Everyone always wants to know how we’re able to go on big family vacations every summer when I’m a stay at home mom with two kids. Well, my husband has a great job. But that in itself isn’t enough. I do make a nice chunk of money from my writing. Not much, but enough to make it so we have some money to play with. But it isn’t so much what we have coming in that makes the difference. It’s how we handle everything going out.

First, I only get my kids’ clothes resale or on sale. That includes everything from shoes to winter jackets. Of course, we do a lot of hand-me-downs, too, and it helps that I have three boys. My oldest is a girl and she gets a splurge shopping trip every once in awhile. But she’s old enough to have a part time job and is pretty good about buying herself the special things she really wants.

Second, I don’t shop at expensive grocery stores. I prefer those places where you deposit a quarter for your shopping cart and don’t carry a lot of name brands. I’ll let you in on a secret. Some of their stuff is better than the big names. I found this curry sauce that is to die for. Anyway, I also go to a big warehouse store for all the staples: toilet paper, diapers, toothpaste. I buy it all in bulk. It’s a bit of an investment upfront, but over time, it more than pays for itself.

Third, I cut back on as much as I can. If you think about your monthly expenses, it’s likely you can cut back somewhere. Ask yourself, do I really need those premium channels in the cable package? Can I live without a DVR? Can I use a cell phone plan with less data? Who has the cheapest auto insurance? Do I really need full coverage car insurance on my old car? Would it be better to buy very cheap car insurance no deposit? Probably!

Budgeting is just as much about what you bring in as how you control what goes out. If you take a good look at where your money is going, you might be able to make some changes that will save you a lot more money than you think. That’s how we get to go on big family vacations every year. Scrimping by on the day to day lets us do some pretty amazing, exciting things.