Category: Money and Finance

Baby On A Budget: How To Spend Less Than $100 On Your Basic Baby Needs

Baby On A Budget: How To Spend Less Than $100 On Your Basic Baby Needs
Baby On A Budget: How To Spend Less Than $100 On Your Basic Baby Needs

I know that many people save for their first baby. Unfortunately, many other folks do not. Maybe the baby is a surprise, earlier than planned, or they simply don’t have the income coming in to save.

We were both taken a bit by surprise by our first pregnancy and we still weren’t very good budgeters, so even when we found out we were pregnant and I was still working part time, we were living at our means and didn’t make the sacrifices we could have to save, other than the $100 a month payment to the mid-wife.

With all the money going out in bills, food, etc… how did we provide a crib, infant seat, baby bathtub, clothing, and more that a new baby needs? The following is how we still managed to have it all w/o spending more than $100 out of our own pocket:

  1. We let our family, friends and church community know our needs. We were humble enough to be grateful for all the hand-me down stuff that we were given. Lots of clothing, blankets, burp-rags, a baby bath, a high chair, a diaper bag, and more came in from other families and friends. We also ended up with a dresser and a stroller this way.
  2. A friend of mine hosted a baby shower for me. We were given beautiful, handmade blankets, cute as can be dresses (we were having a girl), and lots of practical stuff like diaper rash cream, diapers and pacifiers.
  3. Each of our parents contributed one major purchase with my mom-in-law getting us a crib (which ended up lasting through 3 babies) and mattress and my parents got us the infant seat.
  4. We picked up a few additional clothes from thrift / resale stores.

Although we had all we needed for baby one through these means, since then we have received / purchased a few additional items through the following means:

  1. Craigslist / want ads – always a great source of toys, clothing and more. Many people practically give stuff away. Others are trying to make some of their money back, but most people will deal, so try talking them down a little.
  2. Giveaways – lots of blogs out there are hosting giveaways of baby stuff. Try a few, you never know what you might end up with. There are also blogs that give away samples and such or find deals. If you have a little time, it is worth a search.

If you have saved a little money and want to get some items new, make the most of your funds by searching Ebates for coupons and cash back deals for 100’s of stores selling baby and children’s goods.

Super Simple Menu Plan: One Week Of Meals For Less Than $100

Menu

Our goal for a family food budget is $450 per month. This means that we have $100 or less to shop on each week (since there is 4 ½ weeks to almost every month). We eat fresh, healthy, whole, homemade food, which means very few coupons are useful to us. So how do we do this?

The following is our menu for a week, which I plan Thursday to Wednesday, since Thursday is my usual shopping day:

Thursday –

Breakfast: homemade whole grain waffles with maple flavored agave syrup.

Snack: ½ orange

Lunch: tuna-fish sandwiches on homemade bread (with pickles)

Dinner: Black beans with shredded cheese and tortilla chips

Friday –

Breakfast: ½ banana, oatmeal with non-dairy milk and honey

Snack: store-bought cheesy crackers (with whole grains and real cheese)

Lunch: tuna-fish sandwiches on homemade bread (with pickles)

Dinner: top-sirloin steak, mashed potatoes and carrots, homemade bread, ice cream

Saturday –

Breakfast: grape juice, ½ banana, cold cereal (whole grain, low sugar), non-dairy milk

Snack: store-bought ginger snap cookies (natural, no artificial ingredients)

Lunch: top-sirloin steak, mashed potatoes and carrots, homemade bread

Dinner: mixed veggies and pirogies

Sunday –

Breakfast: oatmeal with berry mix, honey, non-dairy milk

Snack: ½ orange, ¼ protein bar

Lunch: mixed veggies and pirogies

Dinner: Black beans with shredded cheese, tortilla chips, salsa, Panda black licorice

Monday –

Breakfast: grape juice, ½ banana, cornmeal mush with honey and non-dairy milk

Snack: cheesy crackers and peanut butter (no salt or sugar added)

Lunch: veggie salad and tortilla chips

Dinner: whole grain pasta, marinara sauce with ground turkey sausage

Tuesday –

Breakfast: oatmeal with honey and non-dairy milk

Snack: ¼ orange, whole wheat crackers

Lunch: homemade artisan bread with olive oil and balsamic vinegar dip, mixed veggies

Dinner: whole grain pasta, marinara sauce with ground turkey sausage

Wednesday –

Breakfast: cornmeal mush with honey and non-dairy milk

Snack:  gingersnap cookies and ice cream

Lunch: homemade artisan bread with olive oil and balsamic vinegar dip, mixed veggies

Dinner: veggie stir-fry with rice noodles

If you would like to see any of the recipes, please post a request. I would love to hear your healthy, simple menus – post a link if you have one!

Blessings and healthy eating.

 
YWAM

The Work At Home Mom: A Penny Saved

Stack Of Pennies
A Penny Saved…

What IF, the first thing you need to do as a mother working from home, is not to figure out which product to sell, MLM to get in on, or party business to throw next? What if, instead, you need to figure out how to make use of what you already have?

Ben Franklin said: “A penny saved is a penny earned.” And God calls us to be a good steward of the money and things we already have.

Could you consider for a moment that you might do more for your family by learning how to budget, save, and make use of what you already have than you would by selling Amway (or Avon, or Scentsy or ???)? Not that I am nay-saying these legitimate businesses, some of which have great products.

I am just suggesting that before you commit yourself to a business and the work that comes with it, that you are sure you are already doing everything you can with what you already have.

It is a much simpler life (and therefore a lot less stress) to do so.

Here is an example:

Our “household items” budget was too big and we needed more money to spend on food. One item that we were purchasing monthly kept bothering me – paper towels. We were spending $15 – 20 a month on paper towels and that just seemed like a waste to me. So, I purchased a 12 pack of colorful wash-cloths for $5 and started using them as our cloth napkins at the table. We started to use old towels as rags for cleaning and we almost eliminated the use of paper towels in our household. Even considering washing a load of towels every week or so, we are saving at least $15 a month from our budget.

This is $15 I did not have to go and earn. I just made a simple change in how we do things around the house. Everyone got use to it and our environment is a bit happier for it too.

The practical to do:

Make a list of why you want to start a businesses from home. If one of the main reasons is money, then make a list of what you want the money for. Then, consider it for a few days. Are there other ways to get the money?

  • by saving from income already coming in

  • by reducing your budget in some way

  • by selling things you don’t really use or need

  • by creating something out of stuff you already have and selling it

Next: How to Start Budgeting

What if you have no idea what your household budget is, or what you spend on anything in a give month? Where should you start? 

How to Feed A Family Of Five For One Week With $25

Learn to eat simple / cheap from other countries!
Learn to eat simple and cheap from other countries!

No, this is not an extreme coupon challenge. We recently had a situation where we only had $25 to shop for the week and feed our family of five. With a very limited pantry and no coupons or stockpile, I had to quickly seek the Lord and ask Him to show me what we would do. And, He did – during the past week, through a series of events, I had learned about Ethiopian Food. Due to their very limited economy, Ethiopian’s have learned to make inexpensive but flavorful and filling food.

What follows is the menu we followed for the week.




  • 5 breakfasts of oatmeal

  • 2 breakfasts of peach muffins

  • 3 lunches and 2 dinners of Injera bread and lentil stew w/ tomatoes and spinach

  • 2 lunches and 3 dinners of fried rice

  • 2 lunches and 1 dinner of mac and cheese with mixed veggies

For total disclosure, the final dinner was pizza when we finally had money in the bank again:-)

Disclosure: Some links in this post may be affiliate links.

This is what we had in our pantry:

  • Whole wheat flour

  • Brown rice

  • Cane sugar

  • Tomato paste

  • Vinegar

  • Soy Sauce

  • Olive Oil
  • Canned peaches

  • Salt and Spices

This is what we purchased for $25:

  • Oatmeal

  • Lentils
  • 1 qt of almond milk

  • Butter

  • 5 pack of mac and cheese

  • 2 bags of frozen veggies (one mixed, one spinach)

  • 1 – 18 count eggs

  • Carrots

We honesty ended up enjoying the food and did not feel that we were going without for the week. We are so encouraged by this, that we have decided to take up this challenge once a month and only have a $25 budget for one week every month. Our normal food budget runs about $75 – $100.

Oh, and another positive note is that I lost two pounds during the week. There really is something to be said about simple living, including simple eating.

What would you do if you only had $25 for one week to feed your family?

 

How Some Families Are Successfully Going Outside The Health Insurance System

Read the post from Money Saving Mom about the Samaritan Health Care Ministry:

http://moneysavingmom.com/2013/10/how-we-save-money-on-health-care-costs.html

I believe the Samaritan’s Health Cost Sharing ministry is a great idea and is working. However, the following is my response to the post:

We would like to join Samaritan, but we can’t afford $370 per month.

Currently, my husband and I go without health insurance and God has been faithful to take care of us. My husband currently has a cellulitis infection and we are treating it naturally as we have done in the past.

We treat colds and flues all naturally and ask for God’s will and intercession before we see the doctor.

My children have Medicaid for their once a year visit.

If we were to be in an accident, there are many ways it could be covered, including by charity from the hospital because of our low-income.

God knows how hard my husband works to support our family (over 80 hours per week), and where we are at financially, and meets us there. Until the fines for not getting insurance exceed $4000 per year (what it would cost for us to join Samaritan or get “regular” insurance), this is where we will live.

Saving 101: Save On Food Costs

Saving 101 Food Costs

We continue our series on ways to save money by focusing on food costs this week.

Eat In More, Eat Out Less

Savings: $10’s to 100’s

It is a simple fact that it costs a lot less to make something yourself rather than eat it out. Even the bulk food purchases that a restaurant may make, does not offset the cost of running a restaurant (employees, building, overhead, etc…). It also doesn’t offset their profit. If you are used to the rich, flavorful and even exotic foods from eating out, it may be hard to make the change and eat in. If the budget still allows, you can make the change gradually vs. cutting yourself off completely. I will admit, this was a hard one for me. I have learned over the years how to make a lot of ethnic foods, but there are some I can not master. 

Example 1: A young couple with 2 incomes used to eat out 2 or 3 times a week. They were spending about $100 a week this way (about $400 per month). When one of the their schedules were reduced to ½ time, they cut back to eating out 1 day a week. This way, they were only spending about $25 to $40 a week, cutting the budget by more than half.

Example 2: A couple starting a family reduces down to the husband as the sole provider for the family. They were eating out about 1 time a week (about $120 per month) and they cut back to eating out once per month (about $30 per month). 

Compare Store Prices

Savings: $10’s to $100’s

It is pretty surprising how much prices can vary on an item between stores. Even in your favorite discount or bulk store, the price for certain items may not be the best or lowest. Keeping track of the prices of items only takes a couple of minutes after every shop. Then, every time you shop, only purchase the items from the store you are at that has the best price for the item.

Example: Here is a spreadsheet of some items, with prices tracked per store:

  Costco   WalMart   WinCo  
Alfalfa Sprouts            
Alfredo Sauce Mix            
Apples – Fuji 9.29 for 5.5 lb

$1.69

    1.28 per lb

$1.28

Apples – Gala     3.22 for 3 lb

$1.07

4.98 for 5 lb

$1.00

Apples – Pink Lady         .98 per lb

$0.98

Avacado     .78 each

$0.78

.88 each

$0.88

Baby Wipes 15.49 for 704 wipes

$0.02

7.97 for 288 wipes

$0.03

   
Baking Powder – No aluminum         2.51 for 10 oz

$0.25

Baking Soda         1.87 for 4 lb

$0.47

Bananas 1.39 per 4 lb

$0.35

.48 per lb

$0.48

.48 per lb

$0.48

Bean Sprouts         .98 for 8 oz, lb

$1.96

Better Than Bouillon         2.88 per jar

$2.88

Blueberries            
Bread – Bagels 4.49 for 12 bagels

$0.37

2.00 for 6

$0.33

3.48 for 12 bagels

$0.29

Bread – Buns     1.14 for 8 buns

$0.14

.87 for 8 buns

$0.11

Bread – Loaf – No Corn Syrup 3.89 for 2 loaves

$1.95

2.50 per loaf

$2.50

2.28 per loaf

$2.28

Bread – Puglaese 4.49 for 2 loaves

$2.25

    1.68 per loaf

$1.68

Bread – Sandwich Rolls 1.89 for 36 oz, lb

$0.84

       
Broccoli            
Butter 7.69 for 6 lb

$1.28

1.98 for 1 lb

$1.98

1.66 for 1 lb

$1.66

So, when you go to Costco, only get baby wipes, bananas, loaf bread and butter. At WinCo, get your apples, bagels, and buns. You don’t have to go to multiple store in one week if you don’t have the time, just stock up on a couple of weeks or a month supply at the one store each week. Many things can be frozen for weeks at a time.

NOTE: I originally wrote this for my old blog 4 years ago. I don’t maintain this list anymore as it is mainly in my head. Note that some of the prices aren’t available much anymore. 

What is your best way to save on food costs?


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Saving 101: Purchasing From Community Vs. Corporations

Saving 101 Purchase From Commnity

As we last read in our Saving 101 Series, many people have had success saving money by moving from large cities to smaller, rural communities. This week, we find some more benefits of living in a rural community or at least further from town and closer to land where food is raised and grown.

Rent From Individuals vs. Corporations

Savings: $100’s

If someone needs to rent vs. purchase a home, it has been noticed that one can generally save money when renting from an individual vs. renting from a corporation. There is also usually more personal attention and the ability for more flexibility with what one can do with the property, which may lead to other savings down the road.

Example 1: A family that moved from a major metro area to a small metro area found that another family was going out on the mission field for a year and needed renters. The Missionary family is renting the 4-bedroom farmhouse, on a multi-acre farm, for only $650 a month. However, one of the bedrooms has the stored belongings of the family out on mission. This is a place that should be renting for about $850 or more per month.

Example 2: The landlords of another family (we will call them family A) also own the house next door to family A. The house has been vacant for a while. When some friends of family A moved to town (we will call them family B), the landlords were willing to rent the house to them. For only a couple hundred dollars a month plus some upkeep on the house, family B have settled in and are very content with their place.

Steaks and Roasts for $2 to $5 per Pound

Savings: $10’s

You do not need to pay $5 to $10 a pound for roasts or $10 to $20 a pound for organic, grain fed, free range beef steaks. There are Internet sites that can hook you up with “local” farmers (even if “local” turns out to be a couple hours away). Some farmers post on Craigslist (Craigslist.org) or FB Groups when they have meat available for sale. Since you are purchasing in bulk, it would be worth the drive to get 6 months of meat for about half or less than what you would pay in the stores.

Example 1: A family found a cow at auction, within a reasonable drive from town. They went in with another family, purchased the cow, and sent it off to be butchered. The total cost of the meat per pound was about $3.25, including all kinds of cuts of meat.

Example 2: Purchasing $50 to $100 of meat at a time and freezing the bulk of it, a family found a local farmer about 1 hour drive from the city and purchased meat from him as follows: $2.50 per lb for ground, $3.50 per lb for roasts, $4.50 per lb for steaks.

How have you been able to save money by being plugged into your local and/or nearby rural community?


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Saving Money 101: Saving By Moving

Saving 101 Save By Moving

If you are just starting out on how to simplify your life and save money, or even if you have been living a frugal life for awhile, the tips in the Saving 101 series are foundational tips meant to help you think about how to save money, and give practical examples, in each area of life.

#1 – Move to a Less Expensive Area – Housing

Savings: $100’s to 1000’s

By moving just 30 to 60 miles / minutes from a major city, one may be able to save $100’s of dollars a month for rent or $1000’s of dollars off of the price for a house.

Example 1: A family moved from an upscale suburb of a major city to a lower scale suburb of the same city, about 30 minutes further from the city. The rent there is $300 a month less on average. The commute cost increase was $60 to $80 per month

Example 2: Another family moved from a very large metropolitan area to a smaller, but still metro area. The commute is about the same (cost wise) and the wage is about the same. However, a comparative house is about $300,000 less in the smaller metro area. This is our example from moving from Seattle to Boise. You can purchase a good house in Boise suburbs for $100,00 / $150,000. Houses in Seattle don’t come under $300,000.

#2 – Move to a Less Expensive Area – Utilities

Savings: $10’s

One lessor know way to save money in utilities is to simply move to a sub-burb from a major city or to move to a less expensive state. There are maps available (just Google or Bing) that show the average cost of utilities by major metropolitan areas.

Example 1: The family that moved from the upscale suburb to the lower-scale suburb saw about a 50% decrease in Water, Sewer, and Garbage. They also saw about a 25% decrease in Power & Heating.

#3 – Move to a Less Expensive Area – Food, Gas, Necessities

Savings: $100’s

Generally, the cost of food, gas and necessities goes down as one moves farther from the city centers and moves more into the rural parts of the country. However, savings can also be achieved, for those who want to stay in the major cities, by making planned day trips to the further out areas and stocking up at the markets in the rural areas. Also, there are many things that may also be purchased online for less than found in the stores in the cities.

Example 1: While still living in a major city on the coast, plan a day trip to do the bulk of the shopping for the month. This could include driving two hours to the local farming community to pick up meat, grains, produce, honey, etc… then driving back towards town 1 hour and stopping at a Costco, Walmart, Discount Grocery Stores, etc… for the needed non-perishable items for the month.

Have you ever moved to save money? Share your story with us!

Subscribe to: A Simple Life Too (see the bar at the top or on the right) to get the next installment in the Saving 101 series.


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Is “Shop Till You Drop” a Good Thing?

Is_Shop_Drop_Good

So what are the catch phrases these days?

Shop till you drop!

Become a Fashionista!

Do it for yourself because no one else will!

Work hard, play hard!

What is the media trying to tell us and is it a good thing?

 The Reality for Most People

Some statistics say that the average family spends about $1700 a year on clothing, with women spending about $600 of that amount (Bureau of Labor Statistics).

Please understand that I don’t decry this amount. But I ask, do we really need to spend even that much per year? And does anyone really need to spend more?

Most of the families that I know now spend a lot less. Many have little or no budget, maybe $200 a year.

That might be hard for you to hear. That might even seem a bit crazy to you.

But what is even crazier is that these families still have plenty of clothing and they are, for the most part, quite content with what they have.

A Full Closet With a $200 Clothing Budget

When my husband and I committed ourselves to Jesus, we walked away from my salary to have children and gave up many things. This included a clothing budget. For three years, our clothing budget was around $200, and 90% of that went towards my husband’s clothing since he was working out of the home.

That is correct – mom, one girl and then a second girl, had a full wardrobe with $20 a year. And no, we did not make our own clothing. God, as He promised, provided us with clothing.

We did not ask anyone for clothing, we only prayed for it. And it came! Friends and family would come to us with bags and boxes over those three years, and my girls had so many dresses that we ended up passing some on to others. We also have a neat Grandma who has given myself and the girls a few new things, which is always fun and a true blessing to us.

And me? Again, God provided. People would say, hey, I got this skirt but it is too long for me, do you think you would like it? And it would not only be something that I liked, but it would match a top I already had! Clothing even came from distant family members that had no idea of our situation.

Just a Little Bit More Now

Although I was happy to make do with what I had, I did get to spend $200 this year on clothing for myself. It was like WOW, I get to spend that much!!! I used to be so ungrateful for what I had so many years ago.

Now I can’t even imagine needing that much over the next few years. I am blessed to have what I have.

 What is your clothing budget?

What if you “fasted” from purchasing clothing for a year, do you think you would appreciate what you have more?

 How do you feel about how the media portrays woman’s shopping habits?

Two Radical Ways To Reduce Debt

Here is our story of how God racially got us out of debt!
Here is our story of how God radically got us out of debt!

Do you want to travel? How about change jobs, move or start a home business? Do you feel a calling to ministry, evangelism or aid work? Do you want more time with your family or be able to start a family? Do you want to get more involved with you local community or have a hobby you have always wanted to try?

Is your debt keeping you from doing these things?

 The Serious Issue of Debt

Are you in debt? If so, how much debt?

I am sure, like most people, you don’t really want to be in debt. Maybe you aren’t even sure how you got into debt.

Maybe, during the course of growing up, you came to believe that it was your right to own a home, a nice car, and all the furniture and clothing you want.

Or maybe you went through a trial of a lost job or an illness or accident that took everything you had.

Our Debt Story

Unfortunately, we were the first scenario. We thought it was our right to have everything we wanted – NOW.

We were in nearly $220,000 worth of debt when we had a radical change of heart in our lives. We wanted to start a family. But I, the woman of the house, was the primary (actually, only) wage earner. We not only wanted me to stay home with the children while they were little, but we wanted to homeschool them right though to college age. And we did not just want to have two children, but as many as God willed.

So we prayed and asked God what to do. And He answered and directed us to do two very radical things.

1 – Sell All That We Have

We put our house up for sale. At that time, the market in our area was still pretty good, so we were able to sell our house, which we had for five years, for enough to payoff the mortgage, our line of credit, and most of our credit cards. We sold some other things that we did not need for basic survival, including some music equipment and furniture. We also tried to sell our car, but we owed more than it was worth. More on that later.

Yes, we rent at the moment. To some people, this does not make sense. But people are loosing their homes or their homes are not worth as much as they owe. Many are not free to do what they really want in their life.

I understand, that for some people, their house is what they want for their life and others have plenty of money and their payment is of no consequence. If God is not leading you to sell your home, but you are in debt, He is trying to show you what you do need to get rid of.

Two_Radical_Ways_to_Reduce_Debt_Image_2

 2 – Return What We Can’t Sell

When we could not sell our car, a Jeep that we were paying about $535 a month for, we returned it to the dealership we purchased it from. Yes, we were without a car for the moment. Yes, we still owed $3100 after they sold it. And yes, this does sound pretty radical.

 But God convicted and God provided.

Just a week or two after we received our bill for the balance of the Jeep, we received $3200 in the mail from something from our past that we weren’t sure we were ever going to get. We paid the auto financing company and we were almost debt free.

Then God brought us a car. A long term loan from a friend named Hezekiah. Hezekiah was a Honda with 300,000 miles on it. It ran and we were grateful. Eventually, we were given two cars from family (again, quite used, but running, they each had an 80 Gallon air compressor) and then after awhile, the doors opened to make payments to a lady for her van. We still own the van and the lady was grateful – she never ACTUALLY had anyone finish paying her off for something like that before.

Almost There

We are now 95% debt free. We actually made the choice to purchase something, partially on debt for our health and to build up a little credit. We are diligent and it will be paid for soon.

Now we have three lovely children and counting. We are homeschooling them. We are serving God, our community and our family. Money worries and stress are significantly lower than they were. Being free of debt has only been a blessing.

What are your radical getting out of debt stories? Do you need some help getting out of debt? Feel free to ask questions, I would love to be of help.

Disclosure: Some links in this post are affiliate links.

If you are looking for a gentler way to reduce your debt and manage your budget, you should check out – You Need a Budget!