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There are many good reasons to save money: more financial freedom, savings for a rainy day, money for a special project, and so on.
But managing finances when you have kids can feel like having holes in your pockets. The truth is, it’s much harder for families to save money for the simple reason that kids cost money. According to some studies, a child costs an average of $237,482 from birth to the age of 18 (before college).
However, there are many ways that families can save money every day, even when (especially when!) money is tight. This article outlines 86 different ways your family can improve on its spending habits and save extra money in the process!
But there is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to saving money. While some families swear by couponing, others find it a complete turn-off.
The most important thing is to find a strategy that works for you and your family, something you’re comfortable with. In other words, there is no such thing as a “perfect budget,” and every family has to find what works for them.
If you’re trying to save money for your family, this list offers savvy tips and smart spending strategies that will give you insight into practical ways to boost your budget. I’m sure you’ll find at least one idea you can implement today. So read on, and then tell us your family’s favorite ways to save money!
80+ family money-saving tips
How families can save money on food
1) Plan your weekly menus in advance and buy only what you’ll need. Create a two-week meal plan so you can plan what to buy for different meals to save money and time and reduce food wastage. Planning meals saves time and effort and helps reduce impulse buying.
The authors of the book Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids say that you can make things even easier (and more comforting for your children) by making each day a special food day. For example, Monday can be pasta night, Tuesday potato night, Wednesday pizza night, and so on.
2) ALWAYS use a list when shopping.
3) ALWAYS check what you already have and can use at home before making your list.
4) Cook the majority of your family’s meals – it’s cheaper and often healthier.
5) Cooking in batches will save you time and money, so get a freezer and look at the recipes you can start with. Dishes that are perfect for freezing include lasagna, soup, pasta sauce, etc. Also, having frozen food on hand will make it easier to avoid takeout.
6) Add vegetables like carrots to dishes like lasagna or bolognese. It makes the meat go further and will make your meals healthier.
7) Shop in bulk, but only for what you’re going to use.
8) Don’t shop when you’re hungry – you’ve probably noticed that everything looks so much tastier when you’re hungry.
9) Use your leftovers instead of throwing them away.
10) Take a packed lunch to work.
11) Bake your kids’ cakes and other snacks at home. It’s cheaper and healthier.
12) Always look at the price per kilo when you go shopping. Sometimes it is more expensive to buy a 2kg version than two 1kg packets.
13) Buy home brands instead of brand names to save money or visit low brand stores. We’re loyal Lidl shoppers and do most of our shopping there, and we love it because there are fewer “distractions”, so it’s easier to stay on budget. Use the Yuka app to analyze the quality of your purchases – you’ll be surprised that the most expensive brands aren’t always the healthiest!
14) Use coupons.
15) Team up with friends and neighbors to see if you can buy fruits, vegetables, cheese or meat in bulk.
16) Shop with cash.
17) Don’t shop in between your shopping dates. If you forget to put something on the list, wait until the next date.
18) Buy produce when it is in season to reduce costs.
19) If possible, start a garden. Our garden has helped us produce all the vegetables we use in the summer, and we also make preserves that we use in the other seasons.
20) Look for meat or produce that is nearing its expiration date. Just remember to either eat it or freeze it before the use-by date
21) Buy non-perishable items in bulk when they’re on sale. For example, canned food, toilet paper, laundry detergent, etc.
22) Visit farmers’ markets but remember that not all produce is cheaper than at your local supermarket.
23) Create a food budget. Most people don’t know how much they spend on food each month. A budget can help you keep track of your spending.
Look at your past shopping tickets, calculate the average, and then knock off between 50 and 100 dollars and see if you can stick to that budget. You can always adjust it the following month if it isn’t in line with your family’s needs.
24) Sales flyers can help your family save money and even guide your menu, but remember to buy only what you need.
25) Use a cash back app.
26) Make your own jams and preserves. If you buy fruits and vegetables when they are in season, you can make your own preserves that will last you for a good part of the year.
27) Compare prices and buy your products in bulk.
28) Shop online to reduce impulse buying.
29) Reduce your meat intake. Exploring other sources of protein such as eggs and red beans can help you stay on budget. If you need convincing, it has been proven that red meat and processed meats increase disease risk.
30) Keep chickens for eggs if you can. With the price of eggs these days, this is an easy way to reduce your family’s spending budget. We recently discovered that buying chicken feed from a cereal producer is a hundred times cheaper than buying it elsewhere.
- If you prefer organic yogurt, make your own. This yogurt maker is affordable and allows you to make your own yogurts from scratch with whatever ingredients or flavorings you want.
How your family can save on beauty and exercise
31) Do your own hair.
32) Do your own manicures and pedicures.
33) Shave at home.
34) Use soap instead of shower gel.
35) Rent exercise DVDs or browse YouTube channels to see what you can comfortably do at home. This includes yoga or anything else you want to try.
36) Start a walking group and decide on a schedule you can manage – once a week, once a month…
37) Replace coffee dates with friends with walking or running dates.
Entertainment & Holidays
38) If your kids aren’t in school, go on vacation during the school year to get cheaper accommodation and avoid the crowds.
39) Look for affordable vacation rentals where you can cook your own meals, such as an Airbnb.
40) Rent a house with friends or family during peak school vacation periods to reduce accommodation costs.
41) Go camping. Kids will enjoy the camping experience, even if it is just for a weekend. Find out if you can rent camping equipment if you don’t plan to make it a regular thing.
42) Use coupons and offers to save money at local attractions.
43) Take advantage of group discounts.
44) Check if there any offers for families before you buy your tickets.
45) Visit your local library instead of buying books.
46) Find ways for your family to have fun without spending money. Family traditions are a great way to bond. Everyone will enjoy a movie marathon, board game night, backyard camping, etc.
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47) Take advantage of free entertainment in your area. Many museums offer free admission on the first Sunday of every month, and there are always many free events in your area or nearby, such as free outdoor movie screenings.
Other types of entertainment include going on hikes, taking a picnic to the local park, swimming in lakes or rivers near you, and so on.
How to save on baby stuff
48) Make your own baby food by blending fruits and vegetables.
49) Make your own baby wipes.
50) Stock up on diapers when they’re on sale.
51) Buy secondhand baby items, but check for recalls, test for solidity, and give everything a good scrub before using it on your baby. Many baby items can be bought used, but it’s best to avoid items such as car seats and cribs.
52) Use reusable diapers.
53) Embrace minimalism. It’s easy to get caught up in all the things you think you need for your baby, but the truth is, babies need very few things. Stick to the basics and wait until your baby arrives to find out if there’s anything you really can’t live without. A good place to start is to distinguish between what you need and what you want.
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54) Buy store brand diapers, many of which are just as good and less expensive than the name brands.
55) Buy reusable swim diapers.
56) Prioritize items that you can use over the long term. Although these items may cost more up front, you will actually save money because you can use them for years. Some good examples are
– A 3-in-1 baby stroller that grows with your baby.
Save on Utilities, Banking, and Insurance
57) Every year, eliminate one subscription that you can do without. Hold a family meeting and talk about your subscriptions. Which ones can you do without? Could the free version do? What other options are there? Subscriptions may seem like small amounts, but they add up over the years.
58) Stop over-insuring. There are so many different types of insurance today, but do you need them all? Figuring out what you can drop can help your family save money.
59) Buy energy efficient appliances to save money on electricity bills and switch to energy efficient globes.
60) Practice money-saving gestures at home by turning off all appliances when not in use, turning off the water when brushing your teeth, etc.
61) Negotiate with your service providers – Call your phone company about your phone, broadband and wireless service and ask about new discounts and plans.
With all the competition and more affordable options out there, it may be interesting to look at your cable, internet or cell phone service and negotiate or switch to a cheaper option.
Save on school-related expenses
62) Compare prices before you buy
63) Check dollar stores for great deals on stationery and more
64) Change your child’s backpack only when necessary
65) Reuse all items in good condition
66) Buy secondhand items whenever possible
Save on transportation
67) Shop, run errands, or attend appointments in one trip
68) See if you can carpool with a co-worker
69) Walk, bike, or use public transportation whenever possible.
70) Buy a good used car. Good, because if you buy one that’s too cheap, the cost of repairs will far outweigh the initial profit.
Save on birthdays and Christmas
71) Host your children’s birthday parties at home.
72) Make your own cakes
73) Offer DIY gifts.
74) Let your kids make their birthday invitations and Christmas cards – they’ll love it!
75) Give experience gifts. Your kids will love receiving vouchers for experience gifts like “special time with mommy or daddy”, “extra serving of their favorite dessert”, “extra time to play video games”, “get to choose a movie to go see” and so on. Here are coupons you can download for free if you are interested.
76) Shop during the off-season. You’ll always get better deals when everyone is selling. For example, your daughter’s winter coat will probably cost less in the off-season than at the beginning of winter.
Miscellaneous Tips to Help Families Save Money
77) Buy used whenever possible – that means clothes, books, toys, garden tools, furniture, and so on. Buying used clothes for children who outgrow clothes quickly can help your family save money.
78) Pay yourself first. Paying yourself first is a concept that says you need to set aside money for savings before paying bills and making other purchases.
Specifically, as soon as you receive your paycheck, you set aside a minimum amount before paying your bills and other expenses.
Paying yourself first ensures that some of your money is always saved. So how much should you pay yourself? Whatever feels right! Just make sure it doesn’t leave you unable to pay your bills or meet other financial obligations.
79) Make a budget. Do you know exactly how much you spend on food each month? How much do you spend on clothing? How much of your money goes to miscellaneous expenses? The first step to gaining control over your money is to know where your money goes each month.
80) Do you ever do your homework before buying something expensive – can you find it cheaper elsewhere? Is used an option? Are there coupons available? Would it be cheaper during sales periods ?
81) Trade in what you no longer need. There are so many things you can swap with other families or your neighbors – clothes, books, toys, eggs, vegetables – find out what you’re willing to trade for what.
82) Sell what you no longer need – this is a great way to make money and reduce clutter.
83) Stock up when things are on sale. There are some really good deals during sales periods. Our family starts shopping for birthdays and Christmas right after Christmas, and we’ve already stocked up on some deals that are up to 80% off!.
84) Once a month, do a family challenge to buy nothing and use only what you have at home before shopping again. This will help you get a better sense of how much you overbuy.
85) Give preference to things you can reuse – bags, cloth napkins, water bottles, diapers…
86) Make and use your own cleaning products. In our house, we always have white vinegar, caustic soda, and black soap, which are great for any cleaning job.
Making a real plan for how you are going to reduce your spending will increase the chances that you will actually stick to it. What five things from the list above are you going to cut spending on? Write down the first actions you’re going to take and put your list somewhere you can see it every day to remind yourself of your goals.
What ways has your family found to save money? Let us know in the comments section below!