We all know how expensive it can be to have kids. Babies require so many special items like diapers, wipes, and formula. Older kids rack up expenses for their many extracurricular activities. Even when they are almost ready to leave the nest, young adults need money for college.
As a parent, it can be overwhelming to figure out how to pay for all the things your kids need while still caring for all of your other financial needs. Even if you have a budget, you may still worry that you are spending too much.
Fortunately, there are ways you can save money as a parent, and you don’t have to come up with complicated plans to do so. There are simple things you can do to start spending less and saving money. Read on for seven dead simple money-saving hacks for parents.
1. Get Next Year’s Clothes During the Off-Season
Whether you have a little one who is growing so rapidly that you have to buy new clothes every month or an older kid who demands the latest in fashion, kids’ clothing can get expensive. There are several ways you can save on clothes, including hitting up consignment shops and creating a hand-me-down pool with your friends and neighbors.
One of the best ways to save money on new clothes is to shop during the off-season. Get next year’s summer clothes at the end of summer and next year’s winter clothes at the end of winter. If you time it right, you can often get some pretty deep discounts if you can find clearance items with an additional percentage off.
You can often get your kids’ brand-name clothes for a quarter of the price. The only caveat here is that you have to be good at predicting your kids’ future sizes. If your kid has a significant growth spurt and skips a size, you could lose money.
2. Save on Food
As the saying goes, “Kids will eat you out of house and home.” Whether you have little ones or teenagers, you probably find yourself spending more on food than you’d like. There are many ways to save money on eating at home and dining out.
Those tiny jars of baby food can get expensive. It is surprisingly easy to make your own baby food and save quite a bit. You can save even more by making batches of baby food and freezing them or making baby food out of the food you are already eating.
You can also save on baby formula, even if you use organic formula. You can buy in bulk and use coupons to save. In some cases where a particular formula is required, your insurance may help with some costs.
Cook at home as often as possible. When you do go out, try to find restaurants offering buy one, get one deals or where kids eat free.
If your kids eat a lot of snacks, buy in bulk when you can. Cut out soft drinks and juice and only drink on special occasions. Water is healthier anyway. Encourage your kids to eat more fruits and veggies, which are more nutritious and cheaper than most junk foods.
3. Limit Extracurriculars
Extracurriculars can get extremely expensive. There are annual fees, equipment and uniform expenses, travel costs for competitions, and more. If you have multiple kids doing multiple activities, you may be spending more each month than on your mortgage.
The best way to save is to limit your kids’ activities. Let each kid choose his or her favorite activity and focus on that. This process will have the added benefit of giving your kids more time to play and spend with family and friends.
4. Reuse, Reuse, Reuse
Reuse everything. Clothes are a given, but if you have the storage, save everything your older kids have to reuse with your younger kids. Baby equipment (other than car seats, which generally expire after six to ten years) can be reused. Also, save sports equipment, toys, books, and anything else that’s in good condition.
5. Do Your Christmas Shopping Throughout the Year
Christmas shopping can get expensive, especially if you wait until the last minute. Get an idea of what your kids will want throughout the year and watch for sales. Big-ticket items often go on sale around holidays like Labor Day and Memorial Day.
You may have to start the first year by saving for the next year. It may take you a couple of years to get into this routine, but you’ll be surprised at how much you save once you do.
6. Save on Entertainment
There are many ways to save on entertainment for your family. Many cities have lots of free events and festivals throughout the year. If your family likes to go to the movies, many theaters offer cheaper tickets during matinées and discount nights. You can sometimes find discounts on tickets to other locations or purchase an annual pass. Some museums have free admission nights throughout the year as well.
If your family likes to travel, you can save by traveling during the off-season. There are also many programs and apps that help you find great deals on flights, hotels, entertainment, etc. Many popular destinations also offer special deals throughout the year.
7. Save on College Expenses
College is one of the most significant expenses you will face as a parent. Many of us start stressing about it before our kids are out of diapers. One of the best ways to save on college is to find as many scholarships as you can.
Even if your kids don’t have the best grades or participate in several extracurricular activities, there’s still many scholarships available from sites like Bold and WiseGeek for just about anyone. Many of these scholarships go unclaimed each year.
Having kids does not have to wreck your budget. You can give your kids a fun, engaging childhood while still saving money. By following these simple tips, you can do the things you want without spending more than you need.