Submitted by Suzanne Stewart
Maybe you’re considering staying at home with the new baby, or you want to be there for your special needs child, or perhaps you’re contemplating homeschooling? Or perhaps the economic downturn has forced you out of the workplace and you’re finding it difficult, if not impossible, to return? The one big thing working families face when making this kind of decision is “Can we make it on one income?” There are ways you can actually save money by staying home that perhaps you hadn’t thought of before. Let’s look and see:
Savvy shopping –You can now plan your shopping trips, instead of the quick stop and grab on the way home. Sign up for all those “loyalty” cards from the places you frequent most. Keep an eye out for chances to receive coupons and specials via email or social media. Plan your shopping so you only have to go once a week to save on fuel costs. One tip I’ve found is NOT to plan specific meals each week. I know this goes against the grain, but think about it – If I plan to have lasagna on Sunday, I have to buy the sauce, the noodles, the cheeses, etc. If my meal plan instead simply reads “Nice dinner” for Sunday, I can buy that Manager’s Special pot roast, in place of all the other items. Make your meal plan more thematic – Meatless Monday, Kid- Friendly Friday, ethnic Thursdays, Crockpot Tuesdays. That way, you can take advantage of any and all sales and specials and farmer’s market finds, not just the things that are on your list.
Get cozy with your kitchen – Turn all those great grocery bargains into home cooked fare. Prepackaged and processed foods cost more and have less nutritional value. Cooking from scratch is cheaper and healthier in the long run. Learn how to stock your pantry, too. Make your own breakfast cereals from granola and dried fruit. Create your own snack foods – party mix, trail mix, cookies, even fruit bars and “roll ups” – to help cut down on bills. You can also use your kitchen to whip up homemade cleaning supplies. From laundry detergent to window cleaner to furniture polish, you can create your own chemical-free, low cost versions.
Homemade holidays and other occasions – No more running by the toy store on the way to the birthday party for the expensive gift. No more haggard and harried holiday shopping between Thanksgiving and the end of December. Creating your own gifts – from the kitchen, from the sewing room, from the yarn basket or wherever you prefer to get crafty – can save a bunch of money. For those gifts you just can’t make, shop online for the best bargains. Or better yet, shop thrift stores and charity shops. Give back a little while giving a gift!
Stay at home – I know, it seems so obvious, but let me explain. You can save money by doing more things at home. Eat at home. Entertain at home. Watch movies at home. Exercise at home. When you do want to go out, take advantage of free admission days at museums, stroll through art galleries, visit a coffee shop on open mic night, check out the programs at the local library branch, enjoy a visit to a state park, or go during the day when prices are often cheaper. If you’re at a loss as to what to do, check out websites and books meant for tourists and visitors to your area. It’s a good bet one or more of them will have a list of family-friendly free of nearly free places to go and things to do.
Don’t sell yourself short – Got a talent or marketable skill you can share with the world? Do so! Start a home-based business selling cupcakes to the local coffee shop, or doing tax returns and accounts for small businesses in your neighborhood. Design websites or write content for them. Hit up the working moms you know for inexpensive, safe childcare before and after school. Turn a craft or talent into a business with an online storefront, or a display at a local shop. Teach classes or workshops to share your knowledge. In short, just because you leave the workplace doesn’t mean you have to stop working. One of the fastest growing segments of entrepreneurial endeavors is those begun by women working from home.