Christian homemakers strive to be the Proverbs 31 woman. As we should! There are elements from this passage of Scripture that would benefit us well if we can understand them and apply them to our own lives.
As Christian homemakers, the Proverbs 31 woman always comes up when we talk about what we want our homes to look like. But how can we go about that practically? Modeling our life after Scripture is a great way to do things God’s way. But we would also like to know what a modern-day budget looks like or how to score the best deals at a thrift store.
Here are my smart, frugal ways to save money as a homemaker.
Your relationship with money
I had to do a lot of internal work before I was able to accomplish anything externally. What do I mean by that? I came from a one-income family where my mother wanted to stay home but always complained about how poor we were. Turns out, my parents were trying to keep up with the Jones’. We kids didn’t even know who the Jones’ were! We were just happy to get to play outside all day!
So when we became a one-income family, I had to get my heart in order. I have to continually prioritize the well-being of my family and know that even though I would love to take a family vacation every year or wear brand-new clothes every season, that may not be the case. And those are sacrifices I’m willing to make because that’s what gets us our ultimate goal – my being a stay-at-home mom.
So before even writing down these simple, frugal hacks – check your heart.
Create a monthly budget – and don’t go over it.
Think of running your home like a business. Every business has a bottom line, and if you cross it, it’s no longer profitable. Your monthly income should be at the top of your mind, and your monthly bills should fit within that every single month.
Let’s consider our bills to be covering all of our living expenses. Our mortgage/rent, car expenses, food, health insurance, clothes, etc. Take care of what you need to get through the month first. Because there’s so much you can add to your budget – saving for an emergency fund or other savings goals, annual expenses, and things you want but don’t need.
Tip – In our home, a lot of our insurance policies withdraw annually. Factor those in and consider saving monthly for those one-time expenses.
While we’re talking about being a stay-at-home mom, let’s talk about household expenses.
If you’ve been around here for a while, you know that we are a Dave Ramsey family. Per Ramsey’s recommendations, we follow things like “don’t let your house payment be more than a quarter of your take-home pay.”
Understanding a proper orientation of what your household expenses should look like will benefit you greatly in your frugal-homemaking journey. You will be able to negotiate bills that are too high, trim expenses that are too high, or properly fund other areas of your budget that may be lacking (This is also a great way to know if you need to increase your income!).
For example, I know I can feed 4 people breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks for a month for $400. That doesn’t include protein, because we purchase our meat in bulk one time a year through a farmer in our state. You can read more about why we do that in this blog post.
But that figure helps me know that if I’m somehow spending $1,000 on groceries each month, I’m way over budget!
The biggest way I save money at the grocery store is by meal planning. I take what I already have in my fridge, freezer, and pantry and make meal plans centered around those things. What I don’t have, I write out a shopping list and pick it up from the grocery store or my local farmer’s market.
I also understand that the grocery store is doing everything it can to add to my expenses. Seasonal stands beg for attention. End caps are put there on purpose. Everything I need is at the back of the store so I’m forced to walk to the back and see everything I don’t need.
When I start my grocery shopping at home by meal planning, I can make a list of things I need. When I stick to that list in the grocery store, I will save myself so much money.
On the same note of avoiding seasonal end caps, I do encourage you to flock toward seasonal produce. You can save yourself an incredible amount of money if you eat seasonally! That means berries, some greens, and most other fruits in the summer. Root vegetables in the fall. And things like citrus and some other produce in the winter. Some items are typically a good price year-round. In my area, that looks like potatoes, bananas, and fresh herbs.
If you can’t afford fresh produce, take a walk down the frozen foods section. Most frozen produce is prepared with prioritizing freshness, so you can rest assured that you’re getting good nutritional content. Finally, consider canned goods. As a quick, and very cheap, snack for my kiddos, I like to keep canned fruit in 100 percent juice on hand. These also make an easy, quick side to any dinner. At less than a dollar a can, you almost can’t say no!
I didn’t even touch on household goods! My biggest tip for shopping for household goods is to buy them in bulk. That is the best deal I’m able to find on things like tissues, toilet paper, diapers, baby wipes, laundry detergent, etc. I’m fortunate to have ding and dent, second-hand-type shops in my area that will take damaged goods and resell them. Check to see if you have any in your area. I was able to pick up my dishwashing detergent for half price simply because the package was damaged!
Frequently asked questions
How do I live frugally on one income?
My best advice is to cut all unnecessary expenses. Eating out, entertainment, new clothes, etc. Instead of going to the movies, rent one from your local library. Instead of complaining about how expensive your bills are, do some research to see if you can change providers.
What makes a woman a homemaker?
God defines what a homemaker is. Read this blog post for some encouragement and a biblical definition of homemaker!
What does a homemaker do all day?
I can’t begin to outline my routine, but if you’re looking for skills to refine, here are 20 skills every homemaker should know!
Never pay full price
This entire blog post is about being a frugal homemaker. One of the simple ways you can do that is by looking for ways you don’t have to pay full price.
In my area, there are several social media groups you can join for families who are looking to re-home their belongings – for free! I was able to snag a Barbie dollhouse for my daughter for free because I was attentive to Facebook marketplace listings that included “curb alert.”
Yard sales are another incredible option for buying something at a fraction of the sales cost. And there are some things you can get a great deal on. Furniture, home decor, clothes, and pricey baby equipment like strollers, bikes, and outdoor toys, are all great things to be on the lookout for at yard sales. Estate sales can also be included in this.
Thrift stores and consignment shops are other great resources to utilize to save money. I have been able to clothe both of my children in consignment store clothing for years. By doing so, I’m paying up to 70 percent of retail prices (I will never pay $16 for a children’s shirt when I can pay $3)! I have signed up for text message programs that alert me to sales, and because I’ve been such a long-time customer, I’m occasionally sent coupons.
My biggest tip with all of this is this – check back frequently to these stores. Inventory is never consistent, which means it changes every week! Keep a running list of things you know you need and snag them when you find them.
Rethink your insurance policies
When my husband and I got married, we used my in-law’s insurance agent because we didn’t know where else to go. Little did we know, we were overpaying on our car and renter’s insurance by hundreds of dollars each year.
Ever the Dave Ramsey family, we stumbled upon insurance information. Use an independent insurance agent! After doing some digging, I found a reliable agent in our area and they research rates across the industry for us. Instead of my husband and I trying to find affordable car insurance, they do the work for us!
This is also key when shopping around for any other insurance (I give you a few more ideas below). Don’t blindly get insurance because it comes from a trusted source. Do some research yourself! You may end up saving yourself hundreds of dollars.
What’s more, they were able to look into options for bundling insurance, which would save us even more (and you, too!).
There are insurance policies we simply don’t skimp on. Life insurance, for example. Life insurance is too important and it was important to my husband and me that we went with a policy that would adequately cover us in the event we (or our children) needed it. We recommend term life insurance. But the research is yours to do.
Other insurance policies to look into include homeowner’s insurance, renter’s insurance, identity theft insurance, medical insurance, and accidental death and dismemberment insurance.
Avoid owning a credit card
Please hear me when I say this – the math simply doesn’t add up to have a credit card. The annual percentage rates are astronomical. If you don’t have the funds or diligence to pay it off every month, you could pay thousands in interest over the duration you own your card.
Don’t believe me?
This July 2023 article says on a $5,000 limit credit card at 16% APR and a minimum payment of $100 per month, it will take you 6 years and 11 months to pay off the card if you only make minimum payments. You are paying an additional $3,294 in interest!
If you do think you’re one of the responsible consumers who pay off their cards every month, you’re in a shrinking minority. This August 2023 article outlines that 47 percent of consumers carry a rolling balance on their credit card from month to month. If you’re a Gen Xer, that percentage jumps to 53 percent.
We’re just talking about credit card debt! I haven’t even touched on things like having a car loan, payday loan programs, and buy now, pay later programs. Take time to pause and note how much credit is being advertised to us. You can buy a t-shirt online and splice your payment into 4 payments of $6! This is out of hand.
That same article cited 43 percent of credit card users cited unexpected or emergency expenses as the reason for carrying a balance from month to month.
There are multiple ways to be prepared. Let’s talk about one of the best ones.
Securing your financial future
I could talk until the cows come home about avoiding debt. I think it’s one of the keys to frugal living. But let’s talk about the other end of the spectrum – saving goals.
This June 2023 Bankrate article cited 57 percent of US adults are uncomfortable with the level of savings they have in their bank account. Thirty-six percent of US adults have more credit card debt than they do savings.
So let’s look in the mirror. If you had to go to the emergency room, could you afford your deductible? If you had to get a critical car part repaired – could you afford it?
This is why you have a savings account. It’s when your car battery needs to be replaced immediately. It’s when you’re relative suddenly passes away and you need to hop on the next flight to console your family. It’s to prepare for the unexpected, but in a way that won’t ruin you financially.
Tough times aren’t helping anything. As of September 2023 (when this was originally published), average household income is being eaten up by rising insurance premiums, inflation, insane grocery prices, and rising utility bills. This would be a great time to have an emergency fund!
Other costs you can foresee
As a homemaker, you know what it means to work with the seasons. And you know the state of your home. Use those two key pieces of knowledge to your advantage and plan for expenses!
Maintenance costs may not always be something you can foresee. But pest control is. Shop around for the best price in your area and schedule it into the family finances. You can do the same thing for household goods like toilet paper, laundry detergent, tissues, etc. Shop in bulk or buy them when they’re on sale, and rotate them into a quarterly shopping trip you make for household goods.
My favorite way to save money
I had to save the best for last. My favorite way to save money is to make “it” myself! Here are a few things I have made that have saved my family money. Home-cooked meals, prepared snacks, cleaning solutions, dish soap, and pest traps, just to name a few.
There are other things I have done to help save my family money. Instead of hiring a photographer to take the family photo for our Christmas cards each year, we take our photos. In that same vein, I design our Christmas cards each year. And with all of the online, photo programs available to us, you can do this too!
I also looked at things I just didn’t have to buy. Is there a reusable option? Dish rags that I can launder, napkins I can launder, and mop heads that I can launder all made my list.
What are some other things you could make to save your family money? I can think of more than one home decor project that could easily save your family hundreds per year if you were to learn the skills to do it yourself. And from learning those skills, you could even start a business! For 10 income-producing ideas, you can start on a homestead, check out this blog post.
How do you help your family budget?
You can never put too much effort into finding different ways to be a frugal homemaker. And I commend you for taking the time to do your research and find ways to better serve your family financially!
What great tools do you have that save your family money? Comment on this blog post and let me know!