As we all know, raising children is costly in both time and money. So, you’ll need to have a plan to pinpoint the spending and saving strategies that will work best for your family.
Budgeting as a family doesn’t have to be hard. There are many easy ways to budget as a parent; you just need to get creative.
Here are 10 Easy Ways to Budget as a Parent:
1. Keep a Change Jar
Most parents preach to their kids about saving their change in a piggy bank, but it’s a great way to have a piggy jar for the family! Not only are you teaching your children how to save, but you’ll be amazed by how much you can save in a year.
Bonus Tip: Use the piggy bank idea to start saving to a savings account as well. You can determine your saving ratio by figuring your expenses and income for a couple of months and see what is left over and decide on a percentage of that to have transferred to your savings account.
2. Wardrobe Budgeting
Clothes are a big expense for parents-especially new parents. Since babies grow so fast the first year, avoid buying new baby clothes. Instead, shop at consignment stores and when they outgrow their outfits, sell them back and use that money to buy the next size up.
If you insist on investing in new clothes, buy clothes at end of season and a size bigger. My mom used to do that when we were little when she became a single mom.
Bonus Tip: Try “reshuffling” where you buy a couple of bottoms in neutral colors that you can pair up with a variety of shirts so you can come up with different outfits because of different combinations of colors and prints.
3. Get Creative With Groceries
- Meal Prep: Save both time and money by creating a weekly, biweekly, or monthly meal prep. This helped my family get a handle on overspending when it came to groceries.
- Use grocery lists: Making a grocery list cuts down on time spent at the store, and impulse buying. especially helpful if you do an aisle by aisle list.
- Use Coupon Apps: There are so many money saving coupon apps out there these days (like ibotta), that pay you for grocery shopping.
- Home lunches: School aged kids lunches can get expensive if buying from the school. Use the meal prep method and prep their lunches for the week and have them take cold lunch.
Bonus Tip: One way to cut your food bill is to limit the number of visits to restaurants. However, when you do go, a smart tip is to order menu items that offer greater value for your money. Example: Sandwiches and some appetizers cost less per portion compared to dishes like steaks. Remember, eating out is a form of entertainment to spend time with family and friends, so don’t go with the attitude to get stuffed!
4. Cut Down High Interest Rates on Cards: Roseland Associates
- Ask for a Lower Interest Rate
One way to budget is to look at your credit card debt. Creditors are sometimes willing to lower interest rates if you have always paid on time or have only missed one or two payments.
- Transfer the Balance to a Low-Interest Rate Credit Card
If they won’t lower the interest rate, look for an interest-free for 12 months card. That may be what you need to get a handle on your debt. If you don’t have enough available credit to transfer an entire balance to a single credit card, even moving some of it will lighten the load.
- Ask for Help
Depending on your debt, asking for help from places like Roseland Associates may be the answer. Debt management can be tricky and stressful if you do it alone.
Bonus Tip: Some of the best balance transfer rates are on reward credit cards.
5. Limit Trips to the Store
Too many trips to the store can add up to wasted gas, extra mileage on your car, and impulsive purchases. Plan a monthly trip to the store to buy non-perishable grocery items, and perishable items biweekly. If something runs out before your next scheduled trip, find a way to manage without it.
Bonus Tip: If you run out of meat before your trip, eat a vegetarian meal instead-it’s good for your health to go meatless one dinner a week anyway!
6. Assess Needs vs Wants
The difference between wants and needs is quite simple. Need: something you have to have. Want: something you would like to have.
Needs can be defined as a necessity to be able to live and work. These are recurring expenses that are your main source of your paycheck like, mortgage payment, rent or car payment.
Wants are expenses that are the things you buy for fun or leisure. You could live without them, but you have more fun when you have them. Such things as lattes, or eating out.
To figure out which are which, by writing a list of all the things you buy. This means everything from toothpaste to mortgage. Then, you group purchases into categories like toiletries, cable, phone and insurance.
Then, divide the categories into two buckets: wants and needs. Try to eliminate some wants, or find a way to obtain them cheap or free.
Bonus Tip: See #10 for ideas on cutting out “wants” expenses.
7. Reduce Childcare Expenses
Childcare is a major expense for parents if both have to work. Ask other parents that have an opposite schedule as yours if they want to swap babysitting to help them save money too.
Bonus Tip: Ask a grandparent to help-but, make sure you pay them something-don’t take advantage of their kindness!
8. Downgrade Your Car
A nice expensive car is a nice luxury, but can bring on unnecessary costs. Getting a cheaper car will help save on insurance costs, gas if smaller, and lower car payments. If you live close to where you need to go, walk if you can.
Bonus Tip: If you sold your more expensive car to get a cheaper one, take the difference of car payment and put in your savings.
9. DIY Cleaning Supplies
These days we are faced with an unlimited choice of cleaning products sitting on the store shelves. They may work well, but they take up a lot of our money. Making your own cleaning supplies not only will save you money, but it’s better for your health. Using essential oils to make the cleaners will eliminate the dangerous chemicals. Consider making your own with one of the hundreds of cleaning recipes you can find online.
Bonus Tip: You really only need to buy 5 essential oils for your DIY cleaning supplies-read this post for money saving recipes: 5 Essential Oils You Should Start Out With
10. Look for Free/Cheap Entertainment
Having a family means that spending quality time together is a must. Most families think this means taking your children to expensive places to entertain them. This doesn’t have to be the case! There are plenty of free or cheap forms of entertainment out there. Plan a picnic lunch at your local park. Pass by the movie theater and stop at your library instead. You can often check out DVDs for family movie nights at little to no cost. Most public libraries even do a family movie night and other free activities for children.
Bonus Tip: Consider planning your vacation during off peak times. Book your vacation before Memorial Day or after Labor Day. We go to Florida in April and not only is it less crowded, we find better deals on hotels.