Having a family is exciting, fun, rewarding…and expensive! Between extracurriculars, preschool tuition, child care, food, saving for college and everything else your kids and family need, the costs add up and it can be difficult to be frugal.
The good news: there's a number of simple, actionable tricks that you can use every day to cut costs without changing your lifestyle at all (yes, you can still buy your morning latte!).
With the help of three budget-conscious bloggers, we've put together six money-saving tips that cover everything from groceries to clothing to sports expenses. So no matter where you're trying to save, we have a trick for you.
Save on your extracurriculars.
"Kids want to try out everything, but activities can be so expensive," says Jacyln, founder of Coffee, Pancakes & Dreams. "Before you sign up your kids for a new activity, always see if you can do a free trial class." And if there's no free trial available, Jaclyn suggests signing your kids up for a single session or small set of sessions to let them test out the waters before you make a bigger financial commitment.
Tommi, founder of The Momma Chronicles, also added that a number of options exist to get your extracurriculars at a discount. "Groupon is one," she says. "But for local activities, Parks and Recreation can offer assistance. Don't be afraid to reach out for help!"
And saving on extracurriculars doesn't stop at your kids activities—you can definitely save on your own classes and passes as well! As much as we all love our brand name workout classes, try swapping your SoulCycle pass for the spin class at your local rec center because it's likely a fraction of the price.
Buy used clothing and sports equipment.
Thrifting for clothes has had a major resurgence in the past few years, because it's environmentally friendly and means you can find everything from fun, unique pieces to the name brands you love (like Lululemon and Zara) for cheap. Next time you need to go shopping for new clothes for yourself or your family, consider visiting your local thrift store, but if you're not a fan of physical thrifting, you can shop all from the comfort of your home through apps like Poshmark, thredUP and Facebook Marketplace.
Other than clothes, sports equipment like bikes, hockey sticks and baseball mitts are also a big expenditure. Jaclyn shared that her tip to save on activities that require lots of equipment is to buy used. "Check Facebook Marketplace, with friends, and even local used sporting goods stores."
Swap a day out for a day in.
An easy way to cut back on spending is by planning a fun day at home, rather than having an expensive day out. Going to the movies, sports games, museums, the zoo, all come with a pricey ticket. Not to mention, the inevitable "Mom! I'm hungry!", which leads you to paying for an overpriced meal or snacks.
It's fully possible to plan an enjoyable day at home at a low cost (and during a pandemic, it may be your only choice). For example, plan a board game night, pick a movie to watch on Netflix, cook a yummy homemade meal together, or find a DIY craft project to do as a family. If your kids want to get outside, try a backyard picnic, backyard sports day, or even camp out in your yard overnight.
Many of those activities are either low cost or free, plus you're saving on gas money and not dining out.
Get familiar with online coupons.
There are a number of browser extension apps that auto-apply coupons and discount codes during online check-outs, without you having to do a thing. There's nothing better than unexpectedly saving money, right?
If you're looking to install the extensions, some favorites to use are Honey and Ibotta, which together cover everything from grocery, clothing, big-box, pet stores, and more.
And even if you're not shopping online, you can still coupon. Like many families, you might be completely digital and don't receive a physical newspaper anymore, but stores are still offering discounts, which can typically be accessed through their website via online flyers. Carving out a few minutes before every shopping trip to check online can definitely save you a few more dollars!
Re-evaluate your grocery strategy (while still eating healthy!).
Specialty health food stores are notoriously expensive, but it's the price you have to pay for high quality food, right? Wrong. You can actually purchase many of the same (or similar alternative) nutrient-dense, clean, and healthy items and brands at your regular grocery store too.
Jess, the founder of Roots Out West, shared that shopping at budget food stores is key in her family keeping their grocery bill manageable. "We can find affordable, fresh produce and all the ingredients we need for our meal plan there."
Jaclyn shared that her trick to saving on groceries is cooking with seasonal ingredients, because those tend to be cheaper than out-of-season products. Jacyln, like Jess, also agrees that meal planning is the way to go to limit the weekly grocery bill. "When you stick to a meal plan, you're less likely to eat out," Jaclyn adds. "And it also means less trips to the grocery store."
Sell your old stuff.
We've all got old, unused stuff lying around the house collecting dust. Rather than just tossing those items out next time you Marie Kondo your place, consider putting those items up for sale. Sure, this isn't technically saving you money, but you're earning yourself a little extra income to put towards activities, new clothing, and more!
There are tons of great online options to post your items, including Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, and thredUP. If you're a first time seller, a couple pro-tips are to cross-post, post on niche sites (for example, if you're selling clothes, Poshmark is a great place to do so!), and price competitively.