Between diapers, preschool and snacks, kids are expensive. I’m a mom of three, and I’m no stranger to the occasional (or regular) parenting hack.
Over the years, I’ve learned a trick or two on how to cut out unnecessary costs – and add some breathing room to my budget in the process.
Read on for my 13 best tips on how to save money as a mom.
Simple Ways to Save
- Throw Birthday Parties Every Other Year
- Don’t Buy Gifts When They’re Young
- Lay Claim to Friends’ Hand-Me-Downs
- Buy All Sports Equipment Second-Hand
- Borrow Everything
- Start a Babysitting Co-op
- Make Your Own Halloween Costumes
- Buy Frozen Pizza
- Only Offer Milk and Water
- Pay Your Mortgage Every Two Weeks Instead of Once a Month
- Audit All Your Utilities Every Other Year
- Check With Your Provider for a Free Home Energy Check
- Instead of Health Insurance, Join an Insurance Co-op
Throw Birthday Parties Every Other Year
Bake a cake and sing happy birthday with the family. But there’s no need to spend a fortune on a big birthday party every year. Instead, we let our kids pick a family outing or special event, and the rest is history.
Another hack is letting your child pick only four or five friends to invite to the party, rather than inviting everyone you know.
Don’t Buy Gifts When They’re Young
I know it sounds harsh, but honestly, is the 4-and-under crowd really going to notice? As it is, grandparents and friends get our kids so many gifts that we usually end up hiding a few to be enjoyed later.
Lay Claim to Friends’ Hand-Me-Downs
This will save hundreds. And, if used clothes aren’t your thing, make sure to let friends and family know your kids’ sizes when they ask for birthday and Christmas gift ideas.
Buy All Sports Equipment Second-Hand
Better yet, borrow it. Your kids won’t notice, and it’s going to get scratched up, anyway.
Even if you have the cash, why spend it on something when your friend has one she’s not using? I’ve borrowed everything from nursing chairs and Tulas to church shoes and baby swings. I’ve found that friends enjoy it because it makes them feel that they’re getting more use out of their items. And I am only too happy to return the favor when they need to borrow something of mine.
Start a Babysitting Co-op
I’ve saved hundreds of dollars a year by simply trading kids with a friend every other week. Babysitting co-ops are a win-win – and free!
Make Your Own Halloween Costumes
Who can afford to buy new Halloween costumes every year? Better yet, who wants to? I can think of approximately 1 trillion things I’d rather spend our hard-earned money on than five matching Power Rangers costumes. (Although, full disclosure: we did that one year.) Make your own.
Buy Frozen Pizza
One of the biggest killers of a great budget is ordering takeout on the nights when you’re exhausted. Instead, buy a bunch of frozen pizzas (bonus points if you wait for a sale), and pop those in the oven on the nights when you don’t feel like cooking. For our family, a pizza dinner costs $10, compared to $40 if we order delivery.
Only Offer Milk and Water
I’ve never bought juice, and I’ve never had a problem. It’s expensive, it makes the kids hyper and we have enough issues with dental health as it is. Keep their options simple.
Pay Your Mortgage Every Two Weeks Instead of Once a Month
For a 30-year, fixed-rate loan, this cuts more than five years off your loan. Here’s how it works: because you’re paying exactly half of your mortgage every two weeks, you end up paying two more payments per year. This means that twice a year, your entire payment goes directly to your principal.
We recently purchased a home, and I made this change with a 5-minute phone call to our lender. I was even able to pick the payment days.
Audit All Your Utilities Every Other Year
I did this a few years back and ended up saving $474 a month.
Check With Your Provider for a Free Home Energy Check
One great strategy for cracking down on that high power bill, especially during these summer months, is having your utility conduct a free home energy check. When I did it, it took about an hour, and we learned that our air-conditioning duct work had a huge hole in it.
Instead of Health Insurance, Join an Insurance Co-op
This is a great option if your plan has a high premium, skimpy coverage and a high deductible. My husband owns his own company, so it’s just our family on his plan. And our monthly premium is $1,300 a month with a $6,800 deductible. That’s a whole lot of money!
A friend recently told me about an insurance co-op that has a $177 monthly buy-in, and your deductible is $10,000. You basically pay out of pocket for everything, but your monthly premium is drastically reduced.