If you have kids, chances are you have more random expenses than you ever expected. Chances are, your income just doesn’t stretch the way it did before those little kidlets came along. If you are a mom who wants to save money, Columbia is a great place to be! Keep reading to learn my Top 10 Money Saving Tips for a Columbia Mom!
1. Buy Groceries at Aldi!
We are lucky to have THREE different Aldi locations in our area and they are all stocked with great bargains. If you are new to Aldi, I would challenge you to switch for just a month and I am confident your budget will show a significant savings. Click here for tips to get the most bang for your buck at Aldi!
2. Get Thrifty!
There are so many fantastic thrift stores in our area that you could pretty much never buy new again. My personal favorite is Palmetto Thrift Store but there are many more! Plan your shopping strategy with our thrift store guide. Also, don’t forget buying second hand on Facebook Buy/Sell/Trade groups or clothes swapping via social media. (Maybe a shout-out to your Facebook friends: “I have girls’ size 8 clothes to share….can anyone offer me some boys’ stuff in size 6-7?” If you are lucky you might find the perfect mama to trade with!) Finally, we are entering consignment sale season so there will be tons of opportunities to find used items at a steal. That’s right, Tot Trade is coming up on March 14th!
3. Buy Gas at Costco.
If you live on the Harbison side of town, you might want to switch to Costco for gas. Their prices are regularly 6 to 12 cent less than average, and on top of that you can earn money back on each dollar by signing up for their credit card. It makes sense to factor in the membership fee, but for our family we have already made that back in our rebate and gas savings. Of course, having a Costco membership might become a money pit if you aren’t careful! Just like shopping at any store, you really need to be strategic about your purchases and make sure that bulk produce isn’t going bad in the fridge. That’s something I’m working on constantly and it leads right up to my next tip:
4. Get Serious About Meal-Planning.
I know this has been said a billion times through the history of the blogosphere but that doesn’t make it any less true! Meal planning is the best way to cut excess grocery costs, eliminate waste, and keep from becoming a frazzled basket-case at 5 p.m. each day. If you are like me, you are overwhelmed by the daily task of feeding a family healthy meals and the idea of planning ahead can be equally daunting. I would encourage you to simplify your ideas of meal planning and try a more minimalist approach (for example: Mondays-Pasta, Tuesdays-Tacos, Wednesdays-Salad, Thursday-Soup, etc.). Here is a very practical guide to simple meal planning success from the Minimalist Mom. I love having an easy way to post my planned meals with this magnetic chalkboard menu!
5. Go Digital.
Swear off buying new media and start downloading digital books and movies from the library instead of purchasing physical copies. It takes a little bit of patience, but there are great titles available for free! Through Richland Library we download books each month using overdrive and the kindle app. We also download ten audio books each month from Hoopla and my kids absolutely love listening to them. (We recommend the Boxcar Children; my four year old and ten year olds are equally engrossed!) There are also a surprising amount of free kindle books on Amazon, click here to check them out. Honestly, buying physical copies of media is so 2007.
6. Entertain the Kids for Less.
Here at the Moms Blog we love to keep you updated on fun (and often free) activities for the whole family. Be sure to follow us on social media to stay informed on those. Don’t forget all the fantastic parks and playgrounds in the area: 4 small parks in the Midlands, a Mom’s Guide to Lexington Parks, Summer Splash Pad Guide. Also, did you know that Edventure offers $1 admission for families who are on Medicaid?
My parents have been purchasing their meat from Zaycon for awhile now and it is incredibly fresh at bargain prices! If you are blessed with a large freezer space this could transform your meat budget. Just be sure to plan ahead so that none of that fresh meat goes to waste! (Going back to Meal Planning!)
8. Reusable vs. Disposable.
If you have kiddos in diapers, it makes sense to consider cloth! Although cloth diapering costs can get a bit high, it’s completely possible to diaper on a strict budget. Click here for a Beginner’s Guide to Cloth. In addition to cloth diapers, using reusable options in place of disposable napkins, paper towels, and wipes can lower your monthly costs as well. If you are really ready to go radical in the reusable arena, think about switching from disposable feminine products to their reusable counterparts; many women (including me) prefer them!
9. Scrutinize Your Own Budget.
Personalize your money-saving habits to fit your lifestyle. Knowing where your money is going is key! Try taking a month to record every penny spent. It will open your eyes to areas that could be eliminated or cut down as well as helping you create a realistic budget in the future. For example, stopping for drive-thru drinks and snacks can really add up. You might realize that packing snacks in the car could free up quite a sum of money! (like enough for a nice dinner out). Knowledge is power, so don’t be in the dark on where your money is truly going.
10. Don’t Spend.
I have to talk about this for just a moment because changing my mindset about possessions has made the biggest difference in our budget and our quality of life, as I have shared before. The more I have cut out the LESS we seem to need. (I suppose because my definition of NEED has really changed.) Minimalism has cleared our home and my mind and helped me to view everything with more clarity. A few simple ways to give minimalist spending a try are deliberately scheduling spend-free days each week, challenging yourself to eat down the contents of your cupboard before shopping, or avoiding stores during high stress times of your life. Whatever you do remember, the best way of saving is by not spending at all.