It has been Mark and I's goal for me to be a stay at home mom. This was both of our desires before we got married and before the thought of having kids entered our minds. With the birth of Maddie this was still our desire and for the first year or so I did stay home. I did try working but Maddie never settled in well when I did work. She would not sleep well, she would not eat well, nothing went well so I stayed home. Then Mark decided to go back to school and I needed to work in order for us to pay bills. When we found out we were having twins with our second pregnancy, going back to work was up in the air. Now it's pretty much off the table. First, there would be no money left after we paid for day care. Second, Mark and I's schedule does not work for only one of us to be with the kids so I can work. Third, we believe God has called me to stay home with the kids.
This book is not only good, it's GREAT! I have to say I am thankful that these ideas/way of life are not a total shock to my system. To some degree I am already implimenting some of these ideas, but she takes them to a whole new level! She has also given me a different perspective for reasons why she tries to save in the areas she does. I am so thankful the Lord brought this book into my life when he did. I'm thankful he choose to teach this to me now when my kids are still little!
"I look at saving money as a means to an end. It is a job I perform in order to afford my staying at home."
What she calls; "The Eleven Miserly Guidelines"
1. Don't confuse Frugality with Depriving yourself
*"My underlying goal of staying at home is more important than any guideline I try to follow. It is essential to my success."
*In order to make any idea in this book work for you, you must be very clear about why you are making the changes. Keep your goal at the forefront of your mind. Write it down and put it in an obvious place if you need the reminder.
Thought: I had not thought of my decision to stay home as a goal, something that need to be fought for and worked towards.
*Evaluate the things I think are needs because they may in reality be wants. If I give up these things I can put that money towards something more important. "We need to revisit the thinking of our elders who knew the virtue of saving up for things and doing without until they could afford them."
2. Remove little wasters of your money:
"We must program our thinking about money. It should never be used to make ourselves feel good or to be a measure of someone's love for us. Money should be looked at as a tool. It's there to get you to where you need to go. If you don't have a plan for it, it will be wasted. A budget is a plan for our money much like a date book is a plan for our time."
A. see where your money is going. make a list of expenses you have every month
B. list your usual source of income and amount of income for each month.
* use the base amount for essentials (rent, food, utilities, etc.)
* use commisions for savings for lean months
1.A suggestion she makes for staying in your budget is to put a index card in your check book. Have different columns for the areas you have budgeted for. For example for every grocery item you purchase you will write down the check number and how much the purchase was. When/if you have come to the amount you have decided on, you know you need to wait until the next time you have allowed yourself more grocery money. If I borrow from anothe column, I need to make sure I can do without that item before I borrow from it. (I really want to implement this idea).
3. Keep Track of Food Prices
She goes as far as pricing different grocerys at different stores. She breaks it down by the ounce, pound, gallon, etc. When she needs an item she looks at her list to see where it's the best deal. She goes a giant step further in knowing which store carries the best sale prices. She knows what is the lowest sale price she can get on an item she needs. She says she will drive within a 10 mile range, any further than that she says isn't worth it because you pay for it in gas. This is the challenge I am most excited at conquering but it's also the one I'm most intimidated by...baby steps, taking baby steps.
4. Don't buy everything at the same store
A.Plan= Making meals not by your random meal plan but making your menu by the sale items. The items in the front and back of the ad are called "lose leaders", because the store is loosing money on these items.
B. Coupons and Rebates=these are only good if you can use the coupon with an already on sale item. Also some generic items are cheaper than the brand name item you have a coupon for. Don't get hooked in with a coupon item. Check to make sure it really is cheaper to use the coupon! Coupon websites are http://www.coolsavings.com/, http://www.smartsource.com/, http://www.supermarkets.com/.
C. Shopping=Once the planning is done then she is able to go to the store and buy only what is on her list.
D. Types of Stores=again knowing how much things cost at the different stores such as sams, grocery stores, outlet malls, etc is important. it's going to help you know where you can get the best deal for the items you need.
6. Make your own whenever possible
"It wasn't that long ago that we made everything we needed. people even make their own baking soda. Recipes for just about everything you use can be found in some cookbook. The older the book the better."
One of her tips is whenever you make a meal double what you make. Eat one and freeze one. I love this idea because on the nights I'm too tired to cook anything, I'm running low on time I simply have to pull something out of the freezer and have a homemade "easy made" meal! We will not be as tempted to order pizza or go out to eat which would hurt our goal of having me be a stay at home mom.
She suggests buying meat in bulk. For example ground beef goes on sale fairly often. I would buy 20lbs of ground beef. When I get home I can brown a bunch of it ahead of time and put it in baggies in sizes I will need for meals. The other portions I can make into meatballs, meat loaf, hambergers, lasgna, the sky is the limit.
Buying produce and chopping up your veggies ahead of time for stir fry's, roasts, etc. Not only is this saving you money but saving you time. This kind of thing is not only money saving but critical time saving also. Supper like most families with little ones is crazy. Twins start fussing, Maddie's crying because she's hungry. Having meals I literally can throw together in a pan and now it will be ready in a hop, skip, and a jump is amazing.
I have talked this over with Mark and he has agreed with me that once a month or twice a month (which ever works the best) he will watch kids for me on a saturday so I can have time to get meals organized and ready. He knows sacrifing a morning or half a day will benefit all of us the rest of the month, etc.
Planning some meals that do not have meat is a huge money saver. Making such meals as bean and rice burritos, breakfast sandwhiches, egg bakes, etc. can pinch your pennies even further.
7. Eliminate Convenience Foods
* A resturant meal costs six to ten times more than one made from scratch.
* A frozen meal costs four times more than one make from scratch.
* A prepackaged mix costs three times more than one made from scratch.
* Precut foods (already salads, sliced carrots, shredded cheese) cost two times more than if you cut them yourselves.
A. Plan your meals, have a meal plan and specific shopping list. Make sure you aren't hungry when you're shopping.
B. become comfortable with our kitchen. Learn to cook some things from scratch.
C. buy items you use often in bulk. You are less likely to run out of your stock and rush to the store to get it and be tempted to buy other things you do not need.
The book has several wonderful and great recipes as examples of things you can make on your own. For the most part they are very easy and yummy. There are also easy and great craft for kids ideas! I plan on taking full advantage of these recipes. Everything from sidewalk chalk to finger paint, to making bird feeders for outside, how to make paper and that is only some of the great ideas!
There is even a section on teaching what you do and why you do it to your kids. Teaching them that we bargin shop because our goal is to have mommy stay home. But not only that but when we bargin shop we are also able to save up for vacations and to be able to do special things with our family. Teaching our kids to also bargin shop. Givng them a $1 or $2 and letting them pick something out while you shop. This will teach them to think about what they are buying, teaching them that they may need to put one item back in order to purchase another. She gives this example of teaching our kids the system. Her son lvoes a certain brand of ice cream that is very expensive. I normally don't buy ice cream unless it's a great sale or I have a wonderful coupon.One day I found him on the floor going through the sunday newspaper coupons. He found a great coupon for that brand of ice cream. he also saw that is was on sale at a local store. Eureka! At last he undersatnds! (And he got the ice cream). Those are the kind of moments I look forward to teaching my kids. Teaching them they are not being punished because we are being wise and careful with our money. But teaching them that because we are wise and careful with our money it allows us to bless others and to be blessed ourselves.
This is a long blog I know, but I gleaned so much from this book! I could go on and on and on and it seems I already. The key now is patience. Patience to allow the Lord to help me sort out all the lbs, ounces, gallons, etc. so I can make the best purchases that will save our family money. I am even going to try to stay away from malls, grocery stores when I'm not grocery shopping, even the salvation army and rummage sales are a great weakness to me! But I am confident I can do it! I'm so excited to start my family on a path to being extra wise and careful with our money allowing us to maintain and keep the reality of me being a stay at home mom!