Author Topic: Money saving advice when you're EXHAUSTED!  (Read 2458 times)

Bee Roberts

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Money saving advice when you're EXHAUSTED!
« on: October 12, 2018, 04:29:09 PM »
Hello!

Before our first son came screaming into the world I made the decision to keep things simple. All was good and we kept costs down.

However, since #2 has arrived I have noticed that what's costing us money isn't baby kit, it's purchases made because we're tired, low and demoralised (neither boys sleep well). A ready meal here, some hobby kit to cheer us up there... It all adds up.

The internet abounds with advice on batch cooking etc, which will help in due course, but I wondered if the MM community has any golden tips for when you're in the baby trenches?


eco mom

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Re: Money saving advice when you're EXHAUSTED!
« Reply #1 on: October 12, 2018, 11:31:00 PM »
I'm sorry to hear you're in a low spot! Do you have a strong social support system you can lean on? I would say don't be afraid to ask friends and family for help. Meal train or "please come hold my screaming child for 45 minutes so I can take a nap or make dinner" are both totally fair game. Also... you need to take care of you, even if that means you can't always comfort your kids when they cry. As long as you put them down in a safe place, you can put on noise-cancelling headphones for 5 minutes and go meditate or make a sandwich.

Also, I totally get that most of mustachianism is about doing things for yourself. Try to be strong and resist impulse buys, but recognize you aren't super-human, and that the really difficult early years are temporary.

I think I could help you with changing a file on your computer so that it will block you from going to your impulse-buy website of choice, if that would help. It could even redirect you to something like cuteoverload.com or some other site that will give you a smile or comfort. Let me know what operating system if you're interested.

Bee Roberts

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Re: Money saving advice when you're EXHAUSTED!
« Reply #2 on: October 13, 2018, 08:53:06 AM »
Hi, thanks :-)

Tbf it's not online impulse purchases so much as ohmygodIneedtogetout purchases. The local supermarket does quite well in sales of endorphin-boosting snacks to me (and blueberries to the toddler). It does at least come with a bit of exercise and fresh air to get there.

I've recently tried to cut down on sugar which is having a double benefit in reducing spending on chocolate and reducing my waistline, but some days I just don't have any willpower and I get the triple whammy of the reverse of those two points, plus feeling rubbish that I'm not coping very well! Tiredness is definitely the enemy of willpower.

I'm certainly getting better at accepting help, but my English "stiff upper lip" certainly makes me feel like I should be able to cope with this all on my own! :-P

Thank you for replying :-)

Bracken_Joy

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Re: Money saving advice when you're EXHAUSTED!
« Reply #3 on: October 13, 2018, 09:18:16 AM »
Definitely look to your triggers. It looks like needing to get out is one- I don't have kids, but this is a trigger for me, too. Can you go to a non-spending place instead? A library, or a park, or an indoor playground?

Look for other triggers too. If you're likely to order food in when you're tired on a Friday night, maybe plan for this "failure" and have some frozen pizzas or similar?

Basically, identify your triggers and patterns and plan ahead! The greatest willpower is not needing to use willpower =)

CrustyBadger

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Re: Money saving advice when you're EXHAUSTED!
« Reply #4 on: October 13, 2018, 09:25:12 AM »
This was how I ended up with $13,000 of credit card debt, despite not really buying "anything".  )-:

Agree with Bracken Joy above -- the best way to deal with lack of willpower is to develop habits and routines.  That way you don't need to call on your willpower to not spend money.

With meals and doing take out -- develop a habit in your family of cheap and easy family dinners that are just as fast as takeout.  Cereal or canned soup and sandwiches for dinner, for example.  Just keep doing them until it becomes routine.

CrustyBadger

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Re: Money saving advice when you're EXHAUSTED!
« Reply #5 on: October 13, 2018, 09:27:48 AM »
Also, in our town we had a strong tradition of "mother's helpers".  Usually young teen girls (maybe 10 to 13?) who weren't old enough to be proper babysitters but were available after school or on weekends to come by and play with the baby.   Because they were just starting out, they didn't charge much and their parents were happy to send them to a neighbor's house to earn a little pocket money (maybe $3 an hour).   These girls were very helpful to me when my kids were infants and toddlers.
« Last Edit: October 14, 2018, 06:45:17 AM by CrustyBadger »

Tuskalusa

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Re: Money saving advice when you're EXHAUSTED!
« Reply #6 on: October 13, 2018, 09:35:25 AM »
Omg. These fisrt years are so challenging!  And really, sometimes you need a walk to the store and a snack to get through the day. The good news is this doesnít last forever. They eventually start preschool, and you eventually find a network of parents to go to the park with. But I specifically remember hating the hours of 3-5pm...

Maybe give yourself a cash allowance each week for these splurges. Then you know you have a manageable amount to use. Good luck!  It gets better!

kanga1622

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Re: Money saving advice when you're EXHAUSTED!
« Reply #7 on: October 13, 2018, 06:19:26 PM »
I second the public library for a good place to get out without spending money. If you can be disciplined, pushing the stroller through the mall (not near the food court) might work. Or just walking outside if you arenít in cold weather now.

It isnít easy. Mine are 5 and 8. There are simply days I donít want to cook and so we keep a stash of frozen ravioli, canned soup, and pre made freezer food (crock pot chili, beef and noodles, browned hamburger in meal sized portions, shredded pork, and shredded chicken are most common). Having the protein already cooked so I can throw together tacos in 5 minutes or add BBQ sauce and make pulled pork or shredded chicken sandwiches is a big help in reducing the temptation to eat out.

Cooking was my downfall when we had a toddler and an infant. DH was responsible for a couple hours each weekend day so I could batch cook and meal plan. He learned to eat leftovers or fend for himself.

lhamo

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Re: Money saving advice when you're EXHAUSTED!
« Reply #8 on: October 13, 2018, 06:36:52 PM »
For those times when you have to get out of the house to avoid going stir crazy, consider not taking any cash/credit card with you.  If you are worried about needing cash for an emergency, stash some in a part of the car you would be annoyed at having to get to.

Bracken_Joy

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Re: Money saving advice when you're EXHAUSTED!
« Reply #9 on: October 13, 2018, 06:41:17 PM »
For those times when you have to get out of the house to avoid going stir crazy, consider not taking any cash/credit card with you.  If you are worried about needing cash for an emergency, stash some in a part of the car you would be annoyed at having to get to.

I did this when I lived in a really cafe-heavy area of Portland. SO tempting, but if you don't take your wallet with you, problem solved. Harder now when there are all sorts of pay options on your phone, though!

Anatidae V

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Re: Money saving advice when you're EXHAUSTED!
« Reply #10 on: October 13, 2018, 07:19:56 PM »
We've made a list of "zero energy meals" that are starting to really help. Basically protein + carb, and if we feel up to it, veg too. I keep tofu and eggs in the fridge and tins of tuna and beans in the pantry, which covers the protein. Add bread or crackers or rice (our microwave has a rice setting), and a sauce of some sort ( ketchup/ tomato sauce, grated cheese, mayo, sweet chili sauce).  Frozen meals are also excellent, as someone mentioned, although we're finding it a little trickier as the tiny one has a dairy allergy so several easy things like pizza are out.

Pulling in as much help from your community as you can, as someone mentioned above, will also strengthen the ties between all of you, which is lovely for when your little one/s get older, so think of asking for help as an investment ;)

Hula Hoop

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Re: Money saving advice when you're EXHAUSTED!
« Reply #11 on: October 14, 2018, 02:29:09 AM »
Do you have other frugal parent friends to hang out with on weekends?  My fellow mom friends with same age kids have saved me as we don't have any family around and my husband works weekends.  I often just take the kids down to the local park with roller skates, skipping ropes, bikes, balls etc. and just hang out for a few hours with my mom friends and their kids.  We bring snacks and drinks (even sometimes a picnic with beer for the grownups) and just hang out.  I guess the weather isn't so great in the UK though so maybe that wouldn't work.


I second the easy kid-friendly meals.  We always have frozen fish fingers/sticks, frozen Chinese dumplings (kids love em) and frozen pizza on hand for those nights when we're exhausted but need to eat.  The kids are also perfectly happy with pasta plus either jarred pesto or just grated parmesan cheese plus oil.  That plus a few veggies and maybe some cheese is often our weeknight meal.

MayDay

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Re: Money saving advice when you're EXHAUSTED!
« Reply #12 on: October 14, 2018, 06:42:20 AM »
It's hard, especially in winter.

I went to Target so much it was ridiculous.

I don't have any brilliant advice other than to just get through it. I did join a gym with childcare and used it daily.  Sometimes to exercise, sometimes to sit in the sauna and read a book! They had childcare 9-1 and 3-5, and I found going 3-5 was the best because that's when I wanted to tear my hair out.

kimmarg

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Re: Money saving advice when you're EXHAUSTED!
« Reply #13 on: October 14, 2018, 07:17:53 AM »
It's hard, especially in winter.

I went to Target so much it was ridiculous.

I don't have any brilliant advice other than to just get through it. I did join a gym with childcare and used it daily.  Sometimes to exercise, sometimes to sit in the sauna and read a book! They had childcare 9-1 and 3-5, and I found going 3-5 was the best because that's when I wanted to tear my hair out.

My spouse and toddler were always going to Target to get out of the house. We solved it by getting a $100 membership to the local childrens museum. Now they go to the museum and $100/year is less than $30/week at Target.

eco mom

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Re: Money saving advice when you're EXHAUSTED!
« Reply #14 on: October 14, 2018, 09:56:20 PM »
I agree on the mentions above of parks, libraries, free spaces, or the museum (or playspace!) membership. All excellent ways to get out, have the older one mostly amuse him or herself, and maybe chat it up with some fellow parents. Playdates could be another great way - do you have a good community of parents with similarly-aged children? If not, investigating and joining some communities like that, even if there might be fees, could be worthwhile. Best of luck, and you'll get through it!

eco mom

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Re: Money saving advice when you're EXHAUSTED!
« Reply #15 on: October 14, 2018, 09:57:25 PM »
Oh, and you mentioned neither sleep well - perhaps try sleep training for the older one if you haven't tried it. I really liked the Sleep Easy Solution, recommended by a mustachian friend, though it has nothing to do with mustachianism, and everything to do with regaining your sanity through getting better sleep.

bogart

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Re: Money saving advice when you're EXHAUSTED!
« Reply #16 on: October 16, 2018, 01:21:11 PM »

Tbf it's not online impulse purchases so much as ohmygodIneedtogetout purchases.


What are some examples of such purchases, for you?  More information might help us offer suggestions of alternatives.

mm1970

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Re: Money saving advice when you're EXHAUSTED!
« Reply #17 on: October 16, 2018, 02:15:59 PM »
Hello!

Before our first son came screaming into the world I made the decision to keep things simple. All was good and we kept costs down.

However, since #2 has arrived I have noticed that what's costing us money isn't baby kit, it's purchases made because we're tired, low and demoralised (neither boys sleep well). A ready meal here, some hobby kit to cheer us up there... It all adds up.

The internet abounds with advice on batch cooking etc, which will help in due course, but I wondered if the MM community has any golden tips for when you're in the baby trenches?

Suck it up, spend more money, and realize in a year you can start cutting back.

(Case in point: grocery bill 2014: $10,500.  Grocery bill 2015:  $5300.  Age of younger child in 2014: 2, in 2015: 3).

Tuskalusa

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Re: Money saving advice when you're EXHAUSTED!
« Reply #18 on: October 16, 2018, 08:28:09 PM »
Totally agree with mm1970!  In a year, when youíve gotten some rest, it will be easier. Keep your budget in check, but realize that you might spend a little more for now. And youíll save a little more later.

Bee Roberts

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Re: Money saving advice when you're EXHAUSTED!
« Reply #19 on: October 17, 2018, 04:51:05 AM »
Oh you GUYS!

Thank you so much for all your supportive and fantastically sane advice.

Easy meals are a winner. As are trips to cost-free places. The problem for me is that the park is behind the supermarket, and the library is next to Poundland (doh). I've accepted now that all trips to such places come with a small levy in the form of some sort of juice / snack for the toddler. He's good at accepting that he can't have more than one thing, but <1 = meltdown. I still take snacks, but know full well I will be extorted for Fruit Shoots (and frankly if it means we get home with no screaming, I'm good.)

Talking about triggers, screaming is definitely one - DS1 basically screamed for the first year of his life and I can't bear it. @Bracken_Joy Triggers is definitely the sort of thing I could do with investigating in life in general, so thanks :-)

@mm1970 @MayDay @Tuskalusa  Thank you. If I'm honest I wonder if I'm being a bit hard on myself. Coming from a family of misers I have always been super frugal, and am so used to cooking from scratch, mending clothes, doing up secondhand furniture etc. Obviously I don't have the time / energy / capacity to do these things at the moment and it is killing me! The same goes for my creative / intellectual pursuits - and all together this is what's making me lose it!

One thing I've started doing that helps is I've stopped doing a weekly online shop, which I normally do in front of telly in the evening when I'm exhausted (so I buy a lot of stuff we already have or don't need). This way, when I do need to get out, I can go buy what we need to get through the next few days. It also has the bonus of fresher veggies and taking advantage of reduced stuff. On the whole I'm probably spending less.

@Anatidae V I will be going away to plot zero energy meals. That's a fab idea. With #1 we had a massive stock of stews that we ate with frozen peas, but toddler is not always so keen on those...

Is there a list of such things anywhere on here?
Xx

caseyzee

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Re: Money saving advice when you're EXHAUSTED!
« Reply #20 on: October 17, 2018, 10:46:29 AM »
I personally have found that if you only have time for 1 task, meal planning should be it.  The savings from meal planning cascade, not just financially, but in terms of time.  When you have the meals planned out for a week or two, the grocery shopping becomes quicker and easier, you know exactly what you need.  You know when and what to prep.  You avoid having to use any mental energy at all on the "OMG, what are we going to have for dinner tonight?" question.  You can plan in meals that have plenty of leftovers, because they are your friend right now.

I'm not the most frugal of shoppers.  I'm the sole parent of a pair of tweens - I'm simply not going to a grocery store unless it's between home and work.  But I know I save time, money, and energy on meal planning.

Good luck to you!

bogart

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Re: Money saving advice when you're EXHAUSTED!
« Reply #21 on: October 17, 2018, 08:37:23 PM »
So ... you're living in a part of the world that has way more of 2 features I found very difficult when my kid was little (and I have just the one) -- short days (limited daylight) and cold and/or rainy weather.  Two things I did to deal with times when those were noticeable was (a) join the indoor pool in our town and (b) go to big box home repair stores and let DS pretend he was riding the lawn tractors.  Oh, and we have a really utterly fabulous children's museum with very good value annual memberships. 

The internet being what it is, I can see that Oxford has a Storytelling museum and that there is a Bicester Leisure center with an indoor pool that looks like it has reasonably priced monthly passes -- though I have no idea whether it is kid friendly, whether you have a car, whether these are your kinds of "things."  But really for me, getting out of the house was essential, and those things worked (and ... up to a point, a tired kid is a good kid...).  And neither really presented much shopping appeal to me, or the kid. 

Also, when I was a kid my mother used not to take any money at all when she'd take us to the pool, and then could tell us truthfully she had no money for snacks.  I don't generally do that, but I don't hesitate to tell my kid, "I didn't bring any money for buying snacks," which is true, even when I do have money.  I'm not advocating not buying (or providing) kids snacks, but it's also OK to say no to requests.  And one piece of advice, once you have said no (in any given instance) do not change your mind, as that sets you up for being on the receiving end of badgering, ad infinitum. 

shelivesthedream

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Re: Money saving advice when you're EXHAUSTED!
« Reply #22 on: October 22, 2018, 12:46:59 AM »
The Story Museum is great. Go once to check it out then consider an annual membership if your children like it.

Check out Pinterest for batch cooking and meal planning ideas.

Hire a student for one afternoon a week. Spend money to save sanity. But spend planned, well thought out, most bang for your buck money.

Sleep train. Everyone will be happy.

mm1970

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Re: Money saving advice when you're EXHAUSTED!
« Reply #23 on: October 22, 2018, 12:51:51 PM »
My kids are 6 and 12 now.  I have a new-ish job (that has longer days and is more stressful), my husband is crazy busy and traveling a ton.

A few years ago, when the younger child was 3-4, I did a lot of meal planning. I'd make 3-4 meals on the weekend and had Weds crockpot day.  Lots of cheap homemade food for lunches and dinners.

Now, I work late almost every night.  Hubby gets the kids and dinner.  I get home at 6:30 pm, and they are already eating.  (Except when hubby is traveling).  It's a difficult balance when I'm the cook/ meal planner but he has to cook.  So, honestly, here's what we are eating.  It's boring.  It's uninspired.  We often get tired of it and it's more processed food than I'd like:

Monday: leftovers from the weekend.  In this case, spaghetti and costco chicken.  Kale chips.  Or whatever veg we have.  This week: roasted cauliflower
Tuesday: "Favorite chicken" (aka breaded chicken fingers) for the boys, veggie burgers for the parents (hey, I made some and froze them this time!  But usually costco).  Whatever veggie we have, often carrot sticks or another steamed veggie.
Wednesday: by now we are desperate and make instant pot pasta and meatballs.  With salad
Thursday: Leftovers and a vegetable.
Friday: Frozen costco pizza.  I have grilled cheese on GF bread because I can't eat wheat.
Saturday: I make something.  Enchiladas.  Stew.  Beans and Rice. Something.  We eat the leftovers on Monday and sometimes Tuesday.
Sunday: we have a potluck in the neighborhood.  I make something else and take it to the potluck.

Most of my veggies come from two CSA boxes, on Weds and Sat.  So I work that into the plan.  Usually roasted veggies, raw veggies, and salad.

Anatidae V

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Re: Money saving advice when you're EXHAUSTED!
« Reply #24 on: October 26, 2018, 08:23:49 AM »
I can't remember if I've already posted this (hellooooooo exhaustion) but here is the link to the low-energy meals already collated on the forum:
https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/ask-a-mustachian/aussie-keeping-yourself-fed-when-running-low-on-spoons

Note, they're Australian based so some may seem odd but most are universal.

StarBright

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Re: Money saving advice when you're EXHAUSTED!
« Reply #25 on: October 26, 2018, 08:40:51 AM »
Just posting to agree with MM1970- so wise!

I was super frugal when my babies were little (they are 4 and 6 now) and I really think I did myself a disservice and burned myself out. I also had crappy sleepers.

I also think memberships to kid friendly things are a great idea and can save money in the long run (the example of target vs. a membership was right on). We like our zoo and children's museum. These totaled up to about $250.00 dollars for the year but we visited both weekly when the kids were small. Between those, the library, and our local YMCA we could get out 4 days a week for minimal money. - Oh Barnes and Noble was wonderful too (US book chain, not sure if they have them in the UK), because they always have kids play things, especially Thomas the Train sets and duplo tables.



meerkat

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Re: Money saving advice when you're EXHAUSTED!
« Reply #26 on: October 26, 2018, 12:59:02 PM »
With #1 we had a massive stock of stews that we ate with frozen peas, but toddler is not always so keen on those...

My go to for lazy kid meals when he won't like what we are eating are a small handful of three or four of the following:

Dried cranberries (or raisins if you don't have a dog eating all toddler droppings)
Some form of cracker - goldfish, graham, ritz, etc.
Noodles
Cheese stick
Lunch meat
Pre-made chicken nuggets from the freezer
Cut up fruit
Apple sauce cup/fruit cup
Cut up hot dogs (be sure to cut length-wise so it's not a choking hazard for the under 4yos)
A small amount of frozen peas or broccoli or other vegetables, heated to room temperature (for us this involves microwaving then putting it back in the freezer which always feels ridiculous but it's quicker than other options and can usually be done while we're actually cooking our own dinner).
Fish out some of the meat/vegetables from the stew you're having and cut up to toddler bite size

By putting three or four things out it increases the odds that he'll like something on the plate. Our rule is that he doesn't have to eat everything on the plate and he can have an unlimited amount of the items that are on his plate, but we're not making anything else for him. I try to include some of our own dinner in some form or fashion but sometimes it's just not worth the fight. If he decides he's only going to eat noodles we usually try to prompt "Can you take two bites of fruit, and then I'll get you more noodles" and it works - other times he will eat only noodles and it's obviously going to Be A Tantrum if we keep pushing, so fine, whatever kid, live on noodles. Looking at his diet over a whole week makes me feel better and obsessing over one meal being perfectly balanced.

Most of the above should be stuff you can keep around in party or fridge and spend minimal time prepping. If you're constantly brain dead by dinner time, write out a list for easy reference and put it on your fridge.

As far as spending, we hemorrhaged money when I first came back to work after maternity leave, and this was even after I found MMM. It got better, but it feels like exhaustion just sets you up to fail on so many things. Good luck with the kid sleep.

Cassie

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Re: Money saving advice when you're EXHAUSTED!
« Reply #27 on: October 26, 2018, 01:58:09 PM »
When I had kids at home besides keeping frozen stuff on hand that just needed to goin the oven  I also made breakfast for dinner once per week. Itís easy and quick. I also made grilled cheese and soup. You can wrap hotdogs in pillsbury rolls and bake in the oven. Just make a veggie and you have a meal.  This hard time will pass.

Mongoose

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Re: Money saving advice when you're EXHAUSTED!
« Reply #28 on: December 02, 2018, 08:30:04 PM »
For screaming...this may sound awful but earplugs or sound reducing ear muffs were my ticket to sanity. I could still hear the kids but it took the edge off. It your hair covers your ears and you can slip away for an instant, the foam ones are unnoticed by most everyone. Without noise dampening, I was overstimulated, stressed out, and struggled to be patient. Popped in ear plugs... I could deal.

Cassie

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Re: Money saving advice when you're EXHAUSTED!
« Reply #29 on: December 02, 2018, 08:44:51 PM »
I always carried snacks and drinks. Story hour at the library was free.  Play dates with other moms and kids helped. It will pass.