The first piece of advice I always seem to find on cutting household expenses is to curb your overpriced coffee habit.
Well, if you’re anything like me you rarely drink overpriced coffee in the first place. The idea that I would have the time to visit Starbucks every day before work is as alien to me as a solid 8 hours of sleep.
So let’s talk about realistic ways for you to make some simple financial changes for long-term success.
1. Make A Baby Budget
Before racing out and buying a load of baby stuff for your new addition need to sort your personal finances out.
You need to figure out what’s coming in, what’s going out, and most importantly, sort out an emergency fund.
Print off your bank statements for the past 6 months. If you’ve already made some recent changes, 3 months of bank statements will do. If you really want to dig in and figure out where your money has been running off to, print the full 6 months.
Grab a few highlighters and go through your bank statements line by line. If you haven’t read my post about making a household budget it’s a good idea to read that first, find it here.
2. Keep Your Grocery Spending Under Control
Aside from your mortgage, your biggest monthly expense is likely groceries.
Unlike your mortgage, your car payment, and most of the rest of your bills you actually have some control over how much you spend on groceries.
Start by tracking how much you’re spending on food for a few weeks. From there, come up with a weekly or monthly budget. Allot that money for groceries and whatever you do, don’t go over.
Next, try cutting back your budget by 5% per month. Keep going and see how low you can go.
To help you reduce that bill further:
Make A Meal Plan
A weekly meal plan is a great way to reduce your food waste and therefore reduce your grocery shopping.
As new parents, this will also help you avoid making poor food choices (like take out!) during the week when you’re tired and struggling to decide what to have for dinner.
Come Up With A Few Frugal Dishes
You don’t have to make drastic changes and eat nothing but rice and beans all week.
Instead, think of a few inexpensive dishes your family enjoys.
They may be rice and beans.
Or how about a big pot of soup or chili. Often meatless dishes will be your best frugal bet.
Enjoying frugal meals even just a handful of days during the month combined with using up any and all leftovers will make a big difference in your grocery budget.
Cut Out The Extras
Make a list before you head to the grocery store and stick to it.
All those little extras like the fancy bread from the bakery or the snacks you grabbed at checkout start to add up.
Get in the habit of skipping those extras unless there’s a good reason to buy them.
Stick to your list and you’ll cut your grocery bill by quite a bit each week. It’s amazing how much money all those little extras add up to.
Consider Delivery Or Store Pick Up
Ordering your food online and picking it up outside the store, or having it delivered may be one of the best money-saving inventions ever.
Using curbside pick-up means no more last-minute impulse purchases in the checkout line.
Plus for parents this a huge timesaver as well, which is always welcomed.
How Will You Feed Your Baby?
There are many benefits to breastfeeding, but from a purely financial point of view breast milk is cheaper than infant formula.
Depending on the length of your maternity leave you may need to factor in breast pumps, a sterilizer, and bottles into your budget, but you should still end up better off.
As your baby gets older making your own baby food will save money over commercially prepared jars. Find some ideas HERE
3. Negotiate Utilities
Cable, internet, and phone bills can make up a large chunk of your monthly expenses if you’re not careful.
If you use the internet for work, downgrading to a slower internet speed isn’t practical.
However, you can easily cut the cable and get Netflix or Hulu if TV is a priority to you. Could you call your service provider and try to negotiate a lower rate?
Some companies even offer discounts for law enforcement, first responders, and teachers. If the discounts are there and you qualify, you might as well utilize them.
4. Evaluate Entertainment Costs.
How much are you spending on entertainment each month?
Whether it’s a Playstation subscription, going to the movies, or eating out, what’s your budget?
If you don’t have one yet, now is the time to work on creating one.
Enjoying life is important, so don’t feel you need to cut entertainment completely, but being aware of how much you’re spending and making sure it relates to how much it enhances your life is a critical step to cutting household expenses.
Being on a budget doesn’t mean you have to lock yourself in the house all day, but it does mean making smarter choices with the money you’ve set aside for certain activities.
Making small changes like this makes budgeting less painful. You can even turn it into a game.
Figure out the cheapest way to have a family date night or day out. The kid’s section of the local library, for example, would be a great place to spend some time reading to your baby.
Alternate family nights at home, with board games and popcorn, as well as going out.
Finding cheap bowling days and times, cheap movie days and times, etc will ensure your family never gets bored but also doesn’t go over budget.
5. Optimize Your Household Utility Use
Use less electricity by turning off all the lights when you leave a room, unplugging your devices from the charger when they’re fully charged, and use energy-efficient light bulbs.
Use less water by taking shorter showers or reducing the amount you fill the bath up by.
Turn off the heating in any rooms you don’t use, and consider lowering your heating a tiny amount to save over the year.
6. Reduce Your Spend On Brands
Brand name goods are almost always more expensive, and while sometimes that’s a compromise you don’t want to make, there will be other items that don’t matter quite so much.
Household goods like soap, detergent, cleaning fluids are often half the price if you stick to generic goods (with often the same ingredients!).
Having a realistic budget can help you establish if you can afford brand name labels
Declutter your house and get rid of all that excess stuff you’ve been hanging on to.
This affects your finances in 2 ways:
- You can sell the things you don’t need anymore on websites like eBay and get extra money for other expenses
- Once you have decluttered you will be less motivated to buy unnecessary stuff in the future.
Living in mess and clutter is stressful and it will be harder to keep everything clean and in order, once your baby arrives so start decluttering today and get your house guest-ready for all the visitors who are going to want to meet your little bundle.
If you are struggling for motivation to declutter read HERE
8. Critically Evaluate Any Baby Products
New humans seem to need an alarming amount of baby gear, but before you start reaching for the credit cards question what you are buying.
There are some essential baby items, such as a car seat if your little one will travel in a car, but there are also mountains of merchandise designed to part new moms from their hard-earned cash.
I’m not saying you have to become minimalist parents, but how many pairs of shoes does your new baby really need (although they are super cute!)
Also, if you are having a baby shower don’t forget to create a baby registry to avoid duplicate or unwanted gifts.
9. Opt For Reusable Products Where Possible
Cloth diapers and reusable baby wipes are a high cost initially but they will be kinder to your bank account in the long run than their disposable counterparts.
Plus it’s a great way to reduce your environmental impact.
10. Embrace Second Hand
Buying items second-hand can really cut those baby costs.
Babies outgrow their clothes approximately every 12 weeks, meaning you can purchase second-hand baby clothes that have been barely worn. Some may not have been worn at all (e.g coats) if the original owner outgrew it before they had a chance to wear it.
Baby furniture can also be picked up cheaply second-hand. Once the parents are finished having babies that changing table and nursing chair are redundant.
If you do plan to have a second child reduce your baby expenses next time around by keeping those critical first year essentials for your next family member.
It’s not always easy to get started on cutting household expenses, but it can be done!
Whether you need a tight budget or are just looking for ways to save more money in your home life, there are many strategies here that will help.
I recommend starting with the easiest expense for you to slash, and then working through the rest of this list of painless tips one by one.
For your free printable Rainbow Dreams Savings Planner enter your email address below. Download this free printable today and get started making those savings goals happen!
This compliments the free printable Rainbow Dreams Budget Planner which can be found HERE
Do you have any additional budgeting tips? Let me know in the comments below.