As a mom, you have a lot of expenses between kids’ clothing, food and entertainment needs, to say nothing of ongoing household expenses. But you also have a lot of opportunities to save money beyond the usual budget fixes. Check out these money saving tips for moms, so you and your family can save for the future or spend on fun things.
More Food for Less
Planning your menu ahead of time, buying foods in bulk, and making use of your freezer are all time-tested techniques for saving on food. Here are a few more to make your go-tos.
Make your own baby food
There’s a price for convenience, and there will certainly be times in a busy mom’s life when baby food in the jar is a good choice. But if you can swing it, pureeing your own fruits and veggies for your baby’s food is not only healthier, it can save significant amounts of money over time.
You thought “coupon” was a noun? It’s a verb! Hardcore couponers can save a lot of money. You don’t need to devote 20 hours a week to get benefits, though; just a quick flip through your weekly Penny Saver and a few minutes on coupon site every day can end up saving you big money over time.
Make eating in just as fun as eating out
Taking the whole family out to eat is expensive, even if you choose a modestly priced restaurant. Instead, stay in but make it special. You can elevate a meal from a normal family dinner by having a theme, like “royal tea party” where everyone dresses up and is on their best behavior, or “pirate night” where family members dress down and eat with their hands. If the weather’s nice enough, you can head out and picnic instead. Just as inexpensive as eating at home, but even more special.
Cut Costs on Clothes Toys
It can hurt to spend hard-earned money on clothes and toys that you know your kids will outgrow in just a few months anyway. But it won’t hurt so much when you use one of these tricks.
Swap with other parents
Trading clothes and toys gets more use out of each item and even if what your kids get isn’t brand new, it’s new to them.
Search the sales and secondhand sites
Hitting up sales is always a good idea, as is buying clothes at the end of the season for next year (just make sure to get clothes big enough for a year down the road). You can also check out brick-and-mortar stores with gently used clothes and toys like Once Upon a Child or similar stores online like thredUP. Finally, sites like Ebay, Craigslist, and Free cycle are filled with good deals, if you’re patient enough to find them.
Get your kid involved
Does your child want a new toy, even though they have 1000 already? Next time they ask for something specific say yes, they can have it – as long as they help you out. Together, the two of you can sell old toys online or in a yard sale to raise the money for the new toy. It’s win-win-win: your child gets the new toy, you didn’t have to spend extra money to buy it, and you’re clearing out some space in your home.
Make your own toys
Crafty? Even if you’re not, you can surely make some fun toys yourself that won’t break the bank. Get your kids involved, and you’ve got a built-in activity, too!
Some ideas on how to keep the little ones entertained – and yourself sane – while keeping costs down:
Check out the library
The library isn’t just a great place to check out kid-friendly books and DVDs for free, it’s also got a lot of wonderful kids’ programs. Check with the branches in your area and look for free activities like story time and crafting.
Take advantage of free play areas
The local park and playground is always a go-to, but if you’re looking for something indoors, you’ve got choices. Lots of places have open places for kids to play, like many malls and McDonald’s PlayPlaces.
Get a yearly pass
Taking the whole family to the aquarium, the zoo, and the museum once a year can get expensive, but you can spend your money more wisely by picking the one your family likes most and getting a yearly pass.
Swap Services With Other Moms
Get to know the parents in your community or your kids’ classes and find out what they do well. Then figure out what you do well and offer to barter services. Arranging a trade is a great way to share skills and keep cash in your pocket.
Many parents form informal groups to take turns babysitting. In a big group, you can keep track of babysitting privileges by using tokens. Every time you babysit for someone else, you get a token. Every time you use babysitting services, you spend one of your tokens.
You can always cut your children’s hair yourself, but if that’s not your forte, this is another service you can barter for.
If you don’t have skills behind the lens, never fear, you can surely find a shutterbug in your network. They can take your kids’ yearly and holiday pictures so you don’t need to spend money on photos at JCPenney or Walmart. Then look for coupons for Vistaprint or Shutterfly for prints and cards.
These are just the start, but don’t be afraid to think big – if you have something valuable to offer, you may be able to do complete or partial trade for bigger services like dental care.