Whenever I speak to a particular former work colleague (Hi, PC-J!), she always asks: “Have you found a job yet?” Invariably followed by: “But you’re saving money now…so maybe you don’t need a job, right?”
Uh. Ok. Right! Sure. What she said.
But all those Cosmo articles I’ve read over the years about how you save money when you become a stay at home mom always mystified me. I mean, dry cleaning? Really?? You have that MUCH dry cleaning that once you start wearing sweats it turns out you never needed a job in the first place?! Come on!
And COMMUTING costs??! Where are you LIVING that it costs that much to get to where you are WORKING??
Since I didn’t A)Work for Cosmo and B)Live in NYC – those articles never made sense; And in reality, weren’t really practical. So…here’s the home-mom-keepin’-it-real, tried-and-true list of how to REALLY save money, honey.
How do I save money now that I don’t have a job? Let me count the ways (in no particular order):
1. Don’t buy Girlscout cookies. And if you have to? Buy ONE box from the girls-with-the-foldable-table outside Wal-Mart and NOT $180 worth from the Girlscout “supplier” living under your roof. In fact, don’t have a Girlscout living under your roof. They’re cute in their green clothes, but they’re expensive
2. USE the coupons you clip. Don’t just clip them. And keep your HUGE, disorganized, accordion coupon folder in your CAR. Not on the desk in the kitchen at home where it won’t do you any good. ‘Cause there’s never any shopping that happens in your kitchen. Am I right? And again, remember to USE the coupons. DON’T remember to use the coupons AFTER you’ve made your purchase and are back in the car where the coupons are! Gaaahh
3. Stop eating out. Eat at home more. [this is currently under investigation as a money-saving measure because I’m not sure this is working. I spend a LOT on groceries. And often forget to use my coupons. And find them still clutched in my hand as I’M LOADING THE GROCERIES INTO MY CAR! Gaaahhhhh!].
4. Color your own hair every 6-8 weeks. It’ll cost you $10 (ok, maybe $15 if you have to do that in-between-colorings-touch-up-color-kit because for some odd reason the color doesn’t last as long as when you get it done in a salon). But still, when you compare that to $150 you’d have to spend in the salon? Holy savings, Batman!
4a. Don’t get your hair cut. Enter an I’m-growing-my-hair-out phase. But if you MUST get a haircut, go to Fantastic Sams. They usually have a good coupon (See Suggestion #2. Oy vey.) And if you don’t want to bother with coupons, then Great Clips has the best deal for a cut WITHOUT coupons.
5. Organize your spices. Really, I can’t stress this enough. This is basically about knowing what you have in your pantry and actually using it; NOT throwing it away because you forgot about it and now it’s expired. And NOT buying more of it because you forgot IT WAS ALREADY IN YOUR PANTRY!!!
6. Be your own cleaning lady.
7. Be your own best friend (you don’t have to go out to lunch or coffee that way).
8. Make the children’s school lunches instead of buying hot lunches. Admittedly, this is an exercise in creativity for MOM because the children quickly grow bored with their Ramen Noodle cups.
9. Ooooh! Buy more Ramen Noodle cups. They are super CHEAP and easy to make.
10. Knit or hand make every Christmas and birthday gift. Sure it grows tiresome for the recipients. But screw ’em! It’s not about THEM! It’s about YOU! It’s ALWAYS ABOUT YOU!
11. Investigate $0.99 Jean Day at your local Good Will. Just make sure it’s Jean Day and not the day AFTER Jean Day. That doesn’t do you any good.
12. Everyone appreciates homemade cookies and a card for Valentine’s Day. And while life is like a box of chocolates, buy that AFTER Valentine’s Day when it’s 75% off.
13. Don’t go to Kohl’s. Don’t even THINK about it. Not even if you have a Gift Card to Kohl’s.
14. Re-gift your Kohl’s gift cards (see note above).
15. Get books from the library. Remember Stitch-‘n-Bitch? Now that’s good times FOR FREE!
16. Make your own juice. No. It’s not like making your own milk. It’s better! Buy those little frozen juice cans in your grocer’s freezer. You can add a little variety to your life all while saving money (a can of frozen juice costs AT MOST $1.62. When you compare it to a jug of orange juice at $5.65? Cha-ching! Take THAT to the bank!!!) In fact, I’m not sure how I EVER forget about this brilliant approach to juice?!
17. Buy all generic store brands (hint: if you look at the manufacturing address on anything, it’s usually the same address Keebler or Lipton or Silk or just about any of the name brands. An important hint, no?).
18. Stop being such a name-brand snob. If you can swallow your pride, you can save money. The only name brand thing I WILL buy? Is Diet Dr. Pepper and Goldfish crackers. But I get them from Costco in bulk. Savin’ money every-which-way.
19. When you go to Costco to buy your Diet Dr. Pepper and Goldfish – DON’T BUY ANYTHING ELSE!!! You do NOT need 10 pounds of salt-n-pepper pistachios. Nor do you need frozen pizzas in 12-packs. Ditto room-sized bags of chips. And don’t feel obligated to purchase the Borghese face lotion which the nice lady squirted on your hand. And if someone is wearing a microphone, do NOT act like a zombie and wander over there. There is NOTHING for you over there. In fact, as you’re walking into the store, mumble to yourself that all you need is Diet Dr. Pepper and Goldfish. And maybe bananas. Unless they’re green. I hate it when they’re green. That’s annoying. Now, keep mumbling to yourself all the way through the store and out the other end. People with samples and microphones don’t bother you if you’re mumbling.
20. GET A JOB ALREADY AND SKIP STEPS 1 THROUGH 19!!!!