One of my New Year’s resolutions was to spend less money. I’m an impulse shopper, for sure. I see an infomercial for a non-stick pan, neck massage or the newest workout product that will help you “lose 20 pounds in seven days!” and I reach for the phone. But it’s not just about buying things for myself. If I see something I think my son might like, I just have to have it. Those drink cups that hold snacks too, the cereal bowls with the straw in it for drinking the milk at the end, or a stuffed animal that can transform and doubles as a toy box.
Shopping became a very expensive habit without me even realizing it. The moment I knew it was a true problem was when my son suggested my New Year’s resolution should be to “stop buying stuff off the TV.” 😳
So in an effort to make myself and my son proud (and my husband’s wallet happy) I’ve researched some of the best ways to save money for moms. I’ve already started implementing some of these techniques and if you’re a mom like me that can’t pass up a good deal, here are some pretty great ways to save money when you do find something you or your family truly want.
1. Make a “Wish Jar”
There’s no better place to store all that loose change than in a jar. We all probably have one and they can take many forms from a large, empty water jug to a coffee can or box. But what makes collecting coins even more exciting, is when you’re working toward something.
Get together as a family and choose something that everyone really wants. Maybe it’s a new television for your living room, a weekend getaway at an indoor water park or a trip to the movies. The incentive you choose can be as big or as small as the family wants. Try posting a picture or poster near your “wish jar” to help inspire and encourage your family to keep collecting. A reminder is always helpful. Plus, by saving up for something really special, it teaches your children to value what they have and work hard for what they want! It’s a win-win.
2. Use Coupons
I am a big advocate for coupons. Whether I’m grocery shopping, buying school supplies or holiday shopping, you’d be amazed at how much you can save just by doing a little leg work. The best part of coupons is that they’re not just available in circulars or mail offers anymore. There are countless promo and coupon codes available online for a wide variety of products. Discount apps like Groupon are great for finding deals on local restaurants and services.
(I’ve only ever found one small hiccup when it comes to using coupons, but this could be a personal issue. Sometimes coupons convince me to purchase things that I don’t really need! For example, if I get a great coupon for a deal on TV dinners, I might think it’s an offer that I just can’t pass up on and so I stock up on TV dinners that end up sitting in my freezer until I unearth them months later and they’re no longer edible. Or, I really only need one of something but a coupon offers a discount when I buy 10. So, what do I do? I buy 10! And then never use them. So, just be mindful of which coupons you use and if it’s really a deal once you spend what you’re required to spend.)
3. Consider Generic Options
Did you know that most generic products are just as good as their more expensive, name-brand counterparts? It’s true. A lot of generic items include the same ingredients and are just as effective as those with fancy labels.
If you don’t want to cut corners when it comes to certain items, you don’t need to. But when it comes to things like baking ingredients, produce, diapers, basic medications, and paper or cleaning products, most generic brands are still a quality option. Just swapping out a few name brands can really save you money.
The same goes for children’s clothing. Kids seem to grow overnight, which means you’re constantly buying them new clothing, shoes and coats. Why spend hundreds of dollars on name brand items that likely won’t fit in a few months time? Discount stores like Walmart and Target offer countless fashionable finds that won’t break the bank. This will make it less painful on both your wallet and your heart when your child experiences a growth spurt and needs an entirely new wardrobe.
4. Capitalize on Freebies
A weekend of family fun doesn’t need to cost a lot of money. In fact, there are countless activities and venues you and your family can visit for free.
During warmer months, the park is always a good time! You and your child can use the equipment, play ball in the grass, or even take a leisurely walk or bike ride. Outdoor fun at the park promotes exercise and costs you nothing. If the weather isn’t conducive to outdoor play, look to your local library. Many libraries offer story hours for kids, reading with therapy dogs, and thousands of free books to choose from.
Check your local newspaper and public forums online for free activities being offered in your area. You might stumble across some awesome finds like craft fairs, movies and even concerts appropriate for the whole family.
5. Get Smart in the Kitchen
This doesn’t mean just limiting the number of nights your family orders take out—although, that’s another helpful tip! Maybe Friday night is pizza night. But do you need to order takeout? It might be cheaper and more fun to make your own pizzas at home. Purchase dough from your local pizzeria or buy premade shells at the grocery store. Add some sauce, cheese and a variety of toppings to choose from and Friday night pizza night becomes fun for the whole family and more cost-effective. If you choose to dine out, take advantage of restaurants that offer a “kids eat free” option, which is usually during a particular time of day.
Planning your weekly meals ahead of time is another great way to save money. Choose your weekly meals before you go grocery shopping. Find recipes that use the same ingredients in different ways. This means you can buy less items and save some cash. Buying items in bulk also leads to savings. Planning ahead can also save you time and prevent from you from reaching for the phone when you realize you don’t have what you need to cook a homemade meal.
Every Little Bit Counts
Don’t be fooled into thinking that these small changes in your budget and spending habits can’t produce big changes. Every little bit of savings and mindful spending can really add up to substantial savings for you and your family. By getting everyone involved in the effort, your entire family will feel good about saving money and can even earn a small reward for their efforts.