I pride myself on staying on a frugal mama budget. Ever since I was young, I’ve loved a bargain. And my thrifty lifestyle comes with many financial lessons that I plan on passing onto my kiddos.
I consider myself very lucky to be able to stay home with my children as a work-at-home mom by freelancing online with sites like Fiverr and Transcribe Anywhere. But my life remains a juggling act between watching my sons, working, and paying the bills.
Life’s chaotic, but we’re happy.
Still, I’m always looking for ways to cut corners, so that my family can keep this lifestyle that works for us. I’ve found that a frugal mama budget takes effort, a bit of research, and some dedication. But with some simple strategies, there are many ways that you can save.
And if you’re eager to pass on some of these strategies to your loveable rascals, then check out how this frugal mama makes every buck count.
1. We Shop at Thrift Shops and Walmart
I’m going to let you in on a little secret. I buy all of my kids’ clothes from thrift shops and Walmart. No joke. And my kiddos receive compliments on their creative attire all of the time. The only exception is when I receive clothes as gifts.
Why do I not spend 50 plus dollars on a six-month-old’s tuxedo? Because my kiddos grow faster than the roadrunner. Sometimes it feels like my sons have grown out of a new outfit before I can even wash it. (Okay, my laundry tends to sit for a while.)
So why spend so much money on kids’ clothes? I don’t.
I’ve found ways to avoid buying a newborn onesie for ten bucks. How? Before having children, I had no idea that baby thrift shops existed. But they’re everywhere. Seriously! Can you believe that in a 20-mile radius from where I live, there are four baby consignment shops?
These lifesavers sell adorable name brand clothes for a fraction of the original cost. I’m talking onesies for 50 cents and complete outfits for my three-year-old for around four bucks a pop.
And get this, some of these stores even have annual clear out merchandise events when they knock down the prices even more. One such event charged four bucks for a trash bag, and you could fill it to the top with clothes!
Sure, I had to wait for like two hours to check out, but my husband was on kid duty. So I had no problem taking my time. I even stuffed in a few more outfits that caught my eye while waiting in line. I loaded that bag to its full capacity. And it was so heavy that the cashier pulled a muscle while lifting it.
Once in a while, I do buy new clothes. But only from the baby section of Walmart. It’s the only department store that keeps us on budget. There I can buy shorts for around two bucks and find clearance items that sometimes match the thrift shop prices.
Plus after downloading my Ebates app, I even get cash back for shopping at Walmart. Right on!
My three-year-old son’s favorite shirt is one we got from Walmart that was a whopping two bucks! It features a dinosaur swallowing a car: two of his favorite things. And if he had it his way, he’d wear that shirt every day.
Don’t worry, although I’m all about saving money, having my loveable little dirtball wear the same shirt every day is way too frugal for my taste.
But shopping at Walmart and thrift shops saves me so much money on clothes. And yes, my kids still rock out in style. I even found that tuxedo for my six-month-old that he showcased at a wedding. It was $5! Can I get a standing ovation for that one?
My nuggets have never stepped inside a boutique, or expensive clothing store, so thrifty is all they know.
I think this is a good thing. Buying used and cheap clothing provides more money in the frugal mama budget and allows us to pay for more necessities – like the water bill.
2. We check out Free and Discounted Family Events and Activities
As a work-at-home mom, it’s easy to become a hermit. But I know that I need more in-depth conversations than talking about why Elmo is the color red. And my kids need some socialization.
That’s why I scour events that are free and discounted on Facebook and in the local paper. My munchkins love blueberries and apples, so picking blueberries and going to an apple orchard are cheap and fun outings.
Not only are these reasonably priced kid-friendly activities, but they also get my kiddos active and outside.
Plus, we go home with food: A frugal mama’s dream!
We also are a big fan of festivals. My parents, a.k.a. Mimi and Poppy, are semi-retired and are also big fans of festivals. They give us the lowdown on these magical free events that occur on many weekends. Our favorites are the strawberry, seafood, harvest, and cooter (believe it or not, it’s a turtle :)) festivals.
These festivals are free or a few bucks to enter and so worth it! While there, we usually enjoy art, music, and more.
3. We Grocery Shop and Prepare Food Together
The first time I went to the grocery store with a two-year-old and newborn, I was terrified. It was scary being outnumbered in public. But everyone’s gotta eat, right? And although I enjoy some trips to the grocery store alone, this is not always an option.
On that particular day, we ran out of milk, and my husband was working. My kiddos are milk guzzlers, plus I needed coffee. Emergency!
Although I have nightmares about my kiddo running the aisles and throwing molasses off of the shelf, grocery shopping with my children can be an incredible educational experience.
Yes, my baby sleeps or gagas in the cart, and he may not be old enough to take it all in yet. But my three-year-old learns about healthy choices, money, and other necessary life skills.
He also observes me when I use coupons. Coupons.com is one of my favorite sites that saves me money on every grocery trip. This site offers loads of savings online, and I don’t need to bother with pesky scissors.
But grocery trips with two young boys do not always resemble an academic fairytale. My little man has decided to have a tantrum more than once in the checkout lane while my baby starts belting out octaves.
But on some occasions, bringing the kiddos to the grocery store remains worth it. And many times it’s not a choice.
So, on these inevitable trips to grocery madness, I try to remember that my kiddos are learning about finances and nutrition from a young age. And they’re also developing a deeper connection to their food.
Because when my son sees those eggs that he recently put into the cart, his wheels turn. Then he helps me scramble those suckers that resemble my overflowing mind.
And luckily, he doesn’t care that we’re making breakfast for dinner for the second time that week.
4. We try our Best to Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle
My sons come with me to put the recycling out every other Wednesday. By putting in a little effort, we’re doing something that’s positive for our world.
It’s a selfless act that provides the opportunity to teach my kids to look out for the future. What does this have to do with a frugal mama budget?
Not only do we recycle our cardboard, endless milk jugs, yogurt containers, and more, but we also recycle our electronics. And electronics can cost a pretty penny to get rid of. But not with the sweet site Swappa.
This site allows you to sell your old electronics and buy refurbished gadgets on the cheap. Did you know that an estimated 50 million tons of e-waste were put in landfills in 2017?
Selling and reusing electronics not only saves me cash, but it also models and opens up the discussion about e-waste with my kiddos. Part of my frugal mama budget revolves around sustainability – A word I’d like my children to apply to their lives.
I’m by no means an environmental guru, but my husband and I do our best to instill lessons on this topic when we can. And this frugal mama is proud that we reuse clothes, participate in outdoor activities, and recycle. Because we’re not only learning about financial peace; we’re doing our best to build a sustainable future.
And small steps make big differences. Even if it is just one reused baby tuxedo at a time.