Friends and family love to give us parenting advice, and there`s a bounty of books, magazines and blogs that offer some pretty good guidance, too. Moms may be better equipped than ever to handle the day-to-day challenges of raising kids, but few of us are prepared for the sticker shock.
Almost every time we turn around, it seems like there’s another expense we didn’t anticipate—a last-minute run to the craft store for a social studies project, an unexpected contribution to the latest classroom fund, the plumbing bill for a stopped-up toilet—and suddenly, it’s two days before payday and we’re out of money. How can we get our spending under control so we’ll have enough for these unforeseen expenses?
Top-of-the-Line Running Gear
For moms who run, shopping clearance sales is a great place to start (at least, until you free your feet). It may sound contradictory, but make well-constructed running gear a priority; by shopping clearance, you can get high-quality gear (which helps us exercise comfortably and safely) at manageable prices, and these items will last longer than their cheaper counterparts.
There are price-comparison apps and comparison-shopping search engines at your disposal; try Google Shopping online and the Google Shopper, Red Laser or Shop Savvy apps next time you`re doing some in-store browsing. If there’s a better price out there on what you`re looking at, these apps will tell you where to find it.
Quit Dumping Money Into That Lemon
If you need a more reliable vehicle, consider buying a used one, especially if your credit profile has a few dings in it. Bad-credit auto loans often are a sensible way to finance a car for those who don’t qualify for a conventional loan. Once you buy your car, you can save money on gas by consolidating trips. Bike, walk or run whenever possible. You can also comparison shop the price of gasoline with the smartphone app GasBuddy.
Before you go to the grocery store, make sure you bring coupons. You don’t have to be an extreme couponer to save lots of money, especially when coupons are doubled, which has become routine at many supermarkets. You can find coupons online, and watch your mail for frequent shopper or loyal customer coupons, too. Some coupons in those mailers are for free products. Coupon savings can add up quickly.
Eat Out – Yes, You
Those who say the thrift-minded can rarely or never go to restaurants are mistaken. We all need a break from time to time, and restaurant dining doesn’t have to bust your budget. Try mykidseatfree.com, which will point you to local restaurants offering "kids eat free" days. Also, consider going out for breakfast or dessert occasionally, rather than dinner. You can find coupons for restaurants online and in Sunday newspaper coupon sections and ads.
And with restaurant meals being so large these days, it’s simple to buy one entrée and split it with your favorite other. Check out menu prices ahead of time online. By using coupons and sharing meals, a family of four can have breakfast at a casual chain restaurant or hometown diner—depending on where you live— for under $25, tax and tip included.
How do you save money at home? We`d love to hear from you in the comments!