a couple of things we do to save money

When we started looking to buy a house and move out of our apartment we were floored at the hidden costs of owning a home. Property tax, insurance and school taxes were far more expensive than we ever thought possible. On top of our mortgage we were looking at an extra four to five hundred dollars monthly to cover these “extra” costs. Who the hell has that type of money just laying around? We surely don’t. We’re a one income home (by choice), I stay home with Margs and Mer works full-time. Our decision to live this way is long story (in a nutshell, getting Margs here was hard as hell- but more on that another time) but it’s what we decided was best for our small family so we needed to brew up a plan to be able to pull off buying a home, providing for a baby and still living a  comfortable lifestyle. Now,when I say a comfortable lifestyle I’m talking about essentials here. We don’t vacation, we don’t splurge on stuff . I guess comfortable in our eyes means, eating good food, having enough cash to cover our monthly expenses and putting a little aside in our rainy day fund. We’re pretty simple people in that way.So here goes…

1. Babies are expensive.  When Margs was first born and we were living in the apartment I bought everything new.  I was a first time mom to a rainbow baby (baby born after pregnancy loss) so I had this intense need to get her the “best” of everything. Soon enough, I realized that baby items – clothes and toys especially are an enormous waste of money. This idea that I needed to get her the “best” of everything was my own issue and not at all related to my parenting (Intense mommy guilt with a whole lot of post partum depression and anxiety mixed in). As soon as I accepted that it was okay to buy used I started working with a local consignment shop and boom everything sort of fell into place. Now, I buy anything and everything I can used assuming that the items are in good condition and safe for Margs and we are all okay about it – happier even.

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I started off by dropping off a few items that we no longer used. Namely, a breast pump, floor play mat and a high chair. Soon enough I had enough store credit that I could replenish her wardrobe and toy needs without spending any money at all. Now, I drop off bags of Margs clothing and toys when she outgrows them and continue to build my store credit. When Margs needs something whether it be clothing, toys or other accessories I pass by the shop and have a good look around. Often, I can find exactly what I’m looking for – if I really can’t find it there I will buy at other stores but more often than not the consignment store satisfies our needs.

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Margs’ new shoes. Picked up yesterday along with a bunch of new outfits pictured above using my store credit.

2. Selling our clothing and things we don’t wear online.  Mer works in an office setting so he needs a pretty substantial wardrobe so that he can look presentable on a day to day basis. I tend to wear the same things day in and day out (stay at home mom life anyone?) but do like to replace certain items from time to time. We used to hoard our clothes assuming (hoping?) that at some point we’d start wearing certain items again. When it came time to pack we realized just how much clothing we actually had but more importantly how much of that clothing we never wore. We brought it all with us and slowly I’m sorting and selling it online. It  helps earn us a couple of extra bucks every week that I use towards grocery or stocking up on essentials. I would have started a consignment system with our stuff if there was a local one that dealt with adult clothing – but, no such luck.

Doing this does take a little effort since you’ve got to photograph everything. I’ve joined some local online garage sale sites via facebook where I post lots of our clothing for sale on a weekly basis. Some weeks we sell more other weeks less but every little bit helps.

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Here’s a recent lot I posted for 20$.

3. Stockpiling essentials.

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This might sound counter intuitive because you’re essentially spending money to save money but we’ve discovered that it really does save us a ton of money in the long run. We’re pretty picky about our laundry detergent but hate paying full price for it. When it goes on sale we stock up. Usually, this involves visiting multiple locations of the same store to stock pile the sale since in this area most stores put a limit on how many items you can buy. Those Tide detergents for example were 50% off costing us 4.99 per box/jug instead of 9.99$ last week.

Other essentials that we keep an eye on regularly are : toilet paper, paper towels, kleenex, fabric softner and dish soap

4. Saving /clipping coupons.

I went through a phase when we first moved where I was obsessed with coupons. I’d literally scour the internet looking for coupons which not only drove me crazy but made the whole experience really really stressful. Half the online links don’t work and a good  portion of  coupons are not available to us Canadians. So, I stopped couponing that way and just stick to manufacturer coupons that come with products we buy or coupons that come by mail with our weekly bundle of store flyers. I know I can do more but honestly couponing isn’t easy. It requires an enormous investment of your time and often it’s for products we don’t even use.  My system is pretty simple. I’ve got a zip lock on top of our microwave where I put my clipped coupons. Most are for baby hygiene items like diapers and wipes but from time to time some coupons for other household essentials make their way in.

5. Growing our own produce.

This is a really big one for us. We’re very fortunate to have a substantial piece of land where we can grow our own vegetables in the  summer. We share the work with Mer’s parents and ultimately stock up our freezers with a ton of fresh produce that sustains us pretty much through the winter. I’m not sure if the situation is similar elsewhere but since moving further outside the city the cost of fresh vegetables and fruit has really gone up. We were shocked to find out that apples can cost anywhere from 2$ to 4$ per pound only 20 minutes further from the area we used to live.  We clearly have to fill in the gaps because you can’t preserve things like lettuce or fresh fruit but we do a pretty good job of sustaining ourselves with tomatoes, squash, beans, peas, corn, spinach, peppers and broccoli which is a huge help to our grocery budget every week.

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Our freezer is currently overflowing with frozen veggies. On our current wish list is a chest freezer. We’ve got a little cash stashed away to buy one but we’re waiting until a second hand one in decent condition pops up for sale locally.

So these are a few of the things we’re doing to help us save a little extra cash every month. They may not be suitable options for everyone but it works out quite well for us.

What things do you do to save some cash? I love reading about how other people work their budgets.

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  1. December 5, 2016 / 6:51 am

    Really enjoyed this since I’m going to be moving out soon, while still on maternity pay which isn’t great. Going to have to take your tips with me! xx

    • December 5, 2016 / 11:36 am

      Glad you found some of these helpful. We save a ton of money by trading in or selling Margs’ stuff. They grow so quickly that we couldn’t keep up otherwise!

      • December 5, 2016 / 11:37 am

        I find it difficult getting rid of my little mans baby clothes! 😂

        • December 5, 2016 / 11:38 am

          That’s another issue altogether. 😉 I was hoarding them for the first few months then realized that I could keep certain “special” pieces but do away with the rest to replenish her wardrobe. But yes, sentimental attachment is huge when it comes to babies.

          • December 5, 2016 / 11:40 am

            I just put it all away ready to go in my loft and just keep saying “the next one can have them” haha

          • December 5, 2016 / 4:57 pm

            reusing them is a wonderful idea. That doesn’t work for us because we’re nearly 100% sure we are not having more children.

  2. December 10, 2016 / 10:08 pm

    Great ideas! We do some of the same things. Living in the RV, that’s a big one!

    • December 11, 2016 / 7:45 am

      Yes! I bet!

  3. December 10, 2016 / 10:37 pm

    These are great money-saving tips! It occurs to me that grandparents could adopt some of these ideas (like clipping coupons and establishing an account at a consignment shop) to help their kids who are raising children. Thanks for an inspiring post!

    • December 11, 2016 / 7:44 am

      Thanks for stopping by!

      The consignment shop is really something we find particularly helpful. Basically, every time I need something for my little girl I’ve got store credit to use which is so useful.

  4. December 12, 2016 / 1:00 pm

    Great informational post. I coupon but ,only on Sundays when I get my Sunday paper and my homemade cup of chai it’s quite relaxing :). Your family may also enjoy a Costco membership the savings are really on items like diapers and laundry soap. I think you may enjoy these post
    https://reallifeofanmsw.com/2016/08/28/when-is-the-cost-of-convenience-worth-it-we-do-the-math

    https://reallifeofanmsw.com/2015/10/14/ever-wonder-how-low-income-babies-get-diapers/

    • December 12, 2016 / 1:18 pm

      Thank you! I’ll be sure to check them out and have a read!

  5. December 12, 2016 / 1:05 pm

    What a great idea!! You are so creative!

    • December 12, 2016 / 1:17 pm

      Glad you found them helpful!

  6. December 17, 2016 / 12:18 pm

    When my four kids were at home, and especially when the three boys were teens and growing fast, vegetarian meals were a good way to stretch a dollar without sacrificing nutrition. In this culture, many of tend to complain about the high cost of “food” when it’s not food we’re buying: highly refined foods just can’t be compared to basic, whole foods. Want to keep down your medical bills? Cut out the sugar, trans fats and white flour and rice. It’s a long game, but it’s a winning strategy.

    That’s my soapbox for the day!

    I am so glad for you that you get to stay home with your little treasure! Babies are pure joy.

    • December 19, 2016 / 9:24 am

      I think this is an excellent point. I feel as though many people feel that meat is a staple at meals when there are so many delicious vegetarian alternatives that are incredibly tasty and budget friendly. One of our favorites is making a stew with beans, broccoli rab, potatoes and tomato sauce.

  7. December 25, 2016 / 4:59 pm

    bookmarked!!, I like your web site!

  8. January 4, 2017 / 11:21 am

    I get so much pleasure serving up our home grown veggies and my children actually are learning a lot about plants/gardening from it. Plus they love dirt….

    • January 5, 2017 / 7:34 pm

      Don’t all kids? I think it’s awesome that you involve them in the process. We’re hoping Margs grows up to enjoy the process as well.

    • January 5, 2017 / 7:33 pm

      Thank you for your kind words 🙂

  9. January 10, 2017 / 7:37 pm

    Do you use apps like Ibotta? They’ve been a huge help saving the budget for our family of 7.

    • January 11, 2017 / 9:24 am

      No i don’t! If i remember correctly it wasn’t available to me in Canada last I checked (a few years ago now). I’ll be sure to look into it again!

        • January 11, 2017 / 10:09 am

          I just checked actually and it’s still unavailable to me! Boo is right!

          • January 11, 2017 / 11:28 am

            Hopefully! I’ve been doing some research and there doesn’t even seem to be anything comparable available to me!

          • January 12, 2017 / 9:18 am

            No I haven’t! I will though!

  10. January 11, 2017 / 12:29 pm

    Great article! We do a lot of the same things to save money. Especially buying used. I have been wanting to try gardening, but we have a modest sized backyard and I have never successfully grown anything… or kept a houseplant alive for that matter. I should make growing a vegetable our goal for the spring/summer. Because fruits and veggies for our family of 6 gets pricey! Thank you for the inspiration.

    • January 12, 2017 / 9:18 am

      Growing veggies isn’t all the difficult actually. Once they are planted they tend to do pretty well if you water them nightly. The pay offs are worth it since produce is quite expensive!

  11. jillkathome
    January 12, 2017 / 12:57 pm

    I do these things to to make staying at home work! This is a great list. My list would add making things from scratch like bread, pasta sauce, etc that cost so much more than their ingredient. So happy to have found your blog!

    • January 13, 2017 / 1:28 pm

      All great money saving tips! Thank you for sharing!

  12. January 14, 2017 / 7:10 pm

    Love the post! Goodwill is one of my favorite places to shop. It is a thrift store near where I work. I buy much of my grandsons clothing there, as well as stuff for myself.

    • January 14, 2017 / 7:39 pm

      Thanks Shannon! We buy as much as we can used! We save a ton and find some pretty awesome treasures along the way!

  13. January 16, 2017 / 12:24 pm

    Love this! We are in the process of saving for a house, so this was very helpful! I’ve been selling our excess clothes online as well in order to generate a little extra money.

    • January 16, 2017 / 3:35 pm

      Awesome! We love selling our stuff. 1) it helps us earn a little money and 2) it helps us simplify our living space! Thanks for stopping by Margo!

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