We know coaches are a tough crowd this time of year. So to lighten your load, we thought we'd do the heavy lifting for you. We asked over 150 wives in the FNW Facebook group which Christmas gifts their coaches loved most and compiled a list of our 10 favorites to help you out this holiday season.
If you’re like me and have calculated your husband’s hourly rate, you’ve realized coaching must truly be a calling from a higher power. Because ain’t nobody doin’ this gig for the money. You also have had to cut corners and coupons and your own dang hair to figure out how to make it work.
When my coach and I first decided I was going to stay home, he didn’t even have a job yet. He had just graduated from college, and I had been our sole provider for two years. But we were determined to stay debt-free on a single income, so we began trying to figure out how we could financially make that possible.
Here we are many years later. We’re still looking for every way possible to cut costs. So I thought I’d offer you a few creative, but practical, ways we have saved money on his coaching salary.
Let’s start by having a heart-to-heart. I had to come to grips with a few things early on in our marriage (and pretty much every day since), some of which are really hard and some very relieving.
a Few Truths That Make Cutting Costs Easier
- I will not have the cutest _______. Fill in the blank. Clothes. House. Kids’ clothes. Decor. Hairstyle. When I feel myself “needing” something that I can’t afford, I have to remind myself, “In this season, I will not have the cutest _____. And that’s okay.” Sometimes it feels really important (because Pinterest) but if staying out of debt is more important, some of those things just can’t be.
- I am going to have to make some sacrifices. Not just me, but everyone. I am going to have to cook a lot, paint my own nails, buy fewer presents for Christmas, and cut out some “major wants” from our budget. Everyone will still survive. And, dare I say, learn a few valuable lessons along the way.
- In the grand scheme, I am pretty rich. It’s really, really easy to look around and think, EVERYONE HAS SO MUCH MORE THAN US. And lament over all the things we are sacrificing. I mean, let’s be honest. This post could probably be renamed “First World Problems” because the things we are giving up, are usually not, say, food.
- This is (most likely) the poorest we will ever be. Barring outliers, most people make more money the older and more experienced they become. You might have to make a few sacrifices right now but it won’t be like this forever.
So now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s get to it. I’m giving you all the ways I’ve cut costs over the years and I’m including a few from other coaches’ wives as well.
15 Tips to Cut Costs on Coach’s Salary
Don’t buy juice, coke, wine, beer, lemonade, tea. I know, I know. It sounds crazy, but this is one of the biggest ways I have saved at the grocery store. Drink water. Not only is it healthy, but it’s also cheap. (Coffee is a non-negotiable, however. Or everyone dies.)
Buy in bulk.
I use Amazon Prime Subscribe and Save. I buy all my non-perishables through them — diapers, wipes, Ziplocs, trash bags, toothbrushes, face wash, shampoo, soap, detergent, etc. — and have them shipped to me whenever I need more. You get 15% off your entire order if you order 5+ items (20% off diapers and wipes). Yes, there is a Prime yearly subscription, but if I cut out cable (we’ll get to that in a minute), the Prime shows and movies and more than make it worth it. Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial
Use Grocery Store Apps for the Rest of Your Food Purchases.
Ibotta, Fetch Rewards, Coupons.com, and individual grocery store apps all offer opportunities to use coupons without actually clipping a coupon. Use those store apps y’all! If you need products and you can use a coupon that stretches your budget. Plus, take a few minutes after you complete your purchases to scan your receipt with Fetch Rewards and you’ll have a gift card to buy Christmas presents with by the end of the year.
Use cashback for holidays.
I know Dave Ramsey would not approve, but we buy everything on credit cards that have rewards programs. Two years ago, I didn’t pay for a single Christmas present. We had accrued enough points to cover all of them. Last year, we used them to go on a trip for our anniversary. BUT, that being said…
NEVER pay interest (if at all possible).
We pay cash for everything. Pay your credit cards in full every month. When we remodeled our home, we paid cash. When we bought our cars, we paid cash. When we bought a new couch, we paid cash. If you don’t have enough money to buy something, don’t buy it.
Buy necessities for holidays.
At Christmas, use stocking stuffers to buy things your kids already need — socks, underwear, pacifiers, sippy cups — things you would have bought them anyway. Wam, bam. Two birds. One stone. Merry Christmas.
Create Amazon Wishlists
When you don’t live near family you won’t always see them for holidays and birthdays. It never fails that your mind will go blank when someone calls and asks what the kids want for their birthdays. Keep a running list of wants AND needs of various price ranges. That way whenever someone feels like sending the kids a gift they can ship directly and you know it’s something helpful.
Use gifted money for splurges.
This is my chance to splurge on myself. Two years ago, I used my Christmas money to restock my closet. Last year, I used it to redecorate my daughters’ room. This way, nobody questions how much money I am spending and whether or not we can afford it. It’s basically free, right?
Do hair care on the cheap.
MasterCuts and Family Cuts, y’all. Haters gonna hate, but they do good work. Also, box color. In 5 years, you can spend $150 on a haircut & color. But today is not that day. I promise you will look stunning with your $15 ‘do. And for the kids, if you feel confident, do it yourself.
Cut the cord.
It didn’t take us long to realize CABLE IS FREAKING EXPENSIVE. Here’s our solution:
– get a streaming device (we have used AppleTV and FireTV and loved both)
– subscribe to Amazon Prime and/or Netflix and/or Hulu and/or SlingTV (we do Prime and Netflix)
– get an antenna for local channels
Get rid of stuff.
I am always amazed at HOW. MUCH. STUFF we have. Every time we move (once a year, duh), I end up with boxes and boxes of giveaway items. I’ve made some pretty good #cashmoney at places like Swap.com, Craigslist, and Facebook, but there are also the VarageSale and LetGo apps where I have bought stuff… and speaking of….
Second-hand shops (specifically the ones mentioned above) are a great place to find home decor. And did you know, a can of spray paint can work WONDERS.
Find a Friend to Swap Kids Clothes With.
You know there is a mom in your MOPS group or Bible study who has kids growing out of clothes just as your kids are needing them. Find a few friends who can trade clothes around and don’t even bother with setting aside time to shop second-hand. If you’re lucky you’ll even avoid shopping for Halloween costumes and Easter dresses.
Keep a budget.
Budget is not a dirty word. It’s actually very freeing. Bought a new shirt? Don’t worry hubs! I have a $25 clothing budget this month so I’m actually UNDER BUDGET. No arguing. No accusing. Everybody wins. AND GUESS WHAT? There’s an app for that. Mint.com is awesome. This website/app will allow you to import all credit cards and bank accounts so that you can see all your expenses in one place. You can then create budgets and categorize each expense so you know how much you are spending on each category each month. It’s also super convenient during tax season to have everything categorized and searchable. If not for any other reason, make a budget so you can see what you spend most of your money on.
Don’t stop giving.
Budget tithing and giving first. There’s no better way to be reminded of how MUCH we actually have and how faithful God is than by giving sacrificially. Buy gifts for needy children before your own for Christmas. Sponsor a Compassion child. It’s amazing how much further your money goes when you steward it well. There is no better way to live by faith, than by trusting that God will take care of you if you take care of his people.
I am by no means an expert. I still spend an exorbitant amount on groceries, and I have JUST GIVEN UP. I don’t understand coupons. They make me feel stupid and angry.
However, I hope these are somewhat helpful. AND PLEASE if you have ways that you save money, I would love to hear them! I am always interested in how other people cut costs!
We’ve only moved a few times in our twenty years of coaching, but those moves have been what I define as major moves. We moved from the suburbs north of Chicago, IL, to a southern IL farming community that had two stoplights and one grocery store. Our next move took us fourteen hours east to the Appalachian mountains. From there, we moved to Central IL. We live three blocks from the University of Illinois.
That’s right, friends. After sixteen long years, we’re back in an area with Costco, Aldi, Panera, Target, and an actual mall just around the corner!!! The first day we woke up in our new home in Central IL, I realized we didn’t have anything for breakfast, so I ran to the local Meijer. I spent a good five minutes crying in the produce department before the stock boy asked me if I was okay.
“Me? Oh, I’m fine. I’m just happy and completely overwhelmed.”
It’s HarD to be “the New Family” in town Again
When trying to decide whether we should move, we’ve always tried to obey God’s leading. Each job has different pros and cons, but we learned very early in our marriage that the most important part of any community is the people. The rest is simply icing on the cake but that icing is often difficult to spread around evenly.
When You Move You Need to Start Over
As the new family we start over with a new school to cheer for and a new house to turn into a home. But the changes extend well beyond that. We have to find new doctors, stores, gas stations, schools, churches, clubs, affinity groups, and anything else you need to make your new community work for your entire family.
Starting Over Includes Learning New Traditions
One of our favorite things about living in very different parts of the country is how many community traditions our kids have learned through the years. We’ve eagerly participated in Apple Days, Dairy Days, and Fourth of July parades. We’ve watched the lemon drop at midnight on December 31st. We’ve hunted down free lemonade on Lemonade days and attended the Lemonade Festival.
Our kids have hiked the Southern IL Garden of the Gods and the Southwest Virginia Cascade Falls. They’ve tasted shrimp and grits, fried okra, and compared St. Louis style pizza to Chicago style pizza. They’ve explored museums and zoos all over the country from Kansas City to Minneapolis to North Carolina.
It’s been wonderful, and exhausting. When you’re always learning new traditions it’s difficult to establish reliable family traditions. Sometimes you just need a community to feel like home.
You Can Help Wives Feel Like a Local
You know that feeling you get when you’re driving around your new community without Google Maps for the first time? You feel like a local. You know where things are located! You that feeling you get when you just pull into the gas station without second-guessing if you picked the “right” one?
Did you miss park district sign-ups this year? Not on our watch! We’ve got you covered because we’re creating the Ultimate Coaches’ Wives Resource for Families who Move into a Community.
But we cannot do this without YOU!!!
We’VE Created A Resource Map
We’ve developed a map that we will build out by regions within states. We’re going to feature the most common things you need to know about each area.
- Kids Activities
- What are the best regional hospitals, schools, stores, and coaches’ wives restaurant recommendations
- Which coaches’ wives are in our Market Place by region
- Something important and unique to know about this region
Dear New Wife Who Touched My Heart,
As a coach’s wife in an interracial marriage who will celebrate my twentieth anniversary this summer, I wanted to let you know how much I’ve appreciated your boldness over the past few months. I’m not sure you realize how brave you are, but as someone who has spent a few decades hearing her marriage is something God frowns on simply because of the color of my skin, well, I think you’re courageous.
I’m not the only one. I happen to have the unique position of seeing the analytics for the Friday Night Wives website and social media, and your blog posts are some of the most viewed, even if they don’t seem to receive a lot of public interaction.
Crystal, you said the quiet parts out loud. But, then again, it seems that you’ve had quite the unwelcoming start to your young marriage. I’m sorry for that. I wish I could stay things will get easier; however, you are facing situations that haven’t changed in at least two decades.
Just like you, I can only share my experiences. I’ve been around the football world a little longer than you, so I thought it might be helpful to let you know that you are seen and heard. My heart broke as you shared with the world what I’ve known for two decades. Interracial couples are prevented from pursuing jobs in certain communities because the towns aren’t accepting of a couple’s love.
The issue for black coaches runs much deeper than who they choose to marry. The most difficult part is that much of this could change if coaches treated each other with the same respect they hope to receive from others.
Unequal Hiring Practices
As a head football coach at the college level, I’ve stood next to my husband and heard every rationale as to why white coaches were passed over for the positions my husband received.
- The college needed to meet a diversity quota
- The college thought minorities would stay longer with a black head coach
- The college was looking to diversify the campus as part of a long-term plan
- The white coach would have been hired if they applied but knew the college wanted to look at minorities, so they didn’t apply
Every statement assumed my husband received his job because of the color of his skin. They ignored his resume, experience, and football knowledge. Yet those same coaches have no problem acknowledging they received most of their coaching jobs because of who they knew and the people who hired them when they were promoted.
I’ve often wondered if these same men walk up to random white coaches and say things like, “Oh yeah, I was going to apply for that job, but I knew the school had a white hiring quota to meet.”
The intention may not be to imply that a black coach isn’t qualified for the job they have, but that is exactly what happens. It’s a bold assumption for someone to determine if they know a stranger’s resume or know they are a better interviewer and understand the school’s hiring needs!
And to be clear here, hiring quotas don’t actually exist. Only in the NFL are they required to interview minority coaches. Nowhere does it say anyone must employ anyone.
Every year USA Today releases the salaries for the head coaches for the NCAA Head Coaches. Here’s the list of NCAAF Coaches as of November 2020, and here’s the list of NCAA Basketball Coach Pay as of March 2021.
Of course, it’s challenging to have a conversation about fair pay when the head coaches’ percentage is so low. The Louisville Courier-Journal explains:
Of the 1,073 head coaches in NCAA sports at Power Five programs, only 79, or 7.4%, are Black.
Of the 65 Power Five schools, 15 do not employ a single Black head coach in any NCAA sport, though seven of those schools do have at least one other head coach of color.
Safety When Traveling
For years we have had to remind our sons they don’t have to privilege of wearing their hoods up when they are walking outside regardless of how cold it is. We tell them they can’t touch items on store shelves they think are interesting or put their hands in their pockets when walking through a store.
Now, with a child preparing to drive, I find myself rehearsing an extensive list of warnings. “Remember, if you get pulled over, keep your hands visible at all times. Don’t open the car door, don’t make sudden movements, and always speak respectfully.” I try to speak in a calming tone because I don’t want to increase the already present fear.
But there’s another layer to the concern that I hold as a coach’s wife married to a black coach. Whether during the recruiting season or while in charge of a bus full of athletes, there have been times when I’ve found myself momentarily filled with anxiety. What if the wrong person is driving this week? What if Ordell pulls off at the wrong stop while recruiting? What if he booked a hotel in the wrong area?
These questions may seem silly however they started from a personal experience. An administrator of a previous college gave me a map before a road with a list of towns to avoid when traveling with my sons.
What Can We Do?
Crystal, I know that this post may affirm your experiences. But it could also leave you feeling hopeless if I don’t offer some suggestions on how to get through the difficult moments. Of course, nothing is foolproof, but I’ve found that the best thing I can do is listen. My husband has dealt with the challenges of life as a black man in America his entire life. As his partner, it’s my job to hear him and strive to see his side of a situation just like I want him to do for me.
Next, I spend a lot of time praying. God is the God of justice. In the book of Amos, God tells the Prophet that the Israelites are going to face divine intervention. God is bothered by the Israelites practice of religion without righteousness. By oppressing the poor and failing to practice justice, the Israelites were behaving unrighteously; justice was to be enacted as a core of God’s message in Amos’ prophetic teachings.
Amos Chapter 5 reveals this. A few of my favorite verses to pray are:
- For the Lord says to the house of Israel: Seek me and live!
- Those who turn justice into wormwood also throw righteousness to the ground.
- 14-15. Pursue good and not evil so that you may live, and the Lord, the God of Armies, will be with you as you have claimed. Hate evil and love good; establish justice at the city gate.
- But let justice flow like water, and righteousness, like an unfailing stream.
I stay connected to community that strives to value all coaches equally. I make sure my husband has the resources and community he needs. We can’t shoulder these things by ourselves. There are times when I send a voxer message to a girlfriend who understands my stress because she shares it. Find these friends and hold them close.
I’m grateful for your willingness to speak up. I hope you’ll keep sharing your story. Just know that as difficult as your walk is right now, these moments may lighten up and flare up again. There is a community of women who have been in your shoes. Our experiences vary, but our advice comes from the heart.
Check out these resources:
6. Bring a friend.
This is for the older ones, but bringing one of your kid's friends along is easy entertainment. Occasionally, it'll be closing in on the end of the fourth, and I'll have no idea where a kid is because they've been playing somewhere with their friend.
I’ve come to the conclusion that coaches' wives who develop 4 characteristics—patience, perspective, perseverance, and peace—end up being able to walk through this life with a little more determination and ease.
That said, a healthy sex life can look extremely different for different poeple. We heard from plenty of wives who are multiple-times-a-weekers. But, there are also plenty of couples who are once-a-weekers, once-a-monthers, or sex-less-marriagers (yep, that’s a thing).
My coach and I have a list of things we would love to be gifted when these holidays sneak up on us. So here is what you're really after: WHAT’S ON HIS LIST?
In case you are eyeball deep in a playoff run, constantly scrolling Football Scoop, about to start coaching yet another sport, or already looking at next year’s prospects, let me remind you that it is already December. This means your amazing, remarkable, beautiful, intelligent, epic wife/fiance/girlfriend is soon to need some gifts that match her amazing-ness.
We have been a part of some teams where I think all of the above affected the players’ willingness to approach me. BUT if I am on the field at the end of the game and have something sweet, all of sudden I’m not big and bad and scary.
These are stories we hear every year —
Coaches developing chronic panic attacks. Players suffering from depression or anxiety. Coaches becoming physically ill due to mental distress. Coaches and players struggling to navigate online criticism.
A free communication app, sportsYou is created specifically for the needs of coaches. It gives coaches the ability to privately communicate, schedule and share media with their team. With no character limits and the ability to send one-way messages, sportsYou is the most versatile communication app for coaches to use with their team.
You put the backpack straps on and there’s a little bar/swing where their feet go instead of where the “pack” would be on a backpack. It holds up to 50 pounds and allows him to jump on and off as needed rather than having to constantly take off and on. It saves me time and mental stress as we tote around stadiums—no more waiting for toddler speed, he loves getting the view from the top and it's super unique design makes us friends every place we use it!
So how do we figure out our season budget? Here are the tips we go by for our family, which includes twin 10-year-old girls who look at the candy in the concession stand as if they are seeing those brightly wrapped balls and ribbons of sugar for the first time every time.
As wives, moms, and coaches' partners, we tend to lead busy lives. In the craziness, allow yourselves to be okay with taking care of yourself. Be okay with taking a few moments to decompress.
We wanted an intentional way for our boys to process the experiences and emotions of the season rather than “just” having them turn in their equipment and move on to the next thing.
Now with four, seven and under we had a little time to experiment. For us this is what I’ve found works…
Whether we’ve been naughty or nice, we all deserve to treat ourselves. But since we are living off of coaching salaries and can’t afford to do that without maxing out our credit cards, here is a gift guide for the coach’s wife that can easily be sent to your parents, in-laws, or anyone else that may feel the need to spoil you this season.
Unlike the score of the big game, gift cards are always a sure thing. Target, her favorite clothing store, Starbucks, Bath & Body Works, her go-to salon, and restaurants are all good options for gift cards.
A Prepared Meal
Our babysitter recently called and asked if we were home. When she arrived (right at supper time), she was carrying a pan of spaghetti, bread, and homemade bread pudding. This was our Christmas gift, and it was beyond appreciated. I was even able to freeze half to have stashed for an emergency. If you don’t cook, delivering a catered meal is just as good. Just feed us!!!
Especially if there are small children in the equation, coaches and their wives do not spend much quality time together. A gift card to a restaurant and the movie theater is awesome (again, budgets), and bonus points if you babysit for the night as well.
On any given day, my house is a DISASTER. Deep in season, you pretty much need a hazmat suit to walk through the door. Ok, that may be a bit of an exaggeration, but I am feeling pretty good about myself if the laundry isn’t backed up and there are no dishes in the sink. I rarely find time to mop or clean the bathrooms much less dust or clean windows. Having someone else come in to clean my house every so often would be a game changer. I guarantee you that any wife would be happy with this gift. (Please don’t offer to clean the house yourself. Even though it is a sweet gesture, I know that I would be cleaning before you got there to clean. We don’t want people we know seeing our dirty laundry or dust/ hair piles in the corner of the bathroom.)
Game Day Babysitting
If she has small children, offering to babysit for the game will ensure that you are literally her favorite person. If you are really good like my father-in-law, you can show up with happy meals. She will worship you if the kids are in bed when she gets home.
Stainless Steel Cup/Water Bottle
These are awesome for keeping drinks hot or cold. My favorite brands are Yeti, RTIC, and Contigo. My ride or die is the Contigo autoseal water bottle. Friday Night Wives also has a design customized for coaches’ wives that might make her giggle. I can throw it in my purse or diaper bag, and it WILL NOT spill. If you really want to make her happy, find out her favorite drink (or adult beverage) and include that in her gift.
Coaches’ wives often find themselves entertaining for team functions or spur of the moment get-togethers with the other coaching families. Pretty serving ware is something that she really could use but probably will not buy herself. Wilton Armetale is a good option for something neutral but still pretty. This brand boasts that it keeps food hot or cool longer, and I have seen platters stuck in the oven for a quick warm-up with no major consequences. Recently, a fellow coach’s wife of mine was gifted the cutest platter with our mascot and school colors painted on it. This is an amazing gift if you are super creative or happen to find something similar at a local shop.
Chances are, she already has a ton of team t-shirts. Lots of small online businesses sell cute graphic tees for coaches’ wives, not to mention yours truly. You can also have a shirt, sweatshirt, or jacket customized for her. Scarves, beanies, and raincoats are other necessities that she would appreciate having in team colors. Pay attention to what she does not have or ask Coach to do a little detective work.
Game Day Blanket
When it is cold, nothing is better than sitting at the field bundled up in warm clothes and a blanket with a cup of hot chocolate (that will stay hot in your new stainless steel cup). Currently on my wish list is a blanket in school colors with our mascot embroidered. If you want to be extra bold, you can find blankets with a ginormous image of a team’s mascot, like the lion blanket below.
Game Day Chair
Any mom with littles would probably love a portable folding rocking chair. Chairs with mesh backs, cup holders, and snack trays are also nice. For the brave wife who dares to sit in the bleachers (or has no other option), stadium seats can help her to sit a little more comfortably.
Coaches’ wives are a special breed and definitely deserve to be treated every day of the year for putting up with their husbands’ demanding, crazy schedules. I hope that these gift ideas inspired you, but if all else fails, there is always wine.
The less planning we need to do during the season, the easier life is for everyone. It doesn’t matter how busy our week is, my kids insist they need dinner every night! I’ve yet to convince them a bowl of popcorn and some apple slices is a well-balanced meal, so instead I’ve learned to keep a few things stashed in the freezer to avoid the drive-thru as often as possible.
Apps such as Ibotta, Fetch Rewards, and Berry Cart pay you a small amount for scanning your grocery receipt. Each program is different but a few minutes scanning your receipts can add up to a few hundred dollars cash back over the year.