No matter what your budget is, saving money is always a good thing.
Once kids showed up, I quickly realized that budgeting is a whole new game. There are so many new expenses that come with kids. I also quickly realized that I was wasting money that I could be spending in better ways. I wanted to be able to spend money on extracurriculars and vacations and be able to put money away for future expenses like college and weddings.
Here are the ways I have found to save extra money and the habits that I had to change to save for those truly important expenses.
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Don’t get me wrong, I love DIY projects. They are a great hobby but not always a great way to save money. There is a time and place for it. I became a little DIY obsessed and what I started to realize was that these “so called” DIY hacks were actually costing me more than just buying the item. Additionally, the store-bought item lasted longer and didn’t require me to invest in all of the materials, not to mention the time.
Always fully price out a DIY project before buying any of the materials and then compare the total to the store-bought item.
I remember in college I use to buy coffee every morning and not just the simple black coffee. I absolutely love lattes and macchiatos. I finally kicked that habit because it is such an expensive one. However, the habit came back once I had kids. Now, I seem to find myself grabbing a fancy drink in the afternoon.
If you can be self-disciplined enough to just break the habit, then good for you. However, I couldn’t go without my lattes. In order to break this habit and save money, we bought an espresso machine. Now, in the afternoon, I can make myself a latte and have it be just as rewarding as going out for one.
Initially we bought a cheap espresso machine and it was hard to use. We didn’t love it and since it was a pain to make a latte, I knew I wouldn’t use it as much and would still end up buying fancy drinks. So, we returned the cheap one and got a really nice espresso machine and it turned out to be such a good financial decision. We use it daily and it is so easy to make amazing drinks. Since we bought it, I haven’t even wanted to get fancy drinks out. In the long run, it will save us a lot of money. While it was pricey up front, I remember the motto “buy it once, buy it for life”.
There is absolutely no reason to ever buy kid books unless you live hours from a library or your library doesn’t have a kid’s section. My kids love to read and I can’t fathom how much money I would have had to shell out for books without a library.
Also, if you buy books then you can only read a limited quantity. I love going to the library every week and picking out new bedtime books for the next week. It is really fun and the trips to the library also further encourage the reader in her.
Passes to Parks and Museums
Don’t get me wrong, going to museums, science exploration places, and parks are fantastic outings to do with your kid. However, you could be wasting money by paying. Many libraries offer free one day passes to these places so check with your local library before you make the trip and pay full price.
Most kids have pretty simple haircuts so they are actually super easy to do at home. YouTube has some fabulous tutorials. I actually also cut my husband’s hair. I learned the same way, YouTube tutorials. By cutting everyone’s hair in the house (except my own) we save a few hundred bucks every year. I may one day try to cut my own hair but I’m not brave enough yet.
Yes, you know who you are. Every time at Target, you swing by the kid’s section and end up leaving with the cutest outfit ever that you just had to buy. Kid’s clothing isn’t as expensive as adult clothing but it adds up fast. And it is also one of the best areas to save money since kids grow fast. This means that they are in and out of clothing before you know it.
Now, if you buy everything new that means quite a lot of money. But if you get hand me downs or used, you could really save a lot. Since kids grow fast, used clothing is usually in really good shape. Join Facebook sale groups, search garage sales or ask friends and family. It isn’t hard to find if you start searching.
Another thing we always try to do is buy the expensive items the year before when they go on sale. For example, I always buy warm socks, jackets, snow suits, and boots when spring arrives. I get 1 or 2 sizes bigger based on the price. A lot of these type of items (even shirts) can be a little big and still fit well.
It saves a lot because we do this for the oldest and then items get passed down. If you have a boy and a girl, then try for gender neutral colors to also be able to pass items down. We have yet to spend more than $50 a year on kid clothing since we have found so many ways to get clothing for free or pay very little.
On the same note as the baby items, I stopped buying toys that would be played with for a day or at best a week. What a waste of money and toys are so expensive. It turns out a lot of parents do this and therefore, you can find a LOT of toys at garage sales. Now we strictly go to garage sales where toys are a few bucks and we let our kids pick out what they want.
Check craigslist under for sale->garage sales to find some great Saturday morning sales. You can even use the map button to see where all of the garage sales are.
Can you imagine your house without all of those packaged kid snacks? Personally, I was sure my kids would starve if I got rid of them. However, they took up an insane amount of the food budget so I decided to try it. We got rid of all “snack” food. No more pretzels, granola bars, fruit snacks, goldfish, etc. After a week, I was shocked that not only did they eat more at meal times but also they started to eat healthier snacks.
You see their new snack choices were now real food from the fridge, which is a lot healthier. Since their snack options were only real food, they didn’t eat them unless they were actually hungry. We cut out so much sugar from the kids’ diets that moods in the house improved. And we were saving $40-50 a week in grocery bills because they were only eating healthy snacks and healthy snacks aren’t that expensive, just think a banana is 19 cents.
I know it is so much easier to just grab something on the way home, but that can really add up. I find that it really adds up for us because we don’t plan on eating out and therefore, we overbuy in groceries. We then don’t eat all the groceries and a lot goes bad.
I had to kick this habit fast because it was a lot of money. Now, we meal plan. There are a lot of options, but the main idea is that you buy everything you need for 2 weeks’ worth of dinners and then chop and prep all of the meals on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon. You then place each “prepped” meal into a freezer ziplock bag and freeze it until you want to eat it. This means every day, you simply thaw and cook.
I got a book that gave me the pre-made grocery list for recipes to remove that work also. Meal prepping has been another way we cut out extra spending on groceries because we only buy what we need and remove the work from cooking, so we are less likely to eat out.
I am all for packets with little ones and understand the need for them but you can cut down on how many you use easily. I mean they are so expensive for the amount of food in them.
First, make a smoothie for you and your little one every day. Honestly, your smoothie is probably healthier than the packets and a crazy amount cheaper. Add some spinach or kale for a green boost. I also love to add chia seeds.
If you are worried about the variety they will eat, I have found the cheapest and most successful method is using smoothies or sauces. I always magic bullet their vegetables and add them into the tomato sauce for spaghetti. If there is no sauce, then we still magic bullet the vegetables and mix them into the rice, etc.
I also buy the Trader Joes pesto, which is made with kale and spinach, penne noodles with pesto is my toddler’s favorite meal. I also magic bullet vegetables and put them into their scrambled eggs in the morning.
Pursue extra money Today
Why waste money when you don’t have to? Having extra money can mean going on a vacation or being able to afford piano lessons for your kids. It can also allow you to get out of debt or save up for big expenses later on, like college.
How you decide to spend the money you save is up to you, but knowing how to save it can be tricky. Mom life means new expenses and new areas where we can save. Start looking at those receipts and see where the money is going.
Hopefully by sharing where we save on kid’s books, clothing, snacks, toys and haircuts, you can also find ways to save.
What creatives ways do you use to save money as a mom? Let me know in the comments
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