I am a big money saver, and I have found that spending money on kids is expensive, from summer camps to clothing, after school activities to food. Here are some things I have found that are useful ways to save money when you have kids – but lots of these can be applied to adults too!
Drink more water.
Send in water with snacks and/or lunch, and stick with water at home when you can.
I have two kids, so that could be FOUR juice boxes a day (snacktime+lunchtime)! Times about 20 days of school a month, means 80 juice boxes per month! I send in a water bottle with snack, because not only does it save money, but I don’t need my kids drinking sugary drinks an hour or two after breakfast and just having brushed their teeth.
At home, I try to serve water when possible, or the kids get one glass of juice and if they want seconds, it is always water (which teaches them they can get their own refills).
Bring your own food when you travel.
Food adds up quickly, so even on short trips in town, be prepared with food! I always make sure I at least snacks and water in the car, because even buying bottled water can be expensive, and why waste money when you can have your own? When we travel out of town, we try to prepare as much as possible to avoid spending money at rest stops. Not only will you save money, but chances are you will find the kids will eat healthier if you can pack things like fruit pouches or dried fruit.
Use the library.
This is such a great resource, and as a taxpayer, it is even more of a reason for me to want to use the library. If you aren’t a regular patron, you might be surprised quite how many resources they have, from DVDs to games, study aids, and more. Plus there are lots of great programs which are often cheap or free.
Avoid eating out.
This can be tough, but when money has been tight, I simply do not eat out! There are exceptions but we try to have friends over more often than eating out. At home we can order an inexpensive pizza or make a big pasta dish for cheaper than eating out.
No splurges at the store.
My kids are always begging for things at the store (and I find myself getting things I don’t need). It can help to make a list and stick with it or simply ask yourself, “Do we need this?”.
A few dollars here and there add up. Sometimes it helps to just take advantage of shopping without the kids, as I find I am far more efficient, less distracted, and not prone to buying stuff I don’t need.
Hair trimming at home.
I am no hair stylist by any means, but I save a lot of money by trimming my children’s hair. (I actually also do my own!). This is not for everyone and I can do it because I have two girls with long hair, so trimming is easy. I certainly do not advocate trying it if you aren’t comfortable with the idea or are familiar with hair cutting!
Shop (and sell!) at garage sales, consignment shops, Craigslist, etc.
Ever since my kids were babies, I shopped for used items at places like consignment shops. You can find used items, often in like-new condition, at a great discount!
And don’t forget to sell your items when you are done! I have made some great money re-selling my items at the consignment shop, FB Swap Groups, and more.
Shop sales, consignment shops, off-season.
I buy a lot of items at consignment shops. You can find a lot of like-new clothes and even brand new ones, all while saving lots of money. You can also save a lot of money by buying off-season – for example, buy next year’s snow boots after the holidays. (While this can be a gamble as far as size, this usually works out regardless if you have more than one child).
Museum passes, park passes or other season passes.
If you live near a good zoo, music, pool, park, or even amusement park, getting season passes can be cost effective. Do the math to figure out how many visits it takes to save money as opposed to paying per visit.
I find myself struggling to find ways to keep the kids occupied on the cheap, and nature centers can be a great way to get the kids out of the house, getting fresh air, and learning about the world around them – for free or cheap.
Hope these help – feel free to share your own tips below!