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Welcome back! If you haven’t yet, please go read parts 1 (here) and 2 (here) before moving on to part 3 of this series. Today, we’re going to talk about how to save money on things you already buy. If you’d love to be a stay at home parent and get your child out of daycare, these following steps are absolutely essential.
Realistically, we can only cut so much out of our budgets. There’s only so far that you can cut back on groceries and a social life before your quality of life really starts to take a hit. Today, we’re going to discuss how to save money on the things you absolutely have to buy, like prescriptions and gas. If you can get it cheaper, why wouldn’t you??
One of the best money-saving tools I use is one our doctor told us about. Good Rx.
If you’re spending a ton of money on prescriptions (even generic ones, even with health insurance) Good Rx can potentially save you a ton of money. I’ve been very open about my struggle with Postpartum Depression.
When I went to fill my Zoloft prescription, I presented the pharmacist with a Good Rx code on my phone and it saved me about 50%.
As always, there’s an app for that. Keep it handy! Just remember that you can’t use insurance AND Good Rx. You have to pick one or the other, so check prices first.
Check prices on your prescriptions no matter what. Did you know it can easily be double the price to fill the same prescription at a different pharmacy? I’ve always assumed it was relatively the same price everywhere…not at all the case. Shop around!
Apps You Need!
While it’s only the difference of a few cents – the Gas Buddy app can help you save a few cents at the pump. In our town, there are 2 gas stations that almost share a parking lot. One is always 2 cents more per gallon. In that case, I’d say go for it and save the few cents. Remember, watch your pennies and your dollars will watch themselves.
This is a free rewards program like Ebates, but instead of getting cash back, you get points or “Swagbucks” you can redeem for gift cards. I’ve personally done this and I saved enough in Amazon gift cards to buy the book version of Elite Blog Academy – How to Blog for Profit Without Selling Your Soul for free with my gift cards.
Ibotta is a free grocery app that lets you redeem a picture of your grocery receipt for a few cents or even dollars off of a product. It’s free and quick, so there’s no real reason to not use it except that as of the date of this writing, Aldi purchases don’t count.
Checkout 51 is another app a lot like Ibotta. No one says you can’t use both!
Not exactly an app but it’s worth mentioning here. Since we subscribed to Amazon Prime, I haven’t paid a single shipping charge, I’ve found discounts on tons of things I would usually buy in a store just because I know I can get it online cheaper and it’ll be here in two days, and I use their music and video streaming service almost every day. We even bought our bed on Amazon Prime. Our king-sized bed was delivered to our door free of charge. How freaking awesome is that??
Don’t use Amazon Prime yet? Try it out for free for 30 days with this link. Set a reminder in your phone for 29 days from now to evaluate whether you think it’s worth keeping. If you do any amount of shopping online, stream music, watch movies…I’m sure you’ll think it’s worth it!
Save on Baby
This is a personal decision, but if you’re able, breastfeed. It will save you a boatload in formula costs.
Use cloth diapers. I tried this and couldn’t stick to it given our current living situation (see below) but cloth diapering is a much cheaper alternative to regular disposable diapers. Don’t buy those things brand new at the store. That’s crazy pants.
Buy them either used online (mama bear mode – be careful. Always take someone with you if you’re meeting anyone to make purchases. Police stations actually encourage you to meet there. Do that!) or buy them at www.aliexpress.com. The thing I don’t love about this option is that this is a direct from China thing. However, this is where we bought all of our cloth diapers and I can’t tell a difference in quality.
The cloth diapers in our local store have a Made in China label and I can’t tell a difference. It literally looks like they just put a different label on the same exact diaper. If you want to go spend $20 on each diaper at the store, you go for it. I personally chose to wait the ridiculously long shipping times and got crazy excited when every diaper showed up.
Be sure to check out this post about Frugal Ways to Prepare For New Baby
I’m going to say something touchy and I hope we can still be friends…
If you’re still paying for cable television, but you can’t afford to be a stay at home parent, you don’t want to stay home bad enough.
There, I said it.
We haven’t had cable in 5 years and I don’t miss it. Between Netflix and Amazon Prime, we don’t need anything else. Plus we try to spend more time doing things away from a screen.
What you need to do instead is figure out what you’re spending now that isn’t absolutely necessary. Do you buy only name-brand foods? Do you eat out a lot? Do you splurge on Starbucks or other nonessentials? What about make up, cleaning supplies, gym memberships, etc.
We’re trying to find your bare bones budget here. What is the absolute minimum you can make to survive?
Through discomfort comes the most growth.
Do you feel like you absolutely can’t live without cable, your brand new car, or new fashion trends? No judgment here, I just think that your priorities are a little different than someone who wants to stay home with their kids full time.
Do you already feel like you have no luxuries and there’s absolutely nothing left to cut out?
Let’s get serious here about setting some real goals, but also realize that what’s on paper isn’t always reality.
When I left my job after our first son was born, it ended up being a choice that was made for us. We moved to North Carolina from Pittsburgh when our son was just 5 weeks old to take a better job in a warmer climate. It was exactly what we wanted. I really hoped I’d be able to work for my company from home, but after going all the way up the food chain, it was decided I couldn’t because we didn’t have any business in my new state.
We told each other that we’d be fine and we’d make it work, but I think we were both terrified that wasn’t the case. I don’t know how we made it work, but somehow, the bills got paid on time, we were still able to go out to eat once in a while for a treat, and we lived almost like we did when we had 2 incomes.
We were much more careful with our money, but it turned out we could afford more than we thought we’d be able to when we were bringing home half as much money. Sometimes, things just have a way of working out. Then, my husband started to get tons of overtime. When that went away, he switched jobs for a huge pay raise, a promotion, a company vehicle, and awesome travel opportunities. Now, he makes more than we ever made at two separate jobs combined, my blog brings in a significant income, and we’re doing great.
Somehow, when you stick together and are careful, things have a way of working out.
I’m not saying to make an irresponsible decision. I’m just saying that even when things don’t look promising on paper, all isn’t lost.
Once you’ve cut your expenses as much as you possibly can, calculate your financial needs one more time. How much does the working spouse make minus your bare bones budget?
If you’re still pretty far off from your target, it’s time for drastic measures. Can you move into a smaller place for a while until you can afford to stay home? Trust me when I tell you that living smaller is a good thing. We live in just 1000 square feet and it’s perfect for us. Be sure to check out this post about making a small home work for your family. Trust me when I tell you that you CAN make a small home work – even with a growing family.
Can you get rid of one car? I know this is tough because cars depreciate in value so quick, but if it’s possible, DO IT.
What we did –
When we realized we wanted to move south and start a family, we sold our house, bought an RV, parked it in my parent’s backyard, and freaking lived in that thing for 2 years. Since our first pregnancy was a complete surprise, we even brought our poor baby home to an RV. In Pittsburgh. In January. Can you imagine?
We moved that happy RV south just 5 weeks later, parked it in an RV park for 7 months, bought a 1000 square foot house in the country for $64,000, and found ways for both of us to make more money. For us, that meant Scotty switching jobs – we got incredibly lucky. Between his overtime and his pay increase, he makes almost double what he made at his last job less than a year ago. I started Simple Living Mommy and it now brings in a great income for us.
Think you can’t make drastic changes to make being a stay at home parent possible? Read our story again and send me your excuses 😉
Your homework this time is to go through this post and check things off one at a time. Download each app, if you don’t have it already, cancel your cable and sign up for Netflix or just stream on Amazon with your new Prime membership, and be sure to actually IMPLEMENT what you learn. All of the information in the world can’t help you stay at home with your babies if you fail to actually implement it.
Have any of these tips helped you so far? What areas of your budget are still preventing you from staying home with your babies? Let me know in the comments!