Not Spending vs Saving
Creatively not spending money is not the same as saving it. When I think of saving, I'm putting aside the extra money that I saved when I bought something on sale. In the business of not spending, I am creatively doing everything I can to not buy the item in the first place. Creativity is vitally important in this endeavor. Without it, the business of home can become just a job with no pay. With creativity we find joy, excitement and fulfillment in our own business at home.
Living simply is probably the first step in not spending. In our society there is a lot of pressure to have too much. Too much stuff takes our time, our energy, and our money. Living simply is freeing and healthy. Too much furniture taking up space in the home so that children don't have space to play and too many toys that they don't even play with are a common problem. Too many dishes make it difficult and frustrating to function in the kitchen. Too many channels on the TV or too many choices in any direction can be a nuisance to the family function. Keep it simple makes it easier to keep it clean, more pleasant to be around, and healthier overall.
The next step is to question everything you (or a family member) want to buy. As soon as you have bought it, it's yours to take care of. Do you really want to take care of that puppy or kitten that is so cute now but will need food, shots, vet visits and more? How about the new pair of shoes when you already have 15 pairs in the closet? Is the white throw rug going to stay white more than a day? Instead, put the money into the dream fund. Would camping equipment be more valuable than the kitten? And the shoes or throw rug: can you do without? Put that money toward the college fund or debt or the camping trip. Stop giving it away for things that don't serve you and ultimately don't make you happy.
What about the creativity part? Coming up with different ways of acquiring what you need or want can be very creative: bartering, trading, dumpster diving, building, using found items to make things. Children can be involved in these processes. Creativity can be welding pipes together creating a new heating system with Dad. Creativity can be making home made sleeping bags with Grandma. Creativity can be building a camp storage box with Mom. It can be making throw rugs out of plastic bags or recycling items or painting a room, or any functional activity using what you have on hand and figuring out how to make it work. The thing about being a stay at home parent is that you can have time to do these things which can be a wonderful method for teaching children simple and complex skills that will last a lifetime.
If you can creatively not spend even $10 a week, that is $520 at the end of the year. Money that you would have given to the store goes to you and your family. What will you do with it?