Money Saving Ideas for Families
I'm sure everyone would welcome a break every now and then, especially when it comes to saving some of their hard earned money! Since raising a family means that sometimes every penny counts, here are some simple ideas that may work in your household like they have in ours.
I am a HUGE fan of online shopping! I don't have to pack a million things [i.e. - diaper bag/wipes/food/snacks/toys/the kitchen sink] and then fight my son to sit in his car seat, and then hunt for parking, lug all of said necessary items out with me (as if I'm going on a week long safari -- the handful of times that I do try and act like I know what I'm doing and run into the store without the diaper bag, Baby G has had blow out after blow out on me, and I'm done pretending like its no big deal - I need the diaper bag, in case of [inevitable] emergency.) yada yada yada.... You know the drill.
Online shopping means my nursing tank top and pajama shorts are totally acceptable "shopping attire" AND odds are that I will find a coupon or promo code or even an online only deal that will save me more money than if I went to the actual brick and mortar. This includes small businesses. Simply go to google and type in "Papa Johns Promo Code" and you can thank me for taking care of dinner tonight :) (Its Saturday night folks, live a little). Really though, this works for most stores. There are several sites out there with codes for you to try.
Besides supporting your own local economy, you often times can save a bundle on locally grown organic produce. It takes less to transport it to you, which often times also means that its fresher. Bonus points if you grow your own! Seeds are super cheap, and if your kids are old enough get them involved and teach them about cultivating a garden. Some of my favorite memories growing up, were of when my mom would drive my brother and I out to the local U-PIC farms and we'd try and find the best strawberries, tomatos, peppers, onions, eggplant, herbs and sometimes even broccoli in the fields. It was fun, we learned what it took for food to go from the farm to the table, and if we were lucky, the little market stand would even blend their own fresh strawberry shakes right there on the site - and they were THE BEST! Yummmmm...
Save on Cleaning Supplies
With little ones and animals running around my house all day, I'm bound to end up cleaning up after someone's mess. That being said, I'm also pretty aware of the cleaning supplies we use and whether they're safe to be around or not. With very little research, I've figured out how to mix vinegar, water, (sometimes baking soda) and essential oils together and can now make some of my own cleaners. They safer for my family and better for the environment. Oh, and did I mention they cost pennies to make? You might not think of it initially, but under your kitchen sink and in the closet, all of those cleaning supplies add up.
If You Use Credit Cards...
Make sure you have ones that pay you back! Whether its hotel points, air miles (think future family vacations), a percentage of cash back, or even extra savings discount off the top of your total at the register... I'm not a big fan of credit cards or debt, but if we're going to use them, we might as well make sure they're giving us back some kind of benefit.
Taking it Back to the Good Old Days.
Do some some research to see what your local community offers in the way of activities. You'd probably be surprised to find a variety of free things your family can participate in, which means savings on entertainment. Have a family game night. Let the kids invite a friend over to participate in the fun and games. Sleep overs. Riding bikes around the local park. Arts and crafts. Cooking a meal together. The memories will last longer because you're investing your time in them, and gives you guys something to look forward to together at the end of the week or once/twice a month, whenever you guys plan it out.
I'm a list making maven. I have all kinds of lists on my phone. Menus, To Do Lists, Shopping Lists... You name it, and if its on my radar at all, I'm probably planning it out somewhere already. Besides keeping me sane, it helps me focus and plan and prioritize - which are all important for our family budget. With that being said, End of Season deals are sometimes the best opportunity to take advantage of the basement bottom dollar prices you'll find. So what do I do when summer sales are at their peak and all the new fall flannels are coming out in stores? I buy what I need for next year, and maybe the season after that. That way, I'm able to dress my kids in high quality, name brand clothing for less than what I'd pay at Kmart. Swim trunks, UV protective swim shirts, hats, sandals - the whole outfit for under $10 and we live in Miami, so yes they will all be put to good use. I scored a fantastic deal on my baby's convertible car seat by shopping Babies R Us bi-annual Trade in Event. You can trade in any baby item for a coupon thats good for 25% off. If you stack that with an ongoing sale, you can save a ton on some otherwise pricey items. The same concept can be applied to the grocery store and when I plan out our meals. I try to go for whats in season, local and in bulk to get the extra savings. Costco is amazing for many staples, as is my new love affair with all things Trader Joes. I obviously know when its almost time for another one of my kid's birthday parties, and will usually have a list sometimes a month or more in advance with items that I know I'm going to need so that if I see a sale come up, I can scoop up those extra savings. Gift shopping is another way to apply this idea. If I see something that I know would be the perfect gift for someone and it happens to be on sale, I buy it and put it away in a designated box so that when their birthday/xmas/anniversary/house warming/baby shower/etc rolls around, all I have to do is wrap it up and give it to them.
*Pro Tip - Amazon: When shopping on Amazon, if you find something you love but don't necessarily need it RIGHT NOW, you can leave it in your cart or hit "Save for Later" and they will notify you if the price changes. I've saved a bundle on all sorts of things, including some of our Subscribe & Save staples for our home. If you don't have an Amazon Prime account yet, TRUST ME - its totally worth it. Free 2 Day shipping, and you can sign up for Amazon Family for free, to get extra deep discounts (think sometimes 40-60% off) on big things like baby diapers and wipes, baby food and formula, laundry detergent, paper goods like TP, etc. Its FREE to try out for 30 Days, and if decide you hate it, you can cancel super easy with no jumping through hoops or having some crazy penalty. Side Note - I've seriously never heard anyone who has Amazon Prime say that they don't love it. Welcome to the cult. lol
Speaking of Buying In Bulk...
Shop smart, and don't buy up the whole store JUST because "its a good deal". Some people get caught up in the excitement of saving, that they end up wasting money on things that go bad before they use them. Know what your family uses, and go from there. When in doubt, stick to non perishable items like toilet paper - you're going to use it and its not going to expire before you get there.
There are so many sites out there now that offer amazing deals on all kinds of cool stuff. This sort of ties into the online shopping and planning ahead that I mentioned earlier. Sites like Zulily are where I've gotten amazing deals on things for my sons, mom, the home, and even gifts (to put away for later). Other sites like ThredUp where you can find amazingggg deals on new or gently used name brand clothes. Theres even a section for "new with tags", and its a great place to find wonderful deals on clothes for the kids (since they grow out of everything so fast anyway!) and maternity clothes - [primarily how I found them, because I wanted to burn the one pair of pants that I was able to justify paying for just so that I could only wear them for 3 months and never fit into again. Maternity and fashion were two words that I didn't see going together, because I couldn't afford $145 maternity jeans or the $60+ nice blouses for work.... until I found ThredUp. Groupon is another pretty cool local deals site. I was able to score some Smashing Pumpkins tickets on there for my hubby on the low low and he was a happy camper to see them live. Woot is another cool "deal of the day" type of site that offers crazy deals on a random assortment of things. The other day I saw some really nice bed linens for all sizes (Queen+King included) for $19. You can see the reviews and what other people have said after trying out the items for themselves and sometimes find some really awesome deals. Anyway, you get the idea. With a little bit of research, you can find the sites that work for you.
What are some of the ways you and your family have been able to save money?