four ways to reduce stress and costs when you’re busy.

It can be difficult to save money, but it can be even more challenging to do so during the busier times of your life. My family has found it harder to save money the busier we become. When we are tired, we forget to pay our bills and there is a late charge. After a long day, cooking dinner is not something I enjoy doing. So we order take-out. When I’m short on time, I get a packaged product to help me get to school. There are many more.

I’ve spoken to other mothers who take care of their children as well as other family members.

The Huffington Post published recently an article entitled Women are Caregivers, but Who Cares for Them. This thought-provoking quote is included in the article: “Caregiving by relatives is a rapidly growing experience. According to an AARP survey, there are 42.1 million family caregivers serving as caregivers to adults with limited abilities in the United States. The majority of these caregivers are women aged 40-60. 29 percent of them spend at least 40 hours per week providing this care. This means that caregiving can be listed as an unpaid full-time job by about a third of Americans, most notably women.

This statistic is amazing. This is a shocking statistic. Many women care for their children and work full-time jobs. However, they also spend 40 hours caring for an adult. Many women will experience multiple caregiver stages in their lives. They will take care of their children, then an elderly parent, and finally, an aging spouse. These responsibilities will be shared by many men, but most of them will be carried out by women. Genworth Financial has more information about caregiver planning on its website.

All of this is not enough. Women can also be harsh on themselves if they aren’t being financially responsible. When finances get tight, we have one more responsibility: learn how to save money and coupon more. These are tips to help you save more while still managing the unique challenges business presents.

But, most importantly, I’d like to say that if you are one these women, take a breath. You can do more! You know that you are doing a good job and it is worthy of praise.

#1 – Reduce Food Costs when you’re busy

Freeze your meals. Although it may seem like this will take longer, if you double the amount of recipes you cook and then freeze the rest, you’ll have plenty of homemade meals in no time. You can freeze them in the containers that can be used for cooking, so that they can be put in the oven right out of the freezer.

Enjoy cooking with your friends. This will help you save time and money. Begin by inviting 5 friends to create a menu plan for five meals. Each of you will be able to cook five meals at once and freeze them. You can then get together to swap meals so you each take home a meal from one of your friends’ meals. You now have five meals in your freezer. Plus, you’ve had time to get together with friends.

There are a few affordable take-out options that you can use when you don’t feel like cooking. It’s $5 pizzas and $5.99 pre-cooked rotisserie chicken from our local grocery store. You can also throw it over a premade salad kit to make a quick meal. This reduces our takeout costs to $10 per meal instead of $40.

#2 Buy Online

You can save time and avoid getting stuck in traffic. You can find cheaper prices online, or even better deals with free shipping, on everything, from toilet paper to dish soap and food. Do your shopping online and then go offline. If you let it, the internet can become more time-consuming than traffic. It is great to shop online from your own home and have your items delivered to you when you’re busy. Amazon has a lot of great resources for online shopping.

#3 Spend More on the Special Items for Your Home You Love

It is usually cheaper to do things at home than to hire someone to do them. Buy your favorite syrups and invest in a small espresso maker if you enjoy your daily Starbucks. You can even get a to-go mug and you have your own latte station. This could save you lots of money over time.

You can make your own smoothies by buying a juicer. Get a DVD and exercise regularly. You want to get outside the house? Map a route around your neighborhood and start walking it every day. You might consider investing in a year of Amazon Prime or Netflix membership if you love movies.

Instead of giving up on the things you love and going on a total fast, try to find a replacement. You can save money while still enjoying the things that you love. This does not mean that you will never go to Starbucks or the movie theatre again. But maybe you only go once a month instead of every other week. You might be amazed at the savings you can make by making these small changes.

#4 Socializing at a low cost

The Women are Caregivers, but Who Cares for Them? article pointed out that caregivers can be isolated. Many of the money-saving tips discussed above will take you away from more social settings or places where you can be seen. Instead, you will stay at home. You will need to look for low-cost alternatives to socializing.

Socializing can be done in places that are not expensive (cafes and theaters), so you will need to come up with some new ideas. You can find free museums in many cities, and local libraries offer low-cost classes that are free or at a fraction of the cost. Register for these and you can find a friend or new friends to join. Another good place to find low-cost or free events is the church. Invite your neighbor to join you for coffee and conversation.

Last but not least, take a breather. Your credit score does not define you. You can reap greater rewards by investing in the lives and livelihoods of others than you will from high-earning stocks. You are worthy of being taken care of, even if you’re the one who takes care everyone else.

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