I had a mini freakout session this week. Okay, actually a big huge ginormous freakout this week – over money. I decided I needed to start being extreme about saving money – I’m talking getting rid of my car, renting a bedroom to some random stranger no craigslist, couponing to the extreme, and only using phones on prepaid plans.
Why did I suddenly become Miss Penny Pincher?
Because I realized that I do not get parental leave at my job.
Granted, it’s my own darn fault. I should have taken a better look at my contract booklet. I saw “six weeks” and just figured that they were paid, and that I would get them. Note to self – read contracts better! I fall into a different category because of my contract and the fact that this is my first year.
I love my job, I really do! I get to be surrounded by music and help adolescents further their quest to be better musicians. It rocks (yes, that was an on purpose musical pun!)
And I am thankful that I have some sick days left, and the ability to still have a job even though I’m having a baby. Truly I am. I know that my situation of having unpaid maternity leave is not a unique one, sadly. But I just financially was kinda counting on that extra money…seeing as I’ll most likely be giving birth 6 weeks before the school year ends.
So after I had a mini meltdown, Tall Dad and I had a talk.
I didn’t need to get rid of my car.
A stranger would not be moving in our house.
But there were some ways that we could seriously step up our savings, and help prepare for my upcoming non-paid maternity leave, and the additional expense of having a second child.
1. Actually make a budget, and go back to that budget week after week.
Tall Dad and I are budget “guessers.” We guestimate things, a lot. We have this idea of what we spend money on each month, and usually are around that number, but then things we didn’t count on pop up…
Like wedding or birthday gifts
Or a romantic Valentine’s Day night out
Or a flat tire..or four (give me a break, it’s pothole season, and Providence, Rhode Island is KNOWN for their terrible potholes!)
So we need to get better at sticking to a budget, and if things pop up, then the money needs to come out of somewhere else.
2. Start using cash
I’ve heard this tip a lot, and have started using it myself. Credit cards are sneaky little things. They make you feel confident. “Why yes I’ll buy that overpriced coffee!” “Ooo, I can totally buy a three course dinner right now!”
One thinks twice when cash is used to purchase items. So as often as we can, we will be using cash!
3. Get prepaid phone plan
Wait a minute Mary aka Tall Mom – wasn’t this listed as one of your freakout moment ideas?
Doesn’t prepaid often have slow data, a spotty network, and second rate phones?
Things have changed friends – Introducing Simply Prepaid™ from T-Mobile
For just $40 a month I can get 4G LTE data with unlimited talk and text – and I can chose from a selection of the latest smartphones. I just went to Walmart, picked my phone and plan, and was out the door in a jiffy.
It was BEYOND easy, and I’ve been really happy with the coverage. I’ve been using the Galaxy Avant, and think it’s totally comparable to other smartphones I’ve used. But this is only 40 bucks a month, compared to the 120 that I’ve been spending!
4. Make My Own Coffee
Remember I mentioned how I sometimes like to spend money with my credit card on overpriced coffee?
What can I say, I’m a sucker for the drive thru.
I like pulling up, making my order, handing over a card, and getting a warm cup of joe – and a smile – in return.
But that warm cup of brewed coffee, and lets be honest, less that satisfactory smile – costs about $2.50 and up!
I have GOT to get back into the habit of brewing my own coffee at home. I have a Keurig machine, so it’s not even that difficult. The biggest thing I need to remember is to keep my stash of K-Cups supplied, and remember to refill the water tank.
Tall Dad even found these awesome make your own K-Cups where I can just fill up a mesh cup container with my own coffee – saves the environment and the cash in my pocket.
5. Do a maternity clothing swap
As soon as I found out I was pregnant, I contacted one of my best friends who had a baby last summer – and asked her to ship up some maternity clothing. She had a vast collection – some items were mine from when I was pregnant with Rhys (aka Itty Bitty) and then she added her own pieces to the collection.
Now I have a bustling closet full of work appropriate tops and maternity dresses. I’ve saved a TON of money not having to go out and purchase a new wardrobe.
If you don’t know anyone who had a baby around the same time as you, post on Facebook. Maybe someone knows someone – and they’d be willing to sell you their stash for a fraction of the cost. Because let’s be honest. As soon as I’m done having babies, I am getting rid of these big slouchy shirts and dresses.
The elastic jeans however, may stay – especially around Thanksgiving!
I’m hoping these tips start saving me some money real soon – because we are going to need it!
I’d honestly love to hear them – as long as they don’t recommend my eating Ramen Noodles…I had too many of those in my poor college days!
Talk soon friends,
I find I'm the opposite if I have cash…I burn through it and tend to make little purchases, like extra coffees and snacks here and there, that I wouldn't have bought if didn't have cash on me.
I'm trying to figure out whats right for us, Blake says he prefers cash – and I like the cards because every penny gets automatically tracked. maybe we will try one month with cash and one month with a card!
My other two pregnancies I worked full time and got paid family leave and paid disability. This time I'm self employeed had really didn't get any time off other than what I give myself (which isn't much). Just can't afford it. We definitely had to cut corners and costs for a few months beforehand to prepare. #client
Danielle – sorry to hear we are not alone! It's too bad we didn't get paid to bring wonderful babies into the world 🙂 I feel like we should!