This post comes from Melissa from Mom's Plans as part of the Yakezie Blog Swap. You can see my post on the same topic on her site.
I am on an unpaid leave of absence due to the birth of my daughter last spring. I was given a very generous leave of absence (14 months!). I am using this as a trial run to see if we can live without my salary so that I may stay home when my kids are little. As a result, I have to question every single purchase every day.
The best way I have found to cut costs on a daily basis is to always ask myself, “Can I spend less money?” Asking this question and searching for a lower cost alternative has lead to a number of different outcomes.
*My son is taking a dance class that costs $48 a month. Right now, there is not an extra $48 in the budget, so the easy solution would be to pull him from the class, but he enjoys it, and I think it is good for him. Instead, I asked the dance teacher if there was financial aid or anything I could do to reduce his fee. She agreed to let me clean the dance studio once a month in return for free tuition.
*In the past, I know that some tenants have kept up the lawn and received a discount on rent. I asked the landlord if we could do it this year; she was more than happy to agree. We will start keeping up the lawn in April in exchange for a discount on rent.
*I have a mean Starbucks addiction. My preferred drink is a soy Caramel Frappuccino with no whip, no drizzle. While yummy, this drink costs $5.31. Clearly, that is not in the budget. I bought the caramel syrup from Starbucks along with the caramel coffee. It cost me $20 to buy these (the equivalent to a little less than 4 drinks), but I am guessing I can easily get 20 to 30 homemade coffees from this, dropping my cost to less than $1 per drink.
*At the grocery store, one way I cut costs is to buy items that can be used for multiple purposes. Whole wheat hamburger buns usually run $2 to $3.50 for 8. Instead of paying that, I buy the whole wheat English muffins when they are on sale 6 for $1. I store the extra in the freezer, and we can use them for breakfasts, as buns for Sloppy Joes and hamburgers, etc.
While it is true that we have had to make some changes to our life style, it is important to both me and my husband that I stay home with the kids while they are little. Every time I want to buy something that is not in the budget, I ask myself if I can find a way to pay less money. If I can’t, I ask myself if I want it so badly it is worth going back to a job I don’t really enjoy just for the paycheck. It never is.