I’ll admit that this is a bit of a self-serving post. My family is going on a budgetary “diet” and making changes I order to pay off our debt and save up a lovely nest egg. So, I’ve been doing a TON of research on ways to save money and reduce costs. We’ve all heard of the traditional ways to save money like changing up your grocery shopping, meal planning, getting rid of cable, or downgrading your vehicle. While I’m re-evaluating all of those, I also wanted to dig a little deeper and find other creative ways to save money.
Obviously there are tons of ways to save money. Here, I’ve put together a list of my favorite ways of doing this. Hopefully one or more of them would help your family save for whatever you are saving for. Enjoy!
1. Babysitting Exchange
Let’s be real. Childcare is expensive. It’s totally understandable that it’s expensive as you’re entrusting the care of your most precious babies to someone else. My husband and I really wanted to find a way to get weekly date nights in. But, thinking of having to pay for the sitter on top of whatever the cost of the date was seemed like a stretch for our wallets. So, we decided to do a babysitting exchange with my best friend and her family. We trade off every other week on Saturday nights babysitting for each other so the other can get a date night in. It’s great on many fronts. My son gets to spend focused time with his “auntie” and I get to spend special time with their daughter as well. Both of our kids get to be with someone they’re comfortable with and we all get to save a little money on date night. If you are in a situation where you don’t have friends with children in your area, consider making some new parent friends through NextDoor or Meetup. (Obviously this will take a while to get to know each other well enough to trade babysitting.) Another option would be to trade with your existing friends or family for other things. For instance, if you’re amazing at sewing or crafting, you can make some Christmas gifts for your friends to give away and save them some money around the holidays this year. Or, you could help organize something for your friend or clean their house. Get creative with this one. It doesn’t always have to be babysitting for babysitting.
2. Don’t Fear Second-Hand Items
We all know it well, that thrift store smell. It’s not the most attractive thing, but it could definitely be worse. In an age of Marie Kondo and “Tidying Up”, there couldn’t be a better time to get your stuff second-hand. Clothing, shoes, purses, throw pillows, bed sheets, board games, and even furniture. You can find some sweet deals at the thrift store. Often times there’s brand new clothing with tags. You can find name brand items for a tiny fraction of the original price. You can also get some solid pieces of furniture that can easily be re-painted to fit your décor. But, the BEST items to get second hand are children’s items. We all know, or are learning, that children’s items get grown out of really quickly. Because of this, lots of people get rid of very gently or barely used items. Often times when I go to the thrift store looking for new clothes for my little guy, I find several items that are new with tags. Frankly, if I hadn’t been hoarding all of my baby stuff in the off chance my second child will be a boy, I’d probably be donating clothing with tags myself!
3. Make Your Own Cleaning Supplies
One unexpected way to save money is to make your own cleaning supplies. There are some cleaning supplies that I don’t make myself – like wood cleaner for my floors and all the million things in my home that are wood. I use Murphy’s Oil Soap for that because it’s inexpensive already and one bottle lasts a long time. But you can make all kinds of all-purpose cleaners, disinfectants, and even your own laundry soap and fabric softener. Research easy and natural cleaning supply recipes and you’re sure to find several that use items you probably already have around your home. Hit the Dollar Tree or Walmart for a $1 spray bottle and you’re ready to go! If this sounds like something you want to try, I recommend starting with some cleaning recipes from Clutterbug and Do It On A Dime Blog. Bonus: Kathryn at “Do It ON A Dime” has some great tips for thrift shopping as well.
4. Buy In Bulk
Buy items that you use every day in bulk. The most obvious ones are paper towels and toilet paper. For my family of 3, one box of 13 gallon trash bags from Costco lasts us the entire year. That’s right, the cost of trash bags for an entire year is like $15. Dish soap is another one from Costco where 1 bottle lasts us an entire year or more. We also buy our shredded cheese in bulk and just put it into quart sized bags in the freezer. Our family also love eggs so we buy 60 at a time in the huge pack at Walmart. We also buy the giant packages of meat and just separate it out and freeze it in 1 pound portions. If I get the 3 pound roll of ground beef, I just slice it up into 3 portions, packaging and all, and wrap in foil, then saran wrap, and place in a quart sized freezer bag. Getting freezable items in bulk has really helped my family stretch the grocery budget.
5. Keep It Local
Whenever possible, keep things local. Using small businesses for things like appliance repair or plumbing needs is generally a good way to go. These businesses need your patronage and they haven’t lost sight of customer service. I use a local mechanic and a wonderful local appliance repair and am always happy with the results. When they can’t fix it or if the original problem they thought it was isn’t the problem, they don’t charge me. I had what would’ve been a $400 repair on my washer (mostly based on buying a new switchboard for it), and the local business that was trying to repair it wasn’t able to and refused to take money from us even though they’d already paid the up front costs of the new switchboard. Good, honest service like this can help you save money in the long run. Many bigger chain places would’ve still charged me for the part at least.
6. Have “At Home” Date Nights
At home date nights are another thing that can save your family money. There are so many creative ways to make date nights at home. After the kids go to bed, spend some intentional time with your spouse. You can have a spa night, create a dream board together, do dinner and a movie, or play board games. You could even have an at home date night where you sit together with some wine and cheese and come up with 20 ideas for at home date nights. It doesn’t have to be anything grand or difficult. It’s all about spending focused time with one another. If your kids aren’t get sleepers in the night, you could always try doing this during nap time or just during the first couple of hours when they reliably stay sleeping. Tailor it to fit the needs and unique nuances of your family.
7. Cook Together
Cooking together as a family can be wonderful time spent together. Most of the time children love to help with cooking. Stirring, pouring, seasoning, and pushing buttons are all great ways for younger kiddos to help. Even taste testing can be a job! Learning to cook things you’ve never cooked before can be really fun for your whole family. Also, by cooking more at home, you save money and start teaching your children a valuable life skill for when they are older. If you’re lucky, one of your kids will be MasterChef Junior material and you’ll start eating gourmet on the budget. Hey, it happens.
I hope this post has given you some ideas on how to stretch your dollars. These are my most effective ways to save money when your family is saving up or paying down debt. What are some ways that your family saves money? I’d love to know in the comments below!
Much love and productive vibes,
Momma Caped Nerd ❤
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