We are a family of five and two rabbits and I am a stay at home mom. People often wonder how we do it. On top of that my health is not great, I have about a third of the energy of a regular mom, so I have to get creative with how I spend my time and my resources.
Here are some of the things I do to save money.
- We sold our big van and bought a smaller car that is cheaper to drive and cheaper to run. The taxes are about half of what they were for the big van. Taxes in Belgium mare crazy expensive, so saving on them makes a big difference.
- I like to buy in bulk. I have a pantry of staples. I try to go grocery shopping only once a week, the less you go the the store the less you will be tempted to buy things you don’t need. And I try not to send my husband to the store, he will come home with stuff we really don’t need.
- I meal plan and we don’t go out to eat. I plan my meals around what I have in my pantry and around what is on sale at the store. We also have a few meals that repeat weekly, like Wednesday is pancake day and Saturday is pizza day. The boys love helping to make these meals.
- I use my freezer. I make ahead meals, I make double meals, I freeze meat. My freezer is always stocked full. We buy bread in bulk and freeze it and pull it out as we need it, this way we don’t waste hardly any food.
- We eat leftovers. I do not throw away food. I will eat leftovers for lunch or use it for dinner the next day. And any veggies or fruit that are left or whatever we haven’t eaten, the rabbits are more than happy to have. They eat just about any fruit or veggie.
- I don’t buy laundry detergent or dishwasher detergent. I bought christal wash balls to do my laundry, i love them, they have been well worth the investment. I make my own dishwasher detergent: 1 cup borax, 1 cup baking soda end 10 drops lemon essential oil and I use vinegar in the rinse cycle for both the dishes and the laundry.
- I buy all my kids clothes on sale or second hand. I wait for the sales to come and then buy ahead for the following year. So come summer I will buy clothes in size 9 for my eight year old to wear the following year. I keep bins of all the clothes in a wardrobe organized by size.
I just went to a huge garage sale (“Rommelmarkt” in Dutch) this weekend and bought about 30 items of brand clothes for 0.50€ to 1€ a piece, some of it was not even worn. It was well worth it.
- I make a lot of food from scratch, I make my own pie dough, pizza crust, spaghetti sauce, biscuits, cookies, soups, stock, pancakes, crepes, cakes, etc.
- I cancelled my phone subscriptions and went to pre-paid card. We have internet at home and most people have an iPhone or iPad, so you can call them for free with facetime and send messages with imessage. I spend about 5 euros per month on my phone costs.
- I have stopped shopping. I do not buy new clothes for myself. I have soooo many clothes, I decided to just use what I have. I only replace items now and really think about whether I really need something new. I don’t want to get sucked into the fast fashion trend. You only need a couple of key items to have a put together wardrobe.
- I buy second hand. I thrift, I shop second hand online stores like kapaza.be and tweedehands.be in Belgium. A lot of my kids toys were second hand.
- I try to sell my stuff online. All these little bits help. I have sold a lot of our baby gear online and made a couple of 100 euros selling stuff.
- We don’t drink store bought juice. We drink water, tea or coffee. In summer I make my own iced tea and we make our own smoothies.
- We don’t have a landline, we only use our cell phones or the internet to stay in touch with people.
- We do regular maintenance on our appliances to keep them running properly. If something breaks, we check if we are still within guarantee or if we could fix it ourselves. We have already fixed our dryer, our oven, our fridge and our vacuum this way, saving us lots of money.
- I only heat the living room and the bathrooms, in all the other rooms we turn the heat off. We don’t heat the bedrooms, they are mainly for sleeping.
- When I can I walk or ride my bike to where I need to go.
- When we do go out to eat, we go to MacDonald’s. We no longer get the Happy Meals. The kids don’t really care about the toys, and they never eat the whole meal. So we just supersize our menus and share drinks and fries and let them pick a burger that they want. Everyone is happy and we have less clutter to take home.
- Instead of buying gifts for people, we will make our own. We like to bake, so we’ll make them cookies or a cake or re-gift something we don’t use.
- I don’t buy printer paper. I reuse paper that we receive like in the mail or from school information. Most papers that come in are only printed on one size, so I just put the in the printer upside down and print on the white side. It probably doesn’t make a huge difference, but it’s the little things right and it’s better for the environment. Plus we don’t print a whole lot at all.
I could probably keep adding to this list. Do you have great ways to save money? Let me know. I’m always looking for new ways to be frugal! :)
Have a great day and God Bless.