Stretch Your Paycheck
When I found out I was pregnant with our first baby, I knew I wanted to become a stay at home mom. Our finances were far from ready for a baby, but we learned how to afford to live on one income. One of the biggest things I recommend to stretch your paycheck is to stop buying these things:
- Paper towels. – You’re literally throwing money away. Instead, we buy these reusable washable rags and use them again and again. I honestly don’t miss having paper towels in the house!
- Ziploc bags – Trust me, I know you use these things every day and feel like you can’t live without them. If you invest in a few of these silicone ones and start to phase out the plastic ones, you’ll save money in the long run.
- Individual sized snacks – Have you ever done the unit price comparison on goldfish crackers in a full sized container compared to the individual packs? You’re paying SO much more! Buy the big container and divide them out into individual portions yourself!
- Restaurant trips – Breaking our addiction to going out to eat was one of the hardest parts of dropping one of our incomes. Honestly, if you can control your food expenses, you can control your budget. Food is the biggest hemorrhage in a family’s budget. Learn how we conquered our food budget with my step-by-step tips here!
- Magazine subscriptions – When you’re cutting your income by a whole salary, you need to cut out absolutely everything you can. Even your favorite magazine subscription. Trust me, with the internet at your finger tips, you’ll hardly miss it.
- Impulse buys – We stopped going to stores as much as humanly possible and it saved us hundreds of dollars on our food bill. I promise, you don’t even realize how much of your grocery bill is tied up in impulse buys.
- To stay out of the grocery store, order your food online and drive to the store and pick it up! If it’s available in your area, you may even be able to get groceries delivered. Even if you have to pay a small fee to do it, you’ll still come out on top in the long run.
- Stop going to the store without a plan! Do as I say not as I do – I just broke this rule today out of necessity and prepping for a snow storm. Have you ever wandered around the grocery store without a meal plan, only to leave $100 or $200 later with a ton of food and still no idea what to make for dinner? Make a meal plan and shop with a list!
- Cleaning products – stop buying toxic cleaning products and clean with vinegar, water, baking soda, and clear dish soap. With those 4 ingredients, you can clean just about anything your kids can throw at you!
- Clothes you’ll only wear once – Who hasn’t been invited to a wedding or social event only to realize you have nothing to wear? I don’t buy anything nice anymore because it’ll just get covered in spit up or some other bodily fluid anyway. Instead, I borrow a dress from a friend and save the money (and the space in my closet!)
- Buy your kids’ clothes used! – If it’s one thing I wish I could get across to new parents, it’s that your kids are going to grow into and out of sizes in a flash. They won’t get to even wear half of the clothes you buy for them, let alone wear it enough to make it worth buying brand new. Check out Once Upon a Child stores near you or search in the Facebook Marketplace for gently used kids’ clothes.
- Diapers – Okay, this one I couldn’t stick to. We simply travel too much. If you have the heart (and stomach) for it, consider using cloth diapers. It really is the most environmentally-friendly way to diaper your babies and it will save you a TON of money in the long run…especially if you are planning to have more kids.
- Full priced things – I almost never buy anything but food at full price. It just isn’t worth it. I stock up so I never am in dire need of anything, then I watch for sales and restock then. Keep a reasonably sized stockpile of the items you use the most and only replenish your stockpile when those things go on sale or you have a coupon / can price match.
- Name brand foods – This is one I gave up the second I moved out of my parents’ house. With very few exceptions, we don’t buy anything name brand.
- Always compare unit price! We’re about to do a whole weekend of baking, so we bought a few bags of chocolate chips. It was actually 3 cents more per ounce to buy the 24 ounce bag instead of the 12 ounce bag. Some stores do this work for you right on the price label, but always do a quick double check if the math seems off.
- Dryer sheets – Try these dryer balls instead! They don’t leave any fragrance or oily residue on your clothes and they’ll last for years and years. Much longer than an overpriced box of dryer sheets.
- Anything plastic – Don’t buy anything plastic when you can buy glass instead. Plastic ends up warping, staining, or is made for a single use. Instead, stock up on glassware as you can afford it. You don’t need anything fancy – we use mason jars to store left overs and we wash out glass jars other foods come in and reuse them. Quick hack, use a rubberband to secure a small piece of fabric over the top to disguise any branded lid.
- Chopped fruits and vegetables – This is another one of those convenience cost things. Check out the unit price on your favorite fruits in their whole state versus already chopped and prepared for you. A great example is onions. I promise, you’ll never buy chopped food again!
Are there things you used to buy that you can’t afford anymore? What would you cut out of your shopping list to save money if you were about to quit your job? Let me know in the comments!