Whether you want to be a stay-at-home mom, cut back to get out of debt, or just save some money, these tips will help you meet those goals and be the best frugal living mom you can be.
If you’ve decided to make some big life changes, there are a few prerequisites that as a financial coach, I think you should have in place. Some of these may be the goals you want to complete with your new frugal rules.
Frugal Mom Goals
A budget is a great tool to tell you where you’re going to spend your money and where you can find the areas of overspending.
I love my budget. I love that it helps me prepare for every expense. There’s no anxiety or guessing. I know we will have money for dog food and a sinking fund for Christmas. I like knowing when the electric bill is due and has been paid.
Think of it as letting those worries go and knowing that the budget has your back.
Remember, many utility companies have a budget plan and autopay. This will also help take that stressor off your plate.
Consider a budget binder to keep everything straight.
Preparing for change is important. Allowing yourself the security of an emergency cushion will help you focus on the task. But things will go wrong. It will rain. Make sure you’re prepared for that.
This might be why you have decided to move forward as a frugal mom – to build up that emergency fund. However you decide to do it, and whatever your reason, do it as fast as possible to keep that momentum going.
The strength is teaching your children to be happy with fewer material things because the payoff is much greater. As the only child of a mom who worked most of her life, I remember feeling envious of others whose moms were home. I decided very early that if I could help it, I did not want to pay someone else to care for my children.
This meant teaching them the frugal ways generations of family members have taught me.
If financial goals are to be met, setting limits with your children will do much more good than harm.
You’ll need patience if they aren’t used to this new frugal-living mom. Nobody likes change. Especially when they’ve got everything they want. Nobody likes to be denied the luxuries they already have.
Everyone will need to practice patience through this transition.
What Does a Frugal Living Mom Look Like?
I’ve put some deep thought into this. I think it’s important to understand that When you picture a frugal mom, she’s not stressed about money. She’s firm in the budgeting rules in place (whether on her own or with a partner). She’s not cheap, even though her husband teases her about that all the time 😉
The frugal mom understands and teaches about limits and knows bigger goals are out there. She sees that being with her family is much more important than the newest gadget that needs to go on a credit card because there’s no money to pay for it.
She is ready to teach her kids what it means when she says, “It’s not in the budget this week.”
Teaching from a place of abundance and not a place of lack.
Children learn so much from us; a money mindset is no different. If they constantly hear, “We don’t have enough money,” or listen in on money fights, it will engrave those beliefs and paradigms in their mind.
Teaching them the understanding that it’s not the idea that you don’t have the money, but rather that you CHOOSE to spend your money on other things; savings, spending time with them, and debt freedom may be a higher priority than new toys and extravagant vacations.
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Frugal Living Secrets With Kids
Get as much as you can “used”
Babies grow out of stuff so fast that they only use most things for a few months. This means that finding high-end items used is fairly easy.
Not only does this apply to baby swings like that expensive mamaRoo baby swing, but it also means dressers, rocking chairs, and even cribs and pack-and-plays can all be found used at a fraction of the cost.
Ask for what you need.
Family, friends, and grandparents can’t get enough of buying for babies. Make sure you ask for what you need so they can take care of that as a gift.
Borrow what you can.
Many friends and family will let others borrow items their babies have outgrown before the next.
Prepare ahead of time.
This not only means decluttering the cellar and deep cleaning the bathroom, but it also means stuffing the freezer full of meals and putting the dog food on auto-delivery.
Kids grow fast. Rarely do they have time to wear out anything before it just doesn’t fit anymore. Consignment shops have some great clothes at good prices, and often, if you bring clothes in, they will give you credit toward a bigger size.
Salvation Army and Good Will
I love these choices of clothes. I specifically love when they have 50% off days. Finding a good thrift store in an upscale neighborhood will greatly benefit you when finding higher-end clothes. This includes children’s clothes.
Garage Sales and Yard Sales
This might be the cheapest way to purchase children’s clothing. You can easily purchase pieces for twenty-five cents and up. Even better, find a neighborhood or town-wide sale to get them all done at once.
Facebook Marketplace and other online options
You can find anything on FB Marketplace. My husband joined Facebook only for this reason (and to see pictures of our granddaughter). Other online sites like eBay or Craigslist are also great resources.
Newborns need food, too, right? So the cheapest way to go is to breastfeed. However, if you’re unable to or decide not to, then finding an inexpensive formula may be a challenge depending on your baby’s needs.
Doctors’ offices often have coupons available online at the brand’s website. Also, emailing the company telling them how much you enjoy their products and how your baby is thriving with them may get you some coupons by mail.
Skipping store-bought baby foods and purchasing a mini food processor can save a lot of money. Adding whatever you are having for dinner (minus the spices and seasonings) and giving it a spin can allow your baby to experience the same food you eat daily.
Your food budget has some flexibility to it. Learn how to cook from scratch and find resources that will help you decrease your grocery spending.
Toddlers and older children
Don’t buy special toddler foods. Dino nuggets and spaghetti-o’s are not cheap. Plus, they aren’t really that good for growing bodies. Choose to feed your toddler what you eat from day one to teach their little palettes the foods they will encounter for the rest of their lives.
Meal planning is one of the best ways to control your food budget. When you don’t have much money, and you’re trying to make that stretch as far as it will go, finding creative ways to feed already picky eaters can be challenging. Having a plan will at least help and might free up some extra money for other necessities.
Decor is one of those things that is really not a NEED for children. And when you are a frugal living mom trying to meet your financial goals, it’s not a priority.
Warm bedding and curtains for privacy can be made or purchased at deep discounts. Look for bedding on clearance and secondhand. Better yet, ask family members for those things for Christmas.
Decorating their rooms can be fun as children age, but it doesn’t have to break the bank. Set aside money for the home and grab decor as you see it at a good price.
Don’t be afraid to upcycle pieces to add freshness and your spin. Grab used or free furniture and apply chalk paint for a new look to save you money in the long run.
Get the kids involved in some artwork and crafts, too.
Babies only need a handful of toys. The building of hand-eye coordination, motor skills, and muscle building are all advantages of babies and toys. Items to chew on are also important and helpful in teething.
Toddlers and young children get SO MANY TOYS from family and friends. As a parent, putting boundaries on family members who love to buy for your kids is a great way to limit the toys. Instead, ask for the things they need.
Parents rarely have to buy their children toys. Consider used toys. I have seen countless new toys still in packaging at yard and garage sales. Smaller children just don’t know the difference.
Fun and Entertainment
Look for free entertainment. Try free days at museums and art centers. Explore nature with a day trip to the lake for fishing and swimming. Go on a hike. Find music or a play in the park.
Making small things a big deal at home can increase the excitement factor. Instead of having just a movie night at home, take the whole week to earn movie bucks so kids can buy snacks.
Pinterest is FULL of great ideas and a good thing to check out for inspiration.
I’m a big fan of books, and I buy books for children every holiday. So my first suggestion is to ask for books as gifts.
Then, utilize the local library. There are hundreds of books to read at your disposal. Make it a standing activity to go pick out books. Many libraries also have playrooms making it a great place for littles to burn off some energy and grab some socialization.
Subscriptions, Activities, and Services
Cut out any subscription boxes or services you aren’t getting enough value out of. Or if your children really love them, ask family for them during the holidays.
Find free activities to keep those littles busy. Our winters are brutal in the north country, so having a place to go to change the inside of the house or dissolve some energy is a great idea.
Think twice about too many paid activities like gymnastics, dance, hockey, or soccer. Pick one each year (or season. Children don’t like to be overextended, and parents don’t need the added expenses.
Memberships or passes to museums, aquariums, and zoos are great. These are usually cheaper than day passes over time and offer friends and family another type of gift to give.
Keep an eye on streaming services and online accounts for children. Ensure you are not paying for services you are not getting enough value out of. Question whether or not life would suffer too much without them.
Coupons and Sales
Not only can coupons work for food, but they can also get you a price cut on toiletries and clothes. From baby formula to socks, keep an eye on sales and piggyback those coupons with the sale for added savings.
Also, remember those savings apps like Fetch and Ibotta. Their savings add up, too.
Consider the equivalent generic product. You never know – it might be just as good and less money than the sale price.
When it comes to holidays, start smaller when your children or smaller. Easter baskets don’t need to be elaborate. A few pieces of chocolate, a book, and a game could be plenty.
Birthdays and Valentine’s Day can also be on a much smaller scale.
Christmas doesn’t have to show gifts piled to the ceiling. Consider the 5 Gift Rule for those larger holidays.
17 Things Frugal Living Moms Don’t Buy
- New Clothes
- Fancy Coffees
- Subscription Boxes
- Bottled Water
- Baked Goods
- Cleaning Products
- One Serving Snack
- Disinfecting Wipes
- Juice Boxes
- Paper Towels
- Zip Bags
- Gym Memberships
I cut my hair. I’ve perfected the ponytail method and am now working on a bob-type style. It’s because Supercuts near me has a new owner and doubled prices. So, I’m out. I bought a good pair of hair-cutting scissors, and I do it myself. Youtube has some pretty great tutorials.
You can paint your own, but with the rise of Colorstreet, putting stickers on is quick and much less expensive than the nail salon. Plus, it looks so much better than if I were to try to paint my own!
This doesn’t mean you can’t get clothes when you need them. It means that you don’t shop for recreation and you do shop with intention. Most of us have a full closet, which we don’t wear.
Trade in your old clothes for new to you clothes at places like Thred Up or your local consignment shop.
I purchase clothes about once a year and have created a uniform. Same tops, same bottoms. Short sleeve shirts with a sweater and jeans when it’s cool. Capri’s or skorts with the same shirts when it’s warmer.
Cable is so 2003. With streaming services coming so far in the last ten years, you can save money and find exactly what you need. We use Philo. It has everything we need for tv entertainment, and it’s CHEAP!
Don’t get me wrong; I love a good Grande Soy Latte with four pumps of caramel just as much as the next person. However, these treats are few and far between.
Treating yourself is important for self-care – just not every day.
This is a struggle. There are many nights when I would rather go out to eat than cook. I’d be dangerous if I lived in an area with better delivery access.
Consider only going to restaurants on special occasions and finding recipes that are quick, easy, and cheap instead.
There are many out there to choose from. Beauty, fitness, and even pet boxes automatically come to your house every month to give you all the things you don’t even need to entice you to buy other things that you don’t need.
Skip them and set up a sinking fund to make purchases when you actually do need them or ask for gift cards for holidays.
We all know that bottled water is an expense that can be curbed by refilling our water bottles from the tap or a filtered pitcher.
It’s not a big expense to buy a case of plastic bottles, but every penny counts when you are working on being a frugal living mom.
Oreo cookies at my grocery store were over $4 a package. You could bake a LOT of cookies for that price!
The same goes for muffins, cakes, and bread. Considering spending less on baked goods and making your own from scratch. Also, most of this stuff freezes week, so double your batch and add half to the freezer for next week.
Household Items YOu Can Do Without
If you want to save money and make your house clean, making your cleaning products is the way to go. Two staples that I buy in bulk are white vinegar and baking soda.
Add some essential oils from my favorite aromatherapist, and your house will be clean and smell great.
Switch to cloth napkins instead of paper. I haven’t bought napkins in over ten years. I have a package in the cellar (in a plastic bin) for parties and BBQs, but we head to the cloth napkin basket daily.
I made my own with some cute fabric that a friend gave me, but they desperately need updating. I have my eyes open for some new material.
You can buy cloth napkins in bulk from Amazon and many other stores.
One Serving Snacks
The markup on single-serving snacks is ridiculous. Buying in bulk and separating them into small reusable bags is much better.
Consider grabbing the snacks your family loves the most at warehouse stores where the costs are cheaper. I’m not talking about the little bags of pretzels they also sell. I’m talking about the mega bags or tubs of pretzels.
As many of us have lived through, these have been in short supply. It’s interesting to see how many people feel these are necessary for cleaning.
Diluting a tablespoon of bleach in 24 ounces of water and a rag will do the same. Or, if you like to take the more natural approach, vinegar or a Norwex cloth will do the same (Norwex cloths have silver in them, which is anti-bacterial and anti-microbial).
I love the natural wipes for my toilet, but I have used paper towels and spray cleaners before.
Juice boxes might have one of the biggest markups I have ever seen compared to large bottled juices. The time it takes to pour juice into a cup or reusable bottle does not compare to the money you hand over at checkout.
In our home, the juice was always watered down and given as more of a treat than a replacement for water.
Have you seen the fabric paper towels that snap together on a roll? They are the cutest. I first saw them on Etsy, but they are all over now.
It’s always good to have a roll of paper towels on hand, but a rag will work fine for daily purposes and jobs. Consider putting them away for a trial run and keeping a basket of cloths or rags on your counter instead.
These are one of the items I struggle with the most. For smaller things like packing lunches, I use stainless steel containers. But I buy meat in bulk and then process and freeze it. So using zip bags I can throw out after having chicken in, it feels safer.
But using a replacement for zip bags for storage can be a real money saver.
Gym memberships can be pricey, and I understand the benefits. Living in an area with frigid winters, very few want to exercise outside; even in areas where the summers are triple digits, it’s tough to get your exercise in.
So dropping the gym membership and finding creative exercise methods is challenging.
But, let’s face it, that fee for these memberships can get pricey, and finding alternatives when you are practicing the frugal living mom lifestyle can make or break the budget.
The Newest Cell Phone
Last years model will do the trick just fine. There’s no reason to keep up with the Jones this season of your life. Remember, you are on a tight budget with a goal in mind. Your bank account is breaking even without adding a new cell plan.
And stay off social media. You probably don’t have time for it anyway.
Final thoughts on being a frugal living mom…
To be a frugal living mom, whether at home, working from home, or working outside the home, you must evaluate your spending. Finding areas to cut back to reach your financial goals can be daunting and time-consuming. But with the right mindset and motivator, you can handle this without a problem. Make it a game with these great money-saving tips.
With good money management and these best frugal living tips, financial freedom is right around the corner.