cutting back expenses

How to Afford Twins: Cutting Back Expenses

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Before my twin girls — now 4 1/2 — were born, my husband and I saved pretty aggressively, but we didn’t have any sort of written budget.  Within some degree of reason, we spent more or less what we wanted to, when we wanted to.

When I became pregnant, we knew that we wanted to accommodate me being home until our girls started school.  We loosely knew we could afford it, but we didn’t have a true sense for what it would mean for our monthly spendingI sat down to work through our finances, with the goal of understanding what we were spending on a monthly basis.  Outside of our mortgage and utilities, which are drafted from our bank account, we pay for everything on a credit card.  (We pay the statement in full each month, but that allows us to take advantage of some type of cash-back reward program.)

I dug through our files and online statements to reconstruct what we’d spent for the past year.  I plotted our mortgage and utilities, and then I combed through our credit card statements to see what our other monthly expenses were.

I made a list of common spending categories:

  • Groceries
  • Restaurants
  • Dry cleaners
  • Entertainment
  • Clothing
  • Car insurance / maintenance
  • Travel

We knew our lifestyle would change dramatically when the girls were born.  With that anticipation, reeling in much of our spending was actually pretty straightforward.  Because cutting back expenses meant affording our twins.cutting back expensesMy first shocker was how much we were spending eating out every month…about $400!  We knew our grocery budget would increase, but we knew we could reduce our total food budget dramatically.  These days, we spend $500 – $600 a month on groceries, but only about $100 on restaurants.  That allows us one reasonably-priced meal out a week, and the opportunity to pick up a pizza two or three times a month.  Once the girls were born, reality was that it was much harder to go out to eat…to pack all the necessary gear, and to cross our fingers they would sit contentedly…or later, that they would eat what we ordered for them.  These days, at age 4 ½, the girls are much more predictable, but we’re no longer tempted to go out three or four times a week.  It’s a treat to enjoy a nice soup and sandwich for Saturday lunch.  We limit our really fancy restaurant meals to a few times a year, versus a few times a month.

We cut back on our cable package.  Once upon a time, Hubby had a sports package and a DVR upstairs, and I had a DVR downstairs to watch my favorite shows.  When our girls were born, we realized we were watching much less TV.  We now have only basic channels and one DVR box…and with that we still don’t have time to watch all the shows we’d like.

We also cut back on our cell phone expenses.  This may seem like a drastic change in today’s information-rich culture, but spending $30 a month on our family cell plan…versus what I know can be some pretty crazy numbers in other households…was a great motivational factor for us.  My husband and I bought trac phones for about $30 each.  We buy 300 minutes per phone each month.  That’s proven plenty to use our phones when we’re out and about, as needed.  My internet access is restricted to home, via my laptop, and I’m fine by that.  I’ll admit that my friends love to laugh at my throw-back basic cell phone, but it gets the job done.

Our lifestyle change allowed relatively easy cuts in other areas, as well.  With me not working, my dry cleaning bill is almost nil (as my yoga pants are wash and wear…HA!).  As far as entertainment goes, to be honest, we haven’t been to a movie or concert since our girls were born.  We attend lots of free family events, and Hubby and I savor our TV time after the girlies are in bed.  Our travel is much more limited and planned well in advance.  The majority of our clothing expenditure these days is spent on the girls, and I do my best to shop end-of-season sales and use coupons.

While it felt a little daunting to be thinking about DRASTICALLY CUTTING BACK expenses before the girls were born, we fell into our new spending routine pretty easily.  I think it was a combination of lifestyle changes brought about by the birth of our girls, coupled with a shift in priorities, that made the changes relatively painless.

What changes has your family made in spending since your children were born?  Were they easy to implement, or were some areas more challenging?

MandyE is mom to 4 ½-year old fraternal twin girls.  She blogs about their adventures, and her journey through motherhood, at Twin Trials and Triumphs.

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MandyE is the mother of 4 ½-year old fraternal twin girls, Baby A and Baby B. (And yes, their names actually start with the letters A and B!) She worked in the marketing field for nine years before her girls were born, but these days she’s relishing the opportunity to be a SAHM, which she plans to continue until the girls start kindergarten. MandyE has been blogging at Twin Trials and Triumphs since her girls were a year old. Between her blog and her local Mothers of Multiples group, she considers the multiples community a huge part of her support system.

3 thoughts on “How to Afford Twins: Cutting Back Expenses”

  1. When we had to figure out how to afford daycare I went to all of our service providers to renegotiate (including our mortgage rate) and bundle. It still amazes me the power of just asking.

  2. We have cut back A LOT over the years. We no longer have gym membership (even though they were just $10/month), no longer have netflix or hulu+ (though we’ve tried both before). We don’t have cable at all, have super cheap cell phones and inexpensive plans with no data. We recently got an Ooma Telo so we no longer have a home phone bill (just $2 a month now) so that the money we were spending on that is going toward one of the cell phone’s plan. And we also always call to make sure we are getting the best deal on our internet.

    But, it is so true that once you have kids your perspective changes. You no longer need to or can do the things you did before kids (like eating out at nice restaurants).

  3. My hubby was laid off when the twins were 2 months old so we had some MAJOR cutting to do. We canceled our cable and bought a Roku to stream content from Hulu+, Netflix and Amazon Instant to our HD TV. We also got rid of our home phone that we never used and switched our security system to Comcast (bundled with Comcast internet). All of that saves us about $100/mo. and we only really watch like 8 or 9 shows throughout the year anyway. We also cut back a LOT on food, like you did with cutting back takeout to just once a week as a treat, plus I only shop for groceries at Trader Joe’s which I feel saves us a lot of money. Also we both bring lunches to work every day. And just generally only buy things when I NEED them. Once in a while I’ll splurge on something fancy but only if I know I will use it a lot. For kids stuff I buy gently used items from our MOMs twin club email list and shop at the MOMs bi-annual resale. Hand me downs really help. I only buy kid clothes on the cheap. Target is great for that and the Children’s Place and Carter’s have a lot of sales. Switching to Target brand formula has saved us $100s of dollars! Wish I had made the switch sooner!

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