I don't know anyone who hasn't had to "cut back" in some way or another with the economy being the way that it is. I'm very fortunate to still be able to be a Stay-At-Home-Mom, but I've had to stay on a budget to have that luxury. I've always been frugal (or just plain out cheap), so this hasn't been a stretch for me. To understand how much you spend, you really need to sit down and write it all down. You will then be able to wrap your head around where all of your money goes and you can decide what is necessary and what isn't.
One of the biggest expenses is food. If you have a baby, making your own baby food is the best way to save money. You can use a blender if you don't have a food processor and chop up the fruits and veggies that you're preparing for your meals. Bananas are the easiest to make, simply smash them up with a fork. Not only is it cheaper, but it’s healthier.
Cutting coupons is a great idea, but you need to remember to use them. I used to clip coupons like crazy, just to forget to use them when I was checking out. I usually only buy items when they are BOGO (buy one, get one free), or deeply discounted. I now use websites that tell me which coupons to pair with those sales and I get them for a few dollars, free, or sometimes I make a profit. Grocery stores also discount their meat right before they are going to expire; I buy it and throw it in the freezer. The key to buying things only when they are on sale is to know what is in your pantry. Be sure to check often, otherwise you will forget that you bought something and it might go bad before you get the chance to use it.
Check store clearance racks often. One of my favorite stores updates their clearance selection on Wednesdays or Thursdays, so I run by on Thursday mornings while my son is in preschool. I was able to score some awesome Christmas gifts (including toys) this summer for up to 75% off.
Seasonal products go on clearance at the end of that season. The end of summer is my favorite because I stock up on adorable children's outfits, shoes, swimsuits, pools, pool toys, etc for 75-90% off. We spend our summers in the water, so it is better for me to buy those items at deep discount in August instead of at full price in May.
Don't forget to save whenever you can. You never know when you'll need to buy something that wasn't expected, or have a repair expense of some sort. If you continue to save, you'll also be able to "splurge" occasionally for fun items or activities for your family.
There are many great deals out there if you keep an eye out and start buying ahead of time. Even if you find a great deal, don't buy it if you don't need it. It is so hard for me resist a good deal, but I'd go broke if I bought every bargain I came across. Living on a budget can take a lot of planning, but having the extra money is definitely worth it.
From guest blogger, Dee, Two of a Kind