42 answers

Money Saving Ideas?????

Hi there ladies,
I came here because you always seem to have great ideas, ideas that other overwhelmed moms can't think of because of everything else going on in life. Anyway,I am needing money saving ideas. My husband had a brain aneurysm and stroke just over a year ago, and brain surgery 6 months ago. He is 37 years old. He got SDI for a year and was cut off of that a few months back because you can only be on it for 52 weeks. They failed to mention that we should have filed for SSI at the same time, and now the wait for that could be up to three years. We are down $2400 a month and are living off of my meager salary. Losing that much money each month has been devastating. We are trying to get my youngest into a state run preschool so that we don't have the added cost of daycare, and hubby could watch him the rest of the time...although he can't drive and I will have to pick him up and take him to school, which is difficult in my line of work. I'm not the greatest cook and have no idea how to plan meals in advance or how to take the ingredients from one meal and make a new meal the next day. We live in a rural area and the rains are coming so I can't save on gas by riding a bike. The bus isn't an option because I am a crisis worker and go back and forth to schools all day. I try to buy things like paper products in bulk and go to Food Max rather than the local grocery stores. I have a cell phone and a land line and I am thinking of just cancelling the land line. We don't have any TV hookup so that isn't an issue. I am more and more stressed every time I go to the store to get something. I have to explain to the kids how we can't afford "extra" stuff right now and to be honest I have no idea what the next step is. He might get SSI he might not. He is now stressing too (which isn't good for his health) and feels he needs to just go out and get a job. His doctor hasn't cleared him yet, although he will if he feels he is ready to go back to work. With the budget crisis there is also no guarantee that he can get re-trained or sent back to school, which was our hope. Anyway, I am just feeling lost and stressed. I would love some simple suggestions for ways that we could save on money and still have fun as a family. The advantage is that we have more time together as a family and I love to play with my kids. I know that this is way more important than some fancy trip or buying them things! I finished school almost two years ago and haven't graduated yet (I have an incomplete). Once I graduate and get my intern number I could be making a little more money (but the school is almost 3 hours away and the whole process feels so daunting right now). Sigh, thanks in advance to any moms who respond. I know that I have't asked for anything real concrete, but any ideas for saving money would be greatly appreciated.

4 moms found this helpful

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

I feel so very blessed to have received all of these amazing responses from you all! I feel validated for the hard times we are going through and your thoughts and prayers have been felt deeply. I printed out the whole list of responses and have been highlighting the ones that seem like I can handle at the moment. I have already started on some of them!!!! What has been so helpful is the variety of responses and the fact that I don't think any of us can come up with this many suggestions and/or options on our own. This community ROCKS!!!! Thank you for taking the time to respond with your advice and stories. I realized after I sent this that someone had asked about a similar issue a few days before. I figured I would get few responses because of that...boy was I wrong! Thank you, thank you, thank you! And my family thanks you too!


More Answers

As for making the kids feel rich without spending a dime - we have library night where we go pick out new books for the week - and movies for our Friday night movie night, we have a game night, ... Friday night movie night - we make a giant batch of popcorn and homemade pizza then sit down to watch our library movie. My kids are too small to enjoy making their own games, but I could see a 9 year old thinking this was cool. We go on lots of picnics and hike and camp frequently.

With Christmas coming, Martha Stewart's website has great ideas for nice gifts you can make for family members - we made necklaces by stringing pretty glass beads on gauzy ribbon for less than $10 for 4 grandmas and two cousins. We've also made candles by pouring old wax into various tin (cookie cutters, cans, etc) and purchased wicks. Food gifts like seasoned nuts or cookies or cocoa kits are great for neighbors or nearby grandparents. Basically, if you can get the kids involved, they won't notice that you aren't out shopping for presents, and your presents will be more meaningful to everyone. Your older son might enjoy making birdhouses... You need minimal supplies and could probably find all of the supplies (paint, etc) on the sale racks. We let our son choose whatever paint he liked on the sale rack at home depot - basically, the mis-mixed paint.

Actually - Martha even has great homemade Halloween costumes that you can assemble from stuff you own or can acquire at a dollar store.

Definitely make a menu and live by it. You can make a pot of beans on the weekend for ~$1, and then use this pot of beans to make burritos, as a side dish with meat, add rice and rotel tomatoes and cheese and you've got a third meal... Eggs + cheese and whatever veggies you have on hand is a cheap and quick meal. (Eggs + cheese + beans in tortillas is another variation of the same meal). I admit we buy cases of beans because we are vegetarian and they are quick, cheap and healthy. At least once a week we eat our cheater version of tortilla soup - 1 can black beans, 1 can pinto beans, 1 can rotel tomatoes (or other "mexican" tomatoes with chilis), 1 can water, 1 bouillon cube (veggie in our house), 2 cloves garlic. When that has heated, we serve it over a handful of crushed chips, with cheese and avocado on top. I make a salad by pouring 1 can of drained black beans in with 1 can drained corn, tomatoes, avocado, 1 crushed clove of garlic and tossing in 1/4c red wine vinegar + 3 tbs oil. Serve this with grilled tofu or some grilled meat.

You might ask your older son for help planning meals. I started planning dinner and cooking for our family at 8. We suffered through a few crazy dinners (like fruit salon! just fruit salad!), but it helped my busy parents.

Shop the dollar store. There are an amazing number of things you can get at those places. But, don't go in there without your normal grocery list, as it is also easy to walk out with junk that you don't need. I'd suggest making your list of things you need - cleaning products, toothbrushes, groceries, etc. and first stopping at the dollar store THEN your grocery store.

Hope this helps.

2 moms found this helpful

Look back to 10/02/08 "ways to save money." There were lots and lots of wonderful ideas. Your situation may be a little different because of your husband. I would certainly check your local area to see if you have a food closet. The one in my area supplies food once a month.

Also, do you have any close friends or family nearby? If so, don't hesitate to rely on them. When my husband and I were living off his very small wages about 12 years ago while putting me through college (before kids), we invited ourselves to both sets of parents for dinner fairly regularly. We also spent time having game nights with friends, trading back and forth on who served dinner.

Relative to meal planning, create a table on word to represent a month. Pick one meal that is inexpensive that your whole family likes and cook it once a week, for our family it is tacos on Tuesday. I make enough that my husband can take a couple to work on Wednesday. After one day is filled in, I start filling in the rest with similar meals. Pot roast one Sunday, roasted chicken the next and pork roast on yet another. With these three main dishes, I take the left-over meat, shred it and make all sorts of tasty dishes (carnitas, enchiladas, meat w/gravy & mashed potatoes, soups & stews, etc) For my small family, I can make Sunday's meat choice stretch for three days. Your family is larger, so I imagine you could stretch it over two days. I fill in the remaining days with things with less meat and more beans, rice or pasta, for example chili beans, bean soup, spaghetti, tuna casarole, etc. Before you know it you'll have the month's meals planned and you can make a grocery list.

I really do hope that you have friends and family nearby that you can rely on. If not, you might consider moving so that you are.

Best of luck to you.


1 mom found this helpful

Make a menu for the week, and shop off the menu.Ans stick to the menu.Make a list of what you need beside the menu and give yourself a weekly allowance for grocery shopping. When things are this tight, there is no room for "stocking up". Really analyze the cost per ounce of food-sometimes fresh is cheaper than frozen. Price shop. Consider making your own bread once a week. A simple recipe will make 2 loaves and is usually cheaper. Stop buying expensive cereal, substitute oatmeal.Look at kids lunches--are you packing too much? Wasting money on "snacks?" A good lunch can consist of a sandwich, an apple and a juice box or water bottle. Drink water instead of juice. Kids can get used to this too.Cut out paper towels, napkins and anything else that is a constant expense. Use reusable products/towels/containers instead.

A sample weekly menu--

1. Meat (we don't eat it, but whatever you see on sale)+ rice pilaf +cooked veggies (broccoli is usually cheap)
2. Quiche with broccoli, swiss and cheddar + salad
3. Soup, bread and salad (consider making your own soup, and freezing extra-all you need is beans, tomato sauce and veggies)
4. Cheese Enchiladas + zucchini
5. Baked potatoes w/chili on top and veggies or salad
6. Spaghetti
7. Free night-leftovers or something simple, whatever needs to be used up

Or whatever. It doesn't have to be extravagant! Keep it simple, try to plan for things that use the same ingredients, etc. Hope this helps!

1 mom found this helpful

Dear M.,

Cutting your landline is a great idea. We did it about 6 months ago and don't even miss it. Do you have a slow cooker or crock pot. You can easily make lasting meals this way. You can pick up just about any cut of meat and there are these great Crockpot seasoning mixes you can pick up at the store that let you know exactly what you need. You can have the meal one night and then make burritos or sandwiches the next.
Also, tofu is the least expensive protien you can buy (usually 1-2 dollars a pound which serves about 6-8 people). My husband chops it up and sauteys it with onions and mushrooms in Soy-Vay Very-Teriyaki Sauce and pours it all over spaghetti, instead of udon noodles). It is a great dish that is healthy and not very hard to make.
We save money on the food bill by buying mostly frozen vegetables, eating meat only 2 to 3 times a week and going to costco.
Hope this helps.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi M.,

Some suggestions for saving money are:
-Check out www.allrecipes.com They have recipes for everything and you can even put in ingredients from a previous dinner and recipes pop out. I do a lot of roasted whole chicken and then make soup the next day. Or I make a roast and then add it to stir fry.
-Stop buying paper plates. They are convenient but washing dishes is better.
-At many elementary schools they have preschools/after school care attached. They are usually for low income families and may not charge you any thing.
-My father went through the SSD to SSI thing about a year or so ago. The SSI did not take 3 years (I think it took about 6 mos) and they paid him retro back to the time he went on SSD. So, keep plugging on and get creative with your meals and child care.

Good Luck,


M., you've been blessed by many Mamasource readers. So many great ideas for you as well as others who need help.
I'd love to help you w/ meal planning. As Rachel Ray always says "cook once", eat twice. I'm an Independent Consultant for the Pampered Chef(r). You can email me privately for my website or my email. "Power Cooking" has saved money & minutes for busy families. Perhaps, now more than ever, "trying out the business" might help you and your family.
Hopefully, a few wing-less angels (friends) will come to your aid. You're in my thoughts and prayers.

I am so sorry you are having such a rough time right now. What about food stamps and, as someone else suggested, WIC? Food banks are also an option if there is one in your area. Chances are there are other resources from the state for aid. Do an online search or ask a friend to do it. Any resource out there was put in place for just these kinds of circumstances. Good luck.

Dear M.,

My husband compliments me on my cooking and claims that I am the "Queen of Leftovers." Perhaps I can help you. You say, "I'm not the greatest cook and have no idea how to plan meals in advance or how to take the ingredients from one meal and make a new meal the next day."

If you will give me an idea of what you are cooking now, I may be able to give you some ideas. Are there certain foods your family really dislikes? What foods do they "love?"
Using last week as an example, tell me what you fixed for your evening meals Monday through this past Sunday.

Much love to you. And remember, "This, too, shall pass.

Merylyn (aka Mommie Salami)

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