10 Things Parents Can Do to Save on Their Monthly Family Budget
You thought budgeting was hard when you lived alone. Now you have a small army of miniature humans to care for and money seems to fly out the window faster than it comes in.
To maximize your income and save on your monthly budget, try a few of these tricks on for size.
1. Cut Coupons
Contrary to what you might have heard, cutting coupons is not a major life choice or lifestyle change. “You wouldn’t believe it, but I’m a couponer now,” is the common admission from those who turn to coupons for savings.
Coupons have gone out of style, but they’re slowly regaining popularity because of a simple fact: they help you save money.
When you cut coupons, you’re not just getting two for the price of one, you’re making a plan as to what you are going to buy when you visit the store.
You have specific items you are looking for and will be less likely to veer off track from your objective.
You can plan your meals around coupon deals, adding variety to your menu and structure to your meal-planning.
If it’s not on sale, on a coupon, or something you use every day, don’t buy it. You have a new mantra to live by when shopping for food and household goods.
2. Dine In, Not Out
Taking your family out to dinner isn’t a crime. But ordering pizza one night, heading out to the local family restaurant two nights later and getting Chinese takeout on Friday all adds up.
It might take some planning, but limiting your “eating out” budget to once a week, or even once a month, can drastically help your budget. For the price of two meals outside the home, you could reasonably buy groceries for a whole week.
3. Utilize Subscription Services
What do you find yourself buying over and over again? Whether you are out of dog food or diapers, you’re always running back to the store, even when you thought your shopping was completed for the week.
You can sign up for a subscription service, such as the option offered by Amazon, and get products delivered right to your doorstep at regular intervals.
You’ll not only save on gas driving to the store, but you’ll also be less tempted to add a few unnecessary items to your total purchase while you’re there.
If you subscribe to video streaming services like Netflix, pass on the cable subscription movie. Take advantage of the subscription services you pay for. If you don’t watch much live television, consider whittling down your bills and canceling cable altogether.
4. Shop at Thrift Stores
Your kids grow fast – so fast that the brand new wardrobe you just purchased will be obsolete in six months or less, either due to growth or worn-out from usage. Save yourself a bundle and locate a thrift store near your home.
“Like” their page on Facebook or sign up for their mailing list.
Many thrift stores have 50 percent off days, accentuating their already low prices. While you might not always find the exact item you’re looking for in the size you need, it’s worth a try.
A two dollar shirt is always a better option than a fifteen dollar shirt, especially for gently used clothing with no stains. If you don’t have thrift stores near you, shop for used children’s clothing on eBay.
5. Use Recyclable Items
It’s time to clean your bathroom and you use half a roll of paper towels to clean up the mess your kids left behind.
You could simply grab an old facecloth instead and avoid cutting into paper products supplies that you’re only going to throw away.
Always attempt to use a recyclable item in place of a disposal item. Purchase plastic dishware for your kids – don’t use paper plates.
6. Change Your Tax Withholding
If you normally get a giant tax return, you have been loaning the government your money interest-free over the past year. Wouldn’t you rather have those funds up front so that you can avoid debt and maintain a higher standard of living?
Talk to your employer about changing your tax exemption status so that you get higher paychecks throughout the year rather than a lump sum from your tax return that you’ll be tempted to spend on frivolities.
7. Fix It, Don’t Throw It Out
If a button falls off your favorite shirt, don’t despair. You don’t HAVE to dispose of it just yet. Learn to fix things instead of tossing them out with the garbage. Buy a needle and thread so that you can repair clothing and preserve coats, hats and the like.
Make sure you have tools on hand – like a hammer, nails, screws and screwdrivers – so that you can address small problems that arise in your home and do your best to be Mr. or Mrs. Fix-It instead of adding to the local landfill.
8. Reduce Utility Usage
There are so many ways you can cause your electricity, heating and water bills to drop. Don’t wash your bathroom towel after each individual use. You’re using it to dry off your clean body, right?
Reuse it and clothes that you only wore for a brief period of time during the day.
In the kitchen, rinse and dry plates that only had a few sandwich crumbs. Don’t take up needless space in the dishwasher.
Make each family member use one drinking cup per day, rinsing it when needed. Turn down the heat when you leave and take advantage of natural sunlight and turn off the lamps.
9. Don’t Pay for Haircuts
If you only need a slight trim, don’t pay to see a hairdresser. Cut your hair on your own, or enlist the help of a friend or relative. For your children, buy a set of hairdresser scissors and a pair of clippers.
Watch videos online to teach yourself how to give them professional-looking haircuts. The first few sessions might be difficult, but over time you can hone your skills and save hundreds of dollars per year.
10. Become an Expert at Free Fun
There’s so many free or low-cost entertainment options in your community – you just have to know where to look. Get involved at your local library and bring your children to story-time sessions and play groups.
Some libraries even offer discounted passes to museums. Make friends with like-minded parents who want to expose their children to new experiences without breaking the bank.
Each one of these suggestions are ideas that you can take action on right now in order to save money immediately.
By this time next month, you’ll see a lot more wiggle room in your budget and you can start paying off debt, saving money, or have extra cash on hand to take a vacation. You can use a title loan calculator to help.