Give your budget (and yourself!) a break with tips and tricks you can use to save some dough when you’re up to your eyeballs in diapers, snacks and school supplies. Plus, college savings ideas you need to know about right now!
1. Leave money at home. As a parent, especially of small children, getting out of the house is essential each and every day, but that’s doesn’t mean it has to cost a fortune to have fun! Grab some pals and plan outings to local tot hotspots like the park or the playground. Simply pack some snacks and maybe a blanket for a great, wallet-free afternoon with friends. Bonus savings points if you can skip the car and walk there!
2. Eat with ease. Food is one of the biggest expenses families can face, so be sure to take advantage of all the savings surrounding you. Skip the regular serving size packages in the store and buy in bulk instead—once you get home, use snack-size baggies to make your own individually wrapped on-the-go eats. Then take advantage of supermarket specials each week, freezing what you won’t use that week. And lastly, go out to eat! Yes, you can eat out! Most restaurants feature free or discounted kids meals one night each week, so treat yourselves to a night where someone else cooks without breaking the bank!
3. Swaddle the savings. Make the switch to cloth diapers and see how these reusable essentials can really rack up the savings. Not ready to make the full-time commitment? Keep disposable diapers at day care or use them during the week when you are out and about, and just try them when you are hanging at home at night or on the weekends—this small adjustment can end up saving you a bunch!
4. Swap it up. Become the ultimate rummage sale junkie and score big on toys, gear and clothes at a fraction of the cost. Check out social media groups dedicated to families in your area—most of these moms are selling their gently used items for less than they would on bigger, less personal sites because it allows them to swap locally and safely. Just be sure to wash and disinfect all of the swag you score.
5. Plant your meals. Start a family activity that’s not only financially savvy, but also totally delicious! Gardening isn’t only satisfying for your belly (and your wallet), it is also a great way to spend time together creating something incredible (and edible) from nothing! Get kids to help by planting a fun “rainbow”: strawberries for red, kale for green, squash for yellow, etc. You can cultivate a large backyard bed or even do window box nurseries.
6. Borrow, don’t buy. If you haven’t been to your local library yet, stop reading this right now and run there! Sure there are fun (and free!) activities like story times and crafts, but the real amazing items are on the racks. You’ll find all of the novels, audio books, movies, games and magazines you and your family craves with your library card, not your credit card. Plus, you can search online and even reserve top titles you’re excited about!
7. Bank college funds now. It’s never too early to think about college! More than 30 states offer a 529 plan or what’s called a qualified tuition program (QTP) to help you save. Invest after-tax dollars now so you can withdraw the funds (plus any investment gains!) later tax-free to use for qualifying education expenses, such as college tuition and class materials, like books. But the best part is that you can set up a profile for your kiddo that allows family and friends to give the gift of college instead of toys or clothes for birthdays, holidays and other occasions!
Once you’ve started saving, see how you can make your money work for you by talking with a State Farm agent or by visiting LetsStartToday.com and checking out their online tools and resources!