I know I am just stating the obvious here, but things are so expensive right now! In this economy a lot of us are trying to make smarter money choices. Especially as a parent it can be essential to find ways to save. Kids grow so quickly and have changing needs, wants, and interests. Here are some tips on how to save money as a parent.
Budget and Save
Budgeting and saving your money can really help you be more financially secure. This takes consistent effort and practice (I’m still working on it, too!), but it is achievable. Figure out how much you need to pay your bills, put some into savings, and a budget for all the extras in between.
Budgeting for upcoming costs can make a huge difference. This year my husband and I decided to put money monthly into a fund for birthdays and Christmas. It has made such a difference to have that set aside when we’re ready to buy for those events. I noticed it’s helped me budget better, and I also have kept an eye out for deals throughout the year to buy earlier for Christmas. If you try this, just don’t forget where you hide your Christmas presents! Not speaking from experience or anything…
Keep Your Goals in Mind
Determine your financial goals and keep them in mind as you make your budget and during your day-to-day spending. It can be easy at times to feel like you need to “keep up with the Joneses” and buy all the newest things. But the reality is this probably will not help you stay on budget or make you feel happier. Remember your own financial goals and know that your value as a person is not determined by the things you do and do not own. We wouldn’t want our kids to think that, so why should we? Everyone is on their own financial journey. Stay on your path and keep your financial goals in mind.
This has saved me so much time and money. It does take some time initially to do, but I never regret doing it! Go through the week/month and plan out your meals each day, then make your grocery list. I’d recommend online grocery ordering. You can save and reuse your lists monthly. It helps to keep track of the cost and stay on budget. It also cuts down on impulse buying that can happen while in the store. Especially when I forget to eat before going.
Organize and Declutter
Yes, it is a chore to go through things, but the payoff makes all the effort worth it! Disorganization can lead to so much unneeded extra spending. Have you ever gone to the store and bought something, only to come home and see you already had it in the back of your pantry? Throwing out or selling things you no longer use and freeing up space to better organize what you do have, is a big time and money saver.
Learn A New Skill
“Necessity is the mother of Invention.” We lived on a student budget for many years. I realized it was a great opportunity to grow my own skill sets, and to learn how to make the things I wanted if I couldn’t afford to buy them new.
I wanted a toy cabinet for our living room, but a new one was out of my budget. I found a beautiful sideboard on a local marketplace site. I refinished it and learned a lot as I went along. It took more time than buying it new, but it means more to me knowing the work I put into it. I am so glad I took a chance and cultivated a new skill.
I think this approach is also great for our kids. We don’t need to buy every toy or experience for them. It’s good to give them opportunities to be creative, to be resourceful, to make up games, to use their imaginations, to build resiliency, and to discover the skills and capabilities they have.
Find Inexpensive Activities
There are so many ways to get your kids involved and to have a great time together for little to no cost. Bring out the play doh or sidewalk chalk, make cupcakes together, create a scavenger hunt, ride bikes, go on a walk, set up a playdate, read, or play a favorite game or toy together.
Look around your community for affordable activities. Check out indoor playgrounds and trampoline parks. Some may offer cheaper rates on certain days or coupons. Community rec centers may have swimming pools, kids’ classes, and sports teams at low costs.
A lot of libraries have passes to local museums or zoos you can check out and go to completely for free. Many libraries also offer classes for kids in different age groups.
Plan for Babysitters
Parents need time together to go on dates and connect. You may also need some time to recharge or go to an appointment. Babysitters can be pricey. So, maybe budget some babysitter money monthly. Or you could also trade babysitting with another trusted parent. You watch their kids once a month so they can go out, and then they watch your kids the next month.
Reward Programs and Cash Back
When you do spend money, it is nice if your spending can help you earn money. Many stores offer reward programs or coupons if you sign up. Using a credit card that offers cash back options, and paying it off monthly, is a great way to gain some extra spending money.
Don’t be afraid to buy used
Facebook marketplace or other similar online sites and thrift stores can be great resources to find affordable books and toys. My kids wanted a huge, expensive toy for Christmas. I found it on Facebook Marketplace for a fraction of the cost. It was hardly used and looked and worked like new. I think buying second hand can get a bad connotation sometimes. I have found that if you shop carefully, you can find a lot of items in great condition. I also feel better about one less toy ending up in a landfill somewhere just because it’s used, when it could have been played with by another child.
Being a great parent doesn’t mean you have to break the bank. It doesn’t need to be extravagant to be meaningful. There are many ways to provide for your kids’ needs and wants, while keeping your family’s financial needs in mind.