In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. ~ Proverbs 3:6

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Saving Money with Multiples

When we got married, we talked about what I would want to do when the kids came along.  Would I want to stay at home?  Would I want to go back to work?  For me, I wanted to be a stay at home mom.  I wanted to stay at home and take care of our kids while they are small.  That's something we have always planned for.  We always budgeted off of my husband's income, so I never felt like I would be forced to go back to work to help provide for our family.  

Even though we never depended on my income, my income was the "fun" money...the "let's save for this" money....the "let's invest in that money".....the we have a "big emergency" money.  So yes, there was still a financial adjustment for our family when we went from a two income home to a one income home. 

On top of the financial adjustment, we had some major medical expenses from our pregnancy and birth.  Insurance coverage has changed in recent years.....covering less and paying more!  That meant that if I wanted to stay home with my babies....which I did want....then we were going to be looking at ways to keep our spending down.  Here is what we planned on doing when we found out we were having twins.

1.  Breastfeed if Possible
Breast milk is much cheaper than formula, seeing as how it's free!  It's also a healthier choice for the baby and mother.  For those who struggle with breastfeeding and milk supply, I completely understand.  I had a really hard time providing enough milk for my twins, and we always had to supplement breast milk with formula.  You can read more about my struggles with breastfeeding here.

2.  Use Coupons and Store Deals for Formula and Use the Off Brands if Possible
For those who choose to use formula instead of breastfeed, or for those of us who had no choice but to use formula, be sure look at store deals when buying formula.  When we were using the Up and Up brand, we would always stock up on formula when Target had their store deals and made sure to combine the store deals with coupons.   

Formula was our biggest baby expense during the first year.  We would go through two big Up and Up containers a week, a cost of over $50 every week.  If you have twins, you can join Similac mailing list and will be sent discounts and coupons. Fortunately, both boys could stomach the off brand formula after they turned six months old, but in the beginning we were using Similac Sensitive. If your baby can handle it, off brands like Up and Up and Parent's Choice will save you a lot of money on formula.  You get more and it cost less.  
Make sure to get free samples of formula when you can.  The hospital gave us a good amount when the boys were born, and our pediatrician always gave me samples at every well-check.  Honestly, they have a ton of formula with expiration dates on them that they need to get rid of anyway.  If you join a twins group, you may also be able to get some free samples.

3.  Make your Own Baby Food
Making our baby food saved us about 50% compared to the store bought foods.  You can find my post on making your own baby purees here.

4.  Invest in Cloth Diapers
This is the area where we have saved the most money.  We invested in cloth diapers when the boys turned six months old, and I love it!  We went from buying one super pack of diapers a week to buying one super pack of diapers every six to eight weeks.  We still use disposables at night and when we leave the house, but we save a lot of money by using cloth diapers at home!  You can read my post on cloth diapering here.

5.  Use Coupons and Store Deals for Diapers
When we do buy diapers, we always make sure to use coupons or store deals.  Also, put diapers on your baby registry!  You can find my post about stocking up on diapers here.

6.  Buy Clothes Gently Used
You'll find that your little one will quickly outgrow your baby shower clothes!  When it comes time to buy clothes for your growing baby, buy gently used instead of brand new!  I have had the best luck with buying clothes at seasonal consignment sales.  You can read more about my consignment sale experiences here.

7.  Find Used Baby Equipment from Goodwill, Garage Sales, Facebook Resale Groups and Consignment Sales
I posted about twin baby equipment in this post.  There is no getting around it.  You're gonna have to buy all sorts of "stuff" for your baby.  When given a choice, buy used over new.  Check out garage sales and thrift stores, put the seasonal consignment sales in your calendar and ask to join your local Facebook kid resale groups!

8.  Keep Christmas and Birthdays to a Minimum
I'm one to talk about keeping birthday's to a minimum, after I recently shared on my blog our big first birthday party for the twins!  But in my defense, I made just about everything to keep the cost down.  And we've talked about how our kids don't need a big birthday party every year.  We can still celebrate their birthday without breaking the bank!  As far as Christmas goes, we try to keep that simple too.  Having fun without spending a ton of money is key!  Your kids don't need you to buy them the entire toy department to be happy!  Spending time together and making memories is much more important.

9.  Cut Cable in your Home
We did this after our twins were born and were surprised at how we don't really miss cable.  See how we save $100 a month in a post I wrote about cutting the cord on cable.

10.  Eat out Less and Cook More

We didn't eat out too much before our twins were born, but I know for some people eating out 1-3 times a week is part of their lifestyle.  If you're trying to cut back on your spending, learn to cook more and only eat out on special occasions.  Also, cut back on those gourmet coffees!  You'd be surprised how much those $5 cups of Starbucks can add up!

11.  Start a Garden
We started a small backyard garden for the first time this spring, with the hopes of eating fresh produce this summer, and having enough produce leftover to can or freeze.   I'm not sure if we really know what we are doing yet, but we're learning as we go.  

12.  Minimize the Grocery List
Stick to a list when you go to the store and don't be impulsive when putting things in your cart!  Plan a menu ahead of time....base that menu off of what is on sale that week at your local grocery store....stock up on meats and pantry items when they are on sale....use coupons when you can.....and only buy what you NEED and will USE!

13. Make your own Cleaners 
I save a lot of money by making most of my own cleaners.  I've shared all of my recipes on the blog.  If you are curious about making a cleaner, get on Pinterest, and you'll find hundreds of DIY cleaning recipes!

14. Keep to a Strict Budget
Get on the computer with your spouse and create a budget that you can visualize together!  Make a spreadsheet, so you can see what money is coming in and what money is going out.  This will help you determine if you have a surplus for spending and saving, and how that surplus should be designated each month.  

15.  Make BIG adjustments if Needed and Pray for Provision
If all else fails, and you find that you are still spending more than you are making, you may need to look at other options like downsizing or better job opportunities.  

We were living on a really tight budget the first few months after the twins were born, as we were using every bit of our extra income to pay off all of our medical bills. I don't think we were ever worried about our finances, but we did pray that God would provide and that He would give us the grace to accept any changes that came our way.  

To start with, I looked into finding part time work 1-2 days a week to help out with the hospital bills and to get a break from the boys every now and then.  That fell through, and after child care expenses, it really wouldn't have benefited us too much anyways.  

Matt was also seeking better job opportunities within his company, and at one point he got a job offer that would require us to move out of state.  That position fell through, and a few months later, another positioned opened up that did not require a move.  He took that position with better pay, and that gave us enough cushion in our budget to get by financially.  We were making it financially before the new job opportunity, but it was certainly tight those first few months we brought the babies home.

We also considered downsizing our home as a last resort.   We got a really good deal on our home when we bought it, knowing that if we ever got in a difficult financial situation, we could sell it for a profit and downsize.  We never got to a place where we had to sell.  Thank goodness...I'm sort of attached to our home after all of the work we've put into it. But as attached as I am to our home, I would rather have a smaller home than our big home, if it meant that I could still stay home with my babies.....but that's just me.

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