Life gets a bit more complicated when you’ve got children to feed and take care of, and saving money is often a key issue for parents. If you’re feeling the pinch and wondering how to save money, check out our resources on saving money as a family. Frugal living teaches children about budgeting and planning, and it’s often more environmentally friendly too. Here are some ideas to get you started.
Budgeting and Financial Decision Making for Parents
The first and most important step to saving money is to make an accurate budget. Make a spreadsheet with all your expenses, including cash and grocery money. Knowing where your money is going is the first step to taking control of how you spend it. Once you’ve worked out your budget, ask yourself what things are a priority to your family. If you’ve got to have new clothes for work, budget money for that by saving in other areas. Pay off credit card debt and student loans as quickly as possible. By determining your overall strategy and priorities you’ll know where to focus your energy to make the most savings as a family.
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Save Money on Your Family Home and Car
Re-evaluate your housing and transportation costs. Trading in a large vehicle for a smaller one can help save you lots of money in fuel. Similarly, smaller living space is less expensive to heat, clean, and furnish. By reducing your driving time each week you’ll save money on fuel and maintenance, so consider carpooling, cycling, or working from home. When it’s time to plan a family vacation, consider exploring your local area instead of flying to an exotic destination.
Getting Children Involved in Saving Money
Children can be introduced to the concepts of budgeting and financial decision-making by giving them a small, fixed allowance each week. Older children can also help by calculating the grocery bill as you shop or assisting with meal planning. A wonderful resource for thrift-minded parents is The Tightwad Gazette [Villard, 1998] by Amy Dacyczyn. Amy offers a wealth of tips and encouragement, ranging from practical ways to save money on your grocery bill to ingenious ways to fix things with everyday objects. One of her best tips is to ask yourself whether a purchase is a consumable item or one that you will use for many years. Buy consumable items cheaply, but buy the best quality you can afford for purchases that you will keep for many years, such as a dining room table or bed.
More Money-Saving Tips for Parents
- Eat at home, and avoid buying prepared foods.
- Buy second-hand when possible, especially for babies and young children.
- Line dry clothes. Indoor clothes drying rack can save you lots of money on your electricity bill, even in the winter.
- Use cloth diapers.
Whether you decide to make a small change by buying more second-hand clothes or a big change by moving house, it’s possible to save money while raising a family. By budgeting, prioritizing spending, checking out alternative housing and transportation and teaching children about saving you can save money as a family.