7 Frugal Living Tips for Stay at Home Moms

Over 300 million American families have a full-time stay at home parent. For many, the cost of full-time daycare outweighs the benefits of having both parents in the workforce. Others always planned to have one parent stay with the children. Regardless of the reasons behind your stay at home parenting arrangement, raising a family on a single income is a financial adjustment.

With some small changes to your weekly routine, you don’t have to sacrifice fun or comfort to live more frugally, and you’ll be able to enjoy being home with your kids more with less financial stress. Stay at home parents can stretch the budget with these frugal living tips and reduce household expenses by $500 or more each month.

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How to Live More Frugally as a Stay at Home Parent

Food, items for the children, and entertainment can make up as much as 1/3 of a family’s spending per year, so stay at home moms (and the dads!) who follow frugal living tips can have a huge impact on the budget.

First, make a realistic budget. Find out where your money is currently going, and decide which expenses can be adjusted. Loans, insurance, and savings should be considered fixed, but there are other areas where your spending can be reduced. Figure out exactly what your current income is, and how much more you need to save each month to live responsibly.

Once you have a target budget, you can start to apply frugal living tips. Small changes can save money without sacrificing your quality of life. Don’t try to make all these changes overnight: if you feel deprived, these frugal living tips won’t become habits. Pick one or two that are related to your biggest budget items first, and try them consistently for a whole month. When you see your savings, you’ll be energized to add another tip.

1. Meal Plan

This one action can save the average family over 100$ a week. Without a plan and the right ingredients at your fingertips, meal time for busy families can quickly become stress time. Eating out or wasting food that doesn’t get cooked or that kids won’t eat adds up quickly!

Get your family’s food budget under control by setting aside a few hours a week to make a plan that includes meals and snacks your family will actually eat. Once you get used to planning and cooking most of your meals at home, you can increase your savings by coordinating your plan with store sales, seasonal produce, and buying in bulk for items you use most frequently.

Look for a planning service that can give you a head start with weekly menu suggestions. Use your plan to order online with one of the many grocery pick up services available at major chains. You’ll save even more by reducing your impulse purchases while you wander the aisles. Make meals as easy as possible by prepping your ingredients, planning to reuse leftovers, or having crock pot meals started in the morning.

2. Experiences, Not Toys

Instead of spending all your entertainment budget on things, consider investing in experiences instead. Ask grandparents to gift zoo or museum memberships instead of toys. Many areas have affordable community center classes or activities sponsored by local business and churches that can fill plenty of afternoons with free or cheap entertainment.

Make it easier on yourself by blocking ads in your social media and email promotions from companies that tempt you to buy adorable kids items. Watch streaming shows that don’t advertise new toys. If you have to go to stores with items you normally splurge on, avoid the toy aisles altogether. Out of sight is easier to put out of mind, for your kids and you.

3. A More Efficient Home

One surprising expense of being home full time with children is the added cost of home utilities that comes from using more electricity and heat each day. You can lower this cost by around 10% by making your home more efficient for a stay at home family by using green, frugal living tips. Replace light bulbs with LED and make sure you have appropriate insulation and draft protection.

Day to day, you can turn off the lights in unused rooms, keep your heating and cooling set at the most efficient settings, and only run full loads of laundry and dishes to save on water and heating costs. You can also decrease your fuel costs by taking family walks instead of driving to a park, or consolidating your errands to reduce your total number of driving trips.

4. Simpler Vacations

Getting some time away from the normal routine, either with the family or for some much-needed adult time is crucial for stay at home moms. Keep vacations in the budget by preserving the important elements and cutting anything unnecessary. Do you need some one-on-one time with your spouse?

Skip Vegas and get a sitter and find romantic outings to do in town. You still get a break and have evening time alone, but without the flight, hotel, and overnight childcare cost. Want a memorable family summer trip? Skip Disney and spend a week camping or in beach town off the beaten path. Being flexible with location or time of year can save you a bundle.

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5. Shop Used

Buying gently used children’s clothing or large items like playground toys, baby swings, or bikes is more accepted than ever. You can save money and protect the environment by helping items that are still in great shape find a new home at a fraction of the cost. Look for reputable resale stores, or online forums such as local buy sell trade groups on social media or secure online marketplaces. You can even resell your own items as your children outgrown them to make space in your home and help others find a good deal.

6. Kids Involvement

You may be surprised at how many frugal living tips your children have for saving money if you involve them in the process. Give your older child a birthday budget and let him know he can make choices about how much of it to spend on a party and how much will be left for a gift. When your child asks for something new, let them write it down on a list.

Also, remind them they can share that wish for gifting occasions or if they have their own money to buy it. In the meantime, offer a free activity you can do together instead. Ask them what they’d like to pack for a picnic instead of picking up fast food or give them a budget for snacks at the grocery store.

7. Homemade Treats

Stay at home moms know: sometimes you deserve a treat for all the hard work you do and to keep your patience when you’re at the mercy of the whims and schedules of little people. Those minor indulgences add up, though.

So, if your budget shows you’re spending money on treats that really aren’t in the budget, find ways to practice self-care on the cheap. Splurge on a $9 bottle of nail polish instead of a $40 manicure. Buy a great travel mug and a decent coffee to brew at home then drive past the café with your cash still in the bank.

Bottom Line

Being a stay at home mom is a big job, and exhausting work. Living frugally can make the experience of being a stay at home mom more rewarding. With less financial stress, you can enjoy those fleeting years while the kids are young and focus on the time spent together rather than the money you spend.

This list is just a start to help you save money with small changes. What new money saving tactics are you trying for your family this year?

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