In keeping with the theme, here are my Budget Stretching tips from a broke-ass stay at home mom:
1. If you see a piece of furniture on the side of the road, take it home. We have picked up some extremely useful pieces that have been sitting on the side of the road with a “free” sign. In return, we often put out things that we don’t need
2. If someone offers you something for free, take it. Even if you don’t have room. A friend of mine offered me furniture. Four shelving units and two giant dressers and a double bed with the mattresses. I accepted it all. We couldn’t use the mattresses but found someone else in need. And all those storage pieces? You better believe I made room in my house! I moved stuff around, got rid of smaller bits, and made it all work.
3. Second hand shopping. I will buy almost anything second hand. The exceptions are: underwear, pillows, toiletries, and oftentimes mattresses. We took the mattresses from my friend (mentioned above) because I know her, then realized they were covered in cat hair. No cat hair allowed near my allergy ridden body.
4. Bargain shop all year round. This means, I buy Christmas and birthday presents months in advance so I can spread the cost out over the whole year. I especially can’t stand the thought of having to do all my Christmas shopping in the month before Christmas.
5. In contrast, avoid going to the sales. If you see that there’s an amazing sale happening during a particularly tight time, avoid going because “just looking” can be dangerous. On occasion, I’ve gone to ridiculous sales where the lowest ticket price has been an additional fifty percent off. I love those sales because they make clothes cheaper than Value Village. But even though, I once got 200.00 worth of clothes for 60.00, it might have been 60 dollars I needed for the phone bill.
6. When buying new, buy stuff that will last. Once I bought a winter coat for 210.00. It’s the most money I’ve ever spent on an item of clothing (almost triple the cost of my wedding dress) and it physically hurt to swipe the debit card. However, I’ve had that coat for over a decade and it’s still in good condition.
7. Repurpose and regift. Often I will give second-hand (but barely used or never opened or in very good quality) gifts. Most of the time I will inform the recipient that it’s second hand. I would say that most people don’t care and some even appreciate receiving second hand. Obviously I do, and my kids don’t care one way or the other.
8. Keep everything. This is sort of tongue in cheek because obviously you can’t keep everything you’ve ever owned. Some people hate clutter and find it stifling. I myself like clutter and junk and stuff. Often, if I need something, all I have to do is look around my storage areas and I have something at fills the need. And if I don’t, my mom does.
9. Get an allowance. This only works if your mommy loves you. Just kidding. It only works if your mom is an empty nester making more money than when her kids lived at home. My mom helps me pay for my cell phone and my sponsored child. To her it’s a win-win situation because she can text me whenever she wants, plus she is helping a child in need.
10. Use your mother’s pantry as a secondary grocery store. If I’m out of beans or tomato sauce or bread, I call my mom.
11. Go grocery shopping with your mom. If I’m buying things for the kids, like milk, my mom will often pay for it. Or she’ll say she needs at least 100.00 worth of groceries to get 100 air miles. Or there’s a buy one get one sale on toilet paper and she only needs one. Or she is buying a big thing of snow peas and she has to split it with me because she won’t be able to eat them before they rot. Or she says, do you even have money? Whatever, I’ll just get it. No no, just pretend It’s gas money for the use of your car.
12. Free babysitting. My amazing mom is always willing (when she’s able) to watch the boys.
13. Go on vacation with your mom. Yes mom, I would love to use your air miles to fly to Alberta. Yes, the kids would love to see Uncle Jesse. Yes, we would love to go see Gramma/Manitoba family in your rental car and/or hotel room. What’s that mom, you’re thinking of going to Duluth and would like some company on the drive and in the hotel? I think we could make that work for us.
14. Tell your dad that the kids need milk and cookies. If my dad has just finished a job, he has a bit of money. Sometimes I just randomly ask him for five or ten dollars so I can go to the bakery down the block and get bread, milk, and cookies for the kids. He will fork it over if it’s for the kids.
15. Take advantage of your brother’s generosity. When bro comes to town, he often asks if there are any jobs around the house that need doing. He is also an amazing birthday present giver, in that he will supply me with something I desperately need for the house. I couldn’t ask for a better brother and I would definitely do the same for him if our situations were reversed.
16. Pay bills monthly, even if they are charged every second month. Electricity is billed every two months. It’s easier to pay a smaller lump sum every month than be hit with a huge bill every second month. Or every third month in the case of water.
17. Free entertainment. Do stuff that doesn’t cost money. Nature walks, neighbourhood walks, parks, splash pads, back yard fun.
18. Cheap entertainment. Do stuff that doesn’t cost A LOT of money. Provincial parks (they usually ask for a donation)
19. Take advantage of social services. If you fit the criteria, PRO kids in Thunder Bay will pay for your children to attend one lesson (swimming, gymnastics, etc) per season.
20. Don’t eat out a lot…but when you do eat out, go to places like “kids eat free at Montana’s on Tuesdays”. Or “kids eat for 299 on Wednesdays at Applebees.” But if you’re able to use your free babysitter, you can go someplace nicer (and local). Then just order water to avoid high drink prices.
21. If you love to shop and spend (like a Jason and I), keep your credit card limits low.
22. If you have boys, just shave their heads or hack away unprofessionally to save salon/barber costs. Or have a mother who will say, “Come on, give him a “real” hair cut, I’ll even pay for it!”
23. Don’t buy a lawn mower. Just push your dad’s lawn mower down the back lane and down the street a few times during summer months.
24. Don’t hide your financial situation from your children. Lying and saying everything is fine is, in my opinion, not a good idea. You shouldn’t wail and lament about money troubles to your kids because kids shouldn’t have to bare the burdens of his or her parents. But there is nothing wrong with doling out age appropriate information about your family’s finances. My older son knows that our family can’t afford do do or buy certain things but he also knows that we have love and everything we need.
25. Count your blessings. Money can buy things but it really can’t buy happiness.
Please note that these “tips” were posted on April Fool’s day as a way to convey the tongue-in-cheek nature for which I was aiming. Some of these “tips” are real (and possibly helpful) but others are obviously only applicable to the situation I have with my wonderfully generous mother.
Also, ignore any spelling and/or grammar problems and run-on sentences. No time for editing today!.