Secrets of a Super Thrifty Mom: Part 1

recession guide

recession guide

Photo by ReesesPieces

Super thrifty Clarisse and her three kiddos.

Clarisse, aka ReesesPieces, is a self-proclaimed tight wad. And proud of it. Here are just a few of the reasons why this stay-at-home mom of a 6 month old, 21 month old, and 3 year old deserves the title:

1. She and her husband paid off $47,000 in debt on a $31,000 a year income in 3 1/2 years. They plan to be done with the other $23,000 in few more years.

2. She spends just $200 a month on groceries, toiletries, diapers, and household products for a family of five.

3. She's cut down her family's cost-of-living to a little more than half of what they make. No, it's not a glamorous life, but they are happy and on their way to freedom. You can't buy that kind of peace of mind. 

Want to know how she does it? You're in luck. I picked Clarisse's brain on how to slash costs on the biggest toddler-related expenses. If I forgot something, ask her in comments or check out her blog, Clarisse's Financial Notebook.

First, a little background on Clarisse. She wasn't always so thrifty, as you can tell from the $70,000 debt.

"I was living paycheck to paycheck. I didn't really care how much things cost, especially things like groceries, and I justified that expense because groceries are necessary. I lived in my own little bubble because this was 'normal' living.

"It wasn't until I was pregnant with my first child that I woke up and realized that something was about to go seriously wrong. My husband and I were not married yet, and the pregnancy was a big shocker. I realized that in just a few months I'd not have my income any more. I had always promised myself that when I had children, I'd be a SAHM, come what may."

Clarisse discovered the popular financial advisor and money expert Dave Ramsey, and the rest is history. Today, she shares her secrets on how to save money on what many of you say is the single biggest toddler mom expense ...

DISPOSABLE DIAPERS

Test out all store brands As with anything, certain brands work better for you and your child, but it's important to at least TRY the other ones. I prefer using White Cloud diapers found exclusively at Walmart for $16 a box. They are our brand of choice, on par with Huggies. They are unscented, don't give our children rashes, and they leak a lot less than comparable brands.

Target and Walgreens brand diapers are also of a better quality than most other store brand diapers. Too often we get hung up on brand name diapers but lose sight of the fact that our kids just pee and poop in them.

Coupons, coupons, coupons! Sometimes only brand name diapers will work for a particular child. Well, when Huggies are on sale and I have coupons, I can buy them for even LESS than the White Cloud diapers. I just bought a big box of Huggies at Publix for $12.49 because the diapers were $19.99 on sale, I had a $5.00 off Huggies diapers Publix store coupon, and a $1.50 off manufacturer's coupon.

I usually get coupons for Huggies and Pampers diapers in the Sunday paper coupon inserts and by signing up with their websites here: Huggies, Pampers, Luvs, or you can call the company and ask for them. Magazines are also another great source for baby related coupons (just hit your pediatrician's office or sign up for free subscriptions from American Baby or on Start Sampling).

One-stop shopping Walmart will price-match any competitor's sales ad. Just show the cashier the sale price at checkout.

++Check back tomorrow for Clarisse's tips for saving on kids' food, snacks and groceries.

food, potty training, recession guide