As a mom of three with a full schedule, I have to prioritize my time. The sooner we realize that we cannot do it all, the sooner we can decide what it is that we want to do with our time. I WANT so badly to do it all. But I KNOW so truly that I cannot do it all at once. This is part of the reason that I’m focusing on different ideas each month in the blog.
My best case scenario is that at least one positive habit from each month sticks. By the end of the year, I’ll have several new beneficial habits. From January’s focus of healthy eating, I’m still planning all my meals, focusing on getting in plenty of vegetables, protein, and gut-healthy foods while keeping my added sugar intake at a minimum. And because of my focus on my marriage in February, I am consistently thinking about what I say to my husband before saying it. I’m also making a point to give my husband more little love touches during the day since he scored highly in the love language of physical touch.
And now, here we are. Half-way through March, where I’m focusing on finances. I’ve at least set up my budget and have been tracking my spending. I was hoping to research and add in a few money-saving apps. And maybe even start using coupons! However, there is one problem that I keep running into this month, and that is not having enough time.
Sweet, Sweet Time
Before I had children, I had this ahhhhmazing luxury. It’s called time, and it gave me an opportunity to be an excellent bargain shopper. I could leisurely look through misplaced items and bargain bins. To find just the right item, I could peruse the clearance sections.
I had time follow all the deals on coupon sites, and I could get to a store quickly to try to find a new deal posted by these coupon sites like MoneySavingMom.com or thekrazycouponlady.com. I could think about deals and price compare right there in the store aisles without interruptions.
Now, I have three little darlings. My time is much more limited. I can’t look through clearance racks with my girls in tow. And I certainly can’t do math in the store aisles with them circling me. Even though my girls are mostly well-behaved while we are out, they are young and have short attention spans. Eventually, they act like maniacs as children tend to do. It’s hard to focus on whatever I’m shopping for when they are in maniac mode.
Is there a solution?
Before I go on about a few solutions, I want to clarify that I am working on this myself. In fact, each topic I blog about is something that I am currently working on in my own life. What works for me may not work for you. I’m just letting you know the things that I’ve found to be helpful for me. Take what works for you and leave the rest 😊
My biggest tip is to plan ahead for your shopping needs. Planning is pretty much my go-to solution for all things since becoming a parent. It’s not fun, it’s not glamorous, it’s not adventurous. But by golly, it is HELPFUL. It puts me in a situation to where I can do the things I want to do.
Have a list
Of course, a huge part of planning ahead is to have a list of what you need. With groceries, this is a no-brainer for saving money. I keep a whiteboard on the fridge to jot down anything that runs out during the week. Then I plan my meals, make a list from my meal plan and my whiteboard items. And then while I’m shopping, I only buy what’s on the list. Easy peasy.
The list trick comes in handy in other shopping situations too. I’ve been using this strategy for clothing with great success. On my dresser, I keep a list of items I realize I’d like while getting dressed. For example, when I put on my FAVORITE leopard print flats, I realize they have a hole in them. On my list, I jot down leopard print flats. Or perhaps I think a gold-toned pendant necklace would look great with my outfit but I don’t have one. I add gold pendant necklace to my list. Or maybe while getting ready for a baby shower, I have trouble finding a nice casual dress for the occasion. Onto the list it goes!
Then when I do have time to shop, I have a list already made. I don’t waste time looking at all the things when I only need certain items. Lists keep me focused on the task at hand!
Know when the deals are happening
Did you know the best time to buy sneakers is in April? Certain items are historically cheaper during certain times of the year. Be sure to know those dates and try to buy during them. Click here for a good list. For clothing, the best deals are always at the end of a season. If you can buy ahead for the following year, it’s worth trying to plan shopping trips towards the end of the season to score the best deals.
Personally, I need a good stretch of time to go alone so I can think without interruptions. My bouncy children want everything their little eyes can see. When I’m shopping with them, I’m the No Fun Queen of Not Today, Dear. Without my kids, I don’t notice all the cool gadgets, gizmos, snacks, and candies that I’m not buying. This leads to absolutely no guilt for not buying them.
Factor in convenience
My time is so important to me. On occasion, it makes total sense to pay for convenience. For example, what if you are stressed about how and when to fit in a full grocery shopping trip during a particularly busy week? Save your sanity and budget in the extra $5 for a grocery service, where all you have to do is order your groceries online and pick them up at the time you choose. This was a favorite of mine when I was pregnant. I would send my husband by the store to pick up the pre-ordered groceries on his way home from work. I got the groceries I wanted without having to go, saved time from him browsing the aisles, and those dreaded “bonus” items (like cake) wouldn’t end up in our grocery bag.
However, you definitely need to size up each individual situation. Don’t do everything for convenience sake, or you’ll be spending a TON of extra money. For example, if I ran by Chick-Fil-A every time I needed to feed my children lunch while out in town, I’d spend a fortune on chicken nuggets and waffle fries. Instead I plan ahead and pack a lunch to go. Not only is a packed lunch cheaper, it is healthier and more filling.
Sometimes I need something but I can’t foresee any available time to sneak away alone to shop for it. In that case, I shop online. Amazon is of course a favorite. But I also love Target and Kohl’s because I can return items in person without having to figure out how to ship it all back.
A few tips for online shopping:
- ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS use a coupon code when shopping online. Just google the store name and coupon, and you’ll be sure to find something. Retailmenot.com is a favorite of mine.
- Check your credit card for extra cashback bonuses for shopping through their site. I’ve gotten up to 10% cashback on purchases by going through my credit card to buy something I was already planning to buy.
- Sign up for Ebates. Similar to using your credit card’s site for shopping, you earn varying percentages of cashback from shopping through the Ebates site. However, the exciting thing with Ebates is that it is separate from your credit card cashback. Which means that you get your Ebates rewards in addition to whatever credit card rewards you get from using your own credit card. Seriously, it’s a great trick to save some money without thinking. I’m looking forward to seeing how much money I can earn through Ebates by Christmas this year!
If you’ve not tried Ebates, click here to get $10 by signing up using my referral link!
When I feel like I’m already stretched for time, patience is not the first thing on my mind. However, I think it’s important to remember that we need less than we think we need. If I can’t find time to go shopping for something I want, chances are that I can make do without it for a while. Case in point, my leopard print shoes from my shopping list above. I tried to find replacements online. The only ones I could find were more expensive than what I wanted to pay. Instead of paying more than what I think those shoes are worth, I’ll wait until they go on sale or until I find a cheaper pair.
I rarely buy anything at full price, and that alone has saved me a boat load of money in my life. Patience is a skill that you can never practice too much or overdevelop.
Saving money while keeping your time commitment low can be done. But it takes focus and a little forethought. Every little bit adds up! 😊 Let me know in the comments if you have any suggestions on saving money with limited time investment!!