Financial Savvy Mamas-I Need Your Tips

Updated on January 10, 2012
K.B. asks from West Jordan, UT
10 answers

Ok Mamas...we paid off a lot of debt this past year (consolidated credit cards) and paid off every single dime! We still have student loan debt though and plan on tackling that this year-unfortunately these have gained interest due to deferring payments to pay off cc debt. For our ages, we don't have much in our savings accounts (for emergency funds etc.).
My husband and I both have more of a spender's mentality than saver's mentality. We have had to learn about money as adults mainly the hard way-growing up our parents didn't discuss money or it was a sore subject when it was discussed. Also, I have let my husband do the majority of money management. I want to be more involved and truly make this a partnership. We have been watching Suze Orman and learned a lot through her advice. I thought I would reach out and ask what do you do through the year to save and what have you learned or what advice can you give to me this year in the way of money matters? Also, how do you save on groceries, kid's expenses, gifts throughout the year or unexpected expenses-anything like this is greatly appreciated! Thanks Mamas...

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answers from Colorado Springs on

Dave Ramsey Total Money Makeover. Completely awesome. The book will answer all of these questions, plus there's a chapter or two just on how couples interact with each other in relation to money. You can get the book pretty cheap on Good luck!

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answers from Los Angeles on

I second the Dave Ramsey suggestion! We bought his book and are on track to pay off our mountain of credit card debt, and then will start on our student loans. Thankfully we are still in school so ours haven't begun repayment yet but they will right around the time we should be done with our credit cards. The biggest thing you can do is account for every single dime that goes out. Set up and get the app on your phone if you have a smart phone. It will track every penny that comes out of your account for you and send you alerts etc. Make sure you give yourself money for every single thing you need to buy... it is ok to spend 30 dollars on some new makeup or facewash but it has to be put in your budget. My husband and I realized that we were literally blowing 850 dollars a month on who knows what, and that was WITH having a 200 dollar a month restaurant allowance and 200 dollars each of spending money a month. We have nothing to show for that 850 dollars so where did it go??? It is the 15-20 dollar trips to Target etc that were adding up fast and killing us. I have tried couponing but I don't have the patience and always forget them if I have them but if you can do it I know a lot of people who save a good chunk of change clipping coupons. As far as groceries go, we do not purchase any processed food and the only meat we have is frozen chicken breasts or frozen fish filets. A 7 dollar bad of frozen chicken breasts from Super Target can make about 3 meals for our family of 5. Also we only buy the fruit/veggies that are on sale or in season and eat a lot of rice (cheap). The groceries are the hardest for us so that is where mint has come in super handy because you can set up your budget and it knows where you have swiped your debit card and categorizes it for you. You don't have to input anything once you link it to all of your accounts, it does it all for you. As far as gifts go we get all of our gifts from TJ Max, usually a 10 dollar present and then a candy bar attached to the outside (which for some reason makes the present seem so much more awesome lol). I will be watching this post because I always like to hear other ppl's tips also! Good luck and congrats on paying off your cc debt... I can't wait until I can say the same!!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

The main thing is to live 90% or less than you make. Save the 10%.

Invest in stocks that pay good dividends instead of bank CDs. Many stocks pay more in dividends that the best CD's. (Example: Verizon pays 5%. McDonalds pays 2.8%. AT&T pays 5.7%, Solar Capital pays 10.8%).

I know that my kids were going to be invited to birthday parties so I bought the gifts for the birthday parties in the week after Christmas.

I NEVER buy the fancy name brand pet food. I've seen the small cans of dog food be more expensive than filet mignon price per pound.

I don't buy bottled water. I use the plastic water bottles over and over.

Good luck to you and yours.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Savannah on

Congratulations on paying down the debt! That's always very cool. One big thing that sounds obvious but many people don't do: as you pay something off and have some extra money, put that extra money to paying off the next project. Example: if you have a $100/month credit card payment, once it's paid off, take that same $100/month and add it to the next bill (like your interest-bearing student debt). For our cars: we paid them off three years ago, but we take half of what we were paying on them and put it into our emergency fund, and the other half to saving for the next cars. We made the exception with cars because the fact is that we WILL need cars again in a few years, so we figured we may as well save now.
You&Me+3 had a good point about taxes. We have something we call the taxes and tithes account. It's a checking account that pays 4.02% interest which is like 4% better than most savings accounts you'll find, lol. We've already paid our 2012 property taxes (last week) and then we'll scrape up everything we can (if there's a tax refund, Jeremy's upcoming bonus, etc) and make sure that all our taxes for 2013 (yes NEXT year) are in there as soon as possible. Then it sits there compounding interest for a year instead of trying to find the money last minute, or paying too much in taxes every month and then getting a refund. That IS the same thing as giving the govt a loan, because they're able to make money off of it instead of you. Example: my property taxes in TX that we paid last week were 5k. If I made interest on that alone for 12 months, I'd have an additional $3,023.65 at the end of the year. (But we do this for TX taxes, SC taxes, income tax in SC, and quarterly with our tithes....the tithes get put into our charitable gift fund 4x/yr and are matched by Jer's company so it increases what we are able to give....if we give 1k to a 501c group, they give 500 to a non-religious charity of our choice, if we give 10k they give 7k, etc...)
Things that worked for us: shopped around and got good insurance at a good price (not the cheapest---but a better price on good insurance), tweaked the cellphone bill, adjusted our cable/internet/phone package, cut out eating out but once every other week or less, stopped the silly purchases like coke while waiting in line at the register or a starbucks coffee every morning, and instead of just buying "stuff" I inventory my fridge, freezer, and pantry, look at the sales papers and my coupons, and make a menu for the week with all that in mind. Then I just have to go to the store once during the week for the major shopping, and once mid-week for the other fresh produce and another milk (because I hate produce going bad on me before the end of the week!!!). With a menu it's easier to regulate what you're spending and not buying a bunch of things when you have other stuff in your house already. Other than that, just work on your budget, and keep chiseling away at the debt and your emergency fund. After you have those taken care of, you can start having fun without fear: save up for fun stuff to do or things you'd like as a family, without being burdened.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Albany on

....or you could just live your life the way it's comfortable for you and not feel pressured, or like there's something WRONG with you because of your personal financial habits.

It's only money; you make it, you spend it, you make more.

Bills are paid and everyone has what they need, yes?

You save it to SPEND it too. And you can't take it with you.


1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

One of the best things I've ever done was to open an Online Bank account and have a little money every paycheck get direct deposited into it.

Before I knew it, I had 4,000 in it. And it came in very handy. My brother needed to borrow some money and so I pulled it out of there.

My original plan was to save for a used piano. I have about 3k in there now and I am going to buy a piano in the spring.

Also, my expenses have gone down since my daughter is in Kindergarden this year. I'm saving about $500 a month. So I plan to open yet another account and put in about 250 per month (the rest will go towards some managable debt that we have). It adds up really quickly this way and you won't miss is since you never see it. You can even start out very small. $20 a pay check. Give it a try.

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answers from Colorado Springs on

You have already gotten some good advice, but I thought I would share some of the things I do to save. We are a single-income home and as a SAHM I see it as my job to save money where I can. To do this, I use coupons as much as possible and I limit my groceries to things that are on sale. I do buy things not on sale and without a coupon, but I try to make those purchases as rarely as possible. I am not an extreme couponer by any means, but I have been able to get some frequently used items at great prices. Also, it helps to meal plan for the week before hitting the grocery store and staying to your list so that you don't buy something that was a "great price" but then you don't know what to do with it! I also buy things that are freezable and use a food saver to break larger "bulk" purchases into more usable portions.

For haircuts, I go to a beauty school for trims - usually only costs $5 for a haircut! My husband does his own trimming inbetween cuts and also does our boys.

Another way to save money is to make your own cleaning products: this site has great tips on how to get started:

For gifts, you can never go wrong with homemade baked goods for adults - google "gifts in a jar" and you will be amazed at the great low-cost gift ideas that are out there! For kids, I buy generic toys throughout the year and stash them in a bin designated for that purpose so I have gifts on hand for random children's birthday parties. For moms who have just had babies I bring a meal or two and if they have older sibs I offer to watch the older kids so that they can have some time with just the little baby.

For date nights, my hubby and I like to set aside an evening at home after the kids are down for a special dinner and movie - either from red box or the library (most libraries have new release that can be checked out free of charge for a night or two). We save a ton by cooking the meal ourselves, not having to worry about a babysitter, and not paying a ridiculous amount to watch a movie in a theater. Plus it gives us the stress free time to reconnect with one another and even if we splurge on a meal (I have lobster tails I bought on sale sitting in our freezer for our next one!) the money we saved on everything else makes up for it and gives the evening a special quality.


answers from Houston on

One thing we did, that you may have already done, that helped us is to get more of our income taxes back each month instead of a big lump sum once a year. This is probably pretty obvious to most people, but we only started doing that this year. Otherwise, you're just giving a no-interest loan to the government.



answers from Provo on

Student loan debt falls into it's own special little category. It's the only debt you have that will just *POOF* disappear if you die (provided you do not consolidate debt together in both of your names). It's the only debt you can defer or pay interest only on if you get in financial distress. And, it's the only debt that can be forgiven if you take certain jobs (teachers in far out places, doctors in the same situation, a few others as well). Given those cirucumstances PLUS the fact that we were able to refinance ours at a very low interest rate, my DH and I have made the decision that ALL other debt AND a substantial amount of savings come before paying it off. If I were you, I would nix putting extra toward that debt and put it in savings first.
Savings on groceries -- make a list of non-perishable "stock" items that you like to have in your kitchen, then only buy those items when they are on sale for 30+% off. Make a menu and stick with it so you aren't wasting anything you buy. Kid's expenses -- learn to say no. For me, I have an invisible "hat" and I tell my kids when we are going somewhere that I know they will be doing "I want, I want..." that I just tell them I have my "No Hat" on. For kids clothes find someone to swap hand-me-downs with, shop at thrift stores, and really try to make do with only as many clothes as they need -- not as many as they want. For gifts -- don't give them. Offer help. Give smiles. Spend time with people. For anyone that you can't stand to spend time with, make them brownies (with a mix that was bought on SALE!!). Unexpected expenses almost cannot be done away with or stepped around -- but review your expenses for the past 2 years, focusing on the unexpected ones, and see if you can find a way to make some a bit more expected. Or, just total up the "unexpected" expenses for the last 2 years, divide by 24 and put that amount each month into savings to cover the unexpected stuff.
Good luck to you and congrats on getting out of debt last year. I'm sure that feels good!



answers from Fort Collins on

I agree that Dave Ramsey and Suze Orman are great sources! Read Suze's book for women. Pay yourself first (ie. savings), and then see what is left over for groceries, misc expenses, etc. Tell your relatives that you won't be doing gifts this year (instead offer to trade babysitting, dogsitting, etc). It's OK to admit to people that you are choosing to save money. They may look at you like you're crazy and tell you that it's OK "because everyone has some debt." My husband and I still have "old" TVs and "old" cell phones. Everyone laughs at us and insists that we need a new TV and iPhones, but the reality is that we don't need them. What we need is financial security for ourselves and our daughters. So until the old truck, old TV, and old phones break down we're keeping them!

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