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How to Save Money as a Working Mom

Guest post from Melanie of Only A Breath

As a busy, full-time working mom, I often see countless great ideas for saving money. However, many of these ideas can be time and labor intensive, and I need a simple plan for saving money. I simply don’t have the time necessary to research ads, clip coupons from multiple sources, or visit more than one grocery store each week.

If you are a working mom like me, don’t despair! It is possible – and even enjoyable! – to save money as a working mom. All it takes is FOCUS!

F – Form a plan!

  • Create a meal plan, grocery list, and organize the grocery list by store “section” to make shopping as fast as possible!
  • Shop alone. Grocery shopping with children can be challenging and much slower than shopping alone. Examine your schedule to see if you can shop during your lunch break or before you pick up the kids in the afternoon.
  • Stick with the plan! Resist the urge to add extras to the cart.

O – Online shopping

  • Shopping online saves me both time and money! It is very easy to compare prices online and is much faster than driving to multiple stores.
  • Coupon codes are readily available for most online stores. Never buy online without first “googling” for a coupon code!
  • Amazon Prime has been a good option for our family because it allows us to watch movies online, rent Kindle books, and have free shipping on all items.

C – Use CASH when Shopping

  • Using cash rather than credit cards allows you to more easily keep track of what you are spending, and track spending in your budget.
  • If you’ve never made a budget, set aside time to make one today!

U – Utilize a Few Key Fashion Pieces

A nice sweater or blouse can pair with dress pants for work or a nice skirt for church.

A sleeveless silk shell looks great alone in the summer, or layered under a cardigan or jacket in the fall and spring.

Dark-washed jeans in a trouser cut look dressy when paired with heels, but also look great at school functions when worn with cute flats.

S – Skip Eating Out at Lunch

  • Eating lunch out every day at work can be an expensive habit.
  • If the average lunch costs $7.50 each day, that adds up to $37.50 per week, $150 per month, or $1800 per year!
  • Packed lunches are inexpensive and generally healthier than fast food!

As you can see, the savings really do add up over time!

Melanie is a full-time industrial software developer and mom of two boys. She lives in the beautiful Appalachian mountains with her husband and children and writes at Only A Breath about faith, giveaways, family, budgeting, and resources and encouragement for women.

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117 Comments

  • Jessica says:

    I agree with this article. It can be a challenge when you are working, especially away from the home, to look for deals and follow a strict budget. I found a few other tricks or tricks that work with Melanie’s suggestions that help too.
    1) If you live in a suburban or urban area, grocery store delivery has been great for me. While it may cost an extra $5-10 for them to do your shopping, it saves me hours. I also found my grocery budget went down because I’m never tempted if I’m NOT there!! I still use the stocking up method on good sales. I’ve also found that once you get delivery, you get coupons for free delivery. Also, once you set up your standing list, it can just be a matter of a few clicks of the mouse and you know your family will have fresh food (and not take out!) I also order stamps with my groceries.
    2) Keep some emergency meals at work. Sometimes life happens. A few packets of oatmeal, a can of soup or some frozen food (even freezer lunches) in the office freezer can help you avoid buying lunch if you forget to pack it. Also, have snacks on hand to avoid the vending machine.
    3) Decide whether you wear black or brown. Pick your color and buy basic pants, shoes, belts, purse and accessories that go with color. A good pair of pants is the equivalent of a mens suit. They go far, look good, and can be worn frequently.
    4) Freezer cooking is a working girls best friend, but it is hard to get them made. I often cook a huge meal on Sunday. We eat 1/3, 1/3 gets frozen for a future meal, and 1/3 gets reused in a different meal the next week. (i.e. grilled chicken will become chicken enchiladas later that week). Double up crock pot meals and freeze for later.
    5) Use those benefits. FSA, HSA, 401k, Dependent Care- they will save you money. Fitness Reimbursements? If you get them, research and use them!

    Thank you for this subject!

    • Rachael says:

      I’m a teacher, so I’m lucky to have breaks. This is when I do a ton of freezer cooking!

    • Jordan says:

      I love #3! Good one that I haven’t heard before.

    • Andrea says:

      3) brown, black, gray or navy!

    • Melanie says:

      Thank you, Jessica!! These are wonderful tips! I wish I had grocery delivery — this sounds wonderful! 🙂

      Have a wonderful day!
      Melanie

    • Sarah says:

      Exactly! I use #2, 3, and 5 extensively! Diapers.com was my best friend when my son was little. And getting dressed in the morning is easy: grab slacks, grab any shirt (they all match black slacks!), grab a black ponytail holder, and throw on some black shoes and I’m good to go. I used to have brown slacks, tan slacks, black slacks, plus the associated hair stuff, shoes, etc., but that’s more than I want to think about in the morning. Then I had a baby and my feet grew a half size and I couldn’t find brown shoes I liked, so I just gave up and stuck with black. It’s amazing that half my wardrobe was not needed!

      On #4, a hubby that cooks (and prefers his own cooking to any freezer meal I can make) is awesome! Then I get to spend my time bonding with my son right after work, and hubby is happy that I’m keeping the kid out from underfoot.

    • Jiya says:

      All super tips! And further on #3 — once you pick your base color, don’t forget “creative” places to shop like thrift shops & yard sales. I’ve found gorgeous work clothing for very little there — one item I found was a ladies suit from the late 1940s, and I get compliments on it every time I wear it. My out of pocket cost? $5 for a bag full of clothing, on the last day at a church sale. And #5 – definitely use them if you have them; don’t let them go to waste at the end of the year!

  • Sheila says:

    Thank you for a working mom’s post!

  • Laurie says:

    Thank you so much for an article focusing on working moms!!!! I am blessed to work 3 12 hr shifts a week,so I do have time to make meals and grocery shop. As we all know it is a balancing act. I love all the ideas. I also feel very proud to be a working mom who is the sole provider for my family. I would love to see more articles like this one.
    Laurie

    • amanda says:

      Do u work day shift or nightshift??i work nights 12 hr shifts and id love to meet another mom who does the same…

      • Laurie says:

        Hi Amanda I just starred working 12 hr day shift in nov after being outnof acute care for 5 years. I had been working a m-f job,but as a single mom I wanted more time to be home. As you know 12 hrs is tough physically,but being home 4 days a wk is all worth it. In a few days i am joining a fitness club and starting to do the Body For Life program. By being off 4 days i can finally start working out. Since I am single it has been very difficult to focus on me. So I am claiming this yr is all about me!!!!!! Laurie

    • Melanie says:

      Hi Laurie,

      My heart’s desire is to encourage working moms so if you have any particular topics that would help you, would you please drop me an email? I would LOVE to write more to encourage working moms! Good for you for all you do!!!

      Hugs,
      Melanie
      email: Melanie (at) OnlyABreath (dot) com

  • Barbara says:

    When you are a SAHM or SAWM you have to juggle with different pressures (whoever says that a WAHM does not work is wrong, some of them run their businesses from home!) One that I have faced as a SAHM is peer pressure. Lunch sometimes is terrible, they look ar you weird if you bring quite often your meal. Sometimes is clothing, I have been in the middle of conversations of designer stuff they actually bought. I really appreciate this article because while I’m working hard to be debt free, have the mortgage paid off in a couple of years and living like no one else, my coworker’s plan is really not having a plan at all.

    • Heather says:

      My husband packed almost daily for his first job when we were married (he still does 10 years later), but during his annual review he was told he needed to go out to eat with his coworkers more often! Money was much tighter then, so we weren’t very happy about that.

      • Rachel says:

        I have hhe same comment made to me when I first started working . I told my boss that I would be happy to do it a little more often if he wanted to give me a raise to pay for it. He has never made the comment since.

        I think sometimes people forget that not everyone has the money or wants to eat out. I am fortunate that two other individuals in my office have the same mind set so we eat our packed lunches together in our conference room now. Nice to socialize but allow us to continue to save for things that matter more to us.

    • Melanie says:

      Thank you, Barbara, for your comment! I can definitely relate! I get looked at many times as the ‘weird’ one who brings lunch, but on payday, I feel so happy to be able to meet our budget goals!! 🙂 So, it’s worth it!

      Stick with it, sweet friend! You can do it!
      Melanie

  • Barbara says:

    *I should have said one of the pressures faced as a stay at work mom, not SAWM.

  • Amy says:

    Great article! As a working mom, I’d love to see more information like this. We also have an Amazon prime account, but I’d like to correct the information in the article. The prime membership does give free shipping on a LOT of items, but not everything on the website. However, it is easy to tell which ones have the free shipping.

  • Barbara says:

    lol i did it again, you know what i meant…

  • Anna says:

    I am a working SINGLE mom to 4 kids including one with special needs. I found this article useful but I still need “to research ads, clip coupons from multiple sources, or visit more than one grocery store each week.” If I do not watch our budget like a hawk we won’t make ends meet. I have to be “super mom” to provide for my family. I work as a professional too and that part of my life is demanding as well. I also believe in goals to help me stay on top of things. I do get the summers off or at least work from home. The key to me is organizing, organizing, and more organizing. Plus adding routine, routine, routine and more routine. I do the work of 2 parents, a parent with a special needs child, a parent of children without special needs, a single parent and a working parent. I have to stay on routine and stay organized and that is how I save money and time! I believe this part of my life is short lived and I want to enjoy every moment I have because kids grow up way too fast :).

    • Crystal says:

      {Hugs} to you, Anna, with all you have on your plate! It sounds like you should write a guest post some time (if you can ever find time!) on how you’re managing everything you are and staying sane–I’m sure we could all glean a lot from you!

    • Patty says:

      I, too, am a single working mom who works full-time outside the home. We (single moms and/or working moms) are a hugely underserved population in the blogosphere so I appreciate this article.

      Some things I do:
      –file my tax return as head of household (in US; not sure if there is an equivalent in other countries); take the maximum exemptions possible but not so many that I’ll have to pay more taxes in April
      –participate in insurance plans offered through work that I would never be able to afford on my own (life, health, disability, discounted homeowners, car and universal)
      –participate in deferred compensation plan offered through work; pre-tax money goes into a retirement account; since it’s pre-tax, my taxable salary is reduced; the plan has several investment options
      –weekly meal plan; a lifesaver and a moneysaver!
      –keep a monthly calendar on the fridge door; if it’s not on the calendar, it’s not happening; helps when budgeting for birthday parties, dinners with friends, school functions
      –streamline mornings; the night before, school backpack is packed, lunches (hers and mine) are packed and in the fridge, breakfast is prepped as much as possible (ex: cereal is in bowl, spoon is next to it, just add milk); helps keep me from eating lunch out and for stopping to grab breakfast on the way to school/work
      –working gives me a much bigger pool of friends/acquaintances and resources than I would have otherwise; for example, my couponing mentor, my home maintenance mentor, and my backyard chicken mentor are friends from work

    • B says:

      One of the easiest ways I have found to save money is to pay yourself first. I don’t know if this has been broached here, but I have my accounts set up to take money out of my checking and put it into several savings accounts immediately after I get paid. (These accounts include: emergency fund, holiday gift fund, doctor visit fund, car problems fund, down payment fund, etc. ) Yes I practically have 20 bank accounts. This way I don’t see it I don’t miss it and its where it is so when I have an emergency, or my car breaks, or a birthday party, i just dip into that account and I don’t have to worry (too much) about not having enough money.
      Anyway, that’s my working mom tip, sorry if it is a repeat.

    • Melanie says:

      Wow, that is truly amazing!!! I agree with Crystal that you should definitely write a guest post! I love your wonderful attitude and reminder to enjoy each moment.

  • Anna says:

    PS I wish there would be more posts about minimal wardrobes and ideas about what people do to make one. I have been losing weight so I am paring down but I still wish I had more information about what others do to “switch over to a minimal wardrobe” and especially I would like to see how “working” mothers make do with a minimal wardrobe. I researched the internet but have not found much on this topic.

    Right now I am not buying any clothes for a year for myself (if I can) so I am forcing myself to make do with what I have. I also sew so I hope this decision will force me to alter and/or make new clothes with fabric I already have.

    I am not even going to go out and get “free” clothes (just clutter coming in is how I view it right now). I hope to make an honest commitment to paring down my wardrobe over the next year.

    • Devon says:

      I am a full time working mom so thought i would reply Re: Working mom wardrobe, i don’t remember the last time i paid full price for clothes. I have often get gift cards which allow me to buy the ‘staple’ clothing items, good pair of pants, skirt and sweaters. and i make sure i get them on sale. it is all about the time of the season you make the purchase. Also know which ‘location’ of the stores you like are considered to be the ‘outlet’ location (even though you may not know just by looking at the store or the actual location of it). I have found this to be helpful as that store will get the other clothing items that didn’t sell from the other locations in your city, so you can find tons on clearance – reduced so low just to get rid of these items! and i am talking all sizes, the small sizes too. I generally only buy shirts to go with my staple pieces that can be mixed and matched. If i have been given things from stores like walmart that i don’t use, i return it and put that money towards shoes or another clothing piece. also helpful to sign up for the newsletters to clothing stores as they send you sale and clearance info. the biggest thing that i have learned is to KNOW WHAT YOU NEED!!! I have completeley revised my personal definitions for wants and needs, and i now only shop for clothes when i am looking for something specific. I just can’t afford to buy something that i ‘might’ wear with these pants or that skirt. even down to what colour i want so i can get the most use out of it with certain pants/skirts, and also the shoes i wear with the pants or the skirt!

    • Andrea says:

      Have you ever checked out polyvore.com ? It’s full of fun fashion ideas. Specifically, this user’s ideas might inspire you: http://kittywitty.polyvore.com/

    • Lena says:

      I just went back to work in a position where I need to dress professionally after staying at home (in jeans and comfy T-shirt) for the last 5 years. The initial shock of purchasing just 2 outfits at a retail store the night before my first day left me in tears and forced me to look into other more wallet friendly options. I also returned half of my items.
      I’m already signed up for several coupon blogs that notify me of the deals. Right now I cannot take advantage of all the clothing deals I want to, but I am saving up for the next great deal to add a piece or two to my wardrobe.
      I also go to thrift stores. If you can sew, you have an advantage on adjusting those almost perfect clothes to suit your body. Some of my favorite pieces were picked up there; I’m in love with the 60’s and early 70’s styles.
      I have also decided to go with black slacks and pumps so coordinating tops are minimal. I am also loosing weight and of the dozens of pants I tried on, black was always more flattering than tan. I add that splash of color in my tops (no jewelry), and I bought an orange pea coat on clearance last year. I’m an outside rep, so I am in and out of businesses all day long, a nice coat is more important than a nice blazer.
      My industry often means that my expensive dress clothes get ruined. I always check the clearance rack when I am at the store for something to add. Last week I picked up a dress at Target for $5, and a silk ruffled top & another dress at Kohl’s for $2.90 & $4.90 respectively. If I am already there, this takes only a few extra minutes.
      Lastly, be open to hand-me-downs. We all have friends that like to follow the latest trends and have a bigger than our own clothing budget. Ask them to consider passing those along to you when they clean their closets. You can take what you want, and deliver the rest to the thrift store for them. Just don’t forget to go inside and look on the racks while you are there. 🙂

    • WilliamB says:

      My mother was a shopping maven and while I don’t like shopping, the tricks have seeped in.

      1. Pick a dark color for your background: black is classic, tan or earth tones are also very flexible.

      2. Use classic, untrendy, “boring” styles. They never go out of style.

      3. Buy good – but not utterly great – quality clothes for the best long-term value.

      4. Pick a couple of wardrobe items to be your color items. My mother used shirts and scarves.

      5. You can get good clothes at the rack stores such as TJ Maxx. It takes more time than a department stores but prices are much lower.

      6. Take good care of your clothes: keep them clean, always hang them up as soon as you take them off, use a clothes brush to brush off dirt (saves on dry cleaning). Don’t clean till the clothes are dirty but once they are, clean then as soon as you can – dirt and sweat corrodes.

    • Liz says:

      @Anna-A few months ago, Crystal posted at least 2 FABULOUS articles about having a functional, minimalist wardrobe and also about using accessories such as scarves and jewelry to maximize your (work) wardrobe by making so many different outfits. Maybe someone could provide a link so you could read those articles if you haven’t already? There were also lots of helpful comments under each article!

    • Sarah says:

      Ironically, I actually find the What Not To Wear show to be pretty inspiring, both in getting rid of pieces in my closet that used to work but just don’t anymore and in reminding me that less is more when it comes to a wardrobe. So many women come on that show with huge wardrobes full of clothes that don’t look good on them but were bought just because they were “on sale”. They leave with a wardrobe that’s much smaller overall, but better quality and coordinates well into just as many outfits with just fewer pieces.

      Now, not many of us are going on a $5000 shopping spree to replace our whole wardrobe, but if we can still treat every clothing purchase with as much care as we would for pricey items (I guarentee you’d be picky about $200 pair of jeans, but $20 pair of jeans we should be choosy too, because $20 is still $20!).

  • Cindy says:

    It is very nice reading a working mom post. Sometimes there are seasons of life when you have to work. Very good ideas shared and encouraging.

  • I’d like to add another “thanks!” for post geared toward working mamas! Though it isn’t my first choice, working full-time is a part of this season of my life, and I’m trying to bloom where I’m planted, if you will. I’d love to read more posts like this one…

    • Jennifer says:

      I agree! Working full-time when my heart’s desire is to stay at home with my babies is the most difficult task I face each week day and I was so excited to see this post!

    • Melanie says:

      Thank you SO much for your comment!!! I long to encourage other working moms, so if you have certain topics /questions / struggles / ideas, I would LOVE to write more! Please feel free to email me any time!

      Hugs!
      Melanie
      Email: Melanie (at) OnlyABreath (dot) com

  • nylse says:

    retailmenot.com is a great website for finding coupons for online shopping.
    i always look like i paid a million bucks even though i didnt.
    when online shopping, i always visit the clearance or sale section first.
    a pressure cooker is a working mother’s friend and no your dinner will not explode on the roof.
    leftovers make great lunches.
    drink water instead of juice – saves a ton of money

  • What a great post. I’m not a mom, but I am a working gal who would be much farther on the way to paying down my mortgage (getting rid of PMI), being able to work for myself, traveling major places every year if I just got a hold of a few of these tips. Packing lunch especially.

    Aside from saving money, I actually use credit cards (and pay them off fully each month) to EARN money/perks on stuff that I have to buy anyhow. I especially love the Citi Thank You program…I’ve not paid for our Home Depot/Lowes purchases for a good two years now because we earn great points just paying for the everyday stuff. Gotta say, my hubby is super on top of reward programs with credit cards (he’s a finance geek) so it definitely works for us because we’re diligent about ALWAYS paying off in full. Makes no sense if you get hit with a major finance charge on your milk for not paying it off. But if you do, you’re not only saving money, you’re making it. We use mint.com to track how, what and why we’re spending money on. Best budget tracking tool online I’ve ever come across.

    Thanks for the post. I’m going to tweet it.
    Bernadette @ http://www.b3hd.blogspot.com

  • t says:

    Dont put your nice clothes in the dryer!!!! This will extend their life and keep them looking new for twice as long. Remember-The lint trap is just remnants of your clothes. This will save you from buying lots of new clothes.

    Buy classic pieces instead of trendy ones. They never go out of style!

  • Kaylea says:

    I am also a big fan of crockpot and freezer cooking — these methods….and always having a backup meal in case of issues….prevents a lot of takeout! I do my meal planning and advance prep during weekend nap times, but usually shop and cook with the whole family to maximize our time together. My oldest is three, and she always uses her cvs card and carries her coupons around the store. Too cute!

  • Erica says:

    Thank you for this post! I work 3 days a week away from home and 6 hours at home. It’s a perfect balance for me since I get the best of both worlds (and I like my job). I meal plan on Sundays after I get the newspaper to go through the ads, I also go grocery shopping that day. I used to do it on Thursday but I have figured out its much easier to go on Sunday when my husband can stay home with our son(just stinks the store is busier that day!). My husband and I usually take leftovers for lunch everyday or I will make an extra dinner on Sunday (lasagna, crockpot stew, soup) and we will have that for lunches. I saw a question about clothing. I think if you can find 10 outfits (1 for evey work day for 2 weeks) then you have enough to wear for a month, assuming you wear it twice a month. What I have realized is that I don’t often remember what my coworker wore yesterday so its likely they don’t know what I wore so it really doesn’t matter as long as you look nice (and this is coming from someone who LOVES to dress up and be stylish-I love clothes!).

    Just want to say that budgeting and meal planning have been life changing and I owe a thanks to money saving mom! 🙂

  • Allyson says:

    Thank you for this post. Re: work wardrobe, whenever my family asks what I would like for birthday and Christmas gifts I always ask for clothing store gift cards. I use them to buy versatile pieces and spend very little out of pocket on work clothes.

  • Becky says:

    Thanks for the great tips. Here are a few more from my personal experience:
    -take full advantage of benefit programs offered by your employer (insurance, 401k, etc)
    -explore any personal development opportunities offered by your employer (e.g. Brown bag seminars, fitness opportunities, etc)
    -use you work network to share ideas
    -consider starting meal exchange with other families
    -check to see if there is a timebank in your area
    -check with your energy company for savings opportunities (like a time of use program)
    -if you have kids, have them pack their own healthy lunch (saving time & money)
    -check to see if your work or health insurance company offers you any local discounts (eg we get a biweekly farm box for $7.50 for the whole summer after our rebate)

  • Mimi says:

    Thank you for sharing this. I am a single working mom…more like an only parent as I receive no other support. So I suggest that if you have family and friends nearby that you consider how to best use them for support. My parents love for my boys to come over to eat dinner with them, so 2-3 times a week I get a free night and save the time and cost of a few meals.

    My cousin and sister in law both have boys that fall between the ages of mine. We have them overnight a couple of times each month and they sleepover with each cousin once a month. When the cousins are here, my boys are occupied and having a great time which leaves me time to get a few things done around the house, clip coupons, or do some reading. And of course when they go visit I get free time again to do any of the above, shop, prepare meals, etc.

    I also should add that when it comes to wardrobe basics…when I find a good deal on a staple such as black pants, shells, basic pumps, etc., if it fits well or someone asks “have you lost weight?” go buy and extra or two!

  • Allison V. says:

    I went from being a SAHM mom of three, with absolutely no money for anything while on my ex’s income, but I had all the time in the world to clip coupons, pursue deals, do paid online surveys, etc.

    Now I am raising the kids alone with no financial support coming in, but God has blessed me with better pay than we ever had while married. So I don’t have the time, but I do have the ability to pay full price for a bottle of shampoo if necessary!

    My work wardrobe is easy because we have company polo shirts. I got enough long-sleeve tees for about $4 each to wear under the polos during the winter. I still wait for deals, sales, and coupons so I can find jeans for about $15-$20 for work.

  • I only work part time now but when I was working full time (and commuting an hour each way) my crockpot saved us so much money. I helped knowing that supper would be ready when we got home and it would save us from buying pizza and fast food just to get supper on the table.

    I still use our crockpot (sometimes I use a couple at a time) to save us from quick meals out that would cost us 3x as much.

  • I work part-time, and it is amazing how much you save just by bringing your lunch to work. The days of $5 lunches out are for the most part gone, and the price differential between even a frozen meal & a lunch out is usually $5 per day / $100 a month or more.

  • Skipping eating out at lunch makes a HUGE difference!! I can save $50-100 a month by packing lunch each day.

  • Rachael says:

    I’m a working mom, and brown bag it every day–except I try to do a lunch date with my husband once or twice a month. Since the kids are already at daycare, we don’t have to pay a sitter, which saves us a lot of money!

  • Laura Jane says:

    Love seeing the post by a working gal! I second what a lot of other comments said. Bringing lunch to work saves a lot of money. I usually pack leftovers from the night before or a frozen dinner. Although frozen dinners may not be absolutely ideal, they are a lot better health and money wise than eating out. I also use my lunchbreak for errands and then eat at my desk, because I really like to get out and move around.
    To the person asking about the work wardrobe, I’m really struggling with that, especially in the winter. I only have 5 work tops. I’m losing weight and it’s hard to keep up with a nice wardrobe. Also, I don’t have a lot of extra time to go shopping all over the place for good deals on clothing. Also, I would add that time is money, and it’s definitely not worth chasing every deal. For me, I’m doing well if I sleep 8 hours, commute, workout, work, commute, put dinner on the table, clean it up, and spend a few minutes with my family. I used to coupon a lot and I did save a lot of money, but I was sacrificing things that were actually more important to me than saving money. It really helped to think about my priorities. Every now and then if I have a quiet weekend I’ll coupon a little, but other than that, I shop at Aldi.

  • Charity says:

    Thanks for all the ideas and the reminder to use the CrockPot and do freezer cooking or plan ahead. I find myself spending money for convenience because I didn’t plan! Good reminder to research more CrockPot recipes.

  • Meredith says:

    Love the post for working moms! As I teacher, I always get a lot done in my house during summer vacation, but it would pile up during work weeks. Now that I’m making weekly goal lists, I’ve really been more productive during the school year. It seems so much more manageable, when chores/errands are on my list. I also love to check things off!

    • Melanie says:

      ME TOO!!! In fact, my husband makes fun of me because I love to write down lists in my paper planner (even though I’m a technology nut). I just love the feeling of checking things off! 🙂

  • Kate B says:

    I have worked full time my entire adult life. I can say if you only take one suggestion away from this article, it is the bring your lunch advice. Nine times out of ten, what you are bringing as a leftover, is ten times better than something you can just pick up, or order in to be delivered. I do it, mostly out of necessity, but most likely, it is more nutricious for you too. I rarely eat out, for those two reasons. Not that I am a great cook. (I am NOT.) However, I would much rather eat home made pot pie, than something I order from a Perkins/fill-in-the blank.

  • Judy says:

    This is a great article, especially the meal planning part, I think that is where a lot of people go astray on their budgets, both sahm and working moms. Another word of advice, if you do go out to lunch or buy a microwave dinner, or slip a little on the budget don’t stress out over it. Being a working mom of any kind is the hardest job on Earth so give yourself a break! The goal is to try to stay on task the majority of the time 🙂

  • Meredith says:

    Quick question: my amazon prime free membership is up, do you all find it worth it, financially, to pay the $79 membership fee?

    • Andrea says:

      No, not really. I rarely need something to arrive within two days…the “super saving” shipping for orders over $25 works fine for me.

      • Liz says:

        Very true, but oftentimes it would cause me to add non-necessity items to cart just to get it up to $25. Personally, I love being able to purchase a $3.99 chapter book for my son and have it arrive in 2 days, and not spend a penny more. That’s just my opinion, though. 😛

      • Melanie says:

        I agree that it depends on your situation. I live in TN where we have a very high sales tax, BUT we don’t have to pay tax online. So, I enjoy having the option of buying online, tax-free, and no shipping… (Most items, but not all qualify for free shipping).

        If you have a Kindle, there is a “Lending Library” where you can get tons of free books to borrow with your prime membership — helps me to not buy books, because I love to read…

        Netflix is very expensive, so we enjoy watching Amazon prime streaming movies and TV (included in prime)…

        … and no, I’m not getting paid to say this! 🙂 HAHAHA! Just my experience…

    • Liz says:

      When mine is up, my sister and I are considering having one of us renew it, and then splitting the cost…after all, whether it was the free trial or the real deal that you pay for, you can go in and add one person to share it with you!

    • Sheila says:

      I think it depends on your situation. For me, it is absolutely worth it, as I live in an area without a lot of stores to choose from and I work 30 hours/week, so don’t have that much time for shopping anyway. Many things I’m going to need to order in any case, as they aren’t available here, and I’m not going to want to order $25 worth of stuff each time. In other places I have lived, I wouldn’t have found it worth it. It is nice to be able to send gifts directly to the recipient, also, because I would have to pay shipping if I bought it locally and mailed it anyway. I guess an additional factor to us is that we do not live near any family, so have to ship everything.

      • Andrea says:

        I totally agree that it depends on your situation.

        However, if there’s something that I really “need” from Amazon and want to qualify for the free shipping, I make up the difference with a grocery item. There are always good deals that bump me up over the $25 mark.

        • Sheila says:

          I have yet to find a good grocery deal at Amazon, although I read about people finding them! I’m envious! 🙂 I have spent time looking without finding, and just don’t have the time to keep looking. I placed 30 orders in the last year, so I feel good about the $79 expense (about $2.63 per order). You also receive the items a lot quicker than the free $25 shipping, which matters on occasions like when we realized we couldn’t walk up our new driveway when it snowed without something on our shoes and more snow was forecast or when my daughter’s insulated water bottle (type not available locally) started leaking and we wanted to replace it, as she carries it to school 5 days a week. I am not at all trying to convince others it’s right for them, but it’s right for our family. I would spend $2.63 on gas getting to any store relatively close to me to buy even when it is available here. I do continue to feel that Prime is a luxury rather than a necessity, but I’m thankful to have it.

  • Meg says:

    I’ve been a working mom and a sahm, and I just wanted to say I really appreciate all the encouraging words here.
    I love how supportive this community is.
    I get so weary of the, “Mommy wars,” elsewhere.

    • Melanie says:

      Me too!!! I think many times, the frustration is about other things, and comes out in Mommy wars…. It ought not to be so! We are all moms, and love our children more than anything in this world! 🙂 Hugs to you for this beautiful comment!

  • Amanda says:

    Thank you! I really appreciate that this article is geared towards working moms- it’s so hard having to choose between time or money :S The “Skip eating out at lunch” tip is GREAT advice 🙂

  • Haila says:

    This is great – thanks for featuring something for working moms.

    • Melanie says:

      Thank YOU for your comment! If you have other ideas for posts to encourage working moms, please let me know! I would LOVE to offer more encouragement for working moms!

  • Julie says:

    I am currently on maternity leave and have had sometime to research ways to save money……Here are my tips that have not been mentioned.

    I have bought huge bags of clothing for my children from Craigslist that are in very good condition. For instance I bought my newborns clothing (all of it but three nice outfits for special occasions) from newborn to 6 months along with at least half of what I will need 6-12 months for 30 bucks.

    I buy only the meat that is on sale at the grocery store. I have a few staple meals that cost under 6 bucks for a family of 3 that I make one at least once a week (ham and beans, home-made pizza, spagetti with meat sauce, etc). These meals last usually for two meals which is only 3 bucks for dinner.

    Cut out all bills you don’t need. My cable contract expires in March and I plan on getting rid of it and just getting an HD box for 25 bucks and using Netflix stream for 8 bucks a month. Total savings of 1200 bucks a year. I called my insurance company and asked about all discount programs and reduced my car insurance by 4o0 bucks a year.

    My baby is on formula and I buy only the store brand and I also buy the store brand of diapers. Savings 600 to 800 a year.

    Family pictures are also taken by people semi professional friends who do it on the side and have photo shop who can make them look really nice.

    I also give myself and my husband cash out of each paycheck for themselves. This money goes to the occasional treat of ice cream or if we want fast food that day then it comes out of the allowance. This has saved us BIG time.

    Sorry so long but thought to share. Thanks for all the great advice.

  • WilliamB says:

    I have colleagues who buy 1-2 coffees a day and lunch. That’s $15-20/day.

    Also, if your employer matches 401(k) contributions, if at all possible contribute enough to get the max match. You earn about a 115-135% immediate return on your savings (since 401(k) contributions are not taxed).

  • Kelly says:

    First off like many others on here, thank you for a great working mom article! As a full time working mom with an 8 and 5 year old it seems like there is never enough time in the day. For me saving time is just as important as saving money. I have a few items that have helped me on the time saving side, in addition to several others that have already been posted.
    Get your kids involved! My 5 year old loves cutting coupons for me every Sunday!
    While I am fixing dinner, I have them unloading the dishwasher, setting the table, going through their school papers.
    They have their own laundry baskets in their rooms, and they are responsible for bringing their dirty clothes down on Saturday morning. They help fold laundry and then it goes back in their baskets to go up to their rooms and put it away.
    I often talk to them about what we should put on our weekly menu plan as well. As well as involve them in the preperation. When they are involved they don’t complain about what we are having for dinner!
    My husband and I do pack our lunches for work nearly everyday, however the kids do buy their lunch at school. While this does cost me $2 per kid per day, it saves me a load of time. Our kids have access to a full salad bar at school and many options. Every week we sit down and review the menu for the week and decided together what they will choose for lunch.

    Hope this helps!

  • Gail says:

    Love seeing this post for working Mom’s and lots of single working Mom’s. In the last 6 months I have learned a lot about couponing and shopping the ads but the most important time/money saving advice I have gotten is meal planning and freezer cooking. THANK YOU MONEY SAVING MOM! My goal is to get 14 meals into my freezer by the end of the March (since there is just me and my son that is really like a month’s worth of meals) By planning a head and precooking on the weekends we have stopped eating out so much and because I am planning meals I am throwing out less food. (Still need to work on that)

    The other big tip I have is something I wish I would have done a couple of years ago. My son is the 6th grade and was doing ok in school but I was worried about how he would do in Jr High next week. I looked in tutoring services – super expensive and he didn’t want anything to do with it. He was however open to someone coming to the house. Working with the teachers in his school I was put in contact with an amazing women who is looking for a teaching job and often subs at my son’s school or school’s within his school district. It is costing $20 for 90 minutes twice a week she comes and works with him (40 a week). At first she came after I got of work 5:30 or 6:00 but now based on the relationship she comes earlier, 4:00. My son’s confidence has increased and his grades have improved and he truly loves school. For me and him what it means is no more homework arguments (ok still a little) and when I get home at 6 we have time together it has been a win/win for everyone. Coupons and planning allow me the $40 weekly to help my son and allow us to make the most of the few hours we have in the evenings

  • Jill says:

    Thank you for the working mom post!! I am a full time working mommy to a 7 month old, and I love hearing about other mommies who struggle with the same issues I do! I will definitely be following your blog!

  • JRW says:

    I’d like to add my thanks for the wonderful “working mom” post. I know all moms work, but I appreciate the focus and extra encouragement this post gives to working-outside-the-home moms. Hope MSM publishes more guest posts from Melanie!!

  • Kara Honaker says:

    I love your newsletter! I’m a stay-at-home mom of four girls. Are you listening to your audio’s on an mp3 player with ear phones while you bake? Just wondering how you listen to your audio’s while you cook!

    Kara

  • I”m a working mom and time is so limited. We are looking to pay down our credit cards this year, so I need to be more creative with time and money both!

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