5 Ways This Stay at Home Mom Saves Money

by Charise Rohm Nulsen

Welcome to the October Carnival of Natural Parenting: Money Matters

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have shared how finances affect their parenting choices. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

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As a stay at home mom, I do everything in my power to spend as little money as possible on a daily basis. I feel like this is the least I can do for my family in exchange for the privilege of being a SAHM. Here are the self-imposed guidelines I follow:

1. Prioritize.
I have always been extremely cautious with my money, but as a stay at home mom, there is one thing that I don’t want to skimp on: buying organic groceries. Buying organic is too important for the health of my family to cheap out on in my opinion. This doesn’t have to be your priority too, but I think it’s important to have one thing that you spend money on that doesn’t make you feel guilty.

2. Use the local library.
We visit our town library at least once a week. I seriously don’t know what we would do without it as it serves so many purposes for us. Here are just a few of the reasons we are library addicts:
- On rainy days, it is a free indoor play area for Baby. He runs all around the children’s room, explores books, and plays with puppets and puzzles. Baby also loves to wander through the adult book shelves, using the long aisles as a maze, and taking the time to pull down books that catch his eye.
- We never pay for new books because we can get any book Baby or I want for free. My son and I both have serious reading habits. We go through books like water. I can’t even imagine how much money we would spend if we bought all of the books we read in a year; my reading habit alone could probably bankrupt us.
- The library offers free classes. Baby and I loved our free six week “Mother Goose on the Loose” class.
- They have wonderful free events. This month, we’ll be going to a toddler Halloween parade and seeing a children’s storyteller perform.
- We use the museum passes weekly. There is really no reason to ever pay full admission price at a museum! Baby and I went to a museum almost every week this summer, and we were either getting in for free or paying next to nothing. Now, with cold weather upon us, having free or cheap, quality, indoor spaces to explore is key for staying sane.

3. Sign up for deal websites.
Thanks to deal web sites that send me daily emails, I haven’t paid full price for a hair cut, a children’s activity, or an eco-friendly gift purchase in over a year. Groupon and Buy With Me have been very good to me this past year, and all of my organic clothing and eco-friendly toy purchases have come from Eco Baby Buys or Zulily.

4. I buy pretty much nothing for myself.
This may sound self-sacrificing, but it doesn’t bother me at all. I hate to shop and always have. My son doesn’t care what I look like; he only cares about having me with him and getting lots of hugs and cuddles. My style has always been natural and laid back, so I can make do without high fashion pretty easily. :-)

5. Find a consignment shop you love.
I love the children’s consignment shop located in one of our neighboring towns. I have found beautiful wooden toys, like new books, and brand new clothing (with the original tags on them) for Baby. I haven’t paid more than $4.99 for any item we’ve purchased there so far.

mom and toddler hug

Money doesn't buy happiness. All we need is each other!

What tips do you have for saving money?

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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama Visit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be live and updated by afternoon October 11 with all the carnival links.)

  • Money Matter$ — Jenny at I’m a full-time mummy shares her experiences on several ways to save money as a parent.
  • A different kind of life… — Mrs Green from Little Green Blog shares her utopian life and how it differs from her current one!
  • Show Me The Money! — Arpita of Up, Down & Natural shares her experience of planning for parenting costs while also balancing the financial aspect of infertility treatments.
  • Material v Spiritual Wealth – Living a Very Frugal Life with Kids — Amy at Peace 4 Parents shares her family’s realizations about the differences between material and spiritual wealth.
  • If I Had a Money Tree — Sheila at A Gift Universe lists the things she would buy for her children if money were no object.
  • Financial Sacrifices, Budgets, and the Single Income Family — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama looks at the importance of living within your means, the basics of crafting a budget, and the “real cost” of working outside of the home.
  • Overcoming My Fear of All Things Financial — Christine at African Babies Don’t Cry shares how she is currently overcoming her fear of money and trying to rectify her ignorance of all things financial.
  • Confessions of a Cheapskate — Adrienne at Mommying My Way admits that her cheapskate tendencies that were present pre-motherhood only compounded post-baby.
  • Money MattersWitch Mom hates money; here’s why.
  • Money? What Money?! — Alicia C. at McCrenshaw’s Newest Thoughts describes how decisions she’s made have resulted in little income, yet a green lifestyle for her and her family.
  • What matters. — Laura at Our Messy Messy Life wishes parenting through play was her only responsibility during the day.
  • Making Ends Meet — Abbie at Farmer’s Daughter shares about being a working mom and natural parent.
  • Poor People, Wealthy Ways — Sylvia at MaMammalia discusses how existing on very little money allows her to set an example of how to live conscientiously and with love.
  • The Green Stuff — Amyables at Toddler In Tow shares how natural parenting has bettered her budget – and her perspective on creating and mothering.
  • Jemma’s Money — Take a sneak peek at That Mama Gretchen’s monthly budget and how Jemma fits into it.
  • 5 Tips for How to Save Time and Money by Eating Healthier — Family meal prep can be expensive and time-consuming without a plan! Dionna at Code Name: Mama shares five easy tips for how to make your cooking life (and budget) easier.
  • Belonging in the Countryside — Lack of money led Phoebe at Little Tinker Tales towards natural parenting, but it also heeds her from realizing her dream.
  • Total Disclosure and Total Reform — Claire at The Adventures of Lactating Girl gets down to the nitty gritty of her money problems with hopes that you all can help her get her budget under control.
  • Save Money by Using What You Have — Gaby at Tmuffin is only good with money because she’s lazy, has trouble throwing things away, and is indecisive. Here are some money-saving tips that helped her manage to quit her job and save enough money to become a WAHM.
  • Two Hippos & Ten Euros: A Lesson in BudgetingMudpieMama shares all about how her boys managed a tight budget at a recent zoo outing.
  • ABBA said it — Laura from A Pug in the Kitchen ponders where her family has come from, where they are now and her hopes for her children’s financial future.
  • Money vs. TimeMomma Jorje writes about cutting back on junk, bills, and then ultimately on income as well ~ to gain something of greater value: Time.
  • An Unexpected Cost of Parenting — Moorea at MamaLady shares how medical crises changed how she feels about planning for parenthood.
  • 5 Ways This Stay at Home Mom Saves Money — Charise at I Thought I Knew Mama shares 5 self-imposed guidelines that help her spend as little money as possible.
  • Frugal Parenting — Lisa at My World Edenwild shares 8 ways she saves money and enriches her family’s lives at the same time.
  • Conscious Cash Conscious — Zoie at TouchstoneZ shares her 5 money-conscious considerations that balance her family’s joy with their eco-friendly ideals.
  • Money, Sex and Having it All — Patti at Jazzy Mama explains how she’s willing to give up one thing to get another. (And just for fun, she pretends to give advice on how to build capital in the bedroom.)
  • Money could buy me … a clone? — With no local family to help out, Jessica Claire at Crunchy-Chewy Mama wants childcare so she can take care of her health.
  • Spending IntentionallyCatholicMommy loves to budget! Join her to learn what to buy, what not to buy, and, most importantly, where to buy.
  • New lessons from an allowance — Lauren at Hobo Mama welcomes a follow-up guest post from Sam about the latest lessons their four-year-old’s learned from having an allowance.
  • How to Homeschool without Spending a Fortune — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares tips and links to many resources for saving money while homeschooling from preschool through high school.
  • It’s Not a Baby Crisis. It’s Not Even a Professional Crisis. — Why paid maternity leave, you may ask? Rachael at The Variegated Life has some answers.
  • “Making” Money — Do you like to do-it-yourself? Amy at Anktangle uses her crafty skills to save her family money and live a little greener.
  • Money On My Mind — Luschka at Diary of a First Child has been thinking about money and her relationship with it, specifically how it impacts on her parenting, her parenting choices, and ultimately her lifestyle.
  • Spending, Saving, and Finding a Balance — Melissa at The New Mommy Files discusses the various choices she and her family have made that affect their finances, and finds it all to be worth it in the end.
  • Accounting for Taste — Cassie at There’s a Pickle in My Life shares their budget and talks about how they decided food is the most important item to budget for.
  • Money Matters… But Not Too Much — Mamapoekie at Authentic Parenting shares how her family approaches money without putting too much of a focus onto it.
  • Parenting While Owning a Home Business — In a guest post at Natural Parents Network, Lauren at Hobo Mama lays out the pros and cons of balancing parenting with working from home.
  • Crunchy Living is SO Expensive…Or Is It? — Kelly at Becoming Crunchy talks about her biggest objection to natural living – and her surprise at what she learned.
  • Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems — Sarah at Parenting God’s Children shares how a financial accountability partner changed her family’s finances.
  • The Importance of Food Planning — Amanda at Let’s Take the Metro discusses how food budgeting and planning has helped her, even if she doesn’t always do it.
  • Kids & Money: Starting an Allowance for Preschoolers — Kristin at Intrepid Murmurings discusses her family’s approach and experiences with starting an allowance for preschoolers.

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{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Lauren@Hobo Mama October 11, 2011 at 6:32 am

I LOVE our library! I never buy books, either, or movies — it’s better for my pocketbook (and our small space!) to borrow them. My parents’ library has free museum passes that we always take advantage of when we visit. I wish ours here did, but there are other perks, like the ones you mentioned.
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2 Anna@Cosmetic Dentistry October 11, 2011 at 7:58 am

Haha, Hobo Mama, I have never even heard the expression! :D I think the most important is to buy organic and local food even if they cost a bit more. This is the most important thing you can do for your children’s health. And you can always cut down on something else.
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3 Danielle@sweetserendipity03 October 11, 2011 at 8:17 am

Those are five great tips! We use our Bank of America cards the first weekend of the month to get free admission into our local museums and zoos. Now that I am home we’ve made many other little adjustments, too. We coupon like crazy, downgraded cable (I could care less about TV, but this was HUGE for hubby), use electric and gas at a minimum, and are currently shopping around for lower prices on car/home insurance.

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4 Dionna @ Code Name: Mama October 11, 2011 at 8:21 am

I am so jealous that your library has a museum pass program! What a great perk for readers :) At any rate, we are serious library patrons as well, and we have been since before Kieran was walking. Such a great resource.

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5 Angela (Toucan Scraps) October 11, 2011 at 9:45 am

Living in the UK we have different options for saving money than you. But libraries and museums are great in both countries.

Blessings to you all.
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6 OneMommy October 11, 2011 at 11:11 am

I LOVE our library,too! Free kid’s books and videos, and we also are blessed with kid programs. We’ve done the story time since my 4 year old was 8 months old – starting with Mother Goose Laptime and now she goes to “preschool” there for 30 minutes a week.
And I’m also a big one on consignment shops! And hand-me-downs… we have been blessed by many hand-me-downs.
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7 Moorea October 11, 2011 at 12:28 pm

I am not doing the deals anymore because I have had bad experiences. Zulily comes in ten weeks or never at all and buywithme had mix-ups. What is THE favorite mama save site with good customer service? We spend so very much on organic and local produce, it is scary.
I have to check out that commenter’s idea about the BofA cards and free museums!

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8 Lisa C October 11, 2011 at 1:59 pm

Sounds just like me! We put money into our food, too, but wouldn’t be able to afford it still if I didn’t make so much from scratch. The library really is so wonderful, isn’t it? It’s a shame they aren’t available in every little nook of the world. Every child should have a library to go to. Also, even though I am a person who always has a list of things I want, I have found that I’m quite content going without when I am doing it for my family. I’d rather take care of my family than have a new dress or something.

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9 Momma Jorje October 11, 2011 at 4:51 pm

I love your #4! My style… doesn’t need updating as far as I’m concerned. I’ve never worried about what other people think of how I look. If *I* like how I look and if hubby likes it, too… who cares??

Keeping that in mind, I’ve pretty much outgrown my maternity clothes and still have 3 months to go! All of my jammie pants can be worn below the belly, though, so I’m seen out & about in those most of all.

I, too, am jealous of the library museum deal. We don’t have that here. Even our local library branch doesn’t have much in the way of baby-friendly stuff. There are some buckets of board books and a room where they do story time, but no real play area. We’re moving soon – close to the main library location. I am hoping it will be better. I know the selection will be!
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10 Gaby @ Tmuffin October 11, 2011 at 11:50 pm

As I was reading this, I was thinking “YES!” to everything, and then I saw the final picture and the caption and I thought “Double YES!” Absolutely.” It’s so true. Having kids has really cemented the fact that I don’t need material things. It’s family and inspiration and friends and connections that are important.
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11 Arpita of Up, Down & Natural October 12, 2011 at 12:49 am

Oh goodness, I LOVE our local library! I definitely agree that’s been an incredible money saver, and I’ve also recently fell in love with a few local second hand book stores that are in the area for those books that I really want to own! Thanks so much for these other great tips!

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12 mudpiemama October 12, 2011 at 11:47 am

what an interesting coincidence – 4 yrs ago when we still lived in the states (in MA no less) I took my first baby to “mother goose on the loose” classes :) I miss that library so much – it was by far our favorite library and like you we used all the passes,, the free play space and took out loads of books of course!!! Our local library in switzerland for the children is a one room deal with maybe 200 books total – its sad to say the least but we go every week anyways. We also miss the museums like Childrens in RI and Boston or the Discovery in Acton…
thanks for sharing your tips :)

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13 Jenny @ I'm a full-time mummy October 13, 2011 at 6:49 am

I love reading books! Since I became a parent, I do not buy books much anymore, and I make it up buy requesting for books to review, sometimes I get lucky, sometimes no, but most of the time, I get to review the books I wanted for free! Yeayyyy!

As for buying things for myself, yeah, I don’t do that much since I became a SAHM, I mean, there’s not much point to buy any clothing when I just stay at home most of the time…

Btw, thanks for dropping by my blog earlier! :)
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14 Crunchy Con Mommy October 13, 2011 at 12:24 pm

Ooh I’m totally jealous of the museum pass thing too. One tip I’d add is to plan ahead for clothes you’ll need. My mom found a brand new pair of London Fog snowbibs for my son this summer for 75 cents at a department store. They’ll be perfect for him this winter, and by buying off-season we got an amazing deal. So I guess maybe I’d say “buy produce in season, buy clothes off-season”!

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15 Laura October 14, 2011 at 10:44 pm

I buy quality 1 time. And when I buy hand-me-downs, I buy brand name as much as possible. This is a lesson I had to learn after buying cheap-o clothes for a quarter and watching them shrink. So I’ve learned that if I buy quality once, I can pass the items on for multiple children. I bought a winter coat at a garage sale for 3 dollars. The original price: $48 (for a KIDS coat, I know!!!). My son is the 5th wearer and the coat is in perfect condition. So, for a little effort (had to deal with a stain) and basically pocket change, I have the best deal!

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16 Jeremy October 14, 2011 at 11:17 pm

Thank you for the tips! These are tips that anyone can follow! Eating at home instead of on the road is the way I save a lot of money.

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17 Donna B. October 18, 2011 at 8:23 am

thanks for all the great money-saving tips!

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18 Joanna October 19, 2011 at 3:20 pm

Great post! I couldn’t agree more with all of your money saving tips! I don’t spend a dime on myself and always buy second-hand for my little guy. We have some great tag sales and community yard sales in my area and I always go home with a ton of practically brand new clothes and great quality wooden toys. Plus, I feel good about recycling and not having those things end up in a landfill.

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19 JDaniel4's Mom December 21, 2011 at 2:18 pm

I have saved tons by consigning and buying my son’s clothes at consignment sales. We also love the library.
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20 Paul May 9, 2012 at 10:43 am

In these austere times things are getting tough and there seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel.
Taking action on some of the tips you have outlined will make the pennies stretch a little further.
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