Confessions: Finding Money for Extras with Two Little Ones

This confession comes after owing just a little bit to Uncle Sam and our state last week.  First, Mr. Style and I are very blessed to make enough to cover our mortgage, bills, childcare for 2, contribute to our 401k’s, and be able each year to have a little more in savings than we did the year before and do a few extras.  Here is what works for us.

  1. Daycare – We chose to do a trade-off.  We put our oldest is in a more expensive preschool with extended hours when he turned 3 to ensure a strong foundation for kindergarten.  When the baby came, we found a stay at home mom who was willing to take a reduced rate since she cares for her two children and mine.  This saves us about $400 a month from what the preschool would have charged for a baby.  I also only pay for the days we use her. (This gives us extra money during trips and holidays)  The other positive for us, is that she will watch mine if she isn’t well, and if she is on vacation she has another SAH mom who will fill in.  I found her off of care.com
  2. Date Night – We have friends who we alternate watching each other’s kids so we can have a date night. This is one of my favorite money-saving ideas.  Plus, I don’t have to worry about if the sitter is equipped to handle an emergency.  We save money by using sites like Group On to buy reduced rates for eating out, and we do things that are reasonably priced.  During February, we actually just cooked at home to avoid the Valentine crowd and prices.
  3. TV/Internet – We moved this past summer and we dropped our cable company. Style has to have ACC football – so we did a bare bones satellite package with a DSL internet company.  We saved almost $50 a month just by reducing this.  We used our first two months savings to buy an Amazon FireTV so that we could access kids programming through our Prime account.
  4. Clothing
    1. Consigning – I love ThredUP! They send me a bag – I fill it full of gently used clothing from my closet and the kids and then I get money deposited via PayPal.  This is great for the nicer clothes that your kids don’t wear very much.  It was also great for the maternity and post baby clothes in that size you couldn’t wait to get out of.  This money helps to buy the kids next season of clothing.
    2. Saving Money – I have brands I like that I mark at Zulily and they e-mail me when they have them. com is a great place to find discounted shoes (I got Mr. Style a pair of steel toed Keen boots for ½ price).  Shop sales and stock up.  J Crew Factory, GAP and Old Navy will run a 40% sale each season and I wait and stock up for the kids.  I also use my credit card rewards to buy gift certificates that I use during these stock up sales.
  5. College Fund – Mr. Style and I agreed that we would wait until the first one starts public school next fall and put the difference of our daycare budget into a college fund. That way it is money we are already used to not having and makes up for the years we haven’t contributed.
  6. Eating Out – We take our lunch 3-4 days a week. We also do not eat out dinner more than once a week.  I post my favorite Brown Bag Lunches and Dinners on Pinterest.
  7. Gym – We gave up the gym when we had babies. I do have some fun videos and a mat and we do have some free weights – but walking and running are free.
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