I’m so excited to introduce you all to my guest today. I stumbled upon her blog, little band of brothers, after she did a post on 31 bits jewelry (something I also love) and instantly fell in love with her sweet, thrifty family (PS: She has great taste in boys’ names). Today, she’s sharing her best tips for creating a fun and stylish lifestyle on a modest budget. Davi, take it away…
Hello! I’m Davi from littlebandofbrothers. I’m a stay-at-home-mom to 4 little boys, and my husband John is a high school teacher.
Today I’d love to share some of my money saving tips regarding my 4 boys and my home. I am far from perfect in these areas, but I do try to be thrifty!
First, I must talk about our overall budgeting philosophy, which guides most of our financial decisions. We love financial advisor Dave Ramsey and support most of his ideas: Basically, put away those credit cards and pay for items with cash in an organized envelope system.
Ok, so my envelopes are looking a little worn, but that’s because we USE THEM!!!
At the beginning of each month, we refill the envelopes with money. (We do use credit cards for online purchases and gasoline but have a special system for that). The thing I love most about these envelopes is that I can physically SEE when the money is getting low, and then I STOP spending money. If I want something and don’t have enough money, then I WAIT until I have enough money saved up. Simple enough right? Wrong. There are many times we fail. But. We are doing infinitely better than we used to. And after 3 or 4 years of this envelope system, I am completely sold on it and never want to go back to our old ways.
We also are teaching our boys these methods and would love for them to live a debt-free life, so they have money to spend, save, and give away!
The boys earn quite a bit of money with chores and recycling cans, so they get a lot of practice handling money. The goal is not to get rich, but to be able to bless others who are in need. We live in quite the materialistic society, and so this will be a battle we will constantly have to fight against.
Here are some tips I use for saving money on my 4 boys:
1. I never put their good clothes in the dryer. I put all their play clothes, pj’s and undies in the dryer and hang all my favorite items to dry.
This way, I can keep all of their good clothes in pristine condition and can pass them down from one boy to the next. The dryer wears clothes out so fast! I don’t want my boys to look all raggedy! And after 9 years, their clothes are still in really good condition. I really only have to buy new clothes for Finn, my oldest. And then I just buy some fun new items for each boy each season.
2. I cut their hair myself. Otherwise, I will pay almost $60 a month to Supercuts, because their hair grows SO FAST. I may not always do the best job cutting hair, but half the time, the professionals gave bad hair cuts too.
3. We rarely eat out. We only budget $30/month dining out. I realize this sounds insane for 4 boys! And there are times we simply cannot make this budget and have to dip into other envelopes. When we can afford to, I would love to increase this dining budget. But we literally save gobs of money so that I can afford to feed my boys healthy food—I love to buy as much organic produce and natural foods as possible…which can be pricey! But when the grocery envelope money starts to run low, then I immediately buy less expensive foods. And that’s ok! We just do the best we can with what we have—we are grateful for whatever God provides.
In addition, when we go on vacation, we pack our own snacks and lunches and only occasionally eat out for dinner.
Gosh, we sound kind of sad. But we are happy! Honest! We just don’t know any different.
4. We don’t pay for cable/tv. So what do our boys do for entertainment? Well, they frequently get books from the library and play outside with friends. Ok, now we sound Amish, haha! We do have a DVD player, computers, and gameboys! Which completely suck my boys in, so really, we aren’t missing out on technology.
Switching gears, let’s discuss a few ways I save money regarding my home. I enjoy decorating. And redecorating. Which gets expensive. So here is how I manage it all: I invest a good chunk of money in a few solid anchor pieces and then dumpster-dive for the rest. Ok, not literally. Rather,
5. We use craigslist all.the.time. To buy and sell. For example, I bought the following items on craigslist.
We sell most of our old furniture and decorations on craigslist, and use the money to fund new home purchases. In fact, my hubby even sold our old razor cell phones for $30 the other day! Crazy!
6. The Goodwill is my best friend.
7. I also find amazing deals at my local antique stores.
I think the key is, you just cannot be too picky. I love to “make do” with what I have. And then save up for items that I cannot find in bargain shops.
Finally, a few random tips:
8. We buy used cars and drive them til they die. We dream of buying our next used car with cash, without paying interest!
9. Be creative with resources. Whenever I throw a party or shower, my friends and I gather our resources and ‘make do’. And gifts can get outrageously expensive so I try to sew things, but ONLY WHEN I HAVE TIME!
I would love to hear some of your favorite thrifty ideas too!