I am excited to share my journey. In this article I’ll share some strategies that I have found to save money while living in one of the highest cost of living areas in the country and raising two young kids.
Prioritize Costs That are Important to You
My goal is to prioritize my ability to be successful at my current full-time position and this requires having after school care for both kids. In my past while the kids were younger I would try to save on childcare by doing all the pick-ups and drop offs on my own with my husband but have found through experience that paying more for quality childcare or help picking up the kids will make me less stressed and pressured for time, and ultimately more successful. While saving some money on childcare may be tempting in the short run, over the long run I’ve appreciated having extra support on child care responsibilities.
Location of where we live is important to us. We have lived in San Francisco since graduating college and have built a wonderful community here. We are close to our kids public schools and close to beautiful areas to walk such as Golden Gate Park, so while we certainly pay more to live in San Francisco to us it is worth paying more. Also my job is in the Bay Area so we are happy living in San Francisco and paying extra on living costs.
Having automated withdrawals for both my 401(k) and kids 529 account is also important to me. Both are automatically set up to transfer from my paycheck and checking account, respectively. That way I don’t have to think about it and I know I’ll be meeting these saving goals each month.
Minimize other costs that are not as Important or are Flexible
For other areas of my life that are not as important to me or are more flexible I try to minimize costs when possible. I try to limit eating out when I have time to cook. As a full time working mother I don’t have a lot of time to make elaborate meals, so I’ll make a handful of meals each week and have gotten very efficient. Especially with the new found flexibility of working from home with the pandemic it’s been much easier than before to make meals at home and this has really helped me maximize my life! I am appreciative for this silver lining.
Sometimes when I have a big work deadline evening meals will be extremely simple such as quick store bought frozen foods.
For me I limit optional self-care activities such as getting my hair dyed and manicures. Knowing the money can be repurposed to other more important areas such as saving, investing, 401(k), and kids 529 accounts for me it’s an easy decision to limit these activities.
To date we have not purchased new cars and luckily have benefited from reliable hand me downs for cars. In addition, I try to limit impulse purchases like new expensive clothes.
Perfection is Not Required
We are going for consistency and not perfection. Some weeks you may spend more because of the Holidays or work deadlines are causing you to eat out. That is okay! We are all human and have lots of responsibilities to balance whether kids or other priorities, please remember to be kind to yourself. Achieving our personal finance goals is a long term goal so every week does not have to be perfect. You can always adjust in the future and still achieve your goals!
Check Back Every Couple Months and See How You Did
While in the moment focusing on your career and daily responsibilities can certainly take over your focus. Don’t forget to take a step back and evaluate how you are doing and if you are saving enough. If not you can always review your expenses and see if there is anything else to adjust.
Remember to Enjoy Yourself and Be Grateful of the Positives!
Time goes by quickly and we have to enjoy the journey while focusing on the long term goal. With that in mind remember to appreciate all great things in your life from your family, nature, to friends / coworkers and other relationships.
Especially with the pandemic we’ve all had a lot to manage and it’s important to take a step back and be grateful for everything positive in our lives. For me I try to walk as much as possible and take in the beautiful sites of San Francisco.
After over a year of having the kids virtually schooled and having no social activities, in 2021 I was especially appreciative to be able to get together with other parents and friends and start having activities again.
What do you do enjoy yourself and relax? What are you appreciative of?