Tightwad Mama

mother and child in the park

Are you a tightwad mama? Every mother knows that raising children can seem like an expensive proposition, so it's no surprise that the Web is full of women sharing tips on how to cut costs.

The Motivation to Save

There are many different reasons mothers become interested in frugal living. For example:

  • You're trying to get out of debt incurred as the result of mistakes made before you had children.
  • You are a stay-at-home mom who needs to figure out how to live comfortably on one income.
  • You suddenly find yourself adjusting to life as a single parent.
  • You are coping with expenses you didn't plan for when you had children, such as medical care for a child with special needs.
  • You want to cut costs so you can start saving money for your child's college education.

Tips for the Tightwad Mama

Regardless of why you're hoping to trim your household budget, there are several different strategies you can try on your way to becoming a tightwad mama.

Breastfeed

Although breastfeeding isn't possible in every circumstance, this can be an affordable way to feed your baby. Nursing is also a great bonding experience and a way to give your infant a nutritional boost during the first months of his or her life. You can find more information about getting started breastfeeding, as well as tips on how to overcome common nursing problems, by visiting LoveToKnow Baby.

Take Advantage of Hand-Me-Downs

One great thing about having small children at home is that they haven't yet become accustomed to expecting new, name-brand items for every occasion. Checking garage sales and thrift stores can be a great way to save money on your child's wardrobe. Depending upon how many parents you know with children who are the same age as your kids, you may be able to organize a clothing swap to get your kids ready for the change in seasons.

When looking for hand-me-downs, don't forget that that toys don't necessarily need to be purchased brand-new either. If your son loves Legos, for example, you can find three or four sets at the thrift store for the price you'd pay for one new set. Wash them thoroughly, place them in a new plastic storage container, and you'll have an affordable gift that's sure to bring a smile to his face.

Save on Childcare

Working families, especially those with more than one child, often find that childcare is their largest monthly expense. Here are few tips for helping to keep costs down in this area:

  • Work opposite shifts from your spouse, so one parent is always home to watch the children.
  • If possible, pay for childcare expenses out of the flexible spending account offered through your workplace so you're spending pre-tax dollars.
  • If you're looking for a new job, consider working for a company that offers child care as an employee benefit or has negotiated discounted rates with a local daycare provider.
  • Have a family member such as a retired grandparent watch your child.
  • If you would prefer at-home care for your child, hire a nanny and split the cost with another family in your neighborhood that has children of similar ages.
  • If you are a stay-at-home mother who only needs daycare on an accessional basis, set up a babysitting co-op with other neighborhood parents.

Limit Activities

Surprisingly, children grew up just fine for several decades without being involved in gymnastics, piano lessons, basketball, drama, math camp, and weekend pottery classes. In addition to all the time involved in transporting kids to these activities, you're also probably spending quite a bit of money on registration costs and equipment. It's wonderful for children to be involved in a few extracurricular activities, but kids need to have downtime too. Let your kids choose the activities that are most important to them, then use the extra time to play board games, playful exercise, or engage in some other fun frugal family activity.

Consider Working from Home

While most tightwad mamas focus on finding ways to save money, coming up with a plan to generate some extra cash can be useful as well. Frugal mothers love the flexibility of working from home. Babysitting, tutoring, selling crafts online, running your own eBay store, or blogging for pay can all be good ways for moms to pick up extra cash on a part-time basis. You can learn more about becoming a "mompreneur" by reviewing the home-based business article series from LoveToKnow Business.

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Tightwad Mama