shaving expenses

For our little fam, this time of year isn't the easiest money-wise.
Definitely a stretch to the monthly budget and we are still learning as a family how to plan better.
Not only is it Christmas (which we really try to keep simple), but it is the birthdays for ALL of our (almost 3 now!) kiddos.
Literally, my oldest is Christmas Eve, my second is January 4th, and I am due on January 9th with #3.
(and no, none were planned that way!)

And it just seems like in addition to gifts and giving, there's always so many more random expenses this time of year...
like traveling to see family, outfits for kid's Christmas programs, babysitter money for different Christmas parties, and lots of fun Christmassy activities to do that cost money.
Am I the only one who feels like it all just piles on suddenly starting in like November?

One thing Parker and I have really been trying to do better in our home is a budget.
Also been using the cash envelope system some to see if that makes a difference, which it def does, btw. (thanks Dave Ramsey).
The major part of trying to get finances in line is keeping up with it so that we know where and when we need to lower something, cut something, or even when we can add something.
The Lord is refining me a lot in this area, as I know it is something He desires for me to do to keep our home management in the order it needs to be in.
I'm learning and getting better!

There are definately a few things I am finding out through all this, that are good money savers and will help me keep that cash in that envelope!
Thought I'd share a few random things with yall today...

Let's start with yummy holiday drinks, like Hot Chocolate.
Make it at home, people!
It will save you a ton of money, and I honestly would take good ole Swiss Miss over fancy Starbucks any day. Grab a bag of marshmallows at the store for cheap, and you have yourself a fun little Christmassy drink!

and on that note, make your coffee at home!
If you are dead set on a fancy flavored drink, find a creamer that gives you the same taste, or just look up a recipe to see what you can add in to your coffee to make it how you want it.
There are so many fun flavors of latest fav: Chocolate Chip Cookie.

I used to be an avid Americano drinker from Starbucks, but they went up in price about 2 months ago and we just couldnt take it.
you seriously can save so. much. money. by making coffee at home!
AND time!
And I personally love the sound and smell of it grinding and brewing every morning at home. :)

*and another coffee-lover-money-saver tip:
go in with either your business or some friends or neighbors, and find a place (lots online) that sells coffee for cheaper in bulk.
We go in with my husband's office and save about 2 bucks per pound of beans because the order is large! Just a thought.
(our FAVORITE coffee is from here. You'll love it, I promise.)

...and if you absolutely have to have your commercial coffee, then ask Santa for a gift card!

Another way I am learning to shave costs to stay in budget is switching up where I get food.
Grocery is the hardest part of the budget for me to stay in.
Partly because well, food just costs a lot.
But partly because I have not been very mindful of how I grocery shop.
While I am definitely a list girl when I go, I usually end up getting at least 5-10 things that were NOT on my original list, hiking up the costs.
So, sticking to a well thought-out list is key.
But like I mentioned, switching stores might be helpful too.
(and even though you love all your yummies from Whole Foods or Sprouts, which believe me I do too, It may be worth going somewhere different in a month you need to lower costs!)

I recently started doing some of my shopping at our new Aldi store in town.
While they don't have the name-brand stuff (which made me nervous at first), most of their items are great!
And even though I don't buy meat there, I have been getting most of our snack stuff, produce (it's SO cheap), and eggs and milk.
May take some getting used to, but I promise, trading Mott's brand fruit snacks for the cheap brand saves me like 4$ and the kids don't know the difference.

So, don't be intimidated to try out a new store.
You'll get used to the aisles, I promise!

Another thing that can save money is membership or subscription services, like joining Sams or Costco, being an Amazon Prime Member, or even something like Dollar Shave Club.
(my hubby joined Dollar Shave right when it started, it truly saves a lot of money over the year...razors aren't cheap y'all!)

I know it sounds funny or like subscribing to anything is a bad budgeting idea, but it isn't.
Just start comparing getting razors delivered to you for as low as 1$ per month, vs. spending like $15 every 3 months! So worth it.
And because you are saving, it totally feels like happy mail when it comes. :)
(might I also interject, this could be a fun and different gift for the hubbs, too!) 

I am all about things being shipped to my doorstep for cheaper than I could buy them at the store.
Because let's be honest, getting out with a bunch of kids all over you is not always the easiest when you just need to grab a few things.
Cha Ching! Subscription services for the win.

And really though, do the Amazon thing, friends.
Not only does shopping on there save you money usually, but if you are a Prime member, you can get free fast shipping and a lot of other benefits.
Diapers too, mamas!

Another, (more fun) way to cut expenses?
When you take your little ones out for a date, or just a needed outing away from the house,
you don't have to go eat a whole meal at Chick Fil A (we all know that adds up quick!).

Take them to a smoothie place or ice cream shop (Jamba Juice is our fav)...
it not only is healthier, but it's a fun experience for them to pick what they want for their smoothie,
and it is cheaper to go grab a (filling) smoothie rather than a $5 meal they will most likely pick at anyways!
Plus no cutting up chicken for you, Mama!
Much better bang for your buck with the little ones, in my opinion.

One last thing I think it important to remember when cutting costs during the holidays,
MEMORIES are what your family will remember.
And if there happens to be a free way to create those, like going to see Christmas lights in your PJ's after dinner, then do that.
You don't need to spend a million dollars on taking them to a fancy Christmas show or even on their gifts for under the tree!
Just think of things to have fun DOING!

I hope these few random tidbits from my own life have helped!
How are YOU cutting costs during such a busy season?
I'd love to hear!!

Merry Christmas and happy budgeting!