It's official. Seeing as how the Canadian government has stopped sending cheques, *sob*, it would seem maternity leave has expired and I have crossed over into official "stay at home mum" territory. Since my new title doesn't come with an expense account, we're learning strategies in how to stay ahead knowing that me being home is paramount. Of course, this makes #26 on my 28in28 list a must rather than a mere goal. I'd thought I'd share some of the ways we're cleaning up our monetary diet.
What makes an enormous difference for us is meal planning. I sit down every Friday, create a list of our dinners for the following week and our family heads out to the Farmer's Market on Saturday morning seeking the ingredients necessary to create the dinners on my plan. Eating a clean diet free of preservatives, hormones and chemicals is very important to us - especially now that Ember eats what we're eating. I'll spare you my rants and passionate spewings on food, but I've become quite passionate about eating a clean, responsibly grown diet. As it can be a little more costly to eat this way, eating seasonally and going vegetarian a couple of nights a week makes a big difference. This means we can eat the way we want without compromising the budget. Bonus: We still get time out as a family by going to the Farmer's Market and walking around one of the city's older neighbourhoods. Economical day out!
Thankfully, we already cloth diaper and breastfeeding continues to be a success story so we don't have to worry about extra weekly expenditures. Even if you're not cloth diapering, try switching over to cloth wipes. Just purchase some inexpensive baby washcloths and use those to clean baby's tushy at each diaper change. You will do your pocket book and the environment a favour. Over your baby's time in diapers, you can save approximately $1500. (I still use disposable wipes for travelling and errands, but home we are all cloth, all the time. It's an especially easy switch to make if you're cloth diapering, just wash everything together.)
I make our cleaning supplies. It's amazing what you can do with baking soda, lemon and vinegar. From scratch, I make disinfectant spray, laundry detergent, creamy scrub and more.
We live in a condo so many of your typical household expenses are covered in our condo fees. However, we are on the hook for hydro. We have plugged the majority of our electronics into power bars and before going to bed each night, we switch off the power bar. In doing this, you eliminate the phantom power being drawn. Those little lights on your Blu-ray player that are on all night, the clock on your microwave, the blinking light on your cell phone charger - all phantom power. My in-laws put their electronics on power bars, began switching them off each night and immediately noticed a savings on their electricity bill within the first month.
After studying where our grocery money was going in the way of pre-packaged foods, I have began to make a lot of it from scratch. I'm putting all those wedding presents to use: I bake bread, make granola cereal, pasta and our yummy indulgent treats. This was an easy one as I love to spend time in the kitchen and I'm home during the day. I love how we don't have so much garbage in the way of packaging and I can control the quality of ingredients.
Some of the above are easier for us to implement since I am home, I realize that. I imagine whether a home has two working parents or one who stays home, budgeting is a reality for all of us. I would love to hear the creative steps your family has taken to curb spending.