Maybe you're painting the nursery and dreaming of the future. Maybe your walls are already covered in crayons and spaghetti, and you're just looking for budgeting tips to lower your family's monthly bills. Whatever your reasons for thinking about money, here are six ways to save without becoming a complete penny-pincher.
- Plan Your Trips to the Grocery Store
The worst thing that you can do as a frazzled parent is go to the grocery store without a game plan. You'll overspend; you'll dump unnecessary things into your cart; you'll use all of your energy wrangling your kids instead of reading nutrition labels. There are better ways to shop. For example, you can make a grocery list at home, or you can gather your coupons to be neatly organized in the checkout line. Some grocery stores even offer online shopping portals where you can add things to your cart and see how much your total will be.
- Shop Secondhand
There's nothing wrong with putting your kids in gently-used clothing from garage sales and thrift stores. You can also find great deals on toys, books, school supplies, household appliances and playroom furniture. If you're uncomfortable with the thought of buying from strangers, see if there are any local parenting groups with swaps or hand-me-down programs. You might be able to trade your old changing table for a new high chair.
- Lower Your Car Insurance Payments
According to research, there's an average of 2.28 cars for every American household. This means that car insurance isn't just a luxury: It's a necessity. The good news is that there are many ways to lower your car insurance rates. Some companies will give you a discount if you take a driver's ed course; others will knock off a few dollars if you upgrade your car's locks and alarms. You can also look for cheap car insurance with policies that don't break the bank in the first place.
- Lower Your Mortgage Payments
This is another big bill that can be reduced with careful research and preparation. If you're about to buy a home, see if you can lower your monthly premiums with a bigger down payment. If you've already bought a home, ask about refinancing the rate or extending your repayment term. You might even be able to get rid of your private mortgage insurance (PMI) if you meet certain qualifications. There's no harm in looking into it, so do your homework and see what happens.
- Get Your Kids Involved
A study from the U.S. Department of Agriculture has determined that it takes around $233,000 to raise a child from birth to college age. Why shouldn't they help with the family finances when they're responsible for a large chunk of the expenses? Get your kids involved with tracking purchases, making grocery lists, budgeting for new appliances and calculating monthly incomes. Not only will they get some hands-on experience with managing money, but they'll also learn why you have to say “no” to new video games sometimes.
- Look for Deals and Discounts Everywhere
Last but certainly not least, never buy something without seeing if you can get a better price than the one on the label. For example, maybe there's an online sale for the same product that you're eyeballing in the store. Maybe you can save money if you sign up for a brand's loyalty or rewards program. Maybe there are discounts available for students or veterans. Always look around for ways to save an extra buck, especially if you have nothing to lose and everything to gain as a conscientious budgeter.
These are just a few ways to save money when you're starting a new family. There are many more, of course, but these suggestions should be enough to start relieving some of the pressure. A happy and financially stable life can be yours, but you'll need to be willing to work for it!