Wednesday, April 21, 2010

A Practical Mom’s Money-saving Strategies (Part 1)

They say that tough times do not last but tough people do. Well, I say that tough moms like me make use of money-saving strategies during tough times to creatively make the most of what we have. I’m proud and happy to say that ever since I became a mom, I have grown to become more practical. Moreover, I have learned to live simply and find joy in simple pleasures. Let me share with you some of my strategies.

1. Make a monthly budget. Making a monthly budget enables me to plan our expenses so that we live only within our means. I make a list of all the things that we need to spend on and pay for in the coming months. If we have extra, then that’s the time that I check our list of other things that we need to pay or spend on. The last list I consult is the list of things that are nice to have or spend on. Then, I present our options to my husband and we decide what we think would be the best use of our resources. It’s so tempting to rush to the malls every pay day and just shop without making any plans or careful study of our finances. But this can lead to disastrous results. We may end up using hard-earned money on not so important things. So I diligently make a monthly household budget and do my best to stick to it. We are not always able to exactly follow our monthly budget but at least we don’t deviate too far from it. It’s like aiming for the stars so that if you miss them, at least you land on the roof.

2. Plan your menu and make a grocery list. Menu planning is one of my favorite duties as a wife. It’s one way by which I exercise my creativity to stretch the value of our money. Once the grocery budget has been set, I take on the challenge of planning meals to ensure that our diet is healthy and balanced. Planning the menu for at least a week enables me to have better view of what goes into our plates and what comes out of our pocket for groceries. I have actually designed a four- week cycle menu which I update every now and then. Having a menu plan enables me to make sure that we have variety in the food that we eat. It also makes it easier for me to make a grocery list. A grocery list on one hand helps me and my husband to save time going around the grocery store and to stick to our grocery budget.

3. Prepare packed lunches and snacks. I’m blessed to have a husband who doesn’t mind bringing his own lunch and snacks to the office. It not only saves us money but it’s also one way for me to ensure that my husband eats on time and healthy even when outside the home. I remember one time when he wasn’t able to bring packed lunch and he had a meeting that lasted up to past noon. He went to their cafeteria and found out that there’s no more food being sold. Since the fast food outlets are quite far, he simply called and ordered a sandwich to be delivered to him. But it took some time before he got his order. If he had his packed lunch then, he could have eaten lunch earlier and he would have a healthier meal.

4. Read a lot of baby and toddler books and literature. I learn a lot from the books and magazines that I read. I acknowledge that there’s a lot that I need to learn being a first time parent. Reading increases my awareness and knowledge which in turn equips and empowers me in taking care of my baby. I firmly believe that knowledge is indeed power. The lessons that I learned from the books and magazines I’ve read taught me to approach unfamiliar situations with confidence and peace. These books empowered me to personally take care of my baby instead of getting a yaya. These books provided me with helpful guidelines on what to feed my baby to prevent allergies or sickness or to simply keep him safe. Because I educated myself, I didn’t have to panic and rush to the pediatrician or hospital whenever something’s going on with my baby.

5. Breastfeed. I breastfed my baby since day 1. Thanks be to God and to my breastfeeding support group – my husband, my mom, breastfeeding consultant/coach and friends who were also breastfeeding moms – I have been successfully breastfeeding for 18 months now. Not only was I able to provide the best milk for my baby but we were also able to save thousands of pesos on formula milk. My son still breastfeeds from me at least twice a day (upon waking up in the morning and before bed at night) although he now eats solid food and is supplemented by formula milk. We were also able to save on medical costs because my son hardly got sick during his first year of life because of the antibodies he got from breastfeeding. He has also grown to be very intelligent and healthy. (For more information about breastfeeding, you may click and read my previous blog entry entitled In Giving, We receive – The Wonders of Breastfeeding.)

These are just some of the strategies I employ as a practical mom. Hope you learned something from this article. I will share more strategies next time. Don’t hesitate to leave a comment or send me an email if you have questions on the topics or strategies I discussed above. I would gladly answer them and partner with you in your resolve to be one tough mom for your family.

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