Feeling the post-holiday just-how-much-did-we-spend-on-those-gifts pinch? It's the frugal blogosphere to the rescue to get you back on budget.
I know what you're thinking: Frugal parenting is not so hard if you have all the time in the world. Make your own soap! Build toys from scratch! Clip coupons!
But that’s not my life. My life has me going until 10 pm every night, with no time for anything extra. Yes, I’m craving frugality for the sake of my wallet, but I need simplicity for the sake of my schedule.
I’m not looking to be a DIY everything natural parent or a “frugalista.” I just want to make ends meet — and would be super thrilled if the tools that help me do that also leave me an hour at the end of the day to sit and read.
Like parenting itself, frugal parenting involves a diverse set of skills. The most important one, though, is frugal grocery shopping and cooking. Those children want to be fed every single day. The blog and website I look to most is 5dollardinners.com. This woman has literally lost the ability to spend more than $5 on a dinner. Once I got the hang of it, I discovered that it’s not that hard to drive down the cost of dinner, and it doesn’t take any more time in that frenzied period between 5:30 and 6:00 pm -- it just takes a little bit of advance planning.
Dinner gets all the attention, but daily lunches can also be a major drain on your budget (my son’s school will happily serve him a $2 slice of pizza for $5 as a “fundraiser”). Just getting into the habit of packing lunch can be a great money-saver, and there are lots of great alternatives to PBJ online. Just don’t talk to me about bento boxes.
With the holidays behind us, I don’t have to tell you that purchasing fun surprises and “must-haves” can be a real source of financial stress. For kid’s clothes and toys and all manner of baby stuff, I’m obsessed with the blog Baby Cheapskate (as well as its amazing Facebook community). These folks are totally on the ball, and have saved me gobs of money on special purchases. (While we’re on the topic, make sure you sign up for the emails from all your favorite stores. Let them chase you with increasingly awesome deals.)
Finally, remember that while the Internet may have created the global village, it also helps us connect with our real-life neighbors. Here in DC, I’m a proud member of the DCUrbanMoms listserv as well as several neighborhood lists. Check Google and Yahoo Groups to find ones in your neck of the woods. These folks have been an amazing source of lightly-used kids stuff at a great price and are always willing to help me scout out a good deal at a local establishment. (And, of course, there’s always Craigslist.)
Want to start your own frugal parenting blog and really join the frugal blogosphere? You may want to choose a niche: cooking, shopping deals, cleaning, etc. Or you can attempt a blog that does it all, like Penniless Parenting. You should also decide: do you want to create lots of original editorial content or just pass on coupons and give-aways and collect ad revenue? (IMHO, the best blogs seem to be a healthy blend of both.)
What websites do you love for no-nonsense frugal parenting tips? Share them in the comments so we can all get back on budget for 2013.
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