Friday, January 06, 2017

How I Saved and Earned Money While Being a Stay at Home Mom

This was my response to a Facebook post asking what we mothers of large families do to cut back, save money, and earn money while being a stay at home mom. I've shared things like this before, but there are so many women who want to know how others have done things. They are literally hungry for information and encouragement.

Please excuse the typos. My days are very full, and it was written hastily to fit it into a quiet moment. If I wait for a moment to make it perfect, it will never be shared. I just don't have the time or the desire for the illusion of perfection any more..."good enough" is going to have to suffice. I hope it encourages someone else in their walk as a mother.

I've been a stay at home wife then mom for almost 30 years. I share this to encourage the young mothers to look for ways they can save money because there might be more from home you can do than you realize. Some of these things don't seem like a lot of money savings, but it really adds up and begins to build upon itself as the years pass. So, don't get frustrated, don't give up, just keep working at it. Glean through these posts and pick three things you can do and work at those.

This may seem like a lot, but it's been over the course of 30 years. I didn't do it all at once. I dropped things like couponing and rebating when I found better ways of making/saving money at home. I have sold books, clothes, goat's milk soap, items found at thrift stores, etc online. I make most of my own cleaners including laundry detergent, fabric softener, all purpose cleaner, etc. I cook a lot of our meals from scratch and in bulk so I have economical and nutrient dense meals ready to go in the freezer. I grow a garden and can produce. I have raised animals on our farm for cash sales, eggs, milk, and meat. I have made yogurt, cheese, ice cream, etc from the milk. I garden and can our produce. I also pressure can and freeze ahead meals like roast beef, soups, etc which saves me time and a lot of money (compared to convenience foods and take out meals) later. I am a certified herbalist and make my own herbal blends for my pets, livestock, and family.

In my early marriage, I spent time developing skills like sewing so I could do things myself instead of hiring it out to someone else. My husband has done the same with car repair, plumbing, etc. I read dozens of family money management books like the Tightwad Gazettes and took away what I could use. I reread them now and then for tips that fit my life better now. As a young and overwhelmed mother, I studied how professionals clean to know how to do it efficiently to save myself valuable time and energy while homeschooling our children.

We reuse everything until it falls apart. If it's a vehicle my amazing husband can't repair, it then gets scrapped for cash. We also recycle, and the metal brings in a little cash. We look for free or inexpensive building materials. We consider purchases an "investment" so we do research and try to buy quality items we can use for years to keep from having to replace them.

We look for items that will give something back to us...instead of ornamental trees, I bought grapevines and fruit trees. For many things, I shop thrift stores first and then fill in the gaps with sales items. We use what nature provides..wild blackberries, persimmons, and elderberries grow abundantly in our woods. My husband cuts down our trees and gets them to a manageable length. Then, I and our children split and stack them for our winter heat. We usually are all working on the firewood at one time as an annual family event with a hearty meal afterwards.

I pick up leaves and pine straw from the curb for mulch, livestock bedding, etc. My sons just raked a yard of acorns to feed our hogs. The homeowner can walk without turning an ankle, got work done for free, and we are going to save a small fortune in hog feed.

I find free things to do locally for weekly family entertainment.

We have seven living children. We are debt free and paid off our home years ago. We pay for used vehicles and every thing else with cash. The farm sales and the ways I've learned to save have also allowed us to take two one-week vacations a year (with some extra weekends here and there) most years for the last ten years.

Living this way can be a lot of work, but I've learned the hard way to treat myself like I would a close friend. I give myself half days and even full days off to read or catch up on sleep as needed. I am content with my very joy filled life. I stay home a lot, avoid situations full of drama, and keep focused on my main job-my husband, children, home, homeschool, and ministry.

I know how hard the days are with little ones, pregnancies, housework, homeschooling, etc, so I sincerely hope this gives someone encouragement.