Need much HELP being Frugal!!!

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-20-2003
Need much HELP being Frugal!!!
Sun, 07-20-2003 - 10:00pm
Lurker here! Needing MAJOR assistance in becoming a frugal person. We have never been frugal and now are facing me becoming a SAHM (after getting chosen to adopt). We haven't been "picked" yet but we need to start saving money NOW so we can start living on one salary. Once we have been picked by a birth mother, we need to begin living on 1 salary. Combined we make about $120k, with DH only we will make about 80K.

We have several thousand dollars in credit card debt, plus a home equity loan, 1 car lease and a mortgage payment. I have figured it out and once we get "matched" with a baby and I quit working, with DH's salary only (after bills and expenses), we will have $4 dollars extra per month!! I have figured $120/month baby expenses (diapers & formula only) and $200 for me and DH to eat and buy supplies (TP, shampoo, laundry detergent, etc.)

Does that seem reasonable? Where can we cut?? Does belonging to Costco pay off?



iVillage Member
Registered: 03-27-2003
Mon, 07-21-2003 - 12:09am
May I make one suggestion? Post your budget amounts and let's see if we can help you pare them down somehow. Do you live in an expensive area? Are your car payments large in proportion to your income? How big is your grocery bill? Showing us how you end up with $4.00 per month will help us figure out how to help you.

Looking forward to you joining this board.


Avatar for nonisfern
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Mon, 07-21-2003 - 9:44am
Hi, congratulations on being selected to be a potential adoptive parent! Welcome here too.

I know you'll get great advice if you post your budget.I'm not a good one to help with that, but I do suggest that with your wonderful income and some forethought you will be able to do wonders in a short time. Stop buying clothes for work, stop spending on anything frivolous NOW.Magazines, makeup, dinner out ( within reason)put all you can into your debts now while you have the larger income and you could maybe put your whole income into debts and savings starting now, just live off Dh's.We gave up a similar income when I became a SAHM almost 5 ( gasp) years ago, we even moved from California to the Midwest to be able to afford for me to stay home because it was that important to us.

I don't know how you'd feel about nursing a baby yourself but it can be done and you'd give the baby wonderful nutrition, save big $$ and have the more convenient form of feeding ( in my opinion) to boot.I don't want you to think I'm pushing that on you, just that it can and has been done very successfully. Also when the time comes don't go and buy everything you think you need for the baby, people will give you so much and you don't need all they sell.I hope this helps, Naomi SAHM to Isabelle 4 1/2 and Lydia 2 in August (after 3 m/c's).
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Mon, 07-21-2003 - 11:41am
Hi! Welcome to the group! I'm a SAHM of 3 on way less than that in California (in one of the most expensive parts of California to boot! LOL) so it CAN be done. Have you refinanced your house yet? These are the lowest interest rates in something like 40 years and that can save you thousands. Might be worth consolidating all your debt into the mortgage; definitely check into it. Have you gone through your phone bill to be sure you're on the best plan for YOU? Same with cell phones? Cut the cable bill down to basic or one of the lower plans? Also look at things like going to the theater; it's often cheaper to just buy the DVD. And I'd seriously limit those. (Don't deprive yourself completely or you won't be able to stick with the program.) Go through your grocery bill and honestly look at what kind of foods your buying. Lots premade frozen stuff? (I call it "insto-food" LOL) Lots of juice or soda? Alcohol? Snackfoods? Those are all things that can be seriously cut down or out. Also look at what cuts of meat you're buying and if you're buying them in the most economical way. I still buy boneless skinless chicken breasts, but I buy them IQF at Costco for $2.15/lb instead of fresh in the 4-pak at the regular grocery for $4.99/lb. I *could* cut that bill down more and buy whole fryers for $.59-99/lb on sale, but my children won't eat it and it's higher "points" (DH is on Weight Watchers) so for us it's not worth it. It's all about balance; finding what works best for YOUR family.

As to Costco... *I* think it's worth it. I also get my membership for free through my MIL's business, but even if I didn't I'd think it was worth it. A big factor in shopping warehouse stores (and check them all out if you have more than one in the area) is having the self-control to only get what you actually need. It's really easy to look at something and say 'oh that's such a great deal!' when you don't really need it and wouldn't ever miss it. You absolutely CAN get better prices than at Costco, and a lot of people here don't shop there for that very reason. You can buy store brands, you can buy the cheaper cuts of meat (like that whole chicken I mentioned) and you can buy 2nd-hand clothes/appliances/etc. And in many cases I do. Costco is just one of the places I shop. The key is to analyze how YOU shop, then check out all your options and see where the best deals are for what you need.



SAHM to Justin (7), Kyle (4) & Alicia (2)

Avatar for akamarti
iVillage Member
Registered: 02-14-2000
Mon, 07-21-2003 - 3:09pm
Hope you are chosen soon, as I know the waiting is awful!!!! saving grace AND my downfall. I am a stocking up kind of person and have a full pantry. Sometimes, tooooooo full.

With just the three of us left at home, some of that quantity buying has turned out to be foolish. I've had some items go to waste because there was just more than we really needed. Well, it wasn't WASTED, I gave the extras to the grown kids or donated them to the school....

But, for some candies, it IS cheaper to buy a handfull at the grocery store than to buy a carton only to find that no one will eat the banana or watermelon or green apple flavors!

I have a horrible time not getting caught up in how cheap it is in bulk....and often find myself with a stack left that won't fit anywhere until we've eaten enough to empty out space for it!

Almost all non-perishables are cheaper...but remember, this will be a big upfront cost and then you have to keep track of where you are with the supplies. It can be a shock to run out of ten items all at once and then go and buy them all in bulk!

As to the budget....well, you are fortunate in that you had so much! (I'm a little green with envy here!) Remember that you will cut your transportation costs...not as much gas for you, or parking costs and your insurance may go down due to lower mileage as well. Your clothing bills will cut down since you are not going to wear fancy stuff with a baby! Babies leak. Should be less dry cleaning. More time to cook from scratch and less fast food or pre-made food or mixes...although some of them are worthwhile! I highly recommend that you buy a blender or food processor or dig the old one out to make your own baby food later. MUCH cheaper to whirl a few peas and carrots that you cooked anyway for you and DH than to pay for the packaging of little jars. Your heating fuel and cooling costs may rise...with someone in the home all day.

Buy ONLY what you need for baby. A car seat is a necessity, as are diapers and a few blankets and sleepers. Toys aren't huge in the new baby needs a room full of stuffed animals to look at! Suggest to friends and family that they buy clothes baby can grow into as well as newborn items. If you are lucky and someone gives you some diaper service, that will save on work AND water and drying! (Hint around a bit!) Don't forget Christmas is coming on, too...and a lot of the needed items could be gifts to him/her then! Bottles and nipples are something you will have to buy...but you won't NEED to have a baby plate or all that. Regular kitchen items work just fine!!! It is such a temptation to want everything JUST for baby...

Go over your budget line by line NOW...what you spend at present. There may be subscriptions to professional journals that you will no longer need. Perhaps, if you want to keep up, you can borrow the issues from a colleague...IF you have the time to read with a baby! Dues? Union or professional? Those will go away. Lunches out cost much more than a lunch you'll save if you've been restaurant-ing. You'll find you need fewer shoes, fewer nylons, fewer trips to the dry cleaner. Some current expenses will not be an issue in the new, toned-down budget. Work on paying as much as you can on the credit card debt before you get the baby. Then, perhaps, switch all the balances to a new and lower rate...on a card you vow to use only for emergencies!

There are tons of ways to cut back and still live well!!! I wish you luck and happiness with your new child when it comes!!!!

Marti (mom of six and grandmother of oodles...which I call oddles since some call me Nana but aren't "officially" in the family yet!)


Avatar for cl_lfbennett
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-24-2003
Mon, 07-21-2003 - 5:23pm
Hi - Welcome to the board! (how the heck do you log on as guest? LOL)

Sounds like you are making some great -- and stressful -- changes. Congrats on expecting the new baby! Hope you get your little blessing very soon :)

I just want to reassure you about a couple things to help relieve your stress a *tiny* bit. It's funny how having a baby causes you to spend more, but also prevents you from spending in other places. Someone suggested renting movies instead of going to the movies. I actually chuckled out loud, because with 2 children under the age of three, I think we've gone to the movies maybe 6 times in the last 3 years. LOL. We also eat out a lot less, especially at the more expensive places, for obvious reasons.

And as others have pointed out, you will also be relieved of spending some of the income you would be spending while you were working -- nice office clothes, shoes, pantyhose, you go through less makeup (if any at all, lol), more than likely end up getting your hair cut less often and an easier style, less gas money, fewer lunches out, perhaps even lower car insurance (check into it!), less wear and tear on your car. I bet those things add up to at least half of what you'll be reducing your income by.

For us, our most "reduceable" expense is food. We love to eat out and order in. So, we try to plan it ahead of time so we don't go overboard. I plan a weekly dinner menu, and we usually plan to eat out once a month, and order in once a month. Most months it ends up being more often (oops!), but if it's written down, we are more likely stick to it.

As far as baby expenses, I agree with the other post about not buying too much ahead of time. It's tempting to buy a whole registry full of things, but you may or may not need them. Get a crib, bedding, supplies for diaper changes (we use a changing pad on top of a dresser, rather than an actually changing table), a few onesies and outfits (but not too many because sizes are so unpredictable!), and the toiletries you need. Probably some other stuff, too. But hold off on all the gadgets and toys until you see your baby's personality and needs. My first *hated* the bouncey seat. My new baby loves it. But I got smart this time around and borrowed one instead of buying new. LOL.

Anyhow, 10 pages later... LOL. I hope you'll stick around and feel free to post lots of questions!


cl-lfbennett @ Frugal Living

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-01-2003
Mon, 07-21-2003 - 8:29pm
Hello, welcome, and congratulations!

As someone mentioned before, you may want to look into consolidating your mortgage, car loan, credit cards, and equity loan into one monthly payment. I don't know how many years you are into your mortgage, so this may or may not be a reasonable option for you. When my DH and I decided that I would stay home 6 years ago, we consolidated all of our loans so that we could manage with one income. It has worked out very well for us, and we have *much* less income coming in than you do. Just be careful to not run-up your debt again.

As for baby stuff, I have saved literally *thousands* of dollars by borrowing from friends, and accepting hand-me-downs. It is SO tempting to go shopping for baby stuff, as you will soon find out (if you haven't already :)). I try to focus on what is really needed as opposed to what is *really cute*.

Costco is great. They have lots of baby stuff in bulk. Formula. Diapers. Wipes. Sleepers. Again, try to focus on what your little one really needs. It is so easy to get sidetracked in that store. I think that Costco may even have a temporary day pass, so you can see if it is a place that you are interested in joining. In my area (San Diego), membership is $45 a year.

Good luck and take care, emi :)

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-20-2003
Tue, 07-22-2003 - 8:20pm
Thank you all for your tips! I'm not sure why my first post showed up as guest. I have a user name so I'm not sure why that showed up! Computers??!!

We are in the process of re-mortgaging our house and I'm waiting for our monthly bills to come in so I can give everyone an accurate budget. I should have all of the figures in the next few days so I'll be sure to post for budget help! It's kind of embarrassing to post our figures for the world to see!

We have always spent what we made and lived beyond our means which is biting us in the

bu%% right now. Especially since I really don't want to work once we have a baby. Hopefully we can change our old habits. We went to Costco last night and bought a bunch of meat & chicken and perishable items so we are going to see how long that all lasts without having to go to the grocery store again. We bought 12 lbs. of ground beef & 1 bag of frozen chicken breasts. This will be our first test. Wish us luck! We have enough perishable items to make quite a few meals.

I want to save money soooo bad!! HELP!!!???

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-28-2003
Wed, 07-23-2003 - 10:12am
Aside from all of the great advice you have gotten here, a big moneysaver for us is coupons. I don't have a membership to Costco or Sam's, I do my shopping at regualr grocery stores and I use coupons for just about everything I buy, provided the generic is not cheaper or lesser quality. There is a coupon swap board here, and there are always people willing to swap good diaper coupons or formula checks. Formula checks are actual checks made out not to you but to any retailer carrying the brand of formula you are buying (Similac, Enfamil) some of these checks are as high as $10.00 each, so it's like free formula. I would suggest looking at the coupons swap board, going thru people's list that they have to trade and pick out what you want. A lot of the ladies there will take Paypal or postage stamps in exchange for the coupons they send you. I once got $36 worth of formula checks for a book of stamps. Also, there are websites where you can download and print coupons right from your computer. Go to Yahoo and look for "online coupons" and it should bring up a list.

Also, E-bay, resale shops and garage sales are all great for baby things. Buy clothes a little large so baby can grow into them and they last longer.

Good luck to you! Hope you get your little bundle soon!


iVillage Member
Registered: 06-02-2003
Wed, 07-23-2003 - 11:03am
The ladies here have given you such great advice. I'm sure more will come when you post your actual financial information. Don't be embarassed, though.

The one thing I would add is to remember to give yourself a budget for "fun money" or entertainment, etc. If you go w/o it, you will be miserable. There are things you can cut back on and there are others where you can't. For example, I like to use Bath & Body Works hand soap, but my husband could care less. So, I have some in the kitchen, and in the bathrooms, we use Softsoap which I buy in bulk at Costco. Don't give up everything, otherwise you are likely to overly splurge and get yourself back into trouble. I bring my lunch most days, but allow myself 1 lunch out a week. Most weeks I don't really need it or want it (get taken out by a supplier or something), but it's nice to know I've budgeted for it.

Oh, and if you don't already have it, Quicken is a wonderful thing. I love it for tracking our $$ and seeing where we're spending. I download our credit card statements, too, and it really helps to see how much on average we spend on things, and where I see, "Oh my gosh! I can't believe we spent this much on X, Y or Z".

I'll stop back by when you've posted your other info.

Good luck w/ the new stock up from Costco.


iVillage Member
Registered: 07-24-2003
Thu, 07-24-2003 - 3:56pm
I know of a few things that can help out little bit.

-When your baby first arrives you can sign up with Similac and they send you generous amounts of free formula samples (4 cans)(assuming that your baby does not have a sensitive stomach). After those are gone, USE THE GENERIC BRANDS! They really are just as good as the name brands and they save you so much money. I always used the Parents Choice Soy formula from Wal-Mart and it was great for my baby's sensitive stomach.

**Shop all the children's second hand stores! My babies have always been dressed in name brand closthes (Gap, Ralph Lauren, Old Navy) for $5-10 per outfit, all in great condition.

-Make all your own baby food by mushing up regular canned, fresh cooked, or frozen veggies. If you have a hand-held mixer (like the shake maker kind), it is really not inconvient at all.

-Usually the cheepest, simplest toys provide the most entertainment. Remember, this baby is not impressed by how much you spend on him or her. Your its favorite toy anyway.

These are just a few ideas that really saved us a lot of money.