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Thread: How to decrease family spending?

  1. #1

    Default How to decrease family spending?

    My goal is to cut back from working full time to part time when the new baby is born this summer. However -- I think we spend too much and I'm not sure how to cut back! Any of you mommas have ideas, especially those who have taken big reductions in income, or become SAHM's?
    Katie (34) DH (33). DS1 Derek (3), DS2 Adam (1)

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Blog Entries


    Don't eat out very often. Pack your lunch. Shop sales for various items and/or shop at discount stores. Buy gently used clothing or buy at season end for next year. Buy used cars only. Save, save, save now while you are still working - redo your budget and live now like you would be with the reduced income.

    When I stopped working we lost 2/3 of our income. Now my DH does make about what I made when I stopped working so we are still short 1/3 of what we had been making together.
    Jessica (33) and Ryan (33). Madelyn born August 5, 2009; Malachi born December 23, 2010 and Nathaniel born July 19, 2013. Lost a loved baby 02/29/12, 05/14/12 and 07/05/12 all due a serious allergic reaction to fabric softener.
    My Ovulation Chart , My blog about MCAD

  3. #3


    You can cloth diaper and breastfeed to save money. We got rid of cable, and I have a very cheap cell phone plan. I plan out my meals and make most of my meals from scratch, which is cheaper than prepared foods.

  4. #4


    We took a large reduction of income when I became a SAHM.

    It was easy for me, though, because I'm so... stingy naturally. We just had to stop putting as much in savings.

    So, take this with a grain of salt, but these are some of the things we do to keep expenses down:

    No TV
    Eat out very seldom
    Our activities are mostly to free places, like hiking or going to the beach
    Only have one car, and it's a Prius so it gets good gas mileage
    No one ever needs more than one pair of shoes (unless you need something for work that you can't wear daily)! And one pair of sandals.
    I never buy clothes new for Maiya, we only get hand me downs or buy them at the thrift store (or gifts from others)
    I almost never buy myself clothes, either. Same for hubby. We basically only buy clothes to replace stuff that is worn out, and it's usually what we get each other for Christmas and birthday gifts (thrilling, our life!).
    In fact, other than groceries, we don't hardly ever buy anything... I almost never wear make up, so only buy that like once every few years... Don't get my hair done, or nails... Don't have any gym memberships (hiking is enough for me, for now!). We do have memberships at places we frequent, so we tend to frequent the same place (works well for a toddler who likes what she knows!).
    And yes, cloth diapering and breastfeeding! Also not buying all the typical baby stuff, or too many toy for the kids...

    Whew, does that make me sound awful, or what?? Don't worry, all the money I save goes to things like Hawaii, so I'm not totally depriving my child.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    In a Pineapple under the sea


    We got rid of cable, kept the Internet and just use Netflix/Hulu/Amazon. Saved us about $80/month. I buy used clothing at Once Upon A Child, plan to breast feed and cloth diaper the 2 upcoming babies as I did my DD. and will be cooking at home a lot.

    Todays avatar was brought to you by shirtwoot!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    New York


    I read an awesome, short, to the point book called Wealth Watchers. It's written by a woman who took the weight watchers model of weight loss and applied it to budgeting. It's a really easy way of figuring out how much extra money you have to spend per day to live a debt free life. You pretty much just take your income, subtract all your fixed (rent, mortgage, insurance, car payment etc) and variable (groceries, gas ect) monthly expenses, subtract how much you put into savings per month and divide that number by 30. We ended up being able to spend something like $45 a day each and still balance out to $0 at the end of the month. I got it from my library.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2007


    We have been on 1 salary since 2007 and it's NOT easy where I live. We do what the other ladies mentioned - no eating out, strict budgeting, use cash, breastfeed (although I am not doing that to save money it's just a nice bonus ). Also meal planning can REALLY help you save money on groceries. We use a certain amount of cash/week and stick to that. Only use credit cards for gas and groceries. You can get rid of cable and use hulu and/or netflix. We have a prepaid cell phone - no iphones or anything like that....

    It's doable but not easy. If it's that important to you you will find a way to make it work. I think lots of people look at us/me and think, "it must be nice to be able to be a SAHM" but they have NO idea what we sacrifice for me to do this. I will hopefully be starting to do freelance illustration again this year to help bring in some more $ because the older my kids get the harder it is to afford this....
    Thing 1 (8), Thing 2 (5), Thing 3 (2)

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2005


    Everyone has given good advice. I will add that you can also take advantage of lots of free or low cost entertainment. Parks, libraries, schools, etc. often offer family activities. Also many restaurants have nights when kids eat free. We take advantage of those nights for eating out! If we all get water to drink instead of $1.99 drinks my family of 5 can eat out for $20-$25 dollars.
    Parenthood: That state of being better chaperoned than you were before marriage.
    A parent's love is whole no matter how many times divided.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2006


    We cut our income by 1/2 when I started staying home. For us though, we knew this is what we wanted so we planned in advance. We purchased a smaller home, put lots of money in savings and live pretty frugally in general. So, when we lost that income we had to stop saving... unfortunately meant saving for retirement as well. But, we also don't eat out much, don't take trips, do not have the latest technology (like iphones and such). Five years later we still manage to have some of that money in savings, since DH has had raises we do have leases on new cars and we do splurge on things like cable since we find ourselves home a lot.
    Growing fast... DD1 (6) & DD2 (4)
    Forever loved, forever missed... Twin Girls with us for 19w3d 6/12/06

  10. #10


    Being a SAHM means just being aware of what you spend. Before we'd buy whatever but now we're conscious of where our money goes. I'd suggest just looking at your last month's bank statement and see what you could cut back on. Ours was eating out, buying crap we didn't need at the store and the amount we spent on everyone's birthday and Christmas presents throughout the year. In the next two months we'll be buying 11 birthday presents! Just cutting back $10 from each gift, we can save $110 in a couple of months. With all the people in our families, it definitely adds up over time.

    I've also done more things myself like mowing our own yard and ironing DH's shirts. Just by ironing his shirts myself, we save almost $500 a year. And about $700 in yard work.

    Little things add up so before you do anything drastic, see where you're spending you're money. It can make a big difference!

  11. #11


    Most of what we do has been mentioned. Our biggest expense is food since we buy mostly organic so I seek out local farmers for meat and produce as that saves us quite a bit of money.
    I do not buy myself or the kids new clothes. Everything is second hand. Everything.
    We eat out about once a month at most, with my son's food allergies it's hard to go anywhere anyway.
    We closed off our lower level for the winter to save heat.
    no cable, no internet on my phone (dbf needs it for work)
    Find free or inexpensive activities

  12. #12


    i'm not a sahm, but we've had to cut back significantly because of the economy, b/c of what that means for my job, b/c my husband quit his job to start a business, and b/c we need to save more for college/retirement. We didn't go as far as some above, but we do the following:
    -the local lists of free kids meals and events,
    -buy books used via amazon or (better) at our library system's used book store
    -We still eat out occasionally, but almost entirely with coupons/groupons/gift cards to cut back on costs
    -I shop with coupons and spend hours every weekend matching circulars with coupons and our own needs (but I'm not one of those people with a stockpile; yeah, we have a dozen bottle of v8 fusion or boxes of pasta but nothing that could be considered a hoard. we don't have a big freezer, either. I guess if you can invest in one of those box freezers, you might be able to buy and freeze larger, cheaper quantities of meats, fish, and prepared foods.) Since starting this, we have saved $1000s/year. While we might try something new (as the advertisers hope), for the most part, we're only buying things that we would have bought anyway; I think that matters in terms of your ability to save from your current budget.
    -I buy online when i can to save on tax (and overall price) and use coupons and/or upromise mall, and/or's malls to earn extra dollars back or airline miles
    -When nicholas was a baby, i had a ton of used clothing. Now, it's mostly new (largely b/c my nephew's hand-me-downs are the wrong size or season) but it's all bought on sale, with those discounts as well, and often at the end of the season. I did alot of shopping for next winter before and after christmas this yr. Not everything b/c I don't know for certain how big he'll be but for things like the next size up in shoes, underwear, or jeans or pjs, he'll go through those at some pt regardless.
    -amazon mom, if you don't already do that
    -we stopped putting into my son's college fund for a bit, while my husband got things up n running. we know what we owe him, though, and will fill in. we have not let anything related to health/life insurance or retirement lapse, though. We'd sell our home and move to something smaller before we depleted those savings. (I've been looking at homes for the last few months and we will probably downsize and move to the cheaper, neighboring state in coming years.)
    -we have had no vacations. one in the 5 yrs since we were married. (This doesn't count the too-rare quick trips to visit parents or great grandmas, but that's just airfare and nothing else in those cases.) We need one, though; i will say that the inability to get a change of scenery and a break... and the inability to go out as a couple (with babysitting being so expensive) has taken a toll on us. We are talking about ways to get more relief... using some of those airline miles this summer.

    Not as frugal as could be, but maybe it helps.
    Last edited by ibisgirldc; 01-25-2013 at 12:16 PM.

  13. #13


    I went back from full time high salary job to SAHM for several reasons. Our biggest expense was the mortgage and related house expenses (electric, gas, etc). We downsized significantly. It took my DH a year to get used to it and fully accept it, not that he was not on board, he was 100%, but he just kept talking how we can eventually buy a bigger house.

    After we pay our bills, we contribute to retirement first, emergency savings fund second, investment and college equally, then we spend the rest if any.

    We found that with us the next big thing was eating out and we stopped going out often and when we did, it was in not so expensive places, sometimes with coupons. Preparing our meals was part of that. I am pretty picky about what we eat so I don't use coupons but we live very close to Trader Joes which offers healthy affordable food for us.

    Vacations had to be cut out quite a bit. We have not had a family vacation to a nice place for years. We take time off, and visit local places. We will do nicer vacas once I am working and kids are in school.

    Dh and I dress from Kohls with coupons and we buys second hand clothes for the kids or we find deals.

    We are careful not to get into more debt. That's pretty much what we have done.
    Last edited by tanyachap; 01-25-2013 at 01:22 PM.
    KEVIN (6) & MATTHEW (4)

  14. #14


    Thanks ladies for all the great suggestions! I am going to start putting some of my salary into savings each paycheck to see what we can cut back on. I think we can do it but we will just need to talk about which changes are best for our family.
    Katie (34) DH (33). DS1 Derek (3), DS2 Adam (1)

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jan 2007


    Before kids I was making about 2/3 of our family income but DH gets state retirement with his job. So I stayed home with the kids and he is working. We do many things other have mentioned earlier. We also did the following in preparation for me to stay home while I was still working and had income:

    1) We used my paycheck to pay off credit cards (I had some, DH had some both from pre-marriage so we go rid of that)
    2) We traded in my car on which I still had 4 years of $600+ a month payments for a low-cost vehicle (much smaller payment, much shorter time to pay off)
    3) We paid off DH's truck (we only had about 6 months left on it)

    Now we focus on maintaining our cars. We have been without car payments for a while now and don't plan to buy another vehicle if we cannot pay for it in full. We also focus on staying debt free.

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