Staying at home with your kids sometimes seems like an impossible dream.
But with some smart budgeting and a better understanding of your family’s financial needs, staying at home is possible. In her book, You Can Stay Home with Your Kids!, blogger Erin Odom shares 100 tips, tricks, and to make staying at home a possibility for your family.
Here are 3 of our favorite takeaways from You Can Stay at Home with Your Kids!:
Check Your Library for Free Kids’ Activities
Libraries are much more than places to borrow books. Many public libraries also offer free educational and enrichment activities for children year-round! Beyond a summer reading program, our local library offers story times for babies, toddlers, and preschoolers, and they also offer after-school activities for older children—from Lego building to craft nights to movie marathons! Your local library might very well host free activity events as well.
ACTION STEP: Call your local public library (or check out their website) to see if it offers any free activities for kids. Mark the next event on your calendar, and take your kids.
Hack Your Own Haircuts
When I was growing up, my mom cut my hair. I never went to a hair salon until well into my teen years. My younger sister and I look back and laugh at the big bangs our mom gave us in the 1980s and early 1990s, but, hey—we looked just like the other kids did back then! Those bangs were a trendy style during our childhood, and my mom saved money by cutting them herself.
Not only did my mom cut her three kids’ hair, but she also cut my dad’s and her own! She also colored her own hair using drugstore dyes and even permed it herself when curls were the rage of the day.
Today, you can learn to cut hair via YouTube tutorials. Investing in a good pair of scissors and clippers can go a long way—especially for boys and men whose hair doesn’t require as much maintenance. No, you probably won’t be as talented as a professional stylist at a posh salon, but you might do a better job than you think.
What if you simply don’t have the motor skills for DIY hair cut- ting? I feel your pain. I don’t either! There are still other ways to save on haircuts:
Choose discount salons. While haircuts at top-end salons can cost $30 to $45 for an adult (minimum!) and $20 for a child, you can get a haircut for less than $10 at chains like Great Clips, Supercuts, or Fantastic Sam’s. Places like these are usually walk-ins, but if you find a stylist you love, call ahead to find out if he or she will be working when you want to get your hair cut. My mom has been frequenting Great Clips for many years now, and she almost always has the same stylist cut her hair. You can also find coupons for discount hair salons, making them even more affordable.
If these discount salons scare you, another way to save is to ask for an entry-level stylist at a more upscale salon. These stylists likely offer more affordable rates than the more seasoned ones.
Search for a local cosmetology school for supervised services.
How do you think hairstylists learn to cut and style hair? With hands-on experience! You can help a student practice and save money in the process. Call your local cosmetology school to ask for rates, and I can almost guarantee you will be slashing the price of haircuts and other personal-care services. You might also be able to get a wax and your nails painted!
While it might feel a bit scary to have a student cut your hair, keep in mind that instructors are usually walking around and observing the students while they cut your hair, and sometimes students are even being graded. This isn’t a guarantee that you won’t get a bad cut, but more often than not it means you’ll be paying less for a good experience.
Select low-maintenance cuts and styles. I don’t know about you, but when I became a mom, the need for quick-and-easy hairstyles became a necessity. I no longer have hours to spend primping in front of the mirror (as my parents said I did in high school!).
Especially when I was a stay-at-home mom to an infant, a toddler, and a preschooler, easy styles were a must.
Low-maintenance cuts and styles will ensure you need less upkeep. Choose hairstyles that don’t need to be trimmed every month. For example, long styles will mean you need fewer haircuts. And by choosing to air-dry your hair (which is possible if you are a stay-at-home mom who doesn’t need to leave the house early), you can maintain a healthy mane without having to get dead ends cut off as regularly.
ACTION STEP: If you’re open to cutting your own hair (and/or the hair of your husband and children), designate an hour this week to search for YouTube tutorials that will help you get started. If you don’t think DIY haircuts are for you, spend that time researching discount salons and cosmetology schools in your area.
Check Out Free Community Concerts
Many communities across the country offer free concerts for up-and-coming bands. Our town hosts these outdoors in the summer. Coffee shops are another good place to find free concerts and open- mic nights. These make great, cost-effective date nights!
ACTION STEP: Instead of going out to eat for your next date night, check your local listings for any upcoming free concerts. Trade childcare with a friend, and attend the concert for an affordable date night.
These awesome money-saving tips are just a few of the ways that Erin Odom shares to help you find a way to stay at home with your kids.