Instead of a monthly moms' night out, rotate houses with your 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.
Have a mani-pedi party.
Skip the pricy 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'll 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 whose baby is a heavy sleeper. ?
Know which products are (much!) cheaper online.
Shopping experts note that products such as books and magazines, water filters and even toilet paper are usually cheaper to buy 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 to $30.
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 likely be cheaper than eating at a restaurant. When you make your own dinners most nights, the savings 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 will save you money, give you healthier options, and even free up part of your lunch hour—instead of driving or walking to a restaurant or waiting in line at the company caf, you can spend that 10 or 20 minutes reading, taking a walk or even meditating for an afternoon pick-me-up.
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) and start an assembly line.
Pack simple and healthy foods, like nuts, carrots, apple slices, whole grain crackers and hummus, maybe even a little chocolaty treat. Yum!
What's the key to effectively saving money every month?
Set long-term goals and stay focused on them.
Whether you want to pay off student loans (one study shows the average student debt for millennial moms is $29,452), save up for that B&B you're dying to open, or take that European vacation you've been longing for, keep your eye on the prize. What will it feel like to pay off that loan? How will you feel when you can call yourself a small-business owner? What will you see when you get to Rome? Feel that feeling and no impulse buy will compare.
Every penny saved truly does add up. Every. Single. One.
If you're worried you won't have the perseverance to hold out until you've achieved your goal 100%, create space in your budget to splurge every now and again. For some people, planning for occasional mini-splurges helps them stay on track and keeps that feeling of deprivation at bay.
After all, we mamas deserve a little indulgence once in a while.
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, shopping online saves you 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 on display, making it easier to stick to your budget.
If you're looking for a specific item, it can be much easier to shop around from the comfort of your couch, too.
When you shop in person, the #1 tip is to simply make a list and stick to it.
Be your own barista.
Skipping your daily Starbucks fix and making coffee at home could save you big bucks—we're talking on the order of $35 a month (or $420 every year!). And that's assuming you're buying a boring old cup of black coffee at Starbucks. Feel free to splurge on much-loved coffees, teas or accessories at the grocery store, because these items will still likely be cheaper than buying each beverage ready-made at a cafe.
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.
Cancel a paid subscription or service you rarely use.
One of the best ways to save cash is to find a non-necessity you won't miss and ditch it, says CPA Lena Gott, creator of the site What Mommy Does.
“Odds are you're abusy 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," she says. “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?"
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 track the drop in price with a plug-in like Shoptagr, which lets you save items and alerts you when they go on sale—score!
Your willpower will get a workout and you'll feel like you really earned it if you can wait.
The best part? Bagging a bargain lights up the 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 will your spouse haveto 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 four hours just to afford
them. Thinking about purchases in terms of how many hours I put in at work
definitely curbs my spending!"
Try free activities + save on big-ticket trips.
Look into free weekend activities for you and the family to enjoy, such as camping, hiking, biking, going to 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'll love it even more.
Alternatively, if your family is dying to try a new (but costly) activity, museum or amusement park, research annual family passes. They pay for themselves quickly, and having them on hand will give you one more option for a fun weekend event that won't rack up extra 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.
Skip the gym.
A power walk, jog or bike ride is a great excuse to get outside. Or you can turn to YouTube and sweat in your living room with free, high-production-quality channels like FitnessBlender, Yoga with Adriene and Jessica Smith TV.
Stacey Rodriguez, the author of Secrets to a Successful Single Income Budget and creator of The Soccer Mom Blog, is a fan of cheaper (and more fun) alternatives to the gym. She explains:
“Skip the monthly gymmembership fees! Both my husband and I work out daily at home and have gotten
awesome results. It's not important where you work out, and you don't need fancy
equipment. What matters most is consistency and just doing it!"
Sell or trade clothes for you and baby.
Have a closet full of clothes that, let's face it, you just never wear? Check out Poshmark to make money on the items you never wear... 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 secondhand stores for deals 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 friends, trading wardrobes when one of you is pregnant.
In case you haven't noticed, mama… kids aren't cheap.
It costs about $245,000 to raise a child, not including college. Hey, those tiny Converse sneakers and Montessori toys aren't going to pay for themselves.
If you're looking for a few easy ways to save money every month, we've got your back.