In most homes, the moms are the real workhorses; mine is still the genius behind the curtain. On top of her chosen career, my mom had the added—arguably tougher—job of running a household and worrying about the finances.
How, then, to be a frugal working mom?
For starters, pick up these four easy habits to passively save money as well as your sanity so you don’t have to work triple-time.
Make Friends with the Freezer
Instead of going grocery shopping three times a week, aim to go only once a week. Fewer trips to the store means less gas money spent as well as fewer items that you may or may not actually need bought.
The secret to success here is making leftovers on purpose. Make enough every meal to freeze at least one more meal’s worth of the dish (ideally more). Dishes like curry, stew, and casseroles often taste better after they’ve had time to stew for a while (no pun intended). On days when you just don’t have the energy to do more than order from the takeout menu, you can dig through the freezer for a home-cooked meal. Less time spent cooking means more time to be a mom as well as yourself.
Meanwhile, buy bulk items with coupons and, well, in bulk so you don’t have to go back to the store in the middle of the week.
Save on the energy bill
There are countless ways to passively save energy, whether you’re doing it for the planet or for your wallet.
Make Homemade Vegetable Stock out of Scraps
You know all the stuff you usually throw in the trash, like apple cores, onion heads, carrot heads, broccoli stalks, pumpkin skins and seeds, and the like? Even wilted spinach has plenty of nutrients and flavors left in it. You’re basically tossing out money. Stick vegetable scraps, chicken bones from the rotisserie, and even egg shells (they release calcium) in the freezer in a bag. When you have enough to halfway fill a large pot, do so and add enough water to cover the scraps. Partially cover the pot and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a steady simmer for at least an hour. Meanwhile, you can cook dinner, help the kids with their homework, or take a bath. When the veggies are sufficiently mush-like, take the broth off the heat and pass it through a fine-wire colander to keep the egg shells out of your homemade broth. Use it immediately, keep it in the fridge for up to a week, or freeze it to use another time. Never pay for broth again!
Work from Home? Don’t Be Afraid to File a Home Office Deduction
Most people don’t because the three letters I-R-S scare them away, but you have no need to be scared if you legitimately work from a particular room at home. The IRS was actually nice enough to give (relatively) short and sweet guidelines here.