Budgeting is more important than ever, especially when you have a family to consider.
Consumers overwhelmingly agree that they are making efforts to save more, according to Research and Markets, a market study firm. Shoppers are also interested in more value for money.
In search of advice, MainStreet turned to moms, often the household money managers, for savvy strategies that put more cash in family pocketbooks.
Here's what moms told MainStreet:
Spend Time, Save Money
I make smart trade offs at the grocery store — they’re small changes that usually require more work, but they add up in cost savings. For example, I usually buy items like shredded cheese and packaged salads, but now I shred my own block cheese and use fresh produce that I chop myself. I also choose recipes that use fewer, less expensive ingredients, like dried herbs not fresh. And if I plan in advance, I’m less likely to grab last-minute extras we don’t really need.
— Eva, 34, Tampa, Fla.
DIY Baby Food
I’m making my baby’s food as a way to economize. I’m saving money by buying whole grains and beans to grind up into porridge instead of buying boxed baby cereals. It’s also much cheaper to prepare fresh fruits and vegetables and puree them in the food processor instead of buying commercial baby food.
— Dulcy, 35, Lutz, Fla.
Host a Pizza Party
We’re entertaining more. We have pizza parties where our friends bring their favorite ingredients and the families make dinner together. It’s a lot cheaper than eating out, plus the kids love being involved in the cooking. It also saves on babysitting costs and cab fare. We’re also making coffee in the morning rather than grabbing a latte on the way to work.
— Katrina, 28, Chicago
Think Big Picture
Our cost cutting started with big-ticket items, like returning our new car for a lease with cheaper monthly payments. The savings was significant. We’ve also begun building an escrow account for our mortgage so we get the interest, rather than the bank.
— Magdala, 32, New York City
Downsize the Adult Extras
We’re downsizing the adults first. For Christmas, we’re only buying for children and we’re drawing names so each family doesn’t have to buy for all the nieces and nephews. I’ve also re-looked at wants versus needs—no more blow outs and manicures. I do them myself.
— Sheila, 40, Westchester, Conn.
Scout Out Savings
I only go the grocery store every two weeks—it's amazing what you find in the pantry when you have nothing in the fridge. Week one, we eat salads, deli meat, fresh veggies, week two is more like breakfast for dinner or spaghetti. Staying away from the store saves money on things that aren't necessities. I also make lists of the best deals in stores—Wal-Mart (WMT ), Costco (COST), Publix, Trader Joe's—then hit each of them once a month, which is a sacrifice. It’s easier getting everything at one place. For the holidays, several friends and I exchanged "evening wear" that we’re willing to lend, so we all have new outfits to wear to holiday parties without having to buy anything!
— Caroline, 36, Atlanta
Brown Bag It
We used to go out to lunch at the office every day, now we take lunch to work. For dinner, we also used to eat out or order in at least three times a week, now we cook at home. We’ve downsized our travel schedule too. At least one or two weekends a month, we’d take a short getaway, but now we’re finding fun things to do around the city.
— Lisa, 30, Chicago