that if I continue to try to put fancy meals on the table, my kids will certainly not remember mom’s yummy homemade food. They will remember that when they came and asked, “Mommy, will you read us this book?” I said, “Not now, sweetie, Mommy’s cooking supper.” And that I continued to give that excuse for two or so hours! On the other hand, if I take the time to go and play “counting bears” with my son, he will remember the fun and the giggles, not the fact that all that was for supper was macaroni and cheese. Or who knows, he may remember the mac and cheese because in fact, he LIKES macaroni and cheese!!!

    Give as much as possible to your kids’ health and education. But give mostly your love to them in the way that they understand it best.

  • Gwen says:

    My husband and I each work 60+ hours a week. Our crockpot is our favorite. We do triple batches at a time for lunches. We do laundry at 11pm on Saturday night. We can have them all that way and get our five loads in at once. We grocery shop when most people are asleep. He gets the paper in the morning and I do the clipping and he sorts. We go through the flier, print the coupons, make the list and we’re in and out in under 20 minutes. My grocery list is org. by section. It’s sad, but that’s how I work. We shop about every 10 days. We also have a CVS that will overlap sales ad, so we do that on Saturday, too.

    Since we’re doing laundry on Saturday nights we don’t go out that often, which helps b/c Tivo has 1.99 movie rentals. We only have one car. He works nights and I work days, so that works out well.
    We’re ready for doomsday. We don’t have to go to the grocery store, but I like to keep everything stocked. We buy hamburger in six pounds from Sam’s and usually cook it all at once and freeze it so it’s ready. The same for chicken for enchiladas. We do massive chops of veggies and onions at once.

    We don’t really have new clothes.
    Our bills are paid online. I don’t go to the bank but more then once a month for quarters. I start Christmas shopping in January and either 1)stockpile gifts or 2) start the crafts (scrapbooks/quilts, etc). We set up things the night before, laying out clothes, making breakfast shakes, etc. We power clean every night and then on Saturday go through with the big guns–mops, brooms, etc.

  • Elizabeth says:

    There have been some really great comments on here that have been very impowering. I went back to the work place after finding out that being a SAHM put me in some very serious depression… just not all of us are able to handle it the same I guess. I’ve heard a lot of bad comments about it but the truth is I got lucky, I work part time and they allow me a lot of flex in what hours and days I work but even with that I find it hard to work, clean, handled the budget, the shopping, the appointments, the yard work, the car maintaince…. um do I have to go on? Sometimes I wonder what my husband does LOL!
    What I’ve recently come to realize though was I was spending Sundays as ‘me’ time clipping coupons which was nice at first but has lately become stressful trying to match coupons for sales and finding the coupons everyone else is finding and all the sample applications online.. and it’s never ending. Not only is it never ending but I’ve found myself hoarding items and leaving my grocery list/menu for the week to get ‘sale’ items. I have a box of coffee creamer in the pantry but I just ‘had’ to get a whole bottle of the same type of creamer to cram into my fridge. It took me stepping back and saying this is not healthy for me, my family or my budget. (Not to mention I’ve started to question if I’m saving enough money to make up for the price of printer ink LOL)
    For now I’ve decided to try and reorganize my priorities and my needs and the needs of the family. Sometimes a really great deal isn’t worth the stress it puts you under and we all want to be super mom but truth be told running a household with nice meals, perfectly clean, bargin hunter, teacher, mother, wife… It’s just too much to handle if you need/want a job to place on top of that pile. None of us are perfect even if it seems like some of us are…. Personally I blame TV and Magazines for part of our unrealistic standards. I don’t know about anyone here but I don’t have a big grand house that looks like there’s a live in maid… I got a tiny cluttered house that is quite broken in. I could scrub until my fingers came off but I’m pretty sure at this point the carpet was never white.
    For me I’m resetting my goals to only buy what’s on the menu (or restock my meat when it goes on a really good sale) and other then that unless it’s FREE I’m not going to pick it up. And watch out for ads like Krogers where you have to buy 10 items to get $5 off because in the end you probably are buying $10 worth of stuff you would have never even bother purchasing (I was a bad bad girl this week).
    Good luck! And thank you to bringing attention to out of the home working moms that still have to come home and try to keep family life still… It’s NOT an easy balance and it’s one rarely supported out loud.

  • jennifer says:

    When I worked outside the home, I made sure I bought clothing that was NOT ‘dry clean only’. I often laundered my ‘dry clean only’ suits in my washer, too. Much less expensive than $14/cleaning!

  • Ann B says:

    I just recently started working outside the home. And even though I’m only part-time, I am struggling with my time management. I know that eventually, It will get better, but in the meantime, I’m just trying to stay afloat.
    I have found that I have less time to make trips to the store. And in the long run, I think this will save us money since we have to make do with what is in the pantry/ freezer.
    I’m looking forward to reading up on all the posts here.

  • Missy June says:

    Great comments and encouragemet from everyone – thank you!

    I’m a working, single mother and here is my loose plan:
    #1 – Do what works for me, ideas a great and information is power but I get to choose how we live.

    #2 – Have a plan, including standy-by meals on hand for when time, activities or unplanned interruptions happen. Know what your family will always eat and focus savings on that. Fill in with the extra/unique bargains when possible.

    #3 – I go to the grocery store every other week for a big shopping trip and then fill in with milk, bread and produce as needed. On these shorter trips, the children enjoy coming with me. Otherwise I shop when they are visiting their father.

    #4 – I clip coupons from the first Sunday paper and online, as I print them. I only keep coupons that I know we will use.

    #5 – I go to CVS approximately once per month (hello, 20% coupon weekend!). I keep an ongoing list of things to purchase there: ibuprofin, hair color, toothpaste, etc.

    #6 – After the children are in bed, I seek deals online, look for free/inexpensive/bargain activities.

    #7 – My job ends at 2 pm and I’m blessed to be home in time to cook supper and spend the afternoon/evening with my babes. We work together to clean up and cook, then I fill in as needed.

    The Mommy-Guilt exists whether we work outside the home or not. I’m doing my very stinking best and trusting that God will make that enough for my little ones.

  • karen says:

    I went with the emealz menu planning service. They prepare a menu for each week and the cooresponding grocery list. I print out two weeks at a time and shop twice a month, no more. That alone, for us, saves tons of money.We eat meals with lots of fresh fruits and salads under this plan which is better than the meals I was planning. It is a paid service (15 bucks for 3 months) but I make that money back in time saved.
    I also use coupons with a binder system. Once you get it started, it’s pretty easy to maintain(less than 15 mins a week) Every other month, I will do a “replenishment” of my groceries stash/stockpile, because that seems to be when the foods we need go on sale again. But I am always on the lookout for good buys in the newspaper. I have used couponclippers a couple of times, and it was worth it, especially when I wanted to buy something specific(and brand name) and a lot of, that I knew would be on sale soon (cranberry sauce comes to mind).
    I am a full time working mom(50+hours) of four very busy kids, so I rarely have extra time to shop.
    As for cleaning, I use the flylady system (flylady.net) (free!)and using routines and 15 minutes only of cleaning everyday has made my home the place I have longed for it to be.
    I read yesterday a line that I thought I would share because it is so powerful for all of us who are working moms trying to save money and time and have balance in all parts of our lives. ” Accepting where you are today and working towards what’s ahead is the best that you can do.” (Jenna Woginrich)
    Bless you, honey. You’re doing the best that you can do.

  • Jessica W. says:

    i really think everyone has great ideas and suggestions. u have to figure out what works for u try it for a couple of wks and see if it is doable, if it isnt scrap it.
    this blog is my best resource, again i just take sometime late when every1 is in bed, check out the sales at my local grocers/wags. see if there is any coupons that i can use and organize accordingly. i make a list giant:then all items &Q’s, harris teeter etc etc… i also copy and paste any printable Q’s to a WORD Doc, then when i have time all i have to d is ctrl?p to activate the link and let them print. u can do this in the AM or late evening. u can cut the Q’s at your lunch break or in line.
    Also since u only shop every other week or so, u should look into a CSA for live produce, the farmer prepares the box, and u just pick it up. u could do that every wk to ensure your family has healthy foods… remember our health is a priority too. look into co-ops in your area, just use google it will pt u in the right direction. use freezer night to prepare a couple of meals for the wk, and the other nights can be pasta nights…usually friday for us. don’t forget to implement a soup night-soup makes us feel full faster and can provide great nutrition. and just accept that u cant do it all, no one expects u too- so u shouldnt put that pressure on yourself- u r going too miss out on some deals. BUT it is better to miss a deal then miss time with your family… u may consider however, cutting back on your work hours, and in so doing u may be able to save more $ wkly and find some free time on your hands… u dont have to hold onto the idea that u must work 50 hrs to be a productive/succesful woman. i know when i let go of that idea it removed a lot of stress in my life… good luck in your venture for balance

  • nanasewn says:

    I wish I had ideas for the original questioner. However, as a older mom, the comments about working/nonworking moms have been interesting. I was a young mom when womens lib came crashing into our existance and mothers everywhere were put to shame for staying home and being slaves to hearth and home!!! We were hit hard with tv, magazines and books who jumped on that bandwagon. Talk about guilt. For years my generation struggled to have “it all” because women in the know told us we could/should!! Many, many arguments ensued between couples, use of antidepressants increased and divorce began its ascent. I guess what I am saying is to examine yourself, communicate with your husband as to the goals the two of you would set for your family and do your best to stay on track. There will always be naysayers. Every six months or a year, revisit your goals and never hesitate to change course if need be. Childhood is short and life is fluid, so be open to change if it is necessary. It may be interesting to talk to your grandmothers about that time in their lives. May God bless each of you on this most difficult and rewarding journey.

  • Kristi says:

    I have a few tricks for you. Keep your coupons in a binder in catergories in the clear baseball card sleeves. A little work at first getting it together, just update each week when cut out coupons. Keep this with you in case you have a chance to stop on way home or at lunch. Plus real easy to check to see if you have that coupon.
    When cooking make an extra serving or two and freeze. The days I was to tired or busy to cook everyone gets to pick out what they want and make sides.
    Mix and cook up a big batch of taco meat and freeze in smaller portions. This can be taken out in morning to thaw and then that evening you can have tacos, taco salad, enchiladas, taco soup, whatever.

  • Kristi says:

    I have a few tricks for you. Keep your coupons in a binder in catergories in the clear baseball card sleeves. A little work at first getting it together, just update each week when cut out coupons. Keep this with you in case you have a chance to stop on way home or at lunch. Plus real easy to check to see if you have that coupon.
    When cooking make an extra serving or two and freeze. The days I was to tired or busy to cook everyone gets to pick out what they want and make sides.
    Mix and cook up a big batch of taco meat and freeze in smaller portions. This can be taken out in morning to thaw and then that evening you can have tacos, taco salad, enchiladas, taco soup, whatever
    I know the struggles of working and keeping up with a family. I am finishing my degree now instead of working and this job of staying home, balancing school and such. I find staying home harder. Most husbands and others think you have all this free time and no longer help out which makes it harder. I think you can do great no matter what. Stay at home moms have their issues and so do working ones. We should work together. We all have something great to bring to the table. Just organize. Thats the key

  • Lynette says:

    I’ve read some great ideas here! I think the main goal/reason for saving is to live within your means. Sit down with your husband and work out a realistic budget. Maybe with your work schedule, it’s not possible to cut back very much on the groceries – but you might find other places you can. For instance, maybe with busy schedules, you don’t watch much TV and could switch from cable to netflix. This is just an example – a budget must be tailored to your family’s needs. I would love to cut the cable; unfortunately, my husband is a sports fan and we have not found a way for him to get sprrts without at least basic cable. There are budget guidelines out there, but remember that they are only guides; the main thing is that your expenses be less than your income. My husband actually does some budget counseling, and he believes people can make a budget work no matter what the income level. They can also blow the budget, no matter what the income level. It’s all about being aware of what’s coming in and going out, and not fall into debt. Don’t stress about every dollar you “could” save – just find a way to live within your means and feel good about that!

  • Lauren says:

    I just wanted to say this is probably the best post I have ever read on this blog. So many of these “money saving” blogs are directed toward SAHMs because these blogs are usually written by SAHMs. But I have found that if you are leading a different type of lifestyle – ie, working mom, single, etc – it is hard to incorporate many of these suggestions and ideas into your life because they are not practical.

    Thank you for posting something that reaches out to others in different situations!!

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