How to Cut Corners on Monthly Expenses

Updated on February 28, 2011
D.H. asks from Largo, FL
29 answers

I would love to stay home but need to cut corners, except for using coupons on food what are some other ways you have cut corners on bills and other monthly expenses. We rent and have credit card debt and I have two infants (3 week old twins). Any ideas.

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answers from Orlando on

Just another idea that I didn't see here yet. There is a great thrift store just called Community Thrift Store. One is on south Orange Avenue and the other is on north Edgewater Drive. They have a great sale on Wednesdays - buy one get 2 free! I have picked up some great stuff for my son there. You can't beat getting Gymboree clothes for $1! Anyway, I hope that helps. I know that they grow so fast, so saving on clothes for twins should be a big help!

Also, take all of the hand-me-downs you can get! :)



answers from Tampa on

There's a ton of great advice here. I'd like to reiterate the comment about breastfeeding. It will SAVE SO MUCH MONEY. If you are having problems, call the hospital and ask to speak to the lactation consultation. Or go to a La Leche League meeting for free. (You can find a local meeting here: ) 95% of women can breastfeed, but most need some sort of help, so don't feel bad about that.

If you breastfeed exclusively for 6 months, think of all the money you will save on formula! Plus children that are breastfeed will save you a lot of money on doctor's bills ... they are far less likely to have ear infections, asthma, allergies, and lots of other nasties.

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answers from Orlando on

Plan your dinners two weeks at a time: use recipes with the same ingredients and only go shopping once every two weeks. (It stinks sometimes but you learn how non-essential what you're eating is when you simply just can't afford too.) Also, the little trips is what adds up to big money so other than emergency runs for milk and diapers.. make do.

Use the microwave, it saves on electric.

Cut your drive time down. I am fortunate to be renting in Avalon Park which we chose because we only had one car. I can ride my bike to publix for emergencies (with the kids ages 2 and 3 in tow), and we bike/walk/run/skip/ hop/ stroller to the playground. It's kinda far, but it works and they're ready for a nap when they get home.

Honestly, you really don't need two cars. Many may say, "yea right, where's she from?" but my husband is a firefighter, meaning he works for 24 hours home for 48, (and has long worked 48 hours and only home for 24) and we made due just fine even before our move here.

There is a book called the "two income trap" I highly reccomend checking out from the library.

Also, use one debit card. If your husband has one cut up yours or vice versa. Don't write checks without his knowledge or vice versa.

Something that worked even better for us is setting aside half the rent/mortgage per paycheck into a seperate account, and then having second bills account, and a spending account. Sounds like a lot, but most banks allow you to link them and transfer funds if neccessary. Doing it that way keeps everyone in check. I got my husband an account and told him whatever was in it was all the money in the world he had for eating at work, gas, and anything fun he wanted to buy. When it's gone it's gone and that's a strict policy! No if ands or buts.

We plan all of our activities in advance and just recently realized that we don't even have enough money to eat out at the parks when we go (i.e. seaworld). So, we bring a loaf of bread and peanut butter and fill the sippy cups before we go.

All in all, when you look at what you have, and then realize what you don't actually need, you begin to see all the blessings in your life and that even though you don't have much now, God always blesses Humble begginings. I can't wait for the day we buy this house! It's not as big as I wanted, but I can hardly clean what I've got!

p.s. Shop your meats in bulk at Sam's or costco, bj's and same with diapers. We buy 9 thick porkchops for $12 and cut them in half. That's 18 pork chops! Same with chicken. Don't buy from the grocery store. they're $1.67- $1.97 at sams. Freeze your meat. It tastes the same and won't go bad. I cut all the fats off chicken and any little pieces that got cut off with it I put in a bag labeled chopped chicken and use that for a seperate dinner.

It all works out. We found it was actually less expensive for me to stay at home when I was pregnant with my second. Gas, lunches, business attire, daycare and most importantly your time all add up! We would have been in the hole $100 per month had I gone to work. Yikes! How many of us don't take the time to do the math.

Yea for you for understanding your children need you and they come first!

To those who have yet to learn the lessons of sacrifice, Everything comes with a price tag, choose wisely.

The price for staying at home is humble beginings. The reward is happy children and relationships that count.


3 moms found this helpful


answers from Jacksonville on

Hi Bridget!

I can make a couple of suggestions that really worked for me. First, if you have ANY credit card debt at all, get rid of it as quickly as possible. If you can't afford to do it on your own... check out American Financial Solutions, their Web address used to be at They are a non-profit that charges no fees to enter their program, then they negotiate with your credit card companies to get rid of late/overlimit fees and reduce your interest rate while paying it off. They do a complete budget analysis to come up with how much you are paying now and how much you can afford to pay going forward. They are WONDERFUL. I am 1 payment away from finishing off $20,000 worth of debt and it only took 4 years... believe me, the time passes either way and this way provides much less stress! I won't say it's not challenging but it's WAY worth it in the end.

Second... try to buy diapers and wipes in bulk and have them shipped to your home, to save trips out... they are usually cheaper than store bought per unit and with two little ones, you'll need lots of them! usually has very fast, reliable service.

Sign up for the baby clubs at Publix and Winn-Dixie to you get free stuff and coupons for lots of other items each month, not just baby stuff.

Shop for clothes online and take advantage of big sales without going to a store! Gymboree runs 50% off several times a year and their stuff is very durable and well made. Carters can be found on, and they also run great sales.

Another hint I love... when shopping online, use Upromise if you've joined to get free money put into a college account for your kiddos... just register your credit card. Also register your Publix card and when you pay for groceries with your credit card, all qualifying purchases earn you money! When shopping online, don't forget to check or to make sure there are no offers out there for the Web sites you're using, such as free shipping or percent off promotion codes. You can find any store they list all in one spot.

Hope this helps and good luck!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Tampa on

You can do it.Cut from going to the cleaners. Stop eating out , don't visit any store at all. Stay focuss on your dreams. Read a lot, listen to music, pray, go to church often, meditate, fast. Keep your mind off your needs and on God. I have been married for 19 years to the same man. Whether he is working or not, I pay my bills and keep my home.We are always happy, peaceful and in love.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Tallahassee on

Hey there

A good way to lower costs. Use one car if you have two. Turn off the A/C and open the windows. Let the sun shine in and turn off the lights. If you are still warm, use the fan (fans cool people, not rooms-turn the fan off if you're not in that room). Turn off appliances that you are not really using (TV/Computer/lamps) when you're not in that particular part of the house. Just make sure to turn all lights off as you leave the rooms.

I cut my electric bill in half by doing all of this.

If you don't care to watch TV/as you may not have much time anyway. Let the cable go! if you still like your movies, use netflix 15.99/mo unlimited movie rentals-its great

do your laundry in the evenings-peek hours raise the energy levels and causes higher electric bills. dish washer is the same.

see about WIC to help with milk/juice/formula because that all does add up. you may or may not qualify depending on the total household income...just a suggestion
when we did qualify it was very that we don't our formula is a fortune

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Honolulu on

Well beans and rice are supper cheap, that is 90% of what we eat.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Tampa on

Wow, twins, congratutlations!! Well, it looks like you got some really good advice. I don't think I can add much to the suggestions. However, one thing is for sure, impulse buying will really cause you to spend more than you think you are spending. So keep impulse buying to a minimum or eliminate it alltogether if you can. That's about all I could tell you, because everyone has touched on the things that I would have suggested and much more too.

I like the idea of making your own baby food and breastfeeing. These are excellent suggestions and as was already said, breastmilk is free. Of course it goes without saying that this was how God designed us.

So, have fun with the babies and best wishes to you and yours. Kindest regards, D.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Sarasota on

Menu planning has been huge with me. Not only should you look for coupons and plan what stores you go to for what, but try to only go once for the week! If you aren't there, you are spending, so plan ahead and make very thorough shopping lists. I too love Sams because we can go there and get what we need once a month and it keeps me out of Walmart. Walmart is great, but impulse buying gets me every time and sales are great, but not when they are for items you were never going to buy anyway.
We are switching our cell phone to a prepaid T-mobile phone. I refuse to be without a phone, but I don't need thousands of minutes and another monthly bill to worry about. It is working great for us and the minutes don't expire for a full year.
Everyonw has given great advice. The biggest difference I see is staying out of the stores, ANY stores, as much as possible.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Tampa on

Some quick advice. First thing is to elminate debit. Call your credit card companies, tell them you just had twins and are struggling. Ask them to lower your interest rates, or find a credit card that will allow transfers with a lower interest rate. Sometimes, the first six months is interest free! Log onto and look at Jean Chatzsky (sp?) section. She has lots of great money tips and a great debit diet. Create a money club in your apt. complex. Women with kids whom you can trade clothes, sitting, services, etc.. And taking work in, like babysitting helps with $$. Good luck and god bless!



answers from Tampa on

I dont know if anyone has told you about this site buts its awesome and has helped my family save money on kids clothes, chrismas gifts and up-comming birthdays. Its like ebay but instead of paying with cash you use a point system. Its really easy and alot of fun. I am a member on the site so if you refer me we both get some points just for you joining. My Referral Code: F7EUQB Good luck! T.



answers from Lakeland on

Congrats on your twins!!! I am a mother of twins too,they are 15 mos now.I know it is going to sound probably crazy but try to breastfeed them as much as you can in that way you will save alot money in formula.Also buy diapers and wipes in bulks (sams club).Make your own food when they are able to eat,and ENJOY!!! becasue after all those fertility treatments (I know about that too) you deserve to have a good time with your twins.
Good luck,



answers from Ocala on

Where do you live? Do you have a WinnDixie around you they have certain bargains on meat buy one and get one free! What is your profession?



answers from Tampa on

Congratulations on your new babies! I am a sole parent of two toddler boys so I have to try to cut corners all the time too. It's tough because I like to give them organic food and it's really pricey, but I do my best to shop for their clothes when WalMart has a sale and I do the same with toys or I go to a consignment shop. I have many, many boys clothes and toys that you are welcomed to if you'd like, just send me a note and we can work something out.



answers from Tampa on

We're also going through this. My husband switched jobs and he took a big cut in pay. It's a long story, but it's worth the cut in pay. What I would do is sit down and list where every single penny goes to. Take time to look at each one to see where you could cut costs.

With groceries, I do a lot of the Buy 1 Get 1 Free. I stock up and that saves a lot, especially with meat. I set a budget and I stick to it. We used to eat out a lot and we cut way back there. When we do eat out, we also look for special deals and places where kids eat free (you don't have to worry about that yet). I also figured out that I don't have to make big elaborate meals. My kids love hot dogs so we have turkey dogs on wheat buns and it's healthy. It's also cheap.

My husband loves having cable so we ended up switching to another company and it saved us about $30 a month.

Use fans to help with the air. Turn it up a few degrees. We always kept ours really cool. When we turned it up, it did seem hot but we get used to it. Like somebody else said, I keep the blinds closed when the sun is really hot.

If your electric bill seems high, have the electric company come out and see why. They do it for free and they'll run tests to see what is making it so high. A friend's went really high and they were able to tell her it was her old fridge. She replaced it and it went back down.

We are getting ready to trade in our vehicles for smaller payments and ones that use less gas. My Suburban sucks the gas down.

Also check out Dave Ramsey's program. I know there are a lot of financial programs out there, but his is the best. No matter where you are financially, he can teach you something. He teaches you how to get out of debt, stay out of debt, and to plan for the future. We used it and several friends used it and everybody was successful. I've talked to people online who have used it and said it changed their lives.

I am currently babysitting one little girl. That brings in $150 a week and from what I hear, I'm one of the cheapest. I'm not sure if you could keep up with another one with such young twins or not. I'm having to let this little girl go because of other obligations coming up. If you're in the Clearwater area and are interested, let me know. She's a sweetheart and a really good baby. She just turned a year old. Her mom is looking for somebody.

We weren't sure if I would be able to stay at home or not. But, we've managed and it's been so worth it. I hope it works out for you.



answers from Orlando on

First and foremost, get rid of the credit card debt.
Either consolidate all of it to the lowest interest card you have or take out a loan interest personal loan to pay the cards off. Then, cut them all up except for 1 (put that one in a sock drawer for emergencies only).
Otherwise, the rest of the helpful info. these ladies have already given you is great and I do the same.
I loved the eat out once per paycheck, that's what we do. I tell the kids it's either one lunch or one dinner.
When you have 5 mouths to feed, it's hard to go anywhere to eat that it's not $100 a pop.
I have been a SAHM for 6 years and love it. My husband so much appreciates all that I do to help us be able to do that.
I know you will do a great job too. Congrats on those sweet little babies.



answers from Jacksonville on

Congratulations on your beautiful new babies!! I am a sahm and things are really tight. But we make it work. We only had one car for a year after my ist daughter was born. My husband had a motorcycle he drove to work or used the car when i was not needing it. We don't have cell phones. Sounds crazy in this day and age but we do fine with out it. I always make a list for grocery shopping and a budget. If not i always over spend. I take the girls clothes to the local consignment shop and as they sell i use the credit to get clothes for they. I never pay department store prices for their clothes. The only thing i buy new is shoes. I also shop at goodwill and buy clothes,even sizes ahead. They always have kids clothes at .99. I also buy books for them there. I buy kids books,coloring books and art/craft stuff for them at the dollar store. Join you local to get free stuff from local folks. I just got a cordless phone we desperately needed. I try not to do too much driving during the week, gas is so expensive. I plan my trips to get lots of errands done together. We too were eating out way too much. It was $400.00 one month!! So we try to limit it to the weekends only and a few meals then. I also signed up for budget billing with the power company. Your bill is the same each month. It is great. We have cable but the cheapest plan and you never know what you are missing. Shop around for car insurance. We just switched and are savings $15.00 a month. If you have a lot of cc debt try a counseling service to negotiate a lower interest or a reduced amount owed. This could cut lots from you bottom line. Once the babies are eating solids try making you own baby food. I bought a book at the bookstore an did this with my 1st daughter. You really save a ton. I would make a bunch and freeze it in ice trays, pop them out store in a frezzer bags and defrost only what i needed.
I wish you the best!!



answers from Orlando on

I know most people think this is crazy, but we don't have cable or satellite. It saves so much money every year! We actually have rabbit ears, so we get the basic channels including PBS, which is plenty (more than enough) TV. Also, in order to stay at home with my first 2 kids we had ONE CAR-- I know, crazy, but we survived. I would take my husband to work wayyyyyy early in the morning if I wanted the car-- and I joined a MOMS Club where I met tons of women crazy enough to pick up me AND my baby AND my toddler and the 2 car seats!

Your best bet is to look back at your expenses (checkbook, credit card, and try to remember cash stuff, too) and put everything into categories to see where your money is going. I was shocked at how often we ate out (fast food and pizza delivery counts, too- it adds up!!)once I saw it in writing over a 3 month period. There are an aweful lot of great kids consignment shops and church thrift shops that have kids clothes in great condition for a few bucks... Every family spends their money on different things- you have to figure out where you are spending the most money and then make a way to cut back.



answers from Tampa on

I recently took a job making half the pay of my previous position in order to spend more time with my kids.
We basically examined everywhere we were spending money and investigated to see if there was a way reasonable way to pay less that made sense for us.
Here are some of the things my husband and I did to cut our expenses.
1. Checked our cell phone plan to see if we could lower it. ($20 month)
2. Checked our cable/internet to see if we could save there. ($10 month)
3. Refinanced both of our cars for lower interest rates and extended the financing out a year. ($100 month)
4. Checked our car insurance deductables and premiums to see if we were paying higher than needed. ($75 month)
5. Refinanced our house. ($800 month)
6. Home equity line to consolidate credit cards. ($600 month)
7. Changed what we were claiming on our taxes throughout the year. ($200 month)
8. Only using lights when needed, turning off lights when not in use, monitoring the the air conditioner by finding what we could live comfortably in and not going below or above a certain level. ($50 month)
It was truly amazing to us that when all we did was just begin to pay attention to where our money was going that we were able to save so much. We literally feel like we have more extra money now than we did when I was in the higher paying job. Hope maybe something in this might help you.



answers from Orlando on

when we bought our new house we didn't get cable and we don't miss it all!! we also went to our credit union and got a personal loan to pay off all of our credit cards. it's great to have one low payment at at half the interest rate. my company also offers an account you can put money into every month tax free to cover health costs. anytime you make a copayment it comes out of the account.



answers from Tampa on


I would advise using This has lots of varied
coupons, as well as taking Sunday St. Pete Times, there is
much coupons in that issue. After you get acquainted with sources, keep a watch as to where they are best used. Publix,
Albertson's or others when they have buy one, get one free -
plus you have a coupon for the item. That saves me loads!
I also regularly shop for meats, etc. at the big box stores
like Super Walmart & Super Target. There is also great savings on meats, etc. at Sam's. This depends on how much/
how often you need to buy meats, poultry storage wise. If you are like me, I can only fit so much in my freezer. But,
keeping well stocked on coupons, and then watching the ads is my best advice as to how to save the most. It goes without saying that the cost of everything is just way up there!

Good luck!
K. H



answers from Tampa on

Hi there! I'm 34 and have my first that I'm staying home with too after 15 years of doing the same job. While I can't afford to do it, and, unfortunately, have resorted to a lot of credit card assistance, we have cut a lot of expenses too.

We cook a lot at home and use coupons and shop at different places for certain things. For example, Sam's Club for cereal, tp, papertowels, bottled drinks, etc. and then Walmart for dry goods and Publix for meats/fruits and buy lots of 2 for 1's (which a lot of times you only have to buy 1 and still get the sale price of that 1) or buy one get one free. I use coupons for everything I can and when we eat out, it's usually somewhere that I have a coupon for, etc. Eating out in my opinion is a HUGE expense that you don't get to keep - like if you buy something for your house, clothes, etc. So treat yourselves, but not a lot - like don't buy lunch every day, etc. Also, shop for household items at places like Big Lots or Walmart, etc. I even buy cheaper clothes for ourselves.

We rent DVD's from (or netflix) and get the cheap deal - $4.99/mo. We also share with what my brother rents or if you have any family that has a DVD burner, they can share movies with you if you buy some blank DVD's at Sam's for example, as they're a good deal. We have no movie channels on our TV deal, as usually, you end up watching network TV shows anyway. Get an all-in-one package like Verizon Fios TV, internet, phone (or Brighthouse). We switched to Verizon and have all 3 for $99/mo. and then dropped our cell phone minutes to the minimum 700/mo., as we have unlimited long-distance on our home phone now. So we only use our cell for Verizon in-calling (free Verizon-Verizon minutes) and then the home phone for all other calls.

Try to cut down on utility bills - like I keep blinds shut where the sun is shining to keep out the heat and/or use fans and turn down the A/C. I got those new energy saving light bulbs (cheapest @ Home Depot in a 4 or 6 pack) that last for 9 years and use less wattage. Watch electric and water usage (and even car mileage/gasoline). Wash as much laundry as possible in cold water.

If you stay at home, call your car insurance co. and tell them you don't use your car for work anymore and you'll pay less for insurance. Transfer your credit cards to lower rate cards if you have any other offers or new intro. offers. Check into refinancing your car...check with or a credit union if you can get into one - like if your family is a member, you can join too. Pay medical bills through the facility by making payment arrangements (without interest) rather than putting it on a credit card.

You'd be surprised how much $$ overall in a year you will realize you did without by just crunching numbers and using a budget. I write down every month the bills and pay what's due and then put aside $$ for what's next - like take the monthly budget and divide it by the weeks and then you know how much a week you need to put away or use.

Hope these things help!! It's so important to stay home with your little ones - you will find ways, trust me, I have. :) Take care!!



answers from Los Angeles on

Try turning all that stuff they've outgrown into money at stores you always shop at, like Target and Walmart. Check out You can have them come get your hand-me-downs and they'll give you points for anything that is still in good condition. You can use your points to buy other cloths or save them to get gift certificates to other great stores!



answers from Tampa on

Those are nice suggestions... But I don't feel cable is a necessity! We haven't had it in YEARS but we watch all the shows that come on regular stations anyway... I shop stricktly at Walmart. Unless Winn Dixie (or publix) has buy 1 get 1 free. We switched to generic - and SOME things I really don't like at all generic but for the most part, generic really isn't all that bad. We don't go out to eat all that much anymore - besides money, our two young kids can get really out of hand! We have 1 car too and I really hate it sometimes! I do the freecycle and craigslist too. And shop consignment and thrift stores too! My favorite is Second Image on Kennedy. But to tell you the truth, as budgeting as I am, I'm going to get a part time job just for the next few months to make Christmas nicer.



answers from San Francisco on

Do you go to Sam's or BJ's for diapers? The generic diapers at wholesale clubs are SOOOOOOO worth the price of membership. And I don't notice any change between them and the expensive diapers. With my son, I have to buy the "good nights" for overnight, and one of my daughters went through a phase where Huggies overnights were the only thing that worked at night, but for everyday use, those generic diapers are great. I get wipes there, too. I buy lots of their clothes at resale stores - I love Once Upon a Child stores - their clothes are so reasonable, and they are pretty picky, so you're not going to be buying used clothes with stains or tears. They sell shoes and toys, dvds and books as well. When I don't shop there, I buy what I can at Target and Walmart, and use ebay a lot for buying clothes. My rule of thumb for clothes is that I do not spend more than $6 on shirts, $10 on pants,dresses, or pajamas, with very few exceptions. We have 4 kids, and I'm a stay at home mom. It's tough to always try to pinch pennies, but there are always ways to do it. I clip coupons like crazy, and go onto some of the online coupon places... like or If you type in "free coupons" to your search engine, you'll get lots of sites. Be careful, though, because it opens you up for lots of junk email, too. I only go to the grocery store every 2 weeks, and I save between $12-$19 each time I go. Good luck! Keep scrimping! It's soooo worth all those sacrifices to be home with your little ones!



answers from Orlando on

I know you said you already use coupons, but have you checked out Its a great site and if you want to subscribe, they take your normal sunday coupons and match them up to the weekly ads to get you the best deal. It does cost a small amount, but if you take 3 list stores for $20 every 2 months, you will save so much!! I have learned to never pay a penny for toothpaste or deodorant. If you pay more than $.25 for a bottle of dishsoap, its not worth it! I won't pay more than $.50 for a bag of name brand halloween candy(this week I am getting it for $.16 a bag) If you have any questions, just message me and I will try to help!



answers from Orlando on

We have our cable cut off, cell phone bill, we use Vonage for $24.99 a month. We use numerous amounts of coupons for pretty much everything that I can. We will get a prepaid phone for emergencies soon. Those are some things that I can think of now.



answers from Tampa on

I know how it feels after 5 years of trying to have a second baby and starting fertility dotocr visits I found out that I would not be able to carry another child. We are now looking to adopt and found out how expensive it is. So we have been trying to cut corners everywhere we can. I do most of my shopping at Walmart. They price match with everyone's ads. It saves alot on gas money and they even match the buy on get one free things. Also I purchased a Entertainment book. We do not go out alot but for those rare times we do the book is filled with buy one get one free coupons. Helps when Andrew has soccor and no time to cook and all. We ran through like Long Johns and use the coupon and we both eat for like $5. I also have tried to earn a little extra cash by looking for things around the house we no longer use and sell them on EBay and Craigslist.



answers from Fort Myers on

I jsut got myself out of $15,000 debt due to my ex husband. He is supposed to give me $5,000 of that and has not a dime yet. So that will be all new money once he gets it going. I am debt free. I got in a great program, Consumer Credit Counseling (CCC of Atlanta). It is a low monthly fee of like $5.00 they bargain the rates down, and you pay them your monthly and disburse it to everyone. I was on a 3 year program. After my divorce lived with family and paid it off quicker. I do this: after every payday (every other week) i allow one dinner out. I get no new clothes for me, and get consignment for my daughter. Just think, your kids wear the clothes for a few months, maybe 1 year and in perfect condition. Wouldnt you want another kid to enjoy it? Plenty of these available. Even toys, i get Pottery Barn toys for $10.00! I just dropped my cell phone becuase i was out of my contract finally and got Virgin, it is $7.00 a month, and then you pay 0.10 a minute. WHen you are home, use your home phone!! I was allowed 200 minues with sprint, and if i use those with Virgin, it is still less than my sprint monthly. Oh i was already set up with Virgin, (i hate that name, lol) and i called sprint to cancel , told them $40 was not in my budget, they gave me 3 months free. so i took it. In january call again to cancel, lol. Hope this helps!

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