Many parents feel that it is the duty of at least one partner to stay home and raise the kids rather than sending them off to daycare so that the household can have two incomes. And unless the second income is significantly more than the cost of daycare it doesn’t really make sense for both parents to work anyway. However, this could mean that the household budget is a bit tight, especially in a recession economy. But there are plenty of ways to cut costs, save money, and make every dollar go a little bit further. So here are just a few tips for the frugal family attempting to operate on a single income.
- Cut non-essentials. Do you really need 1,000 channels of HD cable when you could probably get by with a hundred SD channels at less cost? What about the monthly charges for Netflix and Hulu? And couldn’t you give up on eating out two or three times a week in order to save a little cash? The answers to these questions are yes. We all have to prioritize how our money is spent, so if you’re skirting the line where you may not be able to pay bills if even small unexpected costs arise it’s definitely time to cut non-essential expenses to better live within your means.
- Consider electric cars. These are not only good for the environment; they’re also great for anyone operating on a restricted budget. You might be a little worried about the up-front cost of purchasing such a vehicle, but with more people demanding eco-friendly options the prices are starting to come down, and both electric and plug-in hybrids may be eligible for excellent government incentives at both the federal and state level. You’ll also save a ton on the cost of fuel. This is a great option for most stay-at-home parents (who likely travel only within a small geographic radius anyway) and it might work out for parents that work, as well, so long as they live relatively close to home.
- Plant a veggie garden. For the parent that’s home all day with kids, life can be a bit tedious. After all, you can only watch Disney flicks so many times before you want to tear your hair out. So get yourself and the kids outdoors each day by planting and tending to a garden full of fruits and vegetables. Growing your own is not only a great way to get the organic produce you want, but it will provide you with a fulfilling personal vocation (aside from parenthood) and help you to cut your food bill a bit.
- Conserve energy. It may not seem like switching to CFL bulbs, installing low-flow toilets, and collecting rainwater for your garden will save you much, but over time your conservation efforts could pay off big time for both your utility bills and the environment.
- Get extreme – with coupons! You might look at those extreme coupon moms and think they’re crazy to spend eight hours a day finding deals and stockpiling goods, but considering that some of them claim to save up to $20,000 a year using everything from grocery store and retail coupons to Amazon deals to the infrequent Verizon promo code, they could just be onto something. Plus, it’s a task that nearly every stay-home parent can tackle to some extent.