How To Afford To Be A Stay At Home Mom: Treat Yourself Without Spending
Moms are allowed to have more fun than rewarming up coffee for the 9th time in the morning, and painting their nails while kids scream in the background.
Living on one income might make treating yourself difficult, so I compiled an entire list for you!
I have felt the desire to share my favorite free, or cost next to nothing activities for all of us mama’s trying to enjoy being a stay at home mom, while taking care of ourselves. I am all living life to its fullest and experiencing life, but mindful of a budget. Not only will you discover new ways to enjoy life, you can finally afford to love life.
Old ways won’t open up new doors, so let’s try some new activities!
Create an experience and read the book
One of my favourite ways to spend alone time is with a good book in hand, warm reading socks, a cup of tea, and a toasty fireplace. There is nothing better than a relaxing aura, the peace and calmness of spending time with yourself, and making this all about you and your comfort.
I have read everything from murder thrillers, to heart break novels, to adventurous discoveries! Spending time to create an experience and relationship with a book is the easiest way to treat yourself.
Frugal tip: I never purchase a book until I have read it and loved it! I found almost every single one of my favourite books in the “take one, leave one” bins and libraries until I am ready to purchase.
I have also been really into personal development books! My favourites right now are “Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis” and “The Universe Has Your Back” by Gabrielle Bernstein, and any book Brene Brown has ever written!
Not only will investing time and knowledge into yourself this way cost nothing, but it will also bring joy, and good financial karma your way.
Volunteer at a local animal shelter
Reduce cardiac issues, increased mental stigma and stability, offers an antidote for loneliness, decrease stress is just the start of the health benefits animals bring humans, but you are doing such an incredibly kind deed!
This is probably my favourite study I found when trying to find the benefits you’d give yourself by volunteering at a shelter.
I have little children who are in love with fluffy, happy animals. I have turned this into a family activity during the day, and teaching children to show compassion is so important. Plus, it is a free activity for anyone on a budget, while feeling great about yourself.
Walk while enjoying nature
Something about breathing fresh air, pushing a stroller or walking your dog, and truly admiring nature changes my attitude almost instantly. There are multiple studies proving how wonderful fresh air is for you, and how much it can benefit anybody struggling with mental illness.
Check out this study on how even being surrounded by the green outdoors can impact your anxiety, even if you aren’t actively mindful of this factor. Of course, this should not replace any medicine or counselling treatments, but should absolutely accompany these types of treatments!
The Ontario hospital published an article about how well the outdoors and gardens was directly associated with depression in patients. The World Health Organization suspects depression will be the second leading cause of ill health globally by 2020, therefore we should all work actively to improve our health all around!
I truly believe investing in yourself- mentally, spiritually, and/or physically- is the best way to treat yourself! You will reap the endless benefits time, and time again.
Invite a friend over for a cup of coffee or tea
In the past, my most gloomy days usually started by me staring out the window, sun shining on my face, and feeling overwhelmed that I am attempting to budget to save for my future. I thought everyone else was spending, what had seemed like, hundreds of dollars daily and I was missing out. Some of these gloomy days continued to drag out and be a “not- so- great” time.
But more times that not, I would invite a positive friend over that I adored, and the day would always change by a simple cup of coffee or tea. It really is never about what is inthe cup, but what are talking about overthe cup.
It makes you wonder how children are always so happy, full of energy, and yet so care free. We are always trying to overschedule our children, have extremely high expectations of their behaviour, and only allow limited care- free activities, such as dancing. But, I think children are onto something…
Dancing has been known that there is a link to therapy- like affects, specifically mentioned in this study. Growing up, we used to host dance parties all of the time with our cousins and closest friends. You feel so vulnerable, yet so free and fun. I can absolutely relate to this study, and see how a dance party could really improve your attitude.
All the materials you would need: a good sized living room, a couple friends or your kiddos friends even, music, and a few snacks. This is such a cheap little date idea that can be hosted anywhere with your desired people.
At first, I will absolutely admit that this used to sound like a 4 year old’s favourite activity. I was skeptical that there was anyway that I would enjoy this. I bought myself an adult colouring book, which is just a genuinely kind way of saying “a book with fancy swears to colour.”
It became my ritual when I became stressed, lacked creativity in my life, or needed a pick- me- up. The best part is: you can find every single one of these books in a dollar store. My kids and I make it a date activity!
Movie night in
Making experimental munchies utilizing your pantry and Pinterest, picking out your favourite movie on Netflix, and snuggling up with your significant other or cat- you will have the best movie night in. I love having relaxing nights where you can dive into a new series on Netflix, or enjoy a horror movie with the blankets nearly covering your eyes.
A movie night in is so much more comfortable and significantly cheaper than heading out to the movies. I used to be an hour drive from the closest movie theater, so I have become so accustomed to movie night- ins that I almost can’t even justify the cost of going to the cinema!
I totaled out the cost for a movie in my general area: $12 per ticket; $15 for large popcron and large drink. If you go alone, you are looking at nearly $30, plus gas! Or, you can enjoy Netflix for $12.99, and utilize snacks in your pantry. Don’t be afraid to experiment!
If I still want the movie theatre popcorn experience, I actually live less than 5 minutes away, and they give out $10 of medium garbage bags of popcorn at the end of the night! If you store popcorn in the freezer, when you are ready to eat it, just preheat the oven to 350 degrees and fill a cookie sheet with popcorn for 5 minutes. Taste almost identical to fresh!
Frugal tip: use Netflix or Hulu instead of cable to save $60-$100 a month! Think about it: do you really need cable?
Meditation and yoga
Treating yourself with calmness, a positive social life, health benefits, happiness, and productivity seems like the best gift you could ever give yourself. Not to mention how little time meditation actually takes, we should all be practicing this daily! Here is a study that has 20 different reasons supporting that meditation is the best present you could give yourself!
Start by sitting cross legged on the floor. Place your palms towards the ground for grounding energy, or place your palms upwards to receive energy. When breathe in through your nose, and out through your mouth, make sure your breaths are equal lengths. Focus on your breath and repeat for 2 minutes to start.
My kids have learned to really enjoy yoga!
Yoga goes hand in hand with meditation. Increased energy, vitality, muscle tone, stretching, circulatory strength, join ease, and weight reduction are just benefits that skim the surface! There are plenty of tutorials on Youtube- here is one to start!
I feel as if mindfulness is going to play a great part of this article. Journaling has been known to cause “light bulb” moments, and can be an incredibly cheap, or free, treat to yourself! There are tons of studies, including this one, that lead researchers to believe journaling reduces depression, anxiety, and can be used as stress management.
The art of bullet journaling is something I quite enjoy spending my time doing! There are infinite ways to bullet journal, but this is my absolute favourite resource. Enjoy quality time with yourself, while feeling the benefits of the stress release.
Write a book
Writing a book, even if you will never finish it, is one of the most relaxing outlets I have found. In some odd way, it became therapy to me during a difficult season of my life. I had found pouring my soul into a book that may never be seen by the eyes of others was incredibly empowering.
I had honestly spent early, bright mornings on my deck with my hot, beige coffee with a notebook in my hand just writing. If I had to have spent money on this project, I can guess it would have been approximately $3 for the notebook and pen, plus $2 for coffee if you are feeling it!
Start the KonMari Method
I started with the KonMari Method with low expectations. Honestly, I wasn’t expecting anything out of it. I knew people folded their t-shirts funny, got rid of a junk drawer or two, and had everything organized in baskets.
Little did I know that I would have made $200, and earned my sanity back.I went through absolutely every single drawer, closet, nook and cranny of my home and emptied it. Every single item that I decided didn't bring me joy or I didn't use, we decided to sell!
I could say that this method not only was free, but extremely profitable.
Frugal tip: utilize Facebook marketplace to sell items in a hurry.
Inviting your sister or girlfriend over to do face masks, hair masks, manicures pedicures, just to hop into clean sheets and comfy pajama’s after is a major win. Once your kids are on a good night schedule, planning this without a babysitter makes life so much easier!
Managing stress and anxiety starts by allowing yourself to have the opportunity to relax. To ensure this, make sure if you are doing these activities, have friends or family you love and are comfortable with.
There are a ton of mental and physical benefits that come with “spa days”. Check out this super cool study for more info.
This includes: reducing cardiac issues; rejuvenation; an average 7.7 percent drop in blood pressure, a decrease in cholesterol, mercury and sodium levels, and an increase in hemoglobin, while the Panchakarma cohort showed a marked decrease in 12 different chemicals associated with cholesterol and type 2 diabetes.
So really, you are treating yourself in more ways than one, and there are tons of DIY spa treatment recipes!
If you are a baker like I am, you will already have the ingredients in your pantry and fridge. If not, there are many different recipes that you would be surprised about!
My favourite recipe is called “Christmas Candy Crack”. It is saltine crackers, butter or margarine, and brown sugar. You can get fancy and add vanilla.
I typically go on Pinterest and search “easy 3 ingredient baking recipes” and 9/10, I have all the ingredients. If you want to feel extra good about this step, deliver some of the goods to your neighbour or family that is close by!
My kiddos get so excited when they see my kitchen aid mixer coming out!
Utilize free events
Community is such a big part of our identity, yet is such a large factor we miss out on embracing in our society. I have made the efforts of utilizing free events, networking with other individuals, and I feel uplifted!
Whether you are a mom who loves to attend “Mom and Tot” groups, or you are a single woman looking to make friends at a mixer, you are bound to find an event near you at least monthly!
One of my best friends and I in highschool used to grab coffee, and sit on a park bench and watch all the people. We would watch facial expressions, figure out what people far away were saying based on their body language, and eavesdrop on only part of the conversations.
We spent at least an hour laughing, making up so many hypotheticals, and leaving that park bench new people. I typically don’t advocate for judging one another, but we did this in such a light hearted manner.
I used to be skeptical of Youtube videos on yoga and boxing. I didn’t like the idea of not investing the gym membership in myself, and felt like I was missing out. Of course, there was “no way” there could be free value on the internet.
Soon after I had my first 2 children back to back, I realized I would be paying $120 a month with childcare just to utilize a gym. Quite honestly, I knew how the treadmill worked, and that was it. I ended up wasting so much money, and turned to the Youtube videos and Pinterest workout guides.
My workouts became this area of stress because I was paying for it, to a fun activity that was stress relieving in a matter of a week. I had noticed a shift in my attitude and energy, and now extremely value exercise!
Call your grandma
My grandma is the sweetest woman on earth. She has picked up every single phone call I have ever made, and made me smile on every one. Life is too short to not appreciate who is in your life, and create memories with them.
Have fun with your kids
Children have such a bright, contagious love within them. In our home, we love to spend time by observing what the kids are doing, and provide fun activities. The way their faces light up, the belly laughs, and the infinite memories we make is beyond anything I have experienced.
Here is 100 cheap and free ideas to have fun with your kids. I always like to say your perspective and attitude can make absolutely any activity fun.
Create a dream and vision board
Envisioning what your future life could look like excites me in the best way possible. You are in control of manifesting and creating the lifestyle you have always dreamed of! There are hundreds of dream board resources on Pinterest!
Take on a hobby
At first, I will absolutely admit that this was something I was skeptical about. Is finding a hobby reallytreating yourself? Studies show that hobbies make us happier, and seem to be the gift that keeps giving genuine happiness, over and over.
“Gardening, bird watching, stroking your cat- whatever it is that you like doing, just go for it. It is officially good for you.” These are the kind of studies I can get behind.
Did you know that certain hobbies can also make you money? Photography, writing, crochet, knitting, gardening, or even artwork… What is holding you back from gifting yourself happiness?
There are 22 things you can do by yourself that might inspire a hobby out of you!
Walk some dogs in your neighbourhood
Multiple close friends of mine who are combating anxiety and depression are self employed. They each do odd jobs that pay their bills, and quite a few of their jobs include walking dogs.
This ties into treating yourself because you are offering such a strong bond with these animals, but also getting rewarded financially from this act!
If we go back to the study we read while volunteering at an animal shelter, the benefits you are giving yourself include, but are not limited to:
offers an antidote for loneliness, reducing cardiac issues, decrease stress increased mental stigma, and positive mental stability. Not to mention, you can create a career out of walking dogs and making money.
Volunteer at an old folks home
Taking the time to give a part of your heart and soul to someone in such a vulnerable stage of life is one of the most beautiful gifts you can give someone.
Giving back to the elderly gives you this feeling of peace, happiness, and belonging. Treating yourself to positive feelings, with long term memories is such a genuinely wonderful thing to do for yourself and others.
There are studies that volunteering is amazing for learning to socialize outside of your regular comfort zone, and promotes fighting depression. These two components go hand in hand in this study, and it is such a wholesome act.
Provided with all 21 activities, we hope you decide to fill your calendar with fun and fulfilling events! We challenge you to take note of how you feel at the beginning of your free, feel good adventures and compare your mood a month later.