When living on a budget we sometimes end up in a state of mind that our family calls “Survival Mode.” It’s a state of constant worry about your finances that colors your mood about everything else in life. You feel your budget is tight now, so you feel your future is dismal. Cheer up! Nothing lasts forever. Not even Survival Mode. Here are a few ways to stave off those frustrating feelings until then.
Focus On What You Can Afford
Instead of focusing on not being able to go to the movies, attend free or low price events. Rather than feeling guilty about not getting your child the latest and greatest toy take them camping in the backyard or canoeing at a national park. This won’t only brighten your point of view about what you can give your family, it will also teach your children to focus on the positive. Children are especially sensitive to Survival Mode and your example will reduce the chances of it affecting them.
One of the best ways to beat the feelings of not having enough resources is to make a plan to make what you have last as long as you need it to. This could mean picking up extra hours, reducing what you use, or bartering with others in your community where both of you are getting something you need. It may even be that the only action you need to take is to tweak your budget. It’s a good deal better than tiring yourself out with worries.
Goals are more than just a way to give us a direction in life. They inevitably breed hope in something we don’t have yet. The object is not to get frustrated with not having your goal yet. Instead treat it like a puzzle that you need to work out and finish. Enjoy the process of getting to your goal as well as the goal itself.
When you start out as a thrifty diva you seem to just be a normal individual looking for a good deal. Eventually, however,being a thrifty diva can change you.
Yes, you bought that beautiful necklace and yes, it was a dollar and twenty five cents. When you start out as a thrifty diva you feel that this is your dirty little secret and feel no need to tell anyone else about your amazing purchase. After a while, however, you feel the need to brag about how much you didn’t spend and the outrageous small price you paid for your purchase. We like to call this the contagious stage of thrifting. The more you brag about your purchases the more your friends would like to have a purchase experience of their own in a thrift store. Before you know it there are thrifty divas everywhere.
You won’t buy an object at a thrift store for four dollars. It’s not that that the item is not worth four dollars, but you are convinced that you can find a better price. Perhaps if it was three dollars, or two fifty, but not four dollars. You know that you want to keep more money in your pocket than you pay at the register (which is funny because you planned to spend the whole twenty in your pocket at the beginning of your shopping excursion). You know the best way to do that is to turn your nose up at the price on the tag and look for the price that you want.
Once a thrifty diva has started to haggle about thrift store prices, there is no going back. It’s one thing to snub a price. It’s another thing entirely to start actively trying to change that price. You will quibble about twenty five cents and feel the rush of victory when you succeed in lowering the price. You are no longer afraid or ashamed to confront someone over a price you don’t approve. Now that’s a thrifty diva!
I know quite a few Thrifty Divas are quite crafty too.
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Kids are expensive even when they are young. We want to be able to give them the best opportunities as they grow. Most enterprising children’s companies know this as well and many teach by play experiences cost a good deal of money. Luckily, there are a few ways around the cost of some popular learning tools.
Checking event calendars at stores or online can help fill up a schedule for a child without breaking the bank. There are activities at libraries that help children get into reading, some even give out prizes at the end of summer. Libraries sometimes host fun little activities like teddy bear picnics. Most of these events are free to participate in. Book stores and art centers in some areas also provide story time or mommy and me art classes. These are also usually free or very low cost. If a daddy would like to attend as well many of these events happen on weekends in addition to weekdays. Try not to go twice in one week though, or you may find yourself repeating the same activity.
Just The Toys Please
Some classes for children go all out to supply extras when a child joins up. It could be CDs and instruments if it’s a music class. In an art class it’s free supplies. What most people don’t know is that these items are usually for sale without the class. In most cases they a quite a bit less expensive. With the internet as a tool, plans for age appropriate projects are also readily available. You don’t have to waste gas going to another place and could even invite friends over to work on projects all together.
Just Like Mommy
It’s no secret that our little ones like to mimic what mommy or daddy are doing. That’s why it is equally important to take the time to share our talents with our children. After this article I will be opening up our writing software so my two year old can write his article (just so long as he’s still sitting on my lap). In this time he will, no doubt, tell me he is working and it’s time for me to be quiet. We find time to do some light yoga and meditation. These activities teach my sweet little guy to be calm and gives us time together.
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Good parenting doesn’t just help our children grow into well adjusted adults, it also helps us save money and stress. Here’s how:
Children are still in the learning stages of self control. For the most part they don’t understand the family budget or the concept of waiting. This means that from time to time they will have a melt down on the grocery store because they can’t have a toy or certain candy. I know how embarrassing this can be, but that doesn’t mean that a tantrum should be rewarded. In fact children will only eventually upgrade the price of their silence over time. That candy bar may only be a dollar today, but one day they will want a hockey stick or the latest cell phone. Not giving in to our child now will save your family money and teach our children self control in the future. Trust me! It’s worth enduring the strange looks from strangers as we haul our toddlers out of the store or let the tantrum run its course.
Childproofing the home seems like an exercise in futility sometimes. I have had a child “helpfully” open medicine bottles for me, knock down safety gates, and break into the childproofed medicine cabinets. In fact they often do it while I am having trouble with the device myself. Childproofing may seem futile, but is well worth the effort. It does buy parents time enough to get across the room to the exploring child. Besides this, childproofing items are something that can be bought or passed down used which would cost less money
In addition to keeping our children safe, it sets up a habit making safety a priority. We get proper car seats, make sure our kids wear their bicycle helmets, and keep first aid items handy. Not only does this save us money on medical expenses, it saves us the emotional price of having not made the effort.
I was talking to our nurse at the pediatric center the other day, and was surprised to hear that many parents choose not to have their children immunized. This isn’t because of religious beliefs or lack of money. Instead it is because they fear their child may have an adverse reaction to the shots administered. Others just don’t want their child to feel any discomfort, including getting poked with a needle. While I understand these feelings, it it far better to give a child a vaccine than have them get sick and need a transplant. Vaccines don’t just save money in the long run by stopping illness, they also can save our children from experiencing those illnesses to their full potential.
How do you save money as a parent?