There’s no way around it: raising a family is expensive. It cost more than $200,000 to raise a child in the United States—and that’s just for one kid.
There are a lot of reasons why people want to save money. For some parents, their low income makes it necessary to pinch pennies. Others want to be more deliberate with their money so they can build up their savings or pay back some depth. Whatever your reason, there are lots of ways to easily cut down your spending. Here are four of our favorite ways to save money when you have a family.
1. Frugal Fun
Not every family can afford to go on big vacations all the time—but finding affordable fun for your families is easier than you think. Entertaining your family on the weekends and during longer vacations doesn’t have to deplete your savings to be a fun and memorable experience.
If you’re looking for fun and inexpensive vacations, try looking closer to home instead of having to fork over money for airplane tickets and hotels. Camping trips are a fun and cost-effective way to spend time with your family. And of course, the sunshine and running around outdoors is great for children as well. Even if just in your backyard, these “staycations” can be themed with different activities and snacks so you and your family feel immersed in something so much more than just your backyard.
Additionally, A lot of people don’t take advantage of the fun and cheap activities right in their own neighborhood. Local museums, state parks, and historical sites usually don’t cost much to visit and are a great way to spend time with your kids. They often have activities and “passport” programs that encourage children to explore what their city has to offer.
2. Save Money on Health Costs
Medical expenses can be costly. But there are ways you can save money while keeping your family healthy. Unfortunately, the emergency room is where medical costs can quickly become impossibly high. A lot of people simply go to the ER for small problems when there is often a better, and less expensive, option out there. Going to a specialist instead of the general ER staff can save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars.
For example, if your child knocks out a tooth, dentists often offer emergency dental services—which tend to be much cheaper than the ER. You should also make sure you always have a fully stocked first aid kit at home. Knowing how to treat minor injuries instead of going to Instacare can save you hundreds of dollars in medical fees. But if you or a family member is seriously hurt, you should definitely take them to the hospital—cutting medical costs should never stop you from getting your family the medical help they need.
3. Save Money on Food
There’s a misconception that in order to eat healthily you have to spend a lot of money—that’s simply not true. You and your entire family can eat well and stick to your budget with just a little planning. The reason why many family’s food expenses are so high is that they don’t plan ahead and tend to eat out most nights.
Planning your family’s meals ahead of time will help you save a lot of money and lessen the temptation to eat out. This also helps you scout out the best deals and possible coupons out there for next week’s meals. If you tend to go off-script at the grocery store and buy random things instead of sticking to your budget, try giving yourself a cash limit. That way, the temptation to spend more than you allotted is gone.
Buying food in bulk is also a great way to save money. Costco and Amazon are great options if you want to buy bulk staples like rice, oats, pasta, or beans. And if you’re craving a meal from your favorite restaurant, there’s probably a copycat recipe for it online that you can try yourself instead of eating out and spending money.
4. Save Money on Clothing
Did you know that the majority of clothing that’s produced is only worn for less than three years? Fast fashion has made the lifespan of clothing much shorter, and more and more clothing is going to landfills instead of being used to its full extent. It’s wasteful, it’s a massive strain on the environment, and it’s expensive to keep up with the ever-changing trends.
Instead of buying new clothes every season, try thrift stores! There used to be a weird stigma around thrift shopping, but now it’s a popular way of finding “new” clothing on a budget. And since trends are changing every season, perfectly fine and fashionable clothes are constantly being donated to make way for the next style. Not only will thrifting your new wardrobe save you money and help the environment, but it’s also a great opportunity to teach your children about the benefits of buying second hand.