Living on a Budget: 3 Easy Tips to Help You Save (Video)
Being a single mom, or any mom, gives managing your money entirely new meaning – and new stress. Many people have asked me how I make it work, and some days I honestly have no idea. Other days, I can point to some key money saving solutions that I developed over the past year and a half. I’m hoping that by sharing them, I might help you stretch your dollar too.
1. Get Real
And by that I mean, get rid of the things that you pay for monthly that you really aren’t using. The first thing to go was my $90 a month gym membership…just because I was paying for it, didn’t mean I had time to go or childcare to watch Ellie. At most gyms, the monthly membership fee is only worth it if you use it at least 3 times a week, so if you do not, it’s probably more advantageous to just pay the guest fee if you go on occasion. (Full disclosure, I actually cried the day I cancelled it. I love working out more than I can explain, but the exercise my wallet was getting didn’t translate into a workout for my body.) Instead, when I do have the time, I throw Ellie in the jogging stroller and hit the sidewalk.
The other thing I got rid of was my cable. Yep, I work in network news and I canned the cable. Not only was I chronically frustrated with the customer service I received; I wasn’t watching 100 dollars a month worth of television. I traded the cable for a Mohu antenna (cost: $40) that allows me to get the major networks, PBS, and some other stations, and a Roku box (cost: about $60) that gives me access to Netflix and Hulu Plus for only a few bucks a month.
2. Get Organized
I have lost count of the number of times I have gone to the drug store to buy a bottle of ibuprofen, only to realize three days later that I had 2 bottles in my cabinet that I purchased on sale and forgot about. I have organized all of the products I have accumulated into clearly labeled bins. If I need something, I can easily look at the bin to see if I already have it – and if not, then I can decide to go without until I see it on sale, or actually go out and buy it.
Little tip: If I run out of shampoo or conditioner before I see it on sale again, I turn to the wealth of random travel and samples size products I have accumulated. Lord knows I am not going on a trip anytime soon, so instead of collecting dust, I put them to good use.
Another great tip is to go shopping in your own closet. I did a spring cleaning and got rid of anything that I did’t wear. All of that clutter was hiding the clothes that I do like but forgot I had.
3. Get Creative
Ellie and I moved from my 385-square foot one-bedroom apartment, to a much larger place in a less popular neighborhood. I love the extra space, but I had absolutely no idea how to fill it without breaking the bank. Then I got creative, and raided my old playroom at my parents' house. I found awesome floor pillows that were a little musty and had stained covers. Determined to use them for Ellie’s new room, I asked my mom to clean them, and she kindly obliged. Then we picked out great fleece fabric and made new covers by snipping strips into the boarder of the square, and tying each side together with knots. (Okay, full disclosure, my mom took Ellie to the fabric store and they picked out the new covers, but I signed off on the patterns…so I sort of picked it out with them). On top of that, the furniture in Ellie’s room (aside from her crib) is the furniture that I had in my room growing up.
All of the decorations on Ellie’s walls are sentimental and my favorite one is recycled. I took the adorable outfit my sister gave for her to wear on her first birthday and hung it on her wall underneath the beautiful hanger a friend gave her.
Now I am not going to pretend that living on a budget hasn’t brought me to tears some days, it has more than I care to admit, but all of that being said, some out of the box thinking has helped me find some great solutions.
Note: Please disregard the end of the day hair, and the sippy cup sitting next to the wine in the background of the shot, and how incredibly tired I look OR file it under – KEEPING IT REAL.