I have been blessed to stay home all these years raising my children on one salary. Times are tough, and it's not easy. I would have to say one of the hardest things to keep in budget is food. It's soooo expensive, and you NEED it! Here is what I do. I will keep it simple, so I don't bore you to death. If you disagree, that's fine, just keep it respectful, this is my story.
I coupon. Not extreme, but when the weekly ad comes out, I look at it, see what is on sale, plan my dinners for the week based on the sale, and if I'm lucky I have coupons to match. Where I food shop, you can earn points to save money in gas. My mom and I use the same card and she helps me build my savings, which works out great since I drive a Suburban!
We don't always have meat with dinner, we eat leftovers, and sometimes it's just pasta, or Mac and cheese, or sandwiches and soup, and the kids fave pancakes for dinner.
My kids don't get allowance. I'm pretty "old school" as my oldest puts it, and you behave, and do chores because you're supposed to, not because you get paid to.
My kids don't get a cell phone until HS. It works out since so far one is getting her own plan, and we pass phones down. For ex drama queens first phone was a pink razor. Over the summer her sister gave her, her old phone. No data, just a phone with unlimited texting.
We don't give presents throughout the year. Sometimes, depending what they choose for their birthday, their present is the party.
We make homemade gifts, regift, or sometimes we just cook each other something special.
Christmas they get gifts, but obviously having so many kids they get 4 presents each.
We rarely go out as a family. Sometimes we have a girls day, boys day, or just take a couple kids out. Mc Donald's ends up being a big deal, since it's so cheap.
For as long as I can I shop at used clothes stores. Especially for the twins! Toys, clothes etc. then when they are older I always ask family to get them clothes for their birthday and Christmas. Usually at Christmas my mom buys them their own name brand hair products! It's such a big deal to them, it's awesome! I shop at kohls when I have a % off of at least 20% , and they buy the clearance clothes.
I always plan ahead. At the end of each holiday, Halloween, Christmas etc...when everything goes on clearance I buy it. Even if I don't have the money, I find it somehow, since I know when the holiday comes up, I won't be able to buy at full price. For ex. Halloween is coming up, and I got costumes already at the end of last year. I'm not concerned with what the new trend is, and neither are my children. I also keep the costumes, they play dress up throughout the year, and on Halloween pick one to wear trick or treating.
Haircuts for the girls are like twice a year, my boy like every month, but I can get his cheap like $8!
The sports or extracurricular activities, are just the ones the school offers. I don't think kids need to be involved in 100 activities! They are kids, and around here, kids play, and use their imagination.
So it might seem a little different, or boring, but I tell you it's the complete opposite! First of all kids know what they live, so they don't expect anything else, since no one else had it. Second, we are a party in ourselves! No matter what we are doing, it's a blast! We BBQ, swim, play games, watch movies, go to the park, and the library. I'm one blessed mama! :)
Feel free to ask any questions, or share your money savers! :)