In this economy we need to be thinking about ways to save money collectively, as a family. Not just mom and dad cutting back but having discussions with the children on how the whole family can be more frugal or cut out expenses completely. More often than not when you sit down with your children and discuss saving money as a family and they feel included in this decision they will want to help. Here are just a few ways you can get started saving money as a family.
1. Have a Monthly Budget – Sit down and list all your monthly bills and see if there are any that you can cut out. Call your cell phone providers, internet providers, and cable television providers to see if there is a better plan you can change to. Sometimes changing companies is the best move. Call around and check prices with car, home, and life insurance companies and make sure you are getting the best deal. If you don’t have them set up with the same company they offer discounts for bundling these plans together. If you have credit cards look into getting a new card with no interest for a year or a lower interest rate and transfer them over. Pick the long term debts with the highest interest rates and start paying extra with whatever you can to get them paid of faster. When you get everything listed out and see what money is left over per month then you need to budget the grocery, gas, and spending monies for the family. This is where everyone’s participation comes in.
2. Bag Lunches and Morning Coffee – Try to limit going out to lunch to once a week and take a bag lunch to work or school. Bring coffee from home; if you are really into the Latte’s then maybe you can invest in a new coffee maker at home because it would save you money in the long run.
3. Hand Me Downs and Resale Shops – For younger children or even older if the clothes are still in good shape, especially if there are older siblings and cousins, hand me downs are great. My daughter was the oldest cousin and we often passed down her clothes and my son was one of the younger boy cousins and he had some nice things passed to him. There are also some really wonderful resale shops depending on where you live. We live in a large city and in the more affluent parts of town they have clothes that still have the tags on them. These shops won’t receive anything that looks torn up or stained. They also have a new resale shop for teens called Plato’s Closet in a lot of towns which have all the latest brands and styles. For babies, women, teens, and girls there is a lot of selection. There are a few nice men’s resale shops but not as many and the ones that are really lacking are the boys that are between baby stage and teens. I guess they just wear them out too fast!
4. Used Appliances – Many times we have purchased used washers and dryers. They come with different warranties depending on where you buy them. Recently we found a shop that offered a three year warranty which is outstanding. We have gotten them in the past with a year warranty. They normally last us on an average of four or five years and sometimes longer. You should always look into the benefits of fixing your current appliance verses buying a new one. It’s very often not a huge problem. My daughter and I looked up how to fix a problem on our washer via the internet one time and fixed it ourselves because it was such a minor issue. It looked like a catastrophe but it turned out to be easy.
5. Craigslist – Many times you can find used bikes, lawn mowers, furniture, and you can just about name it on Craigslist. It never hurts to look there first before going out and purchasing new items.
6. Always Buy On Sale – Try to go clothes shopping during the sales events. The department stores are always having sales. Back to school, Labor Day, Black Friday, Christmas, Easter, Memorial Day, and on and on. Go to the sale racks first before you even look at the others. So many times I’ve found wonderful items if I’m just willing to take a little more time and look. There are often coupons that come in the mail or in the newspaper that will save you a lot of money so be on the look out.
7. Kids Eat Free Nights – When you are planning a night out with the family look for restaurants that have a night set aside for kids to eat free. There are quite a few that offer that these days. Also look for coupons online and in the newspaper for your favorite restaurants. This can save you tons of money.
8. Buy in Bulk – If you don’t have a large family often times you can’t justify buying in bulk. Even though I have a smaller family there are some things we use a lot of. You don’t have to do all of your shopping there but if there is something you go through quickly in your family it could be worth your while. Many times they have good prices on children’s clothing and especially socks, underwear, and pajamas too.
9. Frequent the Public Library – Did you know you can check out movies at the public library? They have many wonderful family movies there, old and new. They have a nice section for the kiddos to browse and pick out books and comfy couches for you if you want to sit down and check out a particular book or just read a magazine or newspaper. They have computers and often have events for families. If you haven’t been to your public library in a while you might just want to check it out. Instead of going to those pricey bookstores and having books that end up sitting around cluttering up the house. You’ll be surprised how many movies they have too, and if you don’t see the movie you are looking for you can get online and order it from another library.
10. Make Lists – Start out your week with meal plans and always have a list for grocery shopping. Don’t go to the store hungry and stick to the list. Having the meals planned out will make it easy to buy only what you need for those meals, breakfast, and lunch.
Another time that a list is important is when it’s time to go Christmas shopping. Write down everyone you need to buy for and put a dollar amount that you would like to spend. Write down gifts that are in that dollar range. Then add it up and get cash. Put it in an envelope marked Christmas shopping and don’t go over that budget. Credit cards make it easier to spend money we don’t have and the bills last long after Christmas!
There are many ways to simply cut back and not cut out completely. Think of all the holidays like Halloween, Easter, and Valentine’s Day that you spend money on each year. Obviously you can’t buy Easter candy and Valentine’s candy at the after sales but you can get some cards, baskets, or stuffed animals. Halloween is another holiday that you can save money on if you try your hand at homemade costumes. And I don’t mean sewing them! I’m no Suzie Homemaker myself! There are so many easy costumes you can make that don’t require any sewing and many times you have things around the house to make them with. There are many excellent sites online that have great ideas for costumes.
The first thing to do is sit down and see where your money is going. Many times we don’t even realize where our money is actually going. If you don’t have a budget then things can get out of hand quickly. Everyone in the family can help to cut costs somewhere and every little bit helps!
Sara is an active nanny as well as an active freelance writer. She is a frequent contributor of http://www.nannypro.com/.