Welcome to the October Carnival of Natural Parenting: Money Matters
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have shared how finances affect their parenting choices. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.
Though I feel like a hypocrite for writing this right now, I’m doing it anyway. Why do I feel this way? Read on and I will illuminate your mind.
When I started feeding the two mouths of my children “real” food on a regular basis, I also started to understand how beneficial it would be to make meal plans and a monthly food budget so as to get the most for our money. Of course, some things are always easier said than done and though I set a budget right away, I wasn’t great with the meal planning aspect. I tried my first weekly meal plan when I started my blog in January, but it didn’t make an appearance on my blog again for months.
In the beginning, I created a budget of $300 a month for food. It worked for a little while, but when I noticed just how much my children can eat when they are growing, I quickly decided that $300 was not enough. Some months I could do it, spending $302 or something close to that, but I eventually decided that I needed an extra hundred and settled on a $400 budget.
Four hundred dollars a month for food works out pretty well because it equates to $100 a week. Of course, some months are longer and it feels tight towards the end, but that is when I draw upon my pantry stash to sustain our regular eating habits. So, how do I spend that $100 a week? Let's break it down.
Fresh Veggies/Fruits: It's very important for me to have a wide variety of fresh ingredients to work with, making everything in my pantry a bit more nutritious and appetizing. Right now, I like to spend around $20 at the farmers market each week and I do my best to buy as many fresh items from other local farm stands as possible before going to the store. This includes whatever is in season, of course, but I always need to have lettuce, some sort of greens, broccoli, green beans and/or artichokes otherwise my fridge feels empty. Also, we always need apples and bananas and whatever other fruit is on sale.
Restocking: This varies every week and every month since I do not always run out of the same things at the same time, but I like to spend as much as needed each week to rebuild my stores of product. If it isn't essential that I purchase anything particular item, I'll have more money to spend in other areas, but I generally like to purchase another of the same item once I have started using it. For example, once I open a jar of salsa or peanut butter, I purchase a new one when I go to the store so I'm always sure not to run out. (What would I do if I ran out of peanut butter or salsa?)
New Ideas: On rare occasions, I try new recipes and need new ingredients that I've never used before. At other times, I've wanted to try something for a really long time and never got around to purchasing it, so I try to reserve part of the food budget for interesting finds whenever I can. This means that, whenever possible, I try to spend closer to $80 per week so I have a bit more to work with.
This sounds all peachy keen, right? Sure, especially if you plan out your meals every week or month and only take one day to do all your shopping so you save even further by not using as much gas. Yeah, once upon a time, this worked pretty well.
Before I became a vegetarian, I was really good at meal planning. Ever since I made the switch, I have been having a rough time coming up with interesting meals all week long ahead of time. Making a food formula helped me out a lot, but I still feel like I spend more at the store now than I *should.*
Yes, I am here spouting the benefits of food planning yet have fallen out of the habit of doing it myself. (Secretly, I'm hoping that all of you will virtually slap me and tell me I'm acting silly and hopefully, that will make me do it again.) I do think that the importance of food planning cannot be underestimated, especially in larger families. So I humbly ask you to set aside the fact that I have neglected my own meal planning duties, look at the value of it and see how much you can save by knowing what you want to buy before you do it. If you do it right, it is possible to live on a tight food budget while still purchasing high quality foods.
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
- Money Matter$ — Jenny at I'm a full-time mummy shares her experiences on several ways to save money as a parent.
- A different kind of life... — Mrs Green from Little Green Blog shares her utopian life and how it differs from her current one!
- Show Me The Money! — Arpita of Up, Down & Natural shares her experience of planning for parenting costs while also balancing the financial aspect of infertility treatments.
- Material v Spiritual Wealth - Living a Very Frugal Life with Kids — Amy at Peace 4 Parents shares her family's realizations about the differences between material and spiritual wealth.
- If I Had a Money Tree — Sheila at A Gift Universe lists the things she would buy for her children if money were no object.
- Financial Sacrifices, Budgets, and the Single Income Family — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama looks at the importance of living within your means, the basics of crafting a budget, and the "real cost" of working outside of the home.
- Overcoming My Fear of All Things Financial — Christine at African Babies Don't Cry shares how she is currently overcoming her fear of money and trying to rectify her ignorance of all things financial.
- Confessions of a Cheapskate — Adrienne at Mommying My Way admits that her cheapskate tendencies that were present pre-motherhood only compounded post-baby.
- Money Matters — Witch Mom hates money; here's why.
- Money? What Money?! — Alicia C. at McCrenshaw's Newest Thoughts describes how decisions she's made have resulted in little income, yet a green lifestyle for her and her family.
- What matters. — Laura at Our Messy Messy Life might worry about spending too much money on the grocery budget, but she will not sacrifice quality to save a dollar.
- Making Ends Meet — Abbie at Farmer's Daughter shares about being a working mom and natural parent.
- Poor People, Wealthy Ways — Sylvia at MaMammalia discusses how existing on very little money allows her to set an example of how to live conscientiously and with love.
- The Green Stuff — Amyables at Toddler In Tow shares how natural parenting has bettered her budget - and her perspective on creating and mothering.
- Jemma's Money — Take a sneak peek at That Mama Gretchen's monthly budget and how Jemma fits into it.
- 5 Tips for How to Save Time and Money by Eating Healthier — Family meal prep can be expensive and time-consuming without a plan! Dionna at Code Name: Mama shares five easy tips for how to make your cooking life (and budget) easier.
- Belonging in the Countryside — Lack of money led Phoebe at Little Tinker Tales towards natural parenting, but it also hinders her from realizing her dream.
- Total Disclosure and Total Reform — Claire at The Adventures of Lactating Girl gets down to the nitty gritty of her money problems with hopes that you all can help her get her budget under control.
- Save Money by Using What You Have — Gaby at Tmuffin is only good with money because she's lazy, has trouble throwing things away, and is indecisive. Here are some money-saving tips that helped her manage to quit her job and save enough money to become a WAHM.
- Two Hippos & Ten Euros: A Lesson in Budgeting — MudpieMama shares all about how her boys managed a tight budget at a recent zoo outing.
- ABBA said it — Laura from A Pug in the Kitchen ponders where her family has come from, where they are now and her hopes for her children's financial future.
- Money vs. Time — Momma Jorje writes about cutting back on junk, bills, and then ultimately on income as well ~ to gain something of greater value: Time.
- An Unexpected Cost of Parenting — Moorea at MamaLady shares how medical crises changed how she feels about planning for parenthood.
- 5 Ways This Stay at Home Mom Saves Money — Charise at I Thought I Knew Mama shares 5 self-imposed guidelines that help her spend as little money as possible.
- Frugal Parenting — Lisa at My World Edenwild shares 8 ways she saves money and enriches her family's lives at the same time.
- Conscious Cash Conscious — Zoie at TouchstoneZ shares her 5 money-conscious considerations that balance her family’s joy with their eco-friendly ideals.
- Money, Sex and Having it All — Patti at Jazzy Mama explains how she's willing to give up one thing to get another. (And just for fun, she pretends to give advice on how to build capital in the bedroom.)
- Money could buy me ... a clone? — With no local family to help out, Jessica Claire at Crunchy-Chewy Mama wants childcare so she can take care of her health.
- Spending Intentionally — CatholicMommy loves to budget! Join her to learn what to buy, what not to buy, and, most importantly, where to buy.
- New lessons from an allowance — Lauren at Hobo Mama welcomes a follow-up guest post from Sam about the latest lessons their four-year-old's learned from having his own spending money.
- How to Homeschool without Spending a Fortune — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares tips and links to many resources for saving money while homeschooling from preschool through high school.
- It's Not a Baby Crisis. It's Not Even a Professional Crisis. — Why paid maternity leave, you may ask? Rachael at The Variegated Life has some answers.
- "Making" Money — Do you like to do-it-yourself? Amy at Anktangle uses her crafty skills to save her family money and live a little greener.
- Money On My Mind — Luschka at Diary of a First Child has been thinking about money and her relationship with it, specifically how it impacts on her parenting, her parenting choices, and ultimately her lifestyle.
- Spending, Saving, and Finding a Balance — Melissa at The New Mommy Files discusses the various choices she and her family have made that affect their finances, and finds it all to be worth it in the end.
- Accounting for Taste — Cassie at There's a Pickle in My Life shares their budget and talks about how they decided food is the most important item to budget for.
- Money Matters... But Not Too Much — Mamapoekie at Authentic Parenting shares how her family approaches money without putting too much of a focus onto it.
- Parenting While Owning a Home Business — In a guest post at Natural Parents Network, Lauren at Hobo Mama lays out the pros and cons of balancing parenting with working from home.
- Crunchy Living is SO Expensive...Or Is It? — Kelly at Becoming Crunchy talks about her biggest objection to natural living - and her surprise at what she learned.
- Mo' Money, Mo' Problems — Sarah at Parenting God's Children shares how a financial accountability partner changed her family's finances.
- The Importance of Food Planning — Amanda at Let's Take the Metro discusses how food budgeting and planning has helped her, even if she doesn't always do it.
- Kids & Money: Starting an Allowance for Preschoolers — Kristin at Intrepid Murmurings discusses her family's approach and experiences with starting an allowance for preschoolers.