In case you haven’t noticed, mama…kids aren’t cheap.
The average child costs around $245,000 to raise (not including college). Hey, those tiny Converse sneakers and Montessori toys aren’t going to pay for themselves.
If you are looking for a few easy ways to save money every month, we’ve got your back.
Here are 11 mom and expert proven techniques to save some dollars and cents, and hardly feel the pinch—
1. Sell or trade clothes for you and baby
If you are looking to trade in a few of your oldies (but goodies) for you and your child, check out Poshmark, a website designed to help you sell clothes and buy new designer duds on the cheap.
Other much-loved sites that can help you get children’s clothes at a fraction of the price include eBay (try searching for ‘lots‘—buying items like pajamas in bulk can help you save), ThredUp and Swap.com.
Lots of mamas have also had great success with in-person hauls, so check out local second hand stores for steals on kids’ clothes. They grow so fast, many of the clothes for sale may be brand new, anyway!
You might also try a maternity-clothes swap with a friend who is in her babymaking years, trading wardrobes when one of you is pregnant.
2. Have a mani-pedi party
Skip the pricey salon mani-pedi and opt for a girl’s night instead! Not only will it be more fun, just think of how much green you will save. Yes, you and your friends have our permission to splurge and buy a bottle of the good stuff. 🍸
Just be sure to pick a host that has a baby who’s a heavy sleeper. 😉
3. Order groceries online
Make the most of your Amazon Prime account and do a little grocery shopping online, without a hefty shipping cost. Many local grocers are getting in on the action as well.
Not only will it save you time and effort, it can save you money, too!
For one thing, online shopping means you are saving money on gas. Plus, if you don’t go inside a store, you won’t be able to peruse the many tempting (but unnecessary) offerings throughout the store—that makes it so much easier to stay on budget.
If you are looking for a specific item, it can be much easier to shop around for the best price from the comfort of your couch, too!
If you think ordering groceries online will save you money, you aren’t alone. A 2015 survey found that 36% of online grocery shoppers did it to save moolah. Smart mamas.
If you do decide to go grocery shopping in person, make a list of your must-haves and try your best to stick to it!
4. Cancel a paid subscription or service you rarely use
According to Lena Gott, a CPA and creator of the site What Mommy Does, one of the best ways to save cash is by finding a non-necessity that you won’t miss and send it packing!
“Odds are you’re a busy person—and do you really have time to process all the input that comes into your life? Find that one thing that costs you money that you don’t get absolute happiness out of. Something you probably won’t miss when it’s gone. A magazine you never have time to read? A premium sports channel you never watch?”
5. Hold out for the sale
Have your eye on something you think you can’t live without? Wait for it to go on sale—and try tracking the drop in price with a plug-in like Shoptagr, which allows you to save items and alerts you when the item goes on sale—score!
Your willpower will get a work out and you will feel like you really earned it if you can wait.
The best part? Bagging a bargain lights up the dopaminergic reward centers in your brain like a summer fireworks show, so you definitely won’t feel the pinch here!
If you think you just can’t wait and need a little help checking your impulse to buy, we feel you. Kristina Johnson, accountant and creator of Cents + Order, recommends thinking about the cost of an item in terms of “work-hours.”
“How long did you have to work (or your spouse have to work) to buy what’s in your hand? Look at pair of shoes in your hand and realize you had to deal with grumpy customers or a horrible boss for 4 hours just to afford them. Thinking about purchases in terms of how many hours I put in at work definitely curbs my spending!”
6. Be your own barista
Skipping the daily Starbucks fix and opting to satiate your java jones at home could save you big bucks—in the realm of $35 a month (or $420 every year!). And that’s assuming you are buying a boring old cup of black coffee at Starbucks and not one of their deliciously sinful (and equally pricey) concoctions. Feel free to splurge on much-loved coffees, teas or accessories at the grocer—because these items will still likely be cheaper than buying them on-the-go at your local coffee shop.
After a year or two of savings, you might just have enough dough saved up to buy a new espresso maker…or at least a new mug.
7. Get potlucky
Instead of a monthly moms’ night out, rotate houses withyour gal pals each month and have a potluck instead.
New foods, wine, girl talk, board games, and an excuse to clean the house every now and then? Sign. Us. Up.
8. “Free” is just more fun
Look into free weekend activities for you and the family to enjoy, such as fishing, camping, hiking, biking, the beach, or even window shopping. Even if it’s just a trip to the park to throw a Frisbee, your children will love it just as much as pricier activities.
You will love it even more.
Alternatively, if your family is dying to try a new (but costly) activity, museum, or amusement park, look into annual passes for the family. They pay for themselves quickly and it will give you one more option for a fun weekend event that won’t bring about additional costs.
Plus, many annual passes come with discounts and perks.
Bonus: The luxury of being able to return for “free” means you won’t feel obligated to stay until the inevitable meltdown that will ensue after a long day of fun.
9. Skip the gym
Stacey Rodriguez, author of Secrets to a Successful Single Income Budget and creator of The Soccer Mom Blog touts way cheaper (and more fun) alternatives to hitting the gym. She explains:
“Skip the monthly gym membership fees! Both my husband and I work out daily at home and have gotten awesome results. It’s not important where you workout and you don’t need fancy equipment. What matters most is consistency and just doing it!”
10. Know which products are (much!) cheaper online
Shopping experts note that products such as book and magazines, water filters, and even toilet paper are usually cheaper when purchased online.
“If you only wear your glasses part of the time or aren’t incredibly particular about how they look, definitely save yourself some money by ordering glasses online.”
Try Zenni Optical for glasses ranging from around $7-$30.
11. Eat at home
Food is expensive, mama. Especially convenient food. You could buy the fanciest dinner option at the grocery store and it would still often be cheaper than eating at a restaurant. The savings from eating at home most nights will add up fast!
Plus, if you already make your tot’s lunch for home or school, do the same for yourself! Packing a lunch can lure you away from eating out at lunch, saving you money and providing you with healthier options come lunch time.
You don’t have to spend much time making lunches. Buy everyone in the family the same kind of lunch box (I am currently in love with my convenient set of bento boxes for the whole family) and start an assembly line.
Pack simple and healthy foods, like nuts, carrots, cheese, apple slices, whole grain crackers, and maybe even a little chocolaty treat. Yum!
What’s the key to effectively saving money every month?
Look to the future and try to keep your eye on the long-term goal.
Whether it is paying off student loans (one study showed that the average Millennial mom has $29,452 in student loan debt), saving up for that bed and breakfast you are dying to open, or even that dream European vacation you have been longing for, patience is key.
Every penny saved truly does add up. Every. Single. One.
If you are worried you won’t have the perseverance to hold out until your goal is completely obtained, feel free to splurge every now and again if you think it will keep you on track.
After all, we mamas deserve a little indulgence once in a while.