Regardless of your marital status, income, number of children or the amount of debt you carry, you want to save money. There are countless ways to save, but it helps to take a general, broad look at the ways parents can save throughout the year, in different areas of their lives. The following 20 hacks will help you save money across the board, from groceries to travel to gift giving.
American families spend an average of $146 to $289 per week on groceries. Begin saving today with the following hacks:
1. Plan Meals Around Deals
If you want to save at the grocery store, everyone knows that planning is essential. Do your research and find out what will be on sale for the upcoming week. Plan meals around those sale items and use a recipe website if you’re lacking creativity.
2. Use Couponing Websites
Couponing is a time-consuming art form, but one way to ease into it is to use couponing websites. These sites remove the need to sort through pages of circulars and cut out what you need. Instead, you can search the databases for what you need. Try The Krazy Koupon Lady or Passion for Savings.
3. Create a Cooking Group
If you’re close with your neighbors, consider creating a cooking group. Each family in the group cooks dinner one night per week for the other families in the group. This way, you can enjoy a few nights off from cooking, as well as added savings from buying cooking items in bulk.
4. Order Online
Be honest with yourself and admit if you’re an impulse shopper. If you are, it might be wise to get your groceries delivered. Or, you can order ahead and pick up your groceries to avoid going into the store altogether. While these services come at a cost, it might be worth it if you’re prone to impulse buys.
Does it seem like your budget is shot every month because of birthday parties? Your kids won’t have to miss the parties if you consider the these hacks:
5. Stock up on Gifts for Birthday Parties
Toys go on sale every January, so use this time of year to stock up on a variety of inexpensive gifts. Keep a stockpile and add to it whenever you spot a good deal. Set a limit for yourself, such as no more than $5 or $10. When the inevitable party invitation arrives, visit your stockpile instead of the store.
6. Have Your Kids Hand Write Cards
Instead of paying $3 or $4 for a birthday card, have your kids create one. Kids love to get craft and people love handmade cards. Plus, your wallet will appreciate the added savings, come the end of the year.
7. Opt for Christmas Wrapping Paper in Solid Colors
Purchase Christmas wrapping paper after the holiday season at a discounted rate. Choose papers in solid colors like green, blue and red, and then use it throughout the year for birthdays and other holidays.
Kids’ Clothing and Toys
Clothing is a necessity and toys are important, too. Save money by purchasing clothes at the right time and finding toys in the right places. Consider the following tips:
8. Shop During the Off Season
Clothing is expensive. Smart shoppers gauge their children’s sizes and shop in August for the next warm season and at the end of February for the next winter season. Get into the habit of doing this every year, and the savings will be significant.
9. Join a Toy Library
Toy libraries rent or lend toys to families. It’s a great way for your kids to receive something new to aid their development — and it also teaches them responsibility. As they care for the toys, they learn the concept of borrowing. Plus, they get to experience a variety of toys at very little cost to you.
10. Embrace Consignment
There are many different ways to consign today. Clothing exchanges, consignment stores and online mom swaps make it easy for anyone. But online consignment stores likely provide the most options.
Planning a vacation usually comes with some anxiety as you consider the costs involved. If you want to save money on your next vacation or make your vacation dollars stretch as far as they can, consider these hacks:
11. Join a Home Swap
Instead of paying hefty hotel fees, opt for a home swap. You can explore other countries and live like a local. The experience will be rich, and your dollars will stretch much further. Websites like Home Exchange match you with an appropriate swap family.
12. Avoid Busy Travel Days
This is a simple hack, but it’s an easy way to save. Flying Monday through Thursday is cheaper than flying over the weekend, but Wednesdays are the cheapest. Plan your trip from Wednesday to Wednesday to get the lowest fare.
13. Plan Early or Late
Planning early comes with many perks, such as being the first to book at the lowest costs. As soon as you get your child’s schedule for the upcoming year, plan vacations around days off. Opt for non-holiday days off from school, such as teacher in-service days, to avoid spiked rates. On the flipside though, spontaneity is sometimes rewarded through last-minute deals.
Children become involved in more activities as they age, and parents immediately notice how expensive it is to stay involved with social activities such as sports and clubs. Consider the following tips:
14. Make Playdates
Instead of opting for “Mommy and Me” classes that cost money, socialize with other moms and babies by creating your own group. Use social media to connect with area parents or try Playgroup Meetup.
15. Implement a One-and-One Rule
There are many free activities to participate in if you look in the right places. When your children become interested in joining clubs and sports groups, implement a “one-and-one” rule. This means they can join one paid activity and one free activity every season. Examples of free activities include reading groups or story time at the library.
16. Create a Babysitting Co-op
Check out local churches and community centers for babysitting co-ops, or groups of parents that agree to help one another babysit at no cost. If there isn’t one available in your area, create one. Also, there are sites to help connect families such as Babysitter Exchange.
You don’t have to like them but you can budget for them. Get your monthly budget in the green with these simple strategies:
17. Check Your Family Plan
Cell phone bills are a big expense, and they typically grow every year, especially as your children become responsible enough for a phone. Check out the site My Rate Plan to see if you’re overpaying. And be sure to shop around for better rates every year.
18. Cut the Cable
There are many ways to enjoy television without paying a hefty bill. Streaming video services like Netflix and Hulu offer more economical options for TV than cable.
19. Minimize the Water Bill
Reduce your water bill by replacing leaky faucets and adding aerators to them. Aerators reduce water flow by up to 60%, which can equal a huge potential saving. Fill a plastic milk container with stones and place it in the back of the toilet tank if you don’t have a low-flow toilet. This technique will minimize the amount of water needed to fill the tank.
20. Only List Teen Drivers Under One Car
To save money on your car insurance, only list teen drivers under one vehicle. List them as occasional drivers on the least expensive car to pay the lowest rate.
As you can see, there are plenty of ways to cut costs throughout the year with minimal effort. What are some of the hacks your family uses to save money throughout the year? Share in the comments!
Featured photo credit: Steven Depolo via flickr.com