When I became pregnant with our sixth child in June of this year, one thing was for certain… the clothing budget would have to expand. (Get it?!)
Because I tend to get HUGE with each pregnancy (it’s hard to fit 10 pound kids into my 5’1″ frame), I knew I’d probably need a lot of different sizes.
Who wants to spend a lot of money on big clothes? Especially ones you will only be able to wear for a couple of months?
Luckily, I’d learned to get creative in my spending during our #yearsofno that lead us out of tens of thousands in credit card debt!
Flexing those money saving muscles is fun (once you’ve learned how to grow them)!
(Learn more about the path we took to get out of debt.)
I’m such a fan of setting goals, because I’ve seen it work wonders in our life. And I truly believe that anyone can build their savings (even when life happens!).
The fun part of setting goals is looking back to see how far you’ve come. So here are some of the biggest ways we managed to save money this year.
The 7 Biggest Ways We’ve Saved Money This Year
Between buying maternity clothes (my “baby” is 5 years old, so I got rid of nearly everything I had!), having teens that love their brand names, and the daily needs of the family, our clothing budget could easily get out of hand quickly.
That’s why I love getting clothing secondhand.
Here are a few ways I manage to keep costs down:
If your friends know you love hand me downs, they will bless you with them! Many of us have more clothing than our homes can handle, so if we can find someone in need of them, we’re happy to pass them along.
Just remember to pay it forward to another family with kids younger than yours.
We’re lucky to have a Goodwill that still prices clothing at rock bottom prices. Yard sales are often even better deals.
If you have no luck there, consignment shops like Once Upon a Child and Clothes Mentor are good bets.
One thing I’ve learned is that certain brands are worth the cost. They just hold up better. When you have three boys in a row, that’s a major plus!
I tend to splurge on winter boots and coats. And I’ve found Ebay to be the best place to get real bargains!
Pregnancy tends to leave me exhausted. And by the time I have much of a belly at all, I find myself with useless T-Rex arms.
That makes cooking difficult. And during pregnancy our family often turns to more fast food or convenience foods.
So I’ve been grateful for Kroger Clicklist. I’ve been putting in a couple of huge orders each month.
Not shopping for our family of 7 has saved my sanity and gives me a little extra energy. (Too bad this wasn’t an option with my other 5 pregnancies!)
Plus, having food available in the house makes it easy to cook here rather than dining out.
Heads Up Moves
News headlines remind us every day that credit card fraud is a real thing.
Chances are pretty good that you’ve had your information compromised in one way or the other. It’s enough to make you worry every time you swipe your debit card.
For me, the risk of using my debit card at a gas station or Redbox isn’t worth it. In fact, we had our credit card information stolen from a Redbox this year.
The scumbag charged hundreds of dollars to our card.
Can you imagine if that had been coming out of our checking account? There’s an extra headache you don’t need!
So I’ve made sure to use only credit cards at places like those. It won’t save you from ATM thefts, but no scenario is perfect.
In 2019, I’m considering switching over to using reloadable gift cards for these situations. It’s another good way to track our budget, and it comes with less temptation for overuse on those credit cards!
For our family, 2018 was the year of travel! In a typical year we’re lucky to take one nice trip.
This year, we took several! A celebratory trip to Indianapolis ended our #yearofno. There was a wonderful vacation in Washington, D.C. (Get our list of things to do in Washington D.C. with kids if it’s on your bucket list!)
Then we treated the whole family when I attended a blogging conference at Cedar Point in the fall.
We also had a couple of other smaller trips for less fun reasons. But all of that traveling helped us to learn some important lessons on saving on travel.
I’ve always wondered if you save more by booking rooms ahead of time or waiting to grab last minute deals. Now I’m a firm believer in booking ahead.
We found ourselves in rural Maryland late in the evening. No data access at all (we finally found a Burger King with free wifi, thank heavens!) and no hotels in sight.
When we finally found one that could accommodate our “medium sized family”, the price was far more than I ever like to spend for one night!
Had we looked at a map and booked a room ahead of time, it would have saved us a lot of hassle and expense.
When you’re making travel plans, investigate all of your options!
Even if you aren’t a camper, it’s worth investigating state parks. Many of them offer cabins and other options that don’t require any “roughing it”.
We were even surprised to find our best deal with AirBNB for one trip!
This school year I’m homeschooling one of the kids for the first time. It’s been quite the learning experience! (Pardon the pun, haha.)
After choosing the books I wanted to use, I figured it would cost us a pretty penny. But some shopping around made it pretty clear that the best prices I could find were consistently coming from two sources.
But don’t dismiss free resources! There’s a ton of free information on YouTube, Khan Academy, National Geographic, and more.
In 2017 our old paid off van kicked the bucket. I was sad that we couldn’t wait until we were debt free to get a new one, but reality is what it is.
We shopped around and found a new to us van. I wasn’t thrilled by the cost of this van, either. The salesperson couldn’t understand why I wouldn’t be excited to trade in my ugly rust bucket for a much nicer model. (Clearly he doesn’t follow the #yearofno.)
Well having a baby changes everything, right?!
Now we needed to find a vehicle that would carry 8. So the van we’d had for less than a year wouldn’t cut it anymore.
This time, when we found a used Tahoe at a much lower price, I was super excited! The price meant we could easily pay it off at tax refund time. And we’d finally be a one car payment family.
Ideally, we’ll ease ourselves into becoming a no car payment family. Those car payments are a real budget killer!
….and the number one way we saved money this year (drumroll please…)…
Paid Off Credit Cards!
We sent in the last payment on our credit card bills in March 2018. I expected balloons to fall from the sky, so it was kind of weird to look around and see the rest of the world carry on as usual. 😉
After over two long years of our #yearofno lifestyle, it felt amazing to get that debt monkey off our backs.
Because of this accomplishment, we were able to build a Christmas fund to draw from this year. That kept the savings rolling forward!
We also enjoyed trips with our family and a few small splurges here and there.
If that sounds like something you want in your life, here’s the book that contains nearly every tip (over 500 of them!) that we used to finally stop living hand to mouth.
Those are the best ways we saved money this year!
Remember, when life expects you to spend money…that’s your chance to flex those creative savings muscles! There’s more than one way to skin a cat. 😉
If you’re struggling to pay off debt, tired of living paycheck to paycheck, or are just tired of always being broke…there’s hope!
Join the totally free Medium Sized Family weekly newsletter for help with saving money (and plenty of encouragement!) every week.
How did you do in 2018?-