20 Amazing Ways to Save Money as a Mom
Whether or not you’ve been a Mommy for any length of time, you probably know how expensive children are! It’s seems like they simply breathe and it somehow costs you $$$. If you’re looking for ways to save money that won’t make people call you a crazy coupon lady behind your back, you’ve come to the right place. This post will walk you through many ways of saving money as you raise children of all ages and stages. The only ones I didn’t include are those 30-something babies who live in your basement! Can’t help you there.
As a Mommy of two, I’ve had about five years of practice with many of these tips. And as my children grow, I look forward to finding new and interesting ways of saving money while teaching them how to do the same!
Getting Started with Saving Money as a Mom
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Honestly, there are so many things you can do to save money as a parent. But, let’s start with some basic finance stuff first before diving into any of the sections below.
Get on the same page with your partner.
If you’re a single mom (which you totally rock, btw), find an accountability partner. Share with this person your need to save money and WHY it’s important to you. By naming a “why”, you’re much more likely to follow through with saving money than giving in to needless purchases when your willpower is low.
Come up with a reasonable plan.
You can read article after article on saving money, but they won’t do you any good if you don’t make a plan to use what you’ve learned. I encourage you to make a plan, in writing, of the tips you want to try. Leave some space for reflection next to each one. You can jot notes about any tweaks that you’ve made and star any ideas that are working well for you or might work in the future.
Plan for your children’s needs in your monthly budget.
Yes, you need a budget:). If you’re just getting started with budgeting, here is the tool that I use each month. Every Dollar allows the user to customize and name all categories. For example, I created categories for “Childcare” and “Kids’ Clothes” and “Entertainment” in my family’s budget. Plan on what you will spend in each category pertaining to your children before the month begins. If you overspend, try to adjust the category or spending the following month.
Give yourself lots and lots of grace in the beginning!
Remember that any time you’re trying something new, there’s going to be trial and error involved. You will make mistakes. And you will have months that no matter how well you planned, that one crazy expense comes out of nowhere and ruins your perfect little budget. Such as a trip to the ER the same evening your brand new baby comes home from the hospital (true story). When you make mistakes, have unexpected expenses crop up, or just don’t have a good month, give yourself grace. And then try again. Before you know it, you’ll be saving money like a pro. You can do this, Momma! Ready to dive in? Let’s get you saving!
Saving Money before Baby Arrives
So you’ve got a little blessing on the way and you’re ready to stash some cash before his arrival! Here are some things to think about:
Pile up that cash.
Dave Ramsey recommends that as soon as you know you’re expecting, start saving up as much cash as possible. He says this should take priority over paying off debt or saving for other things. After the baby is born, use that cash to pay off any medical bills and then resume your normal savings habits. You may even have some savings left over from your pregnancy. What a good feeling!
Ask for diaper “presents”.
The most useful gifts I ever received when I was expecting were packs of diapers from all my friends and family. With my first baby, I had no idea what brand I would prefer, so I was grateful to receive all brands and sizes until I figured out what I liked. Once I knew what brand worked best for us, I exchanged the other brands if I could for the ones we used. I’ve also heard that you can potentially save a boatload of money using cloth diapers instead of disposable. But, I can’t personally attest to this. I knew I wouldn’t enjoy washing cloth diapers, so we didn’t even try them.
Borrow as many maternity clothes as you can.
Think of it this way: you’re only going to be in these clothes for a few short months. Consider buying some basics like t-shirts, pants, and bras, and see if you can borrow the rest. Chances are, there’s a friend, cousin, or coworker who is in between pregnancies and has plenty of maternity clothes she’s not using. She’d probably be happy to lend them out. And you can save your hard-earned cash for something else.
Keep nursery items basic.
There’s nothing that can blow up a budget like all of the nursery “essentials” available these days. Before you shell out big bucks, think about the items you’ll actually need in the nursery. Those are your non-negotiables. Ours for our nursery were a crib, a dresser/ changing table combo, and a comfy glider. That’s really all we had in the nursery in the beginning. As our baby grew, we added other things like a bookshelf. If your essential items still seem to cost more than you want to pay, look for secondhand deals locally. My mom was shopping for a crib for her house when my son was born, and a consignment shop gave her one for free. There’s lots of baby furniture out there for cheap if you’re willing to look!
Saving Money during Those First Few Years
When you’ve got tiny ones in the house, it can be hard to think about anything but the lack of sleep you’re getting, much less saving money! But if you don’t have a plan, those adorable bundles of joy can easily take over and annihilate your budget. Because…oh the clothes! If you’ve got kiddos in diapers, read on! And grab a nap when you can (it really does help!).
Breastfeed (if you want to and can).
I definitely don’t want this tip to come out sounding like a judgment if you choose not or are unable to breastfeed. How you feed your baby is really your business, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise! I just wanted to include it because it has been such a money-saver in our household. I’ve breastfed both of my children, and though there have been difficult times, I wouldn’t trade those experiences. Not to mention, I figure we’ve saved thousands of dollars in formula costs. If you are looking for a way to save money and are considering breastfeeding, try it out! Even if you end up doing it for a little while, you’ll still save money during that time. And it’s such a wonderful way to bond with your sweet baby!
Make your own baby food.
Ok, this one I really beg of you to try! Don’t give me that look. You know, the one that says, “I barely have time to cook for myself. Now you want me to make my baby’s food too?” Just imagine the power of being able to shape your little one’s palate and design a meal plan for her that meets your standards. Baby food making doesn’t have to be all fancy-smancy. Promise. You can mash up a banana, add a dash of pumpkin pie spice and ground oatmeal and call it a meal. In fact, it will probably be a meal your baby loves! How does this save you money? If you’ve looked at the price of a single jar or pouch of baby food, you know the answer. That stuff gets pricey real fast. But if you make your own, you can make a lot of food with few and inexpensive natural ingredients. If you’re intimidated by the whole baby food making thing, check out these non-recipes for a 6 month and older baby. Also, here is my favorite baby food maker that practically does the work for you!
Subscribe and save on wipes.
I didn’t think I’d be one of those people who bought into the whole “subscribe and save” online shopping, but with my second baby, I decided to try it with baby wipes and got hooked. With my first, I just remember running out of wipes ALL THE TIME, and that got old. Now I get the wipes that we prefer, delivered every six weeks, and they are cheaper by about $2 per box just because I have a subscription. I figured I’ve already saved around $20 by having our wipes delivered, and we haven’t come close to running out! These are my go-to wipes, btw.
Clothes swap up and down a size.
Little kids tend to grow, oh every day or so. Don’t you think? As much as it’s fun to purchase adorable new things for your little loves (have you SEEN Target’s kids clothes lately??), it can be a true budget buster if you’re making a regular thing of it. Enter this amazing clothes swap system. Here’s how it works: Find a friend with a baby who is up one size from yours, and find another baby right below yours. Make sure you have permission to pass along the clothes as your child outgrows them, and you have a beautiful system of clothes swaping!
Saving Money during School Years
Now that your kids are in school, it can seem like the expenses are never ending! And how about back- to-school time? All of those new supplies and clothes can really add up during the month of August. Here are some tips to keep more money in your wallet when your kids are in grade school.
Shop the sales in season and out.
I don’t know why stores seem to start the back to school sales earlier and earlier, but they do. The hotdogs are not even cool from the grill on July 4th, and stores are advertising back to school sales. A good tip is to keep a list on hand of basic school supplies you know your kids will need and stock up on those as soon as you see them on sale during the summer. Then, when you’ve gotten most of the basics, wait until school begins to get those extra supplies that teachers require. Also, look for clearance as soon as school is in session! School supplies are dirt cheap once school begins. You can start a stockpile for next year!
Save in the kitchen: Stay in the kitchen.
School-aged children also happen to go through food at an alarming rate. Especially the boys. As you probably already know, the more food they consume from your kitchen and not a fast-food restaurant, the cheaper it is. Meal planning can help you get the best bang for your buck as you match meal ideas with what’s on sale at the supermarket. Also, consider writing a list of your family’s favorite snack ideas/ easy recipes and posting it in the pantry. Make the pantry a self-serve “drive-through.” That way, hungry children can quickly put together their own snacks and give Momma a break as well. If your child has a favorite restaurant dish or treat, see if you can find a copycat recipe online. Then recreate the recipe with your child. Most of the time, copycat recipes yield way more than one serving, making them much more cost-effective than dining in the restaurant.
Buy classic books at thrift stores.
If your child has to read a classic book for school, be sure to keep a lookout for the title at your favorite thrift store. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve found an exact book I was looking for at a thrift store. And sometimes, you can even find books in perfect condition. Honestly, some of my children’s favorite books have come from our local thrift store. The kids are happy with the book, and I’m more than happy with the price!
Teach resourcefulness at home.
Ok, so resourcefulness seems to be a concept of the past with the advent of online shopping. Don’t have something? Just find it online and two days later, it’s delivered to your doorstep. Though I love online shopping as much as the next person, there is something about making due with what we have on hand that makes me feel proud and scrappy. If your child has a project that requires a lot of materials you don’t have, figure out ways to get creative. What can you use that you do have? Our children need this old fashioned lesson on resourcefulness as much as we do. Not to mention, being resourceful can save you both time and money. It’s a win-win.
Saving for Your Children’s Futures
As our babies grow and turn into children, preteens, and teenagers, we inevitably start thinking about their future needs. Transportation and college funds are two of the categories that come to mind when thinking about the future. To round out this post, here are some ways that you can prepare for your children’s futures, and you can start as early as you want.
Explore job options.
When your child becomes a teenager, do you encourage him to find a job? I’m not even talking about heading to the nearest store or restaurant, as most places won’t employ teens until they’re 16. What about encouraging your teen to do something entrepreneurial? Can he mow lawns in the neighborhood? Can she babysit? Offer lessons on the instrument she plays? There are so many innovative ideas that a teen can try to earn money. It keeps them from being bored or hanging out on Snapchat all day. And when they are ready to get a traditional JOB (if they decide to do that), they’ve already got experience to put on the job application.
Split first car costs.
As soon as your child starts asking about his first vehicle, come up with a plan. One popular option that will save you both money is to consider splitting the cost of your child’s first vehicle. You match the amount of money your child raises for his first car, doubling the price he can afford. For instance, if he has $3500 and you match that amount, he can afford to pay $7000 cash for a vehicle. For a comprehensive discussion of this concept in detail, check out this great book on teaching your children to be smart with money.
Invest in your child’s education.
It’s never too early to start thinking about saving for your child’s college. One of the best places you can put your savings is in an ESA (Education Savings Account). You can contribute up to $2000 per child, per year into an ESA, and it grows tax-free! Even if you feel like you’re getting a late start on saving for your child’s education, just remember that some beats none. Better for him to have a little money when it’s time to think about college than none at all. Even so, the next tip can help either way.
Make the scholarship hunt a part-time job.
When it’s time to think about college, does your kid know about the wealth of scholarships available? There’s a scholarship available for practically everything these days, and chances are, your child meets some criteria to earn some free cash. The problem usually comes from making time to apply for the myriad of scholarships. As in, your child doesn’t want to take the time to do it. I’m speaking from experience myself. I can remember being annoyed at having to fill out yet another scholarship application. Looking back, I am so thankful for the scholarships I did receive that allowed me to attend the private school of my choice. The easiest way to ensure your child gets some scholarship money for college is to have her work on the scholarship process like it’s a part time job. If she spends a few hours searching and applying for scholarships that she’s eligible for each week, she’s bound to get some return on investment. And you never know, she could potentially earn enough scholarships to pay for her entire college education!
Saving Creatively for Life
There you have it! Now that you’ve made it to the end of this post, you’ve read through twenty of the most creative solutions I know of saving money as a mom. These are only a jumping off point. It’s my hope that you take these ideas and make them your own, or maybe come up with twenty more ideas that work for you. Yes, raising kids can be expensive; but it doesn’t have to be if you dare to think creatively about saving money. If you want more exciting tips on saving money creatively in all areas of your life, I’d love for you to check out this book I wrote on the subject!
You can do this, Momma! Raising kids and saving money is challenging. But you are more than able to meet that challenge!
How do you save creatively while raising kids? Leave me a comment below!