BeCentsAbleThis weekend I was featured at Be CentsAble as part of their Centsable Savings Story. Since the weekend is over, I thought I would post the entire article over here at my blog so all of you can read about my savings and struggles. I was more then excited to write this guest post, and I have no idea why I haven’t written something similar on my blog before.

MY FAMILY: I am a stay-at-home mom of three little boys with another one on the way any day now. A little over a year ago my fiance and I decided that I should not return to work after my scheduled maternity leave, but instead stay at home to raise our growing family. I knew that this decision would be a challenge for me because I had never been a stay-at-home mother before. Ever since I was fifteen years old I have always had a job. Now our income was going to be cut in half,and I would have to create a budget that allowed our family to live off of one income. Scared was not even the word to describe how I felt about this new change in my life.

MY STRUGGLES: With just one income coming in, I found it hard to cut back on luxury items that I once bought on a regular basis. Name brand items had to be exchanged for store brand items, fast food dinners had to be exchanged for homemade dinners, and my regular $15 bottle of lotion now seemed like an expensive treat from the past. I had no idea what stockpiling was or where to even begin to start menu planning. So every month I found our budget coming up short in some areas and then coming over budget in others. To say I was lost was an understatement.

ON MY WAY: After a couple of months of trial and error, I started getting the hang of things. I was able to have most of the household bills paid on time, but my grocery and miscellaneous household budget was still coming up short. I found myself scrambling around in the refrigerator and cabinets the last week of every month trying to scrape together meals for my family. What I came up with in the end wasn’t a pretty picture. The groceries wasn’t the only area that was suffering. I also found myself trying to figure out how I was going to be able to afford the items that my family used on a daily basis such as toilet paper, toothpaste, soap, washing powder, etc.

ALMOST THERE: A couple of months ago, while surfing the internet, I accidentally came across a website that showed me how to use coupons efficiently, how to menu plan and grocery shop, and how to make CVS work for me. Discovering that website changed my life, seriously. I now had the tools to finally make my budget stretch where it once fell short. I was no longer scraping together meals at the end of the month, and I was starting a little stockpile of my own of the items that my family needed the most. I didn’t have to run to the store several times a week to pick up items that we had run out of at the last minute. I limited myself to two shopping days per week, one to the grocery store and one to CVS.

MY WEEKLY PLAN: My monthly grocery budget for my family is $375. Every Sunday I sit down and make out a menu plan for that week. My biggest thing is that I don’t like to be in the kitchen for a long time, so I like my meals to be made quick, fast and in a hurry. After making out my menu plan, I write down a list of ingredients that I will need for each meal and then I go through my kitchen and cross out everything on my list that I already have. Once I have a final grocery shopping list, I sit down with my coupon binder and I pull out all of the coupons that match the items on my list. I then pull out my local grocery stores sales ads for that week and make a note of which stores have what items on sale. Finally, I go on the internet to check and see if there are any printable coupons to go with the items on my grocery list. Then on Monday, I head out to the grocery store early in the morning to do that weeks grocery shopping.

I know that making a budget, and sticking with it, is an ever evolving process. Some months I have some money left over and other months I am over budget. I am by no means the perfect “penny pincher”, but I am working consistently, everyday, to make our budget work for my family.

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  1. That’s a great story! Thanks for sharing. Good luck on your delivery. Your boys are adorable!

  2. We have very similar stories! Thank goodness for the internet and for all of the smart women out there sharing great tips on how to live well on less, right? Thanks for sharing!

  3. Wow thanks 4 sharing your story really inspired me! We also hav similiar stories I hav a 5yr oldson and just had a lil girl. We decided that I would stay home for a while….our food budget 4 the month was 400$ and I found it difficult! But with our economy the way it is I promised my self to be more responsible and modest with money!! And you are so right its about planning ahead!! Thank U 😉

  4. Hello Shynea,

    You are very inspirational and it takes courage to tell your story to us. As women, sometimes we hide what is going on in our families, especially financial issues. I can relate since I am also a mother and find it frustrating sometimes to enter a supermarket and come out with groceries that should of cost me $25 but instead costs $50 in today’s economy. I am also clipping coupons but I didn’t have a strategy like yours. Now I will pay more attention to the weekly advertisements in the stores and match them with the newspaper coupons. Keep up the good work and much success!

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